Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Utopia, sorta.

Guinness is super happy in his new place. His whole demeanor just exhibits a laid back feel that he hasn't had since I owned him. It's obvious that the positive feelings of this place are rubbing off on him. Our rides have been happier, and so both of us have been too!

Of course, better rides want me to be able to show off a little. I'm looking into joining the USEA and getting everything set up to show this season. I know planning a show season in late March is a little silly, but I think we can do it.

The only thing we have going for us is a strong support system and a strong financial base. Whew. Wish us luck.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Well, Tuesday was one of the longest days I've had in a long while, but it was totally worth it. Just loading Guinness into the trailer was harrowing enough of an adventure (2 hours! Holy Crap!), but we finally pulled into the new barn at 8:20 on Tuesday night. Whew.

The big guy unloaded like a champ, covered in a cold sweat. Poor pony. Heavy duty trailer training is obviously in our future. He definitely doesn't feel comfortable with the trailer, getting in or riding. That's a skill that we are always going to need. It can't take us 2 hours to leave a place, that's just silly.

Anyway, the new place is awesome! Everyone there is very helpful and very comfortable to be around. The best part though? It's way closer to my house. Like on my running path closer. I'm such an crazy runner person (sometimes!) that I actually run on my lunch break (or in the mornings when the summer heat makes me catatonic). Usually I just go 3 miles, shower and head back to work. Check out the map below. It is just under 3 miles for me to run to my horse, check him over, turn him out, and head back to home! This is totally the best part!

Hello saving gas money by walking to the barn! Woot!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Signed, Sealed, Delivered (almost!) ...

Well, we signed a new boarding contract today. The new place comes with several positive reviews and recommendations from equine friends, a well-maintained xc field, two nice sand outdoor arenas, a great feeding plan, and ...

a bigger price tag.

Ouch. Well, I know from the from working in leasing that people will pay for what they really want. And, it's very true in this case. This new barn is 2.5 miles from my house, and on the path of my daily runs. I can clean my own stall, and be responsible for a majority of my horse's care. Guinness will be fed three times a day, not just two. There is a vet on 100% emergency call who works with and knows the owners well. The turnout fields are rotated to cut down on parasites. They feed a fabulous low-starch pellet option ...

Obviously it's a much better option for us.

The barn owner had to meet with me today to make sure I would not be a total crazy in his facility. Luckily ... I'm sane. Apparently. I guess they had a problem with a woman boarding at their stable and trying to take over all the lessons with their kids and they wanted to make sure I wasn't going to be crazy like that. Yeah, uh? No. I never want children, nor want to deal with them more than necessary. I plan to get to the barn as soon as lessons are over, and before they begin as often as possible. Hurrah!

The last week has been a flurry of boarding searching, vigilant care of my horse and work (which has been totally nutty, of course!). It's looking like the next week is going to be a lot of work getting everything prepared and ready for the move, then settling in. The move is scheduled for Tuesday night. I haven't told my barn manager that I am moving yet ... and don't plan to until my horse is on the trailer and driving to the new barn. I know it's a horrid move, but I'm honestly terrified she would do something to my horse before I can get him moved.

Oh Giggle Pig, how did we get in this situation?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

If it isn't one thing, it's another.

This week has just been a catastrophe of scheduling conflicts, busy days and mysteriously swollen legs. It's been so crazy all I've wanted to do is come home and die at night (and pretty much, that's exactly what I have been doing!). For the most part, we've all been doing fine ... but for the scare with Guinness' leg.

Last Tuesday after pulling the big man out of the field, I noticed some blood on his little white coronet. I fished around in his long wet hair, but couldn't find a wound. Finally, I concluded that his injury was probably due to the chapped skin of his coronet area splitting, sprayed some antibacterial stuff on it, covered his coronets with Corona and called it a day. Unfortunately, I had missed the real issue.

Thursday I found him with a swollen back leg, stemming from a hot laceration halfway between his hock and fetlock and sitting directly over the tendon. Fabulous. He wasn't lame at all, and cold-hosing seemed to have no effect. I cleaned his leg as well as possible, sprayed it with antiseptic and we went for a light ride. After the ride? Clean and cool legs prevailed.

Friday evening he again had horrid swelling and his feet were even hot. It was clear he had not been outside since, as his legs weren't muddy (oh! the mud!). I started flipping out immediately, calling people and being a general nuisance. 10 min of cold hose followed by 10 min of walking rinse and repeat lessened the swelling by half, and I wrapped his back legs and covered him with a light sheet.
But Mom, I HATE wraps and blankets! Gross.
Saturday morning, less swelling. We walked around a bit, cleaned his wound and redressed - sending him outside to walk around the rest of the day. That evening the swelling was down again. I wrapped his legs again and set him in his stall again. This morning everything looked fabulous under his wraps and he was still sound, so we hacked out.

Man, I love this horse! He was definitely feeling his couple of days off, but kept his head around him. He has the ability to feel like a basket case while staying relatively easy to sit. I think it's how he can toss his head, and his neck can totally disappear. He doesn't buck (ever, really), but does have a tendency to just bounce in place when excited. There was lots of that today.
The ground was pretty nasty. Twenty-odd inches of melted snow can do that do your field. He was slow moving over the really gross stuff, but we slogged through all of it, worked on collecting and trotted up lots of hills to work on condition. Even with the temps hovering around 50, he stayed relatively cool. I'm so proud! My little eventer is getting so brave!

My fellow boarder went out with me. Her cowhorse-trained Quarter is such an adorable dressage horse in training. I couldn't stop watching them! Of course, he's a little small for my tall friend, so she's looking for something a little larger to learn to jump on. Here's his Craigslist ad. He's super cute, and just needs someone to put the jump training on him. With that and a few more miles, he would make a cute pony clubber mount for C1 and below. Easy Peasy.

Meanwhile, the barn search is underway. I've looked everywhere near me. It's difficult, as the boarding prices are exorbitant in this area. I'm still waiting on a few places to get back to me. My notice isn't in yet (don't want my B/O stop feeding my horse altogether once she learns i'm leaving!). I'm hoping to have him moved in the next 30 days.
Get me out of here!

As for me personally? I'm struggling with the thought of entering the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon. Billed as one of the most fun large running events, I can't really resist. The Cincinnati/Northern KY Apartment Association is doing a charity sponsor group - and they want me. I need sponsors, though. What do you guys think? Should I sign up? Anyone want to donate to watch me run?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Anger, or How I Lost Trust in My Barn Manager

Sometimes, I hate learning I'm right about something. Let me fill you in ...

We all know how I have been struggling a bit with Guinness' weight. How he's been yo-yo-ing worse than Oprah Winfrey. How his coat's been dull. How a million other little signals that he's not 100% have been driving me CRAZY! Yes, yes? We're all on the same page right? Good, because yesterday I found out why. Ready?
My Barn Manager has been switching his feed. Repeatedly. Without telling me.

Reducing, changing, adding, removing - if you can do it horse feed, she's been doing it. This is a HUGE no-no in my book. Especially with a horse who suddenly has weight problems and arthritis and bad feet. Especially since she hasn't felt the need to share any of this with me. Here I've been pulling out my hair and feeling like a terrible owner, and she's been changing up his feed about every three days!

I could KILL her!

When I moved to the barn, I thought my barn manager was a little flaky and a little backyard breeder-ish. All the horses looked good, so I thought I'd give the place a try. I'm should have kept those misgivings a little more in mind, because I wanted him on as little grain as he needed to hold his weight (he was in perfect weight), and as much hay as I could feed him. She put him on 3 flakes of hay twice a day, and a scoop of a low-starch complete feed twice a day. Plus turnout. She promised round bales all winter. When he started losing weight, I added corn oil to see if that helped. Turns out, they added Pig Feed instead.


Okay, that I caught early and told her to "Never, EVER, feed that to my horse again." I thought I had taken care of the feed issues with that. Nope. Apparently she stopped feeding oil, and while giving me miscellaneous vet advice about how to get my horse to gain weight, switching him from a good 12% low starch to sweet feed (probably because she ran out of the other!). Then, I asked her to add beet pulp, which she did. For two days. TWO WHOLE DAYS! Seriously? She explained herself yestday by saying "he was throwing it all around, I don't think he likes it." Really? She'd told me that she wasn't sure if he liked it after he was on it for one day. I told her we'd stick with it for awhile longer to see how he did with it. One day is not "awhile longer". Furthermore, why did she take him off of it without me telling her?

His hay portions are another matter. He's been dropped from 3 flakes to 2 per feeding. Okay. At this point it just seems like one more thing to bring up. How many times can I say, "Just tell me before you have to change anything!".

So now, my horse has been on 12%, oil, pig feed (!!!!!), sweet feed, beet pulp, and now (as of last night) Purina 200. In addition, when I asked about my supplement supplies, she told me that has about another months worth of my SmartPaks. Um? What? I should be just about out of SmartPaks, as my March order has already shipped. SmartPaks doesn't screw up - so these have not been fed either. Great.

Now, I still feel like a horrid horse owner, but now for a different reason. I should have caught this catastrophe earlier, and paid much closer attention to how my horse was cared for. I also should have followed my gut instinct and not trusted my barn manager. Moving Guinness is something I am looking into really seriously right now. There's another barn nearer to my house that I wouldn't mind trying. The board is a little more, but he'd be closer and easier to keep an eye on. I guess I have phone calls to make.

In other news, our riding has been going fabulously! Even with the snow/mush that's out there right now, we're getting to hack out at least twice, and typically 3 times a week. It's slow walking work, but he's out of shape and it's a good way to work on that condition. After reading this lovely post from Andrea, I decided to try dropping Guinness' bit to see if he would stop fussing so much. And, you know, he's really doing better at accepting contact. Part of his fussing is from being bored/nervous, and that's not going to go away but with more engaging work. But the part that was just generally fussy has stopped, for the most part. Whoo!

Now, gotta run to check whether Guinea's evening feed has been made properly!

Guinness says: "If you feed me what you're supposed to, I wouldn't look like my topline DIED!"