Wednesday, 19 April 2017

#LittleAsshole is Growing Up

My original plan was to send Sullivan to the same trainer who started his sire. I really liked what Roland did for Ritchie and was hopeful for a repeat on my little guy.

Unfortunately Roland is booked almost 16 months in advance. So back in summer of 2015 I booked my then yearling in for 30 days in February of 2017 and 30 days in January of 2018. The plan was to put an initial 30 days on him as a late 2 year old and then another as a late 3 year old with minimal work in the meantime.

And then my yearling grew very very slowly. His joints as still huge and open and he's physically immature. And small. He finally hit 15HH in January (for the record his sire is 16.2, his dam is 15.2 but throws big babies, the last 1/2 warmblood is 17HH). And mentally he's taking his sweet time maturing as well.

He doesn't look small next to the cutting horses
So I decided that sending him for 30 days at this point was not the best value. He's at a point where he can really only handle 15 minutes of work/pressure every few days. So if I sent him he'd likely only end up with 4-5 hours of work over the month.

My mom used to train horses for a living and I've started a few on my own (under her supervision) so we decided that since Sullivan was going to be spending the winter with my mom anyways we would start him ourselves over the winter. This gave us the opportunity to do it very slowly in order to keep with his current abilities.

Since neither one of us was interested in putting the first few rides on my mom called in a favour and got one of her clients, a professional cutting trainer, to put the first few rides on, just to be safe. Sullivan was a star for it all. He bucked when he was first saddled and then hasn't even considered it since.
No longer just a pasture pet!

He's now had 10 rides, spread over the course of 4 months. He's willing, curious and brave. I couldn't ask for a better baby horse. I haven't had a chance to see him go in person yet but the videos make me super excited about his future.

Ride 8, and look at how balanced his canter is

He' going to stay with my mom for the summer and then come home in the fall. He's so happy there and it's very good for him as he has a 40 acre field, on the side of a hill, and a herd of 15 to terrorize. My place is only 4 acres so having one less to graze makes pasture management easier.

I can't wait until I finally get to sit on him. It's a dream that's been in the making for over 5 years.

It's hard to believe this was less than 3 years ago

Thursday, 13 April 2017

11 Weeks In One Photo Dump

Break out the champagne! I wrote my last final for my degree last night. This semester has kicked my ass, hard, so blogging (and horses) took a back seat. I've been riding, but sporadically. Thankfully my creatures are all honest souls so there has been very little antics. And they live in the backyard so I still get my pony-fix.

This is exactly how I felt last night

Little asshole is enjoying living with my mom and is the first to the gate, every time.

We hacked out in January

And in February
My previous barn once again hosted two Sandra Donnelly clinics. I rode both horses in the first one. I was super impressed with William he hadn't done a grid or a course prior to this clinic but he took both in stride.  He also had never seen an oxer before this clinic and he just couldn't brain. Even when we disassembled it it took him quite a while to figure out that he had to jump/walk over both rails. The clinic was a great success though. Sandra told me I'd be crazy to sell him, but if I did decide to sell him I should sell him to her. It's always great when someone you truly respect thinks highly of your horse, even when he's being a sassy, green 5 year-old.
Jumper or reiner, you decide
Seriously, the cutest face ever.
And sometimes he forget that he has 4 legs.

Dee was her usual rockstar self and packed me around the 3'3" group. I missed her and I"m so glad she's back to her usual self. I've seen no back soreness at all since we started back jumping.

For my birthday we tormented the dogs

My kitchen window view never gets old

William was foot perfect for his first time in water, with a rider he'd never met
Also, she tried to steal him :)

When both the dogs and the pony need some exercise and there are only so many daylight hours
 It's been pretty low-key around here and I'm quite excited to get back into a regular schedule, with both the horses and the blog.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Still Nameless....

So William is still lacking a show name. I really want to register him for a TIPS number but can't do it until I settle on a name.

His JC name is Hes the Fashion, which I just can't stomach as a show name, so something new is needed.

I'm drawing a total blank on what to call him. I've actually never been this stumped. I've named plenty of horses, including helping out friends but for some reason I can't come up with anything for William. So I'm reaching out to the awesome blogger community for some help.

Also, hes starting to fill out nicely.
And there's a story behind the awful clip, as in he is a two person, twitch and drugs kind of clip

So far the suggestions are:

Horsewithnohashtag (in an ode to his instagram hashtag)
Some fashion designer/brand (William Tempest, William Rast, William Morris)
William the Red
Billy Corgan (Because my brother calls him Bill, no matter how many times I correct him that it's William and Billy Corgan apparently prefers to be called William now)

Any suggestions?

Monday, 16 January 2017

The Very Best News

Chase went back to the vet on Friday for follow up x-rays. The x-rays were more for peace of mind than anything. He has actually been home from his stall rest vacation for two weeks now, and has been much sounder. Since it wasn't an emergency I waited until my Friday off to haul him in rather than take time off work.

With how good he's been feeling and moving I was sure we were going to be keeping him around, no matter what the pictures showed.

Thankfully, the x-rays showed marked improvement!

One side of the joint is completely fused, and the other is almost there. The vet said there wasn't much point in putting him back in the brace and stall rest as long as he's not a total lunatic in the pasture. Essentially as the fused side lays down more bone growth and gets stronger it will keep the motion minimized and the other side will continue to fuse.
This one shows a really clear difference, and illustrates the ringbone portion
Basically, this is a better outcome than the vet expected. We are supposed to just let him be a pasture pet for another 12 weeks and then we can start riding him if we want. He's still an older, arthritic horse, so in all likelihood his riding will be contained to carting beginners on trail rides, but that's totally ok because he will still be with us. Harassing us for all the cookies, keeping the rest of the herd in line and being his generally annoying puppy-dog self.

Cookies go here...ALL the cookies

Friday, 6 January 2017

Blogger Secret Santa

Once again Tracy at Fly On Over hosted a fabulous Blogger Secret Santa. It's always one of my favourite parts of the year. I absolutely love this community and I always enjoy finding more blogs and bloggers to interact with.

This year I got Carey and had fun trying to figure out what to get her. Once I figured out a great option I reached out to the blogger community for some help getting it to me since shipping for it was outrageous if I shipped it to Canada, free within the States. Emma awesomely stepped up to help me out (as did countless others, I just got her email first).

Little did I know, Emma had drawn me so it worked out perfectly. I was completely shocked when I opened the package, expecting just Carey's book (you can find out what I got her here) and finding some adorable wrapped gifts.

How other bloggers manage to set their excitement aside to photograph before opening I will never know, I tore into them like a child on Christmas morning :)

There was a lovely black, white and burgundy bonnet that will look good on either horse :) I was just saying I needed more bonnets since I only had one nice one for two horses.

So pretty.

A couple of hand warmers (that have already been used for sub zero farrier appointments) were a perfect addition.

I was completely happy with both gifts and would have been totally content if that was it. But then I noticed I had missed one last item in the package.

I inadvertently saved the best for last, the most adorable fox socks.

Seriously, how cute are these?
Thanks Emma, not only for the awesome gifts, but also for helping facilitate Carey's gift. Also a big thank you to Tracy for hosting yet another awesome gift exchange.

Haiku Farm Blog Hop

I wrote this before the holidays, and then apparently never published it. Oops!

Yet another blog hop for content while my horses enjoy stuffing their faces and multiple layers to avoid succumbing to the arctic deep freeze. Thanks Aarene!

* Introduce yourself!

My name is very German, and therefore difficult for the general populous to pronounce. It's also unique enough that I prefer to go by my username for public posts (honestly, it wouldn't take much sleuthing to figure it out because it's been posted by a couple of bloggers but I like to keep the illusion). 

I'm a lifelong equestrian, avid eventer and a perpetual student. Who needs money anyways?
I've got more photos of me with this horse than I do with my dad

*  Introduce your horse(s)!

Currently the herd consists of 4 hayburners!

Dee is my leading lady. She is just the best. She came to me at a time when I needed a new horse to help me rebuild my confidence after the RedHellMare. People thought I was nuts buying an older, small, Saddlebred but it was the very best thing I could have done. She's 20 this year and while we've been dealing with some soreness issues she shows no signs of slowing down.

William is the new guy. He's a 5-yo, 16HH OTTB who ran his last race on Sept 10 and then shipped out to me (sight unseen) on Sept 12. He's such a good kid. He's got a great mind and a solid work ethic and it is exciting to see where we go in the next year.

Sullivan (better known as #littleasshole) is my hopes and dreams rolled up into a cute/ugly package. I've owned him since he was an hour old and he's out of a mare who reminds me strongly of my heart horse I had as a young teenager and by my friends very cool stallion who I had the ride on last year. He's seriously opinionated and would be a total trainwreck if he was owned by a beginner but I keep reminding myself that upper level horses have quirks, spark and strong personalities.

Chase is last but in no way least. I've owned him since he was 4 and he's 19 this year. At this point he really belongs to my SO more than me. They have quite the bromance going on.

*  What's your favorite horse sport?  Do you cross train in other activities?

I am an eventer at heart but I've dabbled in almost every discipline you can think of (I grew up riding western and didn't get into jumping seriously until I was in my 20's). I've got the cattle penning buckles to prove it :)

I will never tire of this photo

That being said, I get bored just doing one thing so I'm always up for a new adventure. I've discovered I really like endurance and would love to get out to a few more rides this year.

*  Who else in your family rides?

My SO will go on slow trail rides with me but it's not really his thing. He really just wants to give Chase cookies and brush him. Which is fine by me :)

My brother can ride (and is super talented) but hasn't ridden in years. He rode growing up because that's just what you did in our house.

But my mom is the biggest reason I ride. She is an avid horsewomen who has been riding since she snuck onto the back of one of her uncle Trotters in Germany. When I was growing up she trained horses and taught lessons as her profession. Nowadays she works with her business partner who is an equine osteopath. She has 3 horse of her own, including Merlin, the horse who took me to my first event and then babysat me through another after I blew my ankle, when I really had no business riding. She really isn't that interested in jumping but is finding her niche in Western Dressage, Cowboy Mounted Shooting and Extreme Cowboy (all done on her WB's).

My mother is far and away my favourite person in this world. I'm so incredibly lucky to have her in my life. I'm grateful every day that we have an incredible relationship, not only as parent/sibling but as friends and horsewomen. I see the relationships my friends have with their mothers and I realize that while I didn't grow up with any money (we were seriously poor) I grew up with experiences, strength and love that no money could buy.

*  What's your proudest equestrian accomplishment?

Conquering my anxiety and successfully completing multiple Training runs this year. 2 years ago, when I bought Dee, I was terrified to jump all oxers and most fences that were 2'9" and over. Dee (and a very skilled sports psychologist) help me figure out how to function and dispel those fears.
We survived our first Training!

*  What was your lowest moment as a horse owner/rider?

Having to let my heart horse go when I was 15. He unfortunately contracted Strangles when he was 19. He ended up with a paralyzed windpipe and was literally starving to death on his feet. I've never cried so hard, or for so long. It's been 15 years and I still miss that spitfire. He taught me so much, but most importantly, he taught me humility.

*  What's the most important small thing you ever learned in a lesson?

Ride from your elbows, not your wrists. Every time I manage to remember this my rogue left hand becomes manageable.

*  Do you have any riding rituals or superstitions?

I always wear my Straight Shot Metal Smashing bracelet on XC. If I forget to put on my courage one it's ok, because I wear my horseshoe one every day so I've still got one on :)

*  What are your short term goals for yourself/your horse?

Build up Dee's lower back muscles to help her stay sound. Let William set the pace of his training. Simple, yet so hard.

*  Long term goals?

I want to ride Prelim (I'd love to go above but that would require having to travel out of AB and who knows when the budget will allow for that)

*  If time and money were no object, what is your dream equestrian vacation?

Spending the winters somewhere warm with my whole herd.

*  What kind of horse activities were you doing 10 years ago?

I was living in Ireland 10 years ago so I was working as the Assistant Yard Manager and teaching almost all of the lessons. I was riding on the beach at least once a week but wasn't doing any competing. 

*  What kind of horse activities do you think you'll be doing 10 years from now?

I will very likely still be eventing. And hopefully I will have finally figured out how to get myself a driving pony to do combined trails with!

*  What is the quirk about your horse that you like most?

I love that Dee loves to jump. She's just as happy with a cross rail as she is with Training/Prelim jumps.
This is her expression, no matter the fence height

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Adventures in Ringbone

At this point Chase belongs to my SO more than me. He works out of town and every single day he wants me to send him a picture of Chase. He rarely wants pictures of me or the dogs but he'll harass me if I forget to send one of Chase (he legitimately installed a better light on the front of the barn so I could take pictures after dark).

So it's been pretty rough for him this fall as Chase began to slow down and become more and more lame on that left front. We decided that it was time to take him back to the vet for more x-rays to evaluate where we're at.

Quick recap: Chase has ringbone and significant joint space narrowing in the left front. We've done a series of injections to facilitate the fusion of  P1&P2

With the alcohol injections he showed major improvement. In the week after his first one he cantered for the first time since I brought him home last fall. We did another in June and again in August. He was down to 1/2 a Previcox and was sassy and sound enough to take the Boy for trail rides.

As it got colder I noticed he moved around less and he was looking more and more lame. Cue a serious discussion with the Boy about quality of life. We decided to take him in for a new set of X-rays and a serious discussion with the vet.

The new X-rays show marked degradation and definite bone on bone. Basically it's trying to fuse really hard, but every time Chase moves he breaks apart part of the calcification that his body is trying to lay down. So what we've been attempting to facilitate  is actually happening. Unfortunately it's extremely painful (as anyone who has ever experienced bone-on-bone pain can attest to).
March 2016
November 2016

One treatment path my vet had used successfully in a similar case was bracing the lower limb to minimize movement. Basically a special shoe is built that allows for metal supports to be connected to it. Then the leg is strapped to the whole contraption. (I asked about a cast and he told me why it wouldn't work but I can't remember why for the life of me) Then 3-4 weeks of stall rest, doing the very best to keep them still.

The Boy and I debated our options for the rest of the day, but ultimately it came down to what he wanted to do. It is his horse and I've had some major financial challenges this fall so he is footing the bill. Ultimately we decided to forge forward with this experiment.

Thankfully my farrier is the best! He's actually a welder and teaches welding at a local college as a day job (he got burned out doing feet full-time) and he's super interested in anatomy and movement. I couldn't have asked for the more perfect person to build the apparatus.

Let me tell you though, trying to coordinate my vet and farrier simultaneously was like trying to herd cats on speed!

Chase also got 1 more alcohol injection into the joint (which was not an easy feat considering how little space actually exists in there). Then my farrier built one of the coolest/strangest things I've ever seen attached to a foot (in his words "I didn't miss a single day of farrier school, and they never covered this!").

It's a bit of a production to get him set up, but hey, it could be worse. First I wrap him from hoof to knee with a no-bow. Then the space in the shoe is packed with a tightly rolled polo (originally we were supposed to use a high density foam but after mashing the polo down to the consistency of a brick actually works better). Then another wrap from fetlock to knee. Next I wrap the entire brace to the leg, very, very tightly, paying close attention to the pastern piece. Finally vet wrap the whole thing to make sure it stays in place.

That is all one solid piece built right onto the shoe.

The back brace, it's got bolts welded to the bottom so I just have remove the nuts to take it off.

The final product, basically a giant elephant stump
So for now Chase is currently living the pampered life in a box stall. Before this he'd never spent more than a day in a stall so I was concerned about keeping him chill (the vet even gave me a Rx for sedatives). Turns out it's a complete non issue. He seems super happy about it. He's getting tons of attention from the barn owner and her young kids, plus I'm out there every evening. He also got to avoid the deep freeze of the last 10 days.
Still a total character

He did end up with a small pressure sore almost right away but we've modified the back piece and it's now improving.

Fingers crossed that this works. I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to my favourite cookie monster.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Location, Location, Location: ASSFS Blog Hop

It's been so miserably cold here that I have not been riding so I can really use the content boost. But  I wasn't sure I should write this during the cold snap and come off bitter about where I live...

Sarah of A Soft Spot for Stars started this fabulous blog hop. It's been fascinating to read about weather and cost differentials (except trims, apparently we all basically pay the same).


I live in Central Alberta, Canada, within commuting distance of Edmonton. The county I live in one of the highest horse/capita areas in the country (the highest is the area surrounding Calgary).

Agriculture and Energy are our most important and prevalent industries. While Edmonton is the capital city it doesn't have the high energy, bustling metropolis feel. Calgary (about 3 hours south) is a bigger city, and has a bigger city feel but let's be honest, is still a small city in the grand scheme of things (population of 1.1 million).

Our cost of living is on the higher side, but it isn't outrageous like some places. Property ownership won't put you into an unimaginable amount of debt. A middle of the road home in the city will run you $300,000. Acreages with 30 minutes of the city start around $500,000

  • Trim-$40
  • Shoes-$120 for front, $180 for a full set, $220 for a full set drilled and tapped
  • Average cost of full time training- ~$800 (plus board)
  • Average lesson costs- $35-$55 for group/semi private, $55-85 for private
  • Average monthly pasture board- $320-$400 with an indoor arena, $200 for no indoor
  • Average monthly stall board - $700-$1200
  • Hay: These prices are if you pick them up yourself, delivery is usually expensive. They also fluctuate wildly depending on the year. Last year, the drought pushed the price of rounds up to $150-$230, and that was if you could find any at all.
    • Round bales (1100-1400lbs)
      •  grass, $60-$80
      • alfalfa mix $70-$120
    • Square bales (50-60lbs)
      • grass, $6-$8
      • alfalfa mix, $7-$11

Ugh, where to begin. We've been in a cold snap for the past week and a half. On Sunday it was -33°C (-27°F) at my place and the wind chill made it feel like-41°C (-42°F). This is the day basically everything I own froze. My car has a frozen fuel line, my skidsteer is not usable because the hydraulic fluid is too thick for th pump to move, the horse's automatic waterer froze, the furnace in my barn quit because the propane can't warm up quick enough to vaporize, and the diesel gelled in the Herman Nelson heater (which could have been used to help with any of the above problems).

Winter (FOREVER) (OR October-March)

With that being said, it's normally not this cold in December. Generally January and February is when we will experience an arctic cold snap. Our winters generally begin in October and last through March, sometimes hanging around until April (snow on May long weekend is to be expected though). Temperatures can vary wildly but the average for winter is -16°C (3°F) (I had to look this up). We get snow but nothing like Teresa gets out on the east coast though, or like Cathryn gets on the west coast. I'm pretty sure our annual snowfall is something like 50", and generally we will get a good dump in the fall and then it will melt before winter actually hits. And then again in the spring, the snow will be nearly gone and we will get another huge dump.

The snow makes for some great photos though
Also, #mindyourmelon

The days are short. In the winter it is totally normal to get to work in the dark and go home in the dark. I only see my horses in the daylight during weekends so it necessitated buying a super expensive but awesome barn light. On Dec 21, we will see the sun for a very short 7 hours. Thankfully we are super close to the days getting longer. Also, the sky is generally clear here, especially in winter.
So very very true.

Spring (April,May)

Spring in Alberta is a crapshoot. It could be relatively dry and warm (this year) or it could be a monsoon, or we can go straight from Winter to summer. But we will have seriously shitty weather on May Long, every single year. the one year Alberta Horse Trials tried to run an event that weekend it go snowed out. We're a hardy breed here in AB, a little snow doesn't stop us. 6" of slush will kibosh our XC hopes though.
XC Schooling in the snow.

Basically the same weekend as the above photo, two years later

Summer (June-September)

Summer here is fabulous! The temps average around 20-25°C (68-77°C) with some days hitting above 30°C (86°F). The days are long, think almost 17 hours of sunlight on our longest day.

I took these course walk photos at~ 9pm

Fall (September-October)

Yet another crapshoot, sometimes we get fall. Sometimes it gets skipped for more winter. This year we had a fabulous fall. We had a wicked snow dump and cold spell on Thanksgiving (Oct 10) and then it got beautiful again and the snow all melted.
This was taken the day I hauled Sullivan 5 hours south for his RPSI foal inspection, on Sept 8
3 days later most of this was gone.
Fall is my favourite season. I love the sound of riding through fallen leaves. I love the smell of fall. I love how there are no bugs because we've generally had a couple of nights with frost.

Almost all of our leaves turn yellow, I do envy those who live in places that have more variation in their foliage

Riding Demographic:

According to the 2011 Census of Agriculture Alberta has by far the most horses in Canada, boasting 34% of the total equine population (whereas Ontario is second with 21%). You can do pretty much anything you want to here (also anything within 3 hours is generally considered an easy drive). It's pretty split down the middle between English and Western disciplines. The summer is short, but packed full of shows and clinics. I can quite easily fill every single weekend from May to Sept with a show or clinic (fun fact, I did this once. I was super broke and burnt out by the time October rolled around).

For eventing there are only 6 events held during our short season (June-Sept) and the furthest is 5 hours away, the closest is 45 minutes.

We have a few really decent local tack stores, which is good because shipping to Canada is unfortunately almost always over inflated (I'm looking at you RW, it would not cost $40 to ship a pair of gloves...) or not even available.

Most Frustrating:

Aside from the weather? The fact that we top out at Prelim in Alberta. If we want to go beyond that we have to haul to the States. Alberta actually has a solid contingent of riders who are going Intermediate and up but many of them end up spending the majority of their time campaigning south of the border. Those who can't up and move down south end up travelling down once or twice a year for 3-8 weeks at a time.

Final Thoughts:

As much as I complain about the weather I really love it here. While it would be nice to live somewhere where indoor arenas aren't a complete necessity for winter riding I seriously doubt I will ever make a permanent change of address.

The eventing community here is amazing. It's super supportive and encouraging. We were talking about it among some riders at a conference (most of us  in different disciplines) and discovered that if you realized you were missing a girth/cinch you'd likely have to run out and buy one for cutters, reiners, jumpers, and dressage. On the flip side both the eventers and the endurance riders figured we could easily come up with a couple options from relative strangers. And as a bonus Rebecca Farm is only 9 hours away.

Natural disasters are very limited here. We get the occasional tornado (the last really destructive one killed 27 people and was in 1987) and major blizzard and forest fires are a serious concern for the more northern parts of the province. But that's about it for my area. No hurricanes, no earthquakes, no major flooding concerns. I'll take our winters over all of the above (plus we have no venomous snakes and no rats).