Monday, November 25, 2013

Did I tell you about the time I broke my finger?

It's been just about 4 years now.

One pleasant Sunday in November, I was long lining The Mare at a walk.  Being a clod, I tripped and fell.  Forgetting that The Mare isn't one to take off in such circumstances, I held tight to the lines as I fell.  The Mare, not realizing anything had happened, blithely continued walking.  The right line, which was being held like normal reins between my ring finger and pinky, pulled tight and crunched my ring finger.  I get up and am like, darnit, that's annoying, dunno if it's broken or dislocated, but now I have to go to a doctor.

So The Mare got put away and I got taken to an urgent care place called Reddy Care (because it's run by Dr. Reddy... the man was born to do urgent care!).  Did x-rays, and Dr. Reddy comes in, shows me the x-rays, and informs me that I'm probably going to need surgery and I need to see a hand surgeon ASAP.  What, wait?  Seriously?

Yup, that's my proximal phalanx (aka the long pastern bone) in 3 pieces.  The next morning I get to work, tell the other people I might have to go, and call the hand surgeon we refer to.  They told me to come on over, so off I went.  They did more x-rays and the tech said "wow, I've never seen a finger broken like that before!"  If you're gonna do it, do it right.

The doctor gave me two options, cast it or surgery.  He recommended surgery because I'd be able to start moving it pretty much immediately, and stiffness and loss of motion is a big concern.  So I went with the surgery.

The next day, I had three little bitty screws put in.

This is what it looked like after the bandage was taken off a couple days after surgery..

Healing was pretty straightforward.  I went to physical therapy for a few weeks where I never did the home exercises but every time I went back it was improving anyway.

Now it's pretty much 100%.  I can't quite straighten it completely on my own and I can't crack the knuckle, but those things don't really matter, so it's all good.

 Here's what my finger looks like now:

So yeah.  That's the story of my broken finger.

And in case you were wondering, it was 6 months later that I broke my leg and had surgery on it, and 2 months after that that I had surgery on my other leg to fix my ACL.  So in about 8 months, I had surgery on 3 out of 4 limbs.  You're probably wondering if I bubble wrapped my fourth limb (left arm), because that's quite an orthopedic injury streak.  I did not, and thus far my remaining limb has remained intact.  I think it's safe because back in 6th grade gym class we were playing soccer and I was stuck as goalie.  The ball came at me, I stopped it with my hands, looked down, and my left pinky was rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise.  The ball snapped it off the growth plate, so it was broken and dislocated.  So really, my left arm had been struck by the curse, it was just way ahead of the curve.

Poor Mare has gotten a bad rap with my broken finger and leg..  None of it was her fault.  Both accidents were a combination of bad luck and my stupidity.  I don't blame her at all for it.

Okay, so I was wrong.

My last post, I commented that he looked off in the video but he was actually totally sound.  Being a Nervous Nellie, I should the video to my vet, who laughed at me and was like "uh, he is lame, that's not an illusion."  But-but-but.... he felt 100%!  I even rode without a whip, which never happens!!  How could he be lame??

That was Wednesday.  She said she could come out Friday morning, so longe him Thursday evening and see if he's still lame.  I sent her the video, she texted back that she'd see me in the morning.  *sigh*

My poor wonderful vet is going to regret telling me he's lame, I told her from now on before I ride I'm going to longe him and send her a video and wait for the okay to ride.

So Friday she came out with hoof testers.  The problem is his left front.  He has nice thick soles, but there's a spot that's soft despite being thick.  Most likely is he's just ouchy because the ground is really uneven and frozen solid, so he probably took a bad step.  Nothing to worry about.  I'll see if any of my hoof boots fit him for extra protection.

Also, I've mentioned before what a hoover The Mare is.  She gets 3-4 flakes of hay at night, which is probably 15-20 pounds.  She's down to nibbling on scraps while everyone else has half their hay left at 9PM.  I asked the BO if I could put up a hay net, so The Mare would get her normal amount on the floor like normal, and I'd have the hay net for her to nibble at all night.  First night, I put in 3 flakes, thinking she wouldn't eat it all, but it'd give me an idea of how much she eats overnight.  Next morning.... nothing.  She ate 30+  pounds of hay overnight.  Holy crap.  It's a small hole hay net!  The holes are like 1.5" square!  Apparently she doesn't sleep....  So now she gets one flake in the hay net.  I'm going to put the hay in the net, and then put it in another small hole hay net.  Hopefully that will slow her down enough that she can't gobble the whole thing up in no time.  I wouldn't really worry except that she has ulcers and I don't want her going all night without anything in her stomach, but she can't be eating $10 of hay every night when she's at a good weight!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fashion forward! Picture-heavy post

I've had a boring navy blue quarter sheet sitting around for years.  It's been used maybe twice.  But with Princess being half naked, I finally have a use for it!  Except... boring navy blue quarter sheet?  Yuck.  So I improved it....
Much better!

"Do I look fabulous, Mom?"

If he looks directly at his reflection, he'll be blinded by the awesomeness.

In a fit of frenzy, I not only improved the quarter sheet, I also finished a saddle pad that I started making... um, a little while ago... *coughMarchcough*

I think it was worth the wait:
 I picked the fabric because it's pretty, but also because I can use it on all three of my horses if I want (even though I only ride one....)--pink for Princess, blue for The Mare, and lime green for the old man.


Another boarder came out while I was riding, so I roped her into videoing us.  River looks pretty good, but sweet mother of mercy I'm terrible.  Heels down?  Why bother!  On the bright side, if a fence pops up in front of us, I'm already in a half seat!

Video stills...



And the video..
 I'm going to have to make sure to put boots or polos on him--3 white legs and 1 chestnut leg trick the eye and make him look off.  I swear he's not!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Unsung Tack Heroes, part 1

I want to talk a bit about some pieces of tack and equipment that are, in my opinion, pretty darn awesome, but for some reason are not widely known or used.  Today's subject is

The Kineton Noseband

This is something you rarely see and many people have no idea what it is for.  So what is it?  A kineton is a very simple noseband.  An adjustable strap goes behind the ears.  At each end the strap connects to one side of a metal U.  The other side of the U connects to another leather strap which goes over the nose and connects the two metal Us.  The mouthpiece of the bit sits in the bottom of the U.

So what does it do/how does it work?  First, how does a bit generally work?  When you put pressure on the reins, it pulls the bit and puts pressure on the bars and tongue.  The more pressure on the reins, the more pressure on the horse's mouth.  Add a kineton, and what happens?  Some of the pressure on the horse's mouth is transferred to the kineton, so instead of pressure on the bars and tongue there is pressure on the horse's nose.

Here, I illustrated the above picture:
 The red arrow is rein pressure, the dark purple is the bit ring, the green is the U, the pink is the noseband, light purple is where the bit is being held.
Pull on red --> pull on dark purple --> pull on green --> pull on pink --> pressure on nose.  The end.

Okay, nose pressure, so what?  There are two reasons that's good:

1.  If the horse's mouth hurts or is very sensitive or for whatever reason the horse doesn't like much pressure on his mouth, the kineton helps protect the mouth by limiting how much pressure can be put on the mouth.  This doesn't mean it's okay to yank at the bit, but it does mean it's easier to maintain less contact with the mouth, which is important if the horse is afraid of the bit.  If the horse stumbles or something and you accidentally catch the horse in the mouth, there's some protection.

2.  "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."  If mouth pressure isn't yielding the response you want, even with different mouthpieces, then try something else, like nose pressure.  Some horses respond very well to it.  English horses don't generally use nose pressure, so it's something that can change things up a lot.

The kineton passes The Mare Test, which is pretty much the highest recommendation I can give.  The Mare is a stereotypical chestnut Thoroughbred mare.  Hot, sensitive, and opinionated.  She doesn't tolerate any attempts to control her.  If she accepts a piece of tack, then it's gentle and inoffensive.  We were able to go from a hand gallop to a super bouncy, uphill, controlled canter.  (Before this, I had heard of a "bouncy canter" and understood the idea, but I'd never really felt it.... to feel it on The Mare is just shy of a miracle!)  At first, she tried opening her mouth to avoid the bit, but when she realized that wasn't going to work, she settled right down and was great.  No tantrums, no attitude.

I don't use it often.  At this point, I pretty much only pull it out if I haven't ridden the old guy (in the pictures) in a while and I think I might need a little bit extra.  I've never used it on Princess and have no plans to at this point, because I don't think it would do him any good.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Vet was out to do teeth on Thursday.  50% of my horses were great!  Because The Mare didn't need to have her teeth done at all...

Princess took 3 doses of tranq.  Next time we should just give him the whole bottle...  He's so obnoxious about it.  He'll sort of sit back and then heave forward.  And then it's a pain in the butt to back him up again because he's just soooooooo drugged.  As if.  Vet would be working on his teeth and he'd fling his head around, so the float would jab him in the mouth, no doubt proving his belief that teeth floating is torture.  We'd have been done in half the time if he'd just chill out.

Thankfully my vet is really good about it.  Yeah, it's annoying, but it's not like he's doing it on purpose.  He doesn't understand why this thing is in his mouth and why he should put up with it.

River is just very sensitive about some things.  He's a wimp about pain, and scary things like floating will never stop being scary.  It's frustrating because there's nothing you can DO about it.  You can't train a horse to be a little more stoic when he hurts or to stand quietly when someone is poking around in his mouth with a big drill thing.

Also, I made the world's cutest saddle pad to sell.  I want to keep it...

$50 including shipping in the US...  if I don't decide I have to have it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I rode!

I actually rode!  I feel bad about having poor Princess so naked, so tacking up is an adventure.  Pull up his blanket to uncover his hindquarters, throw a cooler over.  Pull the blanket off, throw the saddle on, cover him up with the cooler, and get the saddle placed and girthed while keeping him as covered as possible.

We walked for a while with the cooler on so he wouldn't get cold and took it off just before trotting.  At one point he almost had a freak out for some unknown reason.  He started getting goofy and flipping his head.  Thankfully it only lasted a few seconds and then he was fine.

We did a lot of trotting and leg yielding and shoulder-inning.  Even with a sitting trot!  The last time I tried a sitting trot it was yucky and he didn't appreciate it.  This time he was completely fine.  Whenever the last time I rode was, there was someone in the ring on foot, and I asked her to basically be my mirror so I could find out if what was supposed to be a shoulder-in was actually a shoulder in.  It was.  *happy dance*  The mirrors aren't placed ideally for basic lateral work--one is on the short side but placed maybe 8 feet off the rail so you can only see yourself in it if you go up the quarterline; the other is on the long side in the middle.  But last night I walked him down the quarterline and asked for shoulder-in to try to see in the mirror.  And yay, he was doing it!  It wasn't very steady and wavered between shoulder-fore and shoulder-in, but it was more or less what I wanted.  AND it was off the rail, which makes it harder.  AND it was in his harder direction (the mirror is placed so you have to be going to the right to see in it). 

I even got really ambitious and attempted haunches-in and haunches-out.  I know the correct terms are renvers and travers, except:  A.  I don't know which is which; B.  I pronounce them "ren-vers" and "tra-vers", not even remotely correctly; and C. The end results were so far from what is correct that it's an insult to the correct terms.

We tried.  It wasn't very successful, but we tried.  We just need practice.  He needs to get more bendy (although he's VERY bendy when there's food involved), and I need to keep a correct position and stop contorting myself.  I think there were a few steps here and there that involved some bend and shifting his hindquarters.  We got an A for effort, a D- for execution.

The vet is coming in the morning!  River needs his teeth done, as does another boarder (the world's cutest OTTB!  He's like 15hh and is adorable!).  The Mare might need her teeth done..  It's been over a year, but I don't ride her, she's at a good weight, and she's a hoover (seriously.... all the other horses will have at least half of their dinner hay left and she's searching her stall for any scraps she missed.  I'm pretty sure we could give her an entire bale and she'd have it gone by morning.).  So we'll see about her.

Awww!  His clip doesn't look too bad..

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

River is looking like the little brother in A Christmas Story...

...when the mom gets him all bundled up to go out in the snow and he's wearing so many clothes he can't move.

It started snowing last night.  Temp was in the mid-high twenties this morning and there were a couple inches of snow.  Poor Princess is half naked.  He's been wearing a midweight turnout with neck cover.  He felt warm enough in his stall, but I didn't want him getting cold outside, so I added a midweight belly band stable blanket underneath.  He's going to be plenty warm!

Thankfully, he's so good about blanketing and having everything taken off/put on over his head.  The stable blanket is a closed front, so it has to go on over his head.  The Rambo is open front, but undoing the the velcro straps on the hood and the snaps and two velcro things on the chest?  Ugh, way too much work.  Much easier to undo the surcingles, pull the tail strap up over his back, and pull the whole thing off over his head.  Plus it's really fun to leave it half on/half off for a few seconds while he's like "omg, woman, grow up, it's not that funny, now would you please finish??"

Monday, November 11, 2013

Trace clipping gone wrong...

I mentioned recently that I was going to clip River..  Well, Saturday was the day.  Armed with my $60 clippers from the pet aisle at Walmart and a new blankie, I set to work.  Unfortunately, I didn't have the most important part of a decent trace clip:  Tape.  It's best to use masking tape on your horse to show where you want to clip, and to create a barrier preventing accidentally clipping.

Since I didn't have tape, I had to free-hand it.  I'm not very good at free-handing.  Things get crooked and lopsided and I go back and forth trying to make things match and it just doesn't work.  After clipping, I put his new blankie on and put him back outside... he took off bucking and galloping, apparently trying to get as far away from me and the terrible clip job as possible.

I stopped back Saturday evening to get pictures and make sure he's warm enough..

 (It's green because the lights hadn't fully turned on.)

Lest you think "oh, that doesn't look so bad!"..

It's okay, he's warm and cozy and the bad clip is totally hidden!

I'm just going to have to tack him up in his stall, in the dark, and use a quarter sheet so no one can see, lol.

I have to say, the cheap Walmart clippers did a much better job than I expected.  Don't judge the clippers by the quality of the clip, that's all my fault.  $60 for cordless clippers with an adjustable blade is a pretty good deal.  It took maybe 40 minutes or so to clip him.  Would have taken longer if I'd, you know, done a good job.  I didn't do anything to get him particularly clean, but the clippers had no problem.  So two thumbs up for Wahl pro-series lithium ion clippers!  We're not discussing a finger rating for my clipping.....

Poor River.  He suffers so much. 

In case you were wondering, The Mare is alive and well.  She's actually looking almost fat.  Yay!  She's wearing clothes now, too--the 100g shell of her Rambo Duo.  River is sporting a medium weight Rambo Plus turnout. 

My horses have better quality clothes than I do...  For example, the work pants I'm wearing are missing a button and one of the belt loops was torn out when I got it stuck on a door.  They're like $20 pants from Target, so not like it's a big deal to replace them.  To be fair, I've decided that I will not buy any more pants in this size.  New pants must be a size smaller.  For some reason, my jeans are all perfect in a 16.  Work pants (khakis and the like) are better in an 18.  What??  Sigh.  Someday I'll be back down to a 12.  (Which I know isn't even really skinny...  Even when I was a 12, I was 20 pounds "overweight", but it was the best shape I'd been in my life and I was totally happy with it.)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

An actual update!

Let's see...

I rode a couple/three weeks ago.  I tried my dressage saddle again and it was much better.  Apparently I was too fat for it last time..  down about 30 pounds since May-ish.  I was tipping forward, but I think a pad will help with that.  I'm still trying to sell the saddle, though.

Thursday horses stayed in, so I brought Princess in the indoor to run around a bit.  I even had him free jump a little:

I did make it higher, but he's kind of dumb and I can't get him to free jump and video at the same time.

Rode last night.  We didn't do a whole lot because I haven't been riding much.  It seems pretty mean to ignore him for a few weeks, and then expect him to work hard.  We only "worked" for maybe 15 minutes.  I even did a little trotting without stirrups!  (I know this is "no-stirrup November", but there's no way I'm going without stirrups for a month.  Besides, one year I gave up stirrups for Lent, so that's way cooler.)  Then we walked around for a while like this:

And just after I took that picture, he walked into the middle of the ring and stopped, very clearly indicating that he was sufficiently cooled out and was ready to go back to his still.  I know I shouldn't let him get away with that sort of thing, but it's so funny I can't help it.

Sadly, our meager ride was enough to get him sweaty, so I'll have to trace clip him.  Bah.

River looking cute and dumb:

My vet got this handy mousetrap.  Mice like Milky Way candy bars.

Isn't it so darn cute???