Friday, June 26, 2015

Oooh La La - French Saddles and Other Developments

In which I join the fancy french saddle lovin' bandwagon...
Yes, in a completely ridiculous development, my $1500 ranch broke former western horse apparently has a taste for expensive french saddles.
Now, I am no tack snob. I would happily rock a purple bedazzled Wintec if it was the right fit for my horse. I actually am kind of jealous of Bobby and his plastic tack, of $900 Facebook Pony fame.
I would totally rock this
I am the last person to jump on any trend - I don't have an iPhone, I never owned an iPod, I've never owned Uggs or Crocs or designer jeans.
I am slowly becoming a convert of the fine french saddle. The Devoucoux Barritz will continue to be my 'Saddle of Dreams' and someday, if I have the $$$$, I will own one.
But I have to say, my used Butet is a close 2nd, and Boca agrees.  The balance is incredible.

One thing that frustrates me a little is that I *thought* I had done the right thing with his last saddle. Following the advice of my saddle fitter, foam saddles were THE DEVIL, a Thinline Pad would set his back on fire and for God's sake DO NOT use a French Saddle on him or you will ruin his back forever.
Guess what setup seems to be working?
You guessed it. A foam-filled French saddle with a Thinline Pad.
Grrrr. The horse world.
In other developments, Boca has been doing well.We've been doing a combo of lunging and riding as per Doctor's orders. He's been a pretty happy guy and is always happy to see me.
I have been keeping a journal of our rides and activities. H suggested I put a happy face or a frowny face for each day, so I can have an easy visual for evaluating our overall process.

I've been pretty diligent about keeping it up. I wouldn't want it to be said that I didn't do my part.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Life is Hard, We Ride Horses

I think, like everyone else in the blogging community, right now my heart and thoughts are with Lauren from She Moved to Texas Blog, in her time of need.
We all share a common bond in this little corner of the interwebz, which is the love of and dedication to the horse.
But we all have larger roles to play in life, Daughters, Mothers, Wives, Sisters, Employees, Friends, Co-workers, Co-boarders, Significant Others, what have you. And sometimes those roles can be complicated and difficult. Being a horse owner/rider/equestrian is only part of who we are.
Many of us face challenges outside of horses that are only hinted at - Medical Issues, Family Issues, Mental Health Issues.
Our common bond may be horses, but we are so much more than that, both as individuals and as a community.
I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that, whomever you are, no matter what your struggles, you are valued and you are not alone.
Life is hard. We ride horses.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Trailering Issues, Floppy Ammy Style

I have much to share with you all, including that I bought a fancy french saddle and went cross-country schooling by accident.
Of course, because I am a terrible blogger, I have no media, hence the lack of blog posts on the aforementioned topics.
Instead, I bring to you all my very own self-created trailering issue, because I am, above all things, a Floppy Ammy, and I still make stupid, ridiculous mistakes in this sport.
Luckily, my horse is a saint and mostly saves me from myself.
You don't say?
I may have fallen a bit silent over the last week or two, but I have been out there on the interwebz, and I know a few fellow bloggers are having the darnest time with trailering issues and their critters. All I can say is I feel your pain and I wish you the best. Loading a 1200+ lb animal in a tin can on wheels is a daunting prospect in the best of circumstances.
Luckily, Boca has always been an awesome loader and hauler, no thanks to me.
He walks on any trailer, alone or with company, hauls quietly for any length of time, happily unloads and stands tied to the trailer
His eyes are actually closed in this picture. Ball of fire, I tell you.

Saturday, my friend H scored the opportunity for us to ship over to the local hunt club and school on their private grounds. To say I was excited was an understatement. I was more like a kid given the keys to Disneyland and let loose to run amok.
We took H's huge Gooseneck instead of my bumper-pull. I loaded Boca on and latched the tie to the upper ring of his halter, the one on his cheek. I ususally clip the tie in my own trailer to the ring under his chin. Take note, this becomes important later.
H and I drove over, where we met up with H's friend L, who had so kindly given us access to the grounds. We chatted and got acquainted while we unloaded our tack and got set up.
H went onto the trailer first, and unloaded her large mare Piglet.
Next it was my turn to unload Boca.
I hopped up in the trailer, snapped my lead shank onto his halter and asked him to back up.
I was perplexed. Boca has NEVER given me any issue getting on or off any trailer.
I put my hand on his chest and gave him a little push to indicate it was time to get off.
His feet did not move.
Now I am wondering what the heck is going on. Piglet is already off the trailer, which is added incentive for Boca to disembark. H and L are asking what is going on and if I need any help. I ask Boca to back again and give him a sharp tap on the chest with my hand, to let him know I mean business.
At this point, he is tense and giving me the white side-eye, but his feet are still not moving.
It is around this time that I finally figure out THAT HE IS STILL TIED TO THE TRAILER.
I am asking my horse to back and smacking him in the chest, and all the while my poor horse is still clipped by the halter to the trailer tie.
You can't fix stupid.
I unclipped poor Boca and backed him off, apologizing to him over and over. H and L had a good laugh at my expense and assured me they had done it themselves at one time or another, with worse results.
And that, my friends, is why I am still a Floppy Ammy, and my horse is worth his weight in gold.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

90 Days

In the world of getting sober, 90 days is a big deal.
In many recovery programs, making it to 90 days is a landmark.
I got sober in New York City. In the fellowship I was a part of,
making it to 90 days was celebrated in different ways.
The group I belonged to had a unique tradition of doing a rose ceremony.
At the end of the month, anyone who had achieved 90 days sobriety that month was presented with a rose, marking that achievement.
I celebrated my 90 days with a giant hot fudge sundae, cause that's how I roll.
You're probably wondering what the heck any of this has to do with horses or riding.
I'm sharing this with you because I have decided to put Boca on a 90 day timeline.
I have done absolutely everything within my means to get him to a point where he is comfortable physically.
Now, he gets the chance to show me what he's made of. He needs to meet me halfway.
I figured that 90 days was a fair amount of time to begin to show progress. For us to start having fun again.
My 90 days timeframe ends August 31, 2015. I plan on keeping a training journal documenting every lunge and every ride between then and now. I'm going to be taking weekly lessons with a trainer that specializes in re-hab, conditioning, etc.
Not only does she ride, she trains and she also is a vet tech at one of the best equine hospitals in the region.
I'm giving Boca every opportunity to succeed in this career.
The stopwatch has been pressed.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

WWYD: Selling a Used Saddle

In my quest for perfect back health for Boca, I have decided to sell my saddle and try to find a better fit. Over all, the fit is not bad, but he did show some soreness under the panels, which went away when I stopped riding in it.
I have two options. One is to try and resell the saddle myself. The benefit of this is that I will get the maximum amount of money for my saddle. Consigners in my area take 25% of the sale, which is a pretty hefty chuck of the proceeds, especially as the funds from this saddle are going towards financing my next saddle.
The downside, of course, is that I don't have as much exposure as an established used-saddle dealer. Also, I've never sold anything on eBay and I'm a little worried that it could go horribly wrong. I've heard horror stories on chat room forums about exactly that happening.
Or, do I just say "F it" and sell it with a consigner, accepting the fact that I will lose about $500 this way?
I currently have it posted on Horseclicks, Tack Trader and a few facebook groups, so far with zero interest.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Get With The Program!

Dr. Sports Medicine came out last Thursday to re-check Boca's back and he was very happy with the improvement he saw.
He did this weird thingy (yes that is a scientific term) where he put one hand under his belly and one on his back and undulated his spine.

Sorta like that but with less tits & ass.
Dr. C said Boca's back had much more mobility than the first time he came out, and the areas we had injected did not show any soreness or pain at all.
He did find one area closer to his wither that we had not injected the first time around, that was still painful, so we decided to treat that as well.
I rode Boca under saddle for him, and Dr. C said he wished he had taken a video of the first visit, because he looked so much better under saddle. He was not hollow and braced, or doing any weird mouth things.
Dr. C said that the horse he saw now looked not like a horse in pain, but one that had just been pulled out of a field and was weak and needed conditioning.
I discussed a rehab program with Dr. C. My friend H had suggested 30 days of lunging to strengthen his back without the added complication of supporting a rider. In H's opinion, Boca isn't even ready for a Pessoa rig.
Dr. C recommended I start off with lunging 4x per week and riding 2x per week, then decreasing to lunge 3x per week and riding 3x per week.
The reason I tend to agree with H about the necessity of lunging is that I'm really not that talented a rider that I can get him consistently lifting his back and using himself correctly.
Heck, I even struggle with it on the lunge.
I had booked a lesson for Sunday with L, a visiting trainer that has helped another boarder with rehabbing her mare, both under saddle and on the lunge.
I'm trying to sort out the best program for Boca going forward.
A) Take 1hr lesson a week with L and work on under saddle stuff
B) Forego lessons for a month and pay H to work with Boca at least 2x times a week, lunging and/or riding.
I'm leaning towards doing Option B. I really want to give Boca the best possible foundation to really get him going correctly. I still need to iron out the details with H, but that is the direction I am heading in.
Its been almost 3 weeks of no consistent riding. It feels weird and I miss being on my horse!
One Handsome Dude

Thursday, June 4, 2015

#TBT - Me & Bob

In the spirit of there being another Triple Crown on the line this weekend,
I bring you this #TBT
I taught him everything he knows. Saratoga 2008.
For those of you who don't follow horse racing, or perhaps live under a rock,
this is the legendary Bob Baffert, Hall of Fame inductee and trainer of this year's Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, American Pharoah.
I will be watching the Belmont this Saturday and rooting for American Pharoah to be the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.
I used to be an avid horse racing fan and worked in the industry for a very brief time.
I watched some of the very best races, and some of the best racehorses of this century, 
in person at the rail at Belmont Park.
Part of me will be sad to be watching the race from my couch this weekend, far away from the thunder of hooves and the excitement.
If you've never experienced the thrill of a race, the beauty and drama of 1,000lbs of finely tuned athlete, muscles taut and coats gleaming, doing what it was bred and born to do,
then I highly encourage you to go and experience it first hand.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

And I Want To Thank You...

Okay, so it isn't the best day of my life.
But today is a hell of a lot better than yesterday was.
First, I have to say how unbelievable you guys are. Seriously.
The comments (and email) I received were so supportive and helpful.
I have heard that the internet can be a nasty place sometimes.
I would not have been totally surprised to have gotten a verbal b*tchslap in the comments.
But instead I got practical, real, advice, experience and empathy. That is pretty frickin' cool.
So thank you.
I did go to the barn last night, with no plans to ride.
Boca was really, really back sore. As in, more sore than before the injections.
H was there, and she ran her hand over his back and he literally dropped 3" out from under her. We talked a lot about the rehab instructions from the vet.
H said, if Boca was her horse, she wouldn't even ride him for 30 days. She said, in her opinion, he isn't even ready for the Pessoa rig.
H took us out and gave us a lunge line lesson. She showed me, through transitions within the gait at the walk and trot, how she would go about strengthening his back. H said, if Boca were hers, she wouldn't even bother with the canter much right now, she would build him up through transitions within the walk and trot on the lunge. It made a lot of sense, especially given what I was seeing with my own eyes. But I was concerned, because it contradicts the rehab advice given by the vet.
After we were done lunging, we linaminted his back, put a sheet on him (hello, 45 degrees in June) and I begged H to quit her job, turn Pro and coach us full time. But I digress...
Luckily, the vet is coming out tomorrow to do a re-check on Boca's back.
I sent him an email today to go over my concerns and to ask about a possible adjustment to the rehab schedule, given where Boca is at.
I look forward to finding out more at the vet appointment tomorrow.
I have a saddle rep coming out tonight to try to find a better option than our current saddle.
Not sure how that is going to go, given my pony is very back sore, and I'm really not sure about riding him at all.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I Have PMS - A Rant.

You have been warned.
This post will be angsty, warranted or not.
I will not be offended if you choose not to read it.
Hell, I am sick to death of the thoughts in my head.
I would not blame you for not volunteering to sign up as well.
The past 10 days of post-back injections rehab have been glorious.
My pony has walk-trot-cantered his little heart out on the lunge.
He has looked fantastic. His coat has been gleaming. His transitions are spot on.
He has been HAPPY. Happy to walk. Happy to trot. Happy to CANTER.
In the ring, in the grass. Tra-la-la-la F'ing LA.
A fellow boarder commented on how goofy and happy Boca seemed.
It is a whole side of his personality no one at the new barn has ever had the opportunity to experience before.
I thought we were getting somewhere. I got excited.
I thought "Maybe this might actually work!!!"
I made plans to find a new saddle. A better saddle. A saddle that would better fit his precious pony back. Who cares if it works for me or not. I created devious scenarios in my mind, in which I could convince my husband that we NEEDED to spend yet more money IMMEDIATELY to find the right saddle.
I searched eBay and used tack websites feverishly. I made an appointment with a local brand rep to come out on Wednesday. I mentally made plans, then canceled plans to drive 1.5 hours up to New Hampshire to bring home some saddles on trial.
Yesterday, June 1st was to be the first day Boca was to go back under saddle after 10 days of rehab.
Do you know how long 7 consecutive days of lunging feels like?
I can say with all honesty that I have never lunged 7 consecutive days in my life.
And I hopefully never will again.
Of course, the day for me to get back in the saddle, the temperature dropped 30 degrees and it was raining.
When I brought out the saddle instead of the lunge equipment, Boca started grinding his teeth in the cross ties.  AWESOME BEGINNING.
I was trying out the BO's Bates Caprilli, which actually seems to fit his massive shoulders and short back, y'know, without me actually in the tack.
I'm not sure what I expected. I didn't think I had an conscious expectations of our first ride back, but judging from my level of disappointment, clearly I did.
I lunged Boca under saddle first.  I knew logically that the combination of the 30 degree drop, a day off, and a return to the indoor was probably not the best set up for a triumphant return to under saddle work.
When I got in the saddle, he definitely felt different. It's hard to describe, but his back felt squishy and wobbly. He definitely felt less stable in the area. Maybe I am so used to him holding it still and not using it?
Random media break
Aside from some random teeth grinding, the walk and the trot were OK.
Not great. Not spectacular. There were no random kick-outs, no tail swishing.
But there was a definite lack of desire to go forward.
The canter had the same explosive upward transitions, where he launched himself upwards with his shoulders. There was no bucking or crowhopping.
I guess in general what is upsetting to me was that he was, in general, NOT HAPPY to do the work.
He's clearly happy on the lunge.
Under saddle, not so much.
Here are the fun thoughts currently playing through my mind.
Are you ready? This is where the PMS comes in.
1. I weigh too much for Boca. He'd be better with a smaller/lighter rider.
2. He has EPM and needs to be put down (thank you, too much time on internet chat boards)
3. I should just be content to w/t for THE REST OF MY LIFE AND NEVER EVER CANTER OR JUMP AGAIN.
4. I should buy a carrot stick and start pursuing Parelli excellence. Cause at least he's happy on the ground. Bring on the bag on a stick and level 4 Games.
5. I should call an animal communicator and really get to the bottom of this.
6. I should put him on a timeline. If we can't canter in 90 days, he goes.
I'm upset. I'm frustrated. I'm discouraged. I'm unreasonable.
I have spent a fortune in diagnostics. My husband is at his limit, money-wise and seeing me down about another bad experience.
I just... am tired of the thoughts in my head. Tired. Tired of trying to figure out what the hell is wrong. Tired of spending SO MUCH MONEY trying to simply w/t/c.
Rant over. Pass the ice cream.