Sunday, December 16, 2012

Happy Holidays

Granite had his third vet visit on Friday. His temperature has stayed normal and he seems to be responding really well to his pain meds (now on once daily previcox). The treatment plan is to keep him in his stall and small paddock for another month when we will ultrasound again and pull more blood work to make sure his spleen has gone back to normal and the ab muscle has repaired. Although I basically called off purchasing any more Christmas gift the bills have set me back so far, but this was the best case diagnosis and the big guy is feeling better now. So, I'm a relatively happy horse mom.

I'm really looking forward to the holidays. After work this week I'll go to my parent's house on the Outer Banks. The best part is that TK will be with me for the first time this year. We'll return to our home for his birthday on the 27th. He will be 29. Where does the time go? The next day, we pack up with his family and head to Asheville, NC to spend 4 days enjoying the family's company and the beautiful mountains. To top off the great vacation, TK and I will spend new years eve with my favorite band: The Avett Brothers. I. Can't. Wait. But, 11 days without my Granite will be tough. I'm just glad he has our amazing Barn Owner to watch after him and that he is feeling better going into the holidays.

I'm sorry I've been absent most of the year. I guess I just didn't have anything moving to write. I'm glad I've been able to follow along with your lives.

Wishing you all a Happy Holiday!
From Me, Granite, Little Daphne Dog, and TK <3

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mystery Solved.... Hopefully: The Diagnosis.

I'm writing this with a (large) glass of Merlot in my hand.... just sayin. 

It was a stressful day, but I think it turned out as best as it possibly could.

I couldn't coerce my horse in the trailer without feeding or working/upsetting him (two things I was instructed not to do). So ,my (amazing) vet already had a back up plan. She, another vet and two vet student interns rolled up to the barn with the ultrasound. The other vet, whom I had never met, we very sweet but I nearly cursed when she said "this is such a fascinating case." I was all "oh no sweetheart, this is scary, not interesting!"

But anyhoo. They gave granite a really cool hair cut (bless his pea pickin heart). And ultrasounded his lower belly (the suspect of much of the pain). After lots of srunched noses and Hmmm and Ummms. The verdict was that there were no foreign bodies in his tummy. But there appears to be a torn abdominal muscle, swollen spleen, hematoma, and a possible bruised rib. She pulled more blood work to be sure that nothing else had come up since monday. She did another rectal exam and the only thing she could feel was the swollen spleen, everything else was normal back there. 

We are guessing he was kicked or wiped out reallly hard playing in the pasture or fell ON something (rock or stump or something). It started fairly mild so perhaps it got worse while he was playing in the pasture. 

Either way we are doing some strong antibiotics to prevent abscess, low-dose ulcerguard and banamine. Oh yeah, and 6 weeks restricted turn out (in a small lot, by himself). He gets more antibiotic shots on Monday and then a re-check with the vet on Friday (assuming the second blood panel comes back normally).

I'm SUPER broke after these two visits and meds and the like but this is basically the best possible scenario. No surgery or lingering/reoccuring issues. Just G being a goof-head and hurting himself.

He was such a champ today for the whole thing. Very patient and tolerant even though he wasn't feeling good. 

I'm just glad that I think (hope) that we have our answer and my boy will start to feel better soon.

Thanks for all of the suggestions and mostly the thoughts and prayers. I think I will actually maybe get some sleep tonight and not have nightmares of waking up to my horse being dead. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Riddle-- Also Known as 'Stump the Vet'

Granite is sick.

Want to help try to solve the puzzle... or maybe just put bets on what the vet finds?

here is how it went down:

2 weeks ago, Monday the 19th. I hopped on bareback at dusk to get a short ride in after work before it got completely black (we don't have lights). We walked to the right and when I asked him to bend to the left he pinned his ears and tried to bite my foot (Granite doesnt do that). We repeated that twice before I jumped off and called it game-over. He was hurting. He got a new buddy in his pasture that day (not new to him or the farm, just to the pasture) and I had heard that they were all running around that day playing. I assumed maybe he had gotten kicked. No marks. Just sensitivity at the girth on the left side. We keep him in the stall overnight to monitor, just in case he is colicky.He came through just fine.

He got the next day off, I worked late.

Wednesday the 21st, repeat same situation. Dusk bareback ride, not happy with left leg pressure. Trainer was there to witness this and said "maybe ulcers." Still seemed to only have sensitivity to pressure on the left. His back felt fine. No reactions.

I monitored the situation the rest of that week and even managed to ride for 15min (just walk/trot) that weekend. He didn't like being girthed and was a bit irritated at upward transitions, but nothing violent or ill-willed.

The next week, I start to notice both sides getting a negative reaction when pressed. And now moving more toward the lower belly with little reaction near the girth.

Is it his sheath? Last winter he had very similar issues but with a good cleaning (we last cleaned in July), they resolved.

Cleaned his sheath and couldn't come to the barn the next day but I made it out Friday the 30th. He is OUCHY. All near his groin, flank, lower belly. He is eating, drinking, pooping, peeing, grazing, playing in the pasture normally (all along) but is very sensitive in the low belly.

Saturday (the 1st) I try the Maalox test for ulcers. No improvement. At. All. I monitor him for a few hours. Plays in the pasture, eats, does normal horsie things. Normal stool.

Sunday morning I get a call from the Barn Owner. G just isnt right. His eyes are dull. He is in pain. I call the on-call vet. Fortunately, its "our" vet at the practice. She asks for his temp. Its normal. I tell her about all the other normal things he is doing. She determines he can wait until Monday (my credit cards says thanks).

Monday the 3rd of December she does a thorough exam finding the pain in the places I do. She does a rectal exam, and oral exam, sedates and cleans sheath (finds nothing-- compliments me on doing a decent job myself). She determines that we will treat for ulcers with gastro guard and run blood panel and stool sample. After a few days we will reevaluate and possibly scope for ulcers.

Tuesday morning Blood work comes back perfect. No signs of infection. Electrolytes are good. No high white blood cell count. Other medical stuff I dont understand is all good. No sediment or worms in the stool... lovely. Continue treatment with gastroguard.

Tuesday evening I'm at a late meeting for work. I get a call that G is pacing and while he ate his grain, he wont touch his hay. I rush out and call the vet. We see him poop (its normal) and his temp is fine. We have no banamine on hand but she suggests bute for pain bc he doesn't have diarrhea. She decides that he needs to be scoped asap.

I dont have a trailer and my big horse won't fit in the barn owners (who just started her new job last week anyway). I can't get a ride for today (Wednesday). So, the vet says thats OK. I go pick up banamine. She says we will keep gastroguarding. He goes in for scope and (ultrasound maybe?) tomorrow (thursday the 6th) at 11:30. He hasn't loaded in a trailer in a long time and he can't eat before hand. So that and the fact that I have no idea how I'm going to pay for it is an entirely different world of worry.

But for now.... any bets on whats wrong with my horse. ANYONE had something similar. Pain is is only symptom. I'm at a loss. Maybe he ate something (there is a double-sided  latch missing from his stall door)?

Keep your fingers crossed for us. He is miserable. As of lunch today he had also not had any water since last night. That worries me too.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dog Found. Shoes Lost. Bell Boots Devoured. Car Sold.

Sorry to keep you all on the edge of your proverbial seats. After 5.5 of the WORST days of my entire life, my dog came home. At 12:30 in the morning. During a huge thunderstorm. To the door of our apartment. After spending hundreds of dollars and countless hours and lakes of tears on trying to find her and get her back, she just came home 5.5 days later and scratched and whined at the door. We had our small animal vet friend check her out and other than having worn out paw pads, some tape worms, and a few fleas, she was no worse for wear. She turned 5 yesterday, at home, safe and spoiled. Thank heavens.

That week was the week from hell. My grandma Dorothy passed away, TK got a concussion at football practice (yes, he is the coach.... but he still managed a concussion), and I got a speeding ticket on my way to my hometown for the funeral. I'm still in debt from the dog search/ speeding ticket/ unexpected 10 hour round trip home. But, its over now and for at least 1 week after it all life has been calm.

Of course, that doesn't mean I've been riding. Granite has a mystery swelling in his left hind that would come and go. Of course, he wasn't lame, just mysteriously swollen for a week. And then, he kicked off his shoe. His feet look AWFUL. Crumbly from the weather and every time he managed to pull a shoe off, he takes more wall with it. I've gone through three sets of bell boots this month trying to keep his shoes safe from his klutziness  but he eats them all! Our SuperFarrier came out yesterday and concurred that we should pull the shoes and let his feet rehab a bit. He has been on supplements for 3 months, so that will take many more months, but hopefully if he doesn't have shoes to rip off, his feet can grow a little. The farrier also said he felt comfortable with me riding him moderately without the shoes (because of his "special hoof" our farrier has always suggested keeping him shod while in work, but he thinks the angles are holding up well and we can proceed). So MAYBE, we will get to ride a little bit before my week-long trip to Oregon/Washington over Labor Day and the week to follow. I literally think I've ridden twice in August. As my best friend wisely stated yesterday, "there's always next year."

And finally, I sold my Red Car last week. After 7 years and some change with me (covering most of college, grad school, my first two big kid jobs, 1 major wreck, many minor boyfriends, a year of commuting, and countless trips home to see my parents), it was time to let Red Car take care of someone else. At nearly 187,000 miles, I just didn't trust her to make the journey back to my parents house any longer and it was getting unfair to TK to have to borrow his vehicle any time I wanted or needed to travel more than 1 hour on the interstate. So, we kept Red in the family and sold her to my fairy-horse-mother (Dianne)'s son. He is thrilled with her and I am happy to see her still loved and useful. Toyotas are GOOD cars!

And the search is on for a replacement. Fortunately, TK's little brother is hiking the Appalachian Trail (yes, all 2,200 miles of it), so TK is driving the little brother's car while I drive his until I find something to call my own. I was thinking small SUV, but we are (yet again) moving in October and will have a bit longer of a drive to the office and the barn. And I really don't want to be too bogged down with car payments and cost of ownership, so now I'm back to searching for a super-fuel efficient car to last me a good long while. I can't afford anything to haul Granite's big rear end yet, so I may as well try to be as economical as possible until I can. I'm hoping to go procure a new-to-me 2010ish Toyota Corolla this weekend. We shall see.

So that should about get you up to speed on my very exciting (NOT) life :) Cheers and happy trails to all as I look forward to HOPEFULLY getting some time in the saddle soon!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Motivation Missing: Reward Offered

I skipped the barn tonight. So not cool, considering that I can't go out Friday-Tuesday of next week. FAIL! It has just been so super hot out and my mind has been SO elsewhere!

TK and I are strongly considering a new rental house:

So cute.

I also think I'll be purchasing a vehicle shortly. I wish I could afford something with which to haul the pony-boy, but it just isn't in the cards quite yet. I test drove this today:

2006 Toyota Rav4. I'd rather a Highlander however.

TK's mom and I are also planning a trip to Portland/Seattle for September 2nd - 7th. I know some of you out there are rep'in the PNW, so let me know, what do we HAVE to see??

Finally. TK and I and his parents are going to visit my parents and their best friends back in my home town. The twist (as if it wasn't twisty enough already)? We are going to my hometown yet staying in a beach rental house like total tourists. This is going to be SO trippy for me-- a girl who grew up hating tourists! Perhaps I'll be eating my words?

home.

Granite kicked off his shoe again Sunday and my saintly farrier tacked it back on Monday evening. I rode bareback in the pasture last night. He was bit of a turd (really avoiding the bit at all costs), but I tried not to concern myself much with that. I slacked tonight and opted for running and workout and making a nice dinner for the boy. Tomorrow, I will attempt and easy ride and lots of pony love before we head off for our beach weekend. Granite ate his bell boots, so I'm trying not to push it until my next order comes in (I ordered a back up pair, just to be safe). 

Cheers!



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

There are seven days in a week and "someday" isn't one of them!

Inspirational isn't it? I stole it from someone's twitter feed: Life is Good's, perhaps.

Not much to report. Summer caught up with me and between temps in the mid to upper 90s and back-to-back long weekend vacations, Granite hasn't been getting as much love (and exercise) as he deserves.

Cinderella has also been kicking off those shoes and taking considerable amounts of hoof with them, leaving our saintly farrier to use his artisan-like skills to craft plaster patch-work hoofies upon which to attach replacement shoes. My boy has been a bit footsore as a result of his antics and we have had some mystery intermittent lameness. Fun stuff I'll tell you!

But I'm still here. Still visiting the pony as much as possible and riding when it is in the cards. I guess another show season will escape us before the elements are right for us to make our debut. Thus is life. At least he is (mostly) healthy and (always) a joy that keeps my head above water when I am bogged down in the normalcy of making a living and having a life.

On that front, TK and I may be moving (AGAIN!). Our rent for our 1 bedroom apartment is taking a giant leap at the same time that a co-worker has approached me about renting a darling 3 bedroom house on an acre of land from her for dirt cheap (like $200 less than our 1bedroom apt). So, that may end up happening. We are going to see the place and talk details on Sunday.

Hope all is well in blog-land. I promise I read along almost daily despite my absence in posting :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Consistency Leads to Change

I believe my post title is actually a lovely play on words (I didn't even mean it that way). Granite can now do flying lead changes (ok, only from right to left, but still). And that's because I've been able to put in at least 5 rides per week (and even more pony visits) since Granite returned from summer camp with Aunt Jen. We have been working on transitions and lead changes and practicing over-fences, riding outside of the arena and working without stirrups. I'm seeing progress in Granite daily and progress in myself and my abilities. I am, of course, supplementing my in-saddle strength building with lots of cardio and strength training at home and trying to maintain a restricted diet to trim some unnecessary weight. Jen came by last weekend and gave us some pointers and took some snap shots:


Long and LOW



Stretchy trots

Some balanced canter. Still working on getting him soft though.

Jen introduced some "scary" elements to our jump schooling.
He was convinces that he was being asked to jump a GIANT monster.
I'll be procuring some flowers shortly to incorporate.

Saddle pads don't scare Granite... any more

 Schooling at about 2'3 - 2'6 regularly. Don't ask me whats up with my lower leg. 
It needs help. No stirrups at least once a week.



So the reason Jen came to visit this weekend was to drop off her trailer so that our lovely barn owner and I could do some practice with loading the stubborn beast and get OFF THE PROPERTY. To trails, and eventually, maybe... a horse show. We took advantage of it last night and hauled Jazz (BO's Paint mare) and G about 4 miles down the road to a really nice county park with 6 miles of bridle trails.

It took about 30 min to coerce the horse into the metal box.... but we got there.

Waiting to be saddled.

Jazz and Granite are ready to ride!

That's MY kid on an off property trail (leading none the less)

Took about 15 minutes to get him back on to leave the property.

And then.... THIS happened.

Top 5 scariest moments in my life. Looking in the rear view on the way home and NOT SEEING THE TRAILER. It had come unhooked and the wires and the left side of the truck/ left tire was keeping our unattached trailer with 2 horses in it from passing the truck down the hill.... I unloaded in the middle of the road. BO couldn't take her foot off the brake or the whole thing would roll. Some kind gentlemen stopped and helped me get giant rocks under the tires (while holding 2 horses on the side of the road) so the BO could move the truck to get it re-attached. The horses loaded back up after we got the trailer out of the road (only took G 5 minutes this time... can you believe?!). We made it home safely. The truck could have been in better shape but both horses were safe and absolute ROCK STARS! We were so fortunate! But, I feel SO guilty because the BO would never be borrowing the trailer if it weren't for the sole purpose of hauling MY large beast that won't fit in HER trailer. We think that the truck ball was probably just a bit smaller than the hitch and it came unhooked over a speed bump (that we took at a snails pace.... but nonetheless). Anyway, we are safe and the horses were fabulous. Crisis averted. Just a deductible to deal with.



Sunday, June 17, 2012


Yeah, my horse is going to be pretty bad-ass dontcha think?
This is about 2ft.6 (you can't see the top pole) and we trotted up to it and he simply hops over like nothing.

Granite is back from camp (came back a little over a week ago). He had a blast and came back with more butt muscle, gleaming and shiny, and with a few new fans. It was a great experience for everyone (I think). I know he misses his Aunt Jen, but I have enjoyed getting more time in with him. 

I know I haven't been blogging much, but there isn't too much to blog about. I'm working and riding and working out. TK's position at his elementary school was cut but there are a couple really nice opportunities within the same school system for next year, so it looks like it was a blessing in disguise. Daphne is doing well and we are all just a happy little family these days. It is actually nice to have some calm and regularity in our lives. We are so fortunate :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Guest Blog Post: Granite at Camp : Entry One


Guest Blog Post from Jen
Granite at Camp…Entry One May13, 2012


Hello to all of Rachel and Granite’s blogger friends!  Granite successfully arrived at summer camp yesterday.  I want to share with you my experience with him…and that is selfish because this experience is about him!  But considering the situation, I am finding that this is an amazing gift to me. Thank you Rachel!

Rachel shared in her last blog that my sweet old man Maverick was sick…well after 6 days of major sickness he was finished with the fight, we euthanized him on Friday morning.  Absolutely devastating to me, amazing the way the 4 legged critters get under our skin!  I still hurt, still feel a tremendous emptiness and will for a long time but let me tell you how much I love Granite and how he can fill a void!


I also owe Rachel and tremendous amount of gratitude for sharing her amazing guy.  The plan was in the works before Maverick got sick but as it all unraveled the timing and the plan worked out perfect…Granite and Rachel are saving my life right now…I LOVE both of them (no Rachel, I’m not drunk, I love you when I’m sober! LOL)

So my new friends…here is the update!

Friday night I hooked up the trailer and pulled it into the driveway to find a shredded trailer tire…OH CRAP are you kidding me?  My amazing husband Scott can fix anything and put the spare on in less than 30 seconds…then got up early and went tire hunting for another spare for our trip to Granite’s home…a local look didn’t give him the tire he wanted for the right money so he said…I’m going to take you over there…since I had no spare that was a really good thing.  He also felt sorry for me cuz I had a major sobbing melt down over Maverick the night before.  Great Man!

So off to get Granite…had a great visit with Yvonne, Rachel’s barn owner, she is AMAZING and the critters at this farm are equally amazing!  They are so well cared for and loved.  What a great place!...Maybe to great…Granite was reluctant to get on the trailer, but he doesn’t have much experience.  (I have a trailer…it will be parked in Granite’s turn out area and he will eat in it!  We will get him past that!)

Granite is a wise man…he was thinking why do I want to leave here when I have it so good…brilliant boy!  Nothing was crazy, just required a lot of coaxing, babying and patience and he got on…of course, good boy!!  The funny part of this and I hope you all can envision this…Yvonne had the leadrope and was in the trailer working the front, I was gentle support behind…there were a lot of sugar cubes, carrots, grain (Total bribery to the horse that will eat himself sick….) At one point I looked at Scott and said Yvonne needs another carrot so being the amazing patient hubs that he is (that is so NOT in to horses) he brought another carrot…held it outside the escape door, because Granite was half way on and made G come to the carrot.  At one point…Granite’s head was out the escape door looking for the carrot and his to hind feet were at the middle of the ramp.  That boy stretched himself like a slinky…I was howling!  I hope you all can picture that!

OK…boy on, had a great trip to High Point and my barn.  He got off a lot faster than he got on, translation…to fast…we will work on that.

Turned him out and he was the chill monster.  He was fine.  The three horses at my barn were the peanut gallery staring at him and wondering where the heck he came from.  Since Pickle tore up her stifle a year ago there has not been much coming and going, they are easily entertained.

After about an hour he started running which stressed me out.  Is he lonely? Is he stressed?  He could see the other horses but was turned out alone so I lured the goat out to be with him.  Thought he needed company.  Well G was happy for the company and chased the goat who is 3 times wide as she is tall, he was playing, she…not so much. She is still limping from the run!

Time to bring G in…saved the goat and brought Granite in…let him chill in the stall for about and hour with hay and fans.  Called Yvonne…and just asked about the daytime thing and she confirmed he was a weenie ( sorry Rachel) about the bugs…I have a Cadillac version of a fly sheet…it fit great so he went back out with the fly sheet and did great with the relief!

We left him in a stall last night decided better to be safe than sorry and he did fine!  He is actually in Pickle’s stall (my horse with the stifle injury)…all the stalls are connected to turn out, so she was out and he was in her space. OMG friends…I don’t know if this blog is G rated or not but they were disgusting…she immediately acted like she was in heat (winking/squirting) and Granite….well I will just say he is well endowed!

Nuff said! J  Night went fine…turned Granite out this morning to stretch his legs after being in the stall all night and got on him about 11 for his first ride at camp.  He wasn’t perfect and I didn’t expect him to be but he was perfect for a 5 year old that was at a new place and had only been there for 24 hours. 

He was very forward…did I mention my ring is just a field, no fence?  So we just hacked…didn’t ask for much we just worked, zigged, zagged, serpentines and circles… I cantered one time around in each direction but everything else was trot work.  After about 45 mins he finally chilled, got soft and bent to the right.  We quit at that very moment!

Cooled him down, turned him out and not long after I turned him out he laid down, flat on his side for a 10 minute power nap.  This kid kills me…he is hilarious!

Love him, love his mother, love his mothers boyfriend and dog too…Just an amazing crowd of perfectness….Rachel is really hard on herself but the rest of us realize she is brilliant, beautiful, sweet, compassionate and totally amazing!  

Friday, May 11, 2012

Slight Change of Plans

Jen's pupper is still really sick, so we are postponing Granite's trip to camp. I'll be out of town with family this weekend, but she may come by and whisk Grnaite away while I am gone if it works out for her, or we may just wait until one evening next week to load him up. Either way, priority one is the health of her dog and I know my mind would be NO WHERE else if Daphne were as sick as Maverick is. Life deals some pretty unfair cards at times. Jen is the last person who should have to go through his. Thus is life with animals I guess.

I did get to ride again yesterday. Granite was awesome! Our canter transitions are really improving. He seems to be really enjoying the jumping. We schooled over our little fences, maybe jumping 5-8 times in all. He was so pumped about it. He was energetic and I had to do a lot of half-haulting to get him to mind me for the remainder of our flat work. I love to see that he seems to be enjoying it. I'm still amazed at how a simple change in perspective (and bit) can completely alter my riding experience and outlook on my animal.

Also, yesterday we had a new visitor at the barn. A college student who works for me happens to be a horseless rider. She, very much like I did about 5 years ago, went off to college and had to forfeit her horse. She used to show jumpers in the northeast, apparently. We happen to have quite a few under-utilized equines at my little farm (Granite usually being one of them, but since he is going to camp, I wanted to wait to offer her some rides on him). We have one obese little pony in particular who REALLY needs the exercise, so I got her in contact with my (amazing) barn owner. I know it could be dicey with her being my employee and all, so I tried to set her up with an opportunity and then let it go. It worked! She called the barn owner and they scheduled for her to come out last night and ride the obese pony (we are talking very large pony... 14.1... and SOLID). I don't know how it went. I was there, but was packing for Granite's trip to camp and trying to give her her space with my barn owner. But I'm really excited to be able to facilitate a horseless college student's ability to get back in a saddle. I had a benevolent fairy horse mother come "save" when I was the exact same age as her, and it changed my life for the better. I would love to help that happen for this very sweet, very smart young lady!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sleep-Away Camp!

I left you with a bit of a cliff hanger in my last post. Are you ready for some fun news?

Granite is going to sleep-away camp... for a whole month! He is going to stay with our dear friend/ horse mentor/ accomplished equestrian/ fox hunter extraordinaire, Jen. As I may have mentioned some time in the past, Jen's sweet red quarter horse mare, Pickle (yes, and there is also a horse at her barn named Onion), has been laid up for nearly a year with a stifle injury. So alllll of that horse training talent has been used to care for her sweet mare and not much of it has been used to ride horses.

Fortunately, I knew a big grey dude that could really benefit from some time under a much more talented equestrian's behind. I'm going to be out of town this weekend, memorial day weekend, and potentially the weekend after that. Add a few evening meetings for work in each week, and mid May to mid June were looking pretty sparse as far as Granite rides go. The timing was perfect and amazingly, Jen was really pumped about the proposition of taking my grey horse for a month!

Jen talked to her barn owner and got a (begrudging) agreement to take in a 16.3 overgrown kid for a month. I think she knew how much fun Jen could have with Granite and she loves Jen and wants her to be happy (who wouldn't). Heather (our trainer) and our barn owner (and farrier too) all agreed that this was a great opportunity, so we started making our tactical plans.

Granite leaves for camp on Friday. I'm taking a vacation day off of work so that I can get the boy ready and Jen can come get him and bring him the 45ish minutes west to her place. He will be there for about a month, assuming there are no unforeseen circumstances. She plans to do some trail riding and lots of working. I hope he is ready to get his pony-boy butt kicked. I'm going to miss his sweet face!

We are also eye-balling some local schooling shows! Ever since Jen came out to my barn the weekend before last and helped me start riding Granite like the hunter that he is and not the dressage horse I was trying to ask him to be (weird...), he has been such a champ. We think he may be ready to go to a show and see how he takes it all in. If he's good, we'll hack him out in some classes. We are eyeing THIS little schooling show series. I'm hoping I can go watch the one next weekend and then maybe we can coordinate to take the big man to the one in June (coordinating is ALWAYS fun since I don't have a truck or trailer, Granite doesn't fit in our barn owners', my trainer doesn't haul, and my two friends with rigs live 40min west of us). I don't want to get my hopes up... but they kind of are.

I rode yesterday and my boy was SO SO good (he's trying to make me really miss him while he is gone). I set up a "course" of three jumps (because Jen seems to think that if we take him to the show, he will be participating in the small over fences classes). The highest was a 2'3 oxer then there was a 2' vertical and a small cross rail. We cantered the whole thing with no rails down and 1 simple change. I was SO pumped. As we hopped around the jumps and I got a few take-offs wrong, Granite compensated for me! He was fantastic and may just end up being a jumping horse one day!!!


Our little course: (X rail to Oxer then back over the Vertical)

I highly doubt that Jen will have any desire to guest blog about Granite's experience at "camp" for us, but I'll ask her! Either way, I will make sure to share her updates with you. This is going to be really exciting for him and me (and hopefully her).

On a sad note, Jen's 12 year dog (her heart in a dog suit) is undergoing some pretty critical surgery today. Please keep Jen, her husband, their son and most importantly, Maverick, in your thoughts and prayers!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Making Strides

Positive (and large, daisy cutting) Ones!

I haven't enjoyed my horse in about two months. He has been a real turd. He is fighting me and will not get on the bit. He has been injured. He has been just annoying. I've really not been looking forward to riding. And, as everyone knows, when you are a self-supporting, full-time-working, adult-am, you need to enjoy the thing you are spending all of your extra time and money to sustain. So... I called in the big guns.

Our new trainer Heather got on last weekend while I was out of town (at my parents' celebrating my... (gulp) 26th Birthday). She reported that my horse was being a bit of a jerk and he hated his bit, but she got some good work out of him after about 15 minutes.

So... I ordered a bit (or two). Enter the happy mouth eggbutt with a mullen mouth. And, Granite is much more relaxed. Not perfect, mind you, but relaxing his jaw and actually being more supple for me! Don't you love progress? I do!

And to put the nail in the coffin of getting back to good with Granite, I called our trusty horse mentor and equestrian therapist (that's how it feels, she can literally talk me through anything-- mainly helping me get out of my own way and that of my horse's). You may know by now that I'm talking about Ms. Jenn. She came to visit us on Sunday to ride. Now, she's coached me a dozen times but she has never gotten up on the big giant herself. This time she came decked out and ready to ride. Bless her heart, her mare has been out for almost a year with a stifle injury and she hasn't ridden anything in two months. She was brave to hop on the 16.3 hand solid beast of a horse after two months off, and did I mention that she is petite?

Anyway. She got on and warmed G up on a completely lose rein. Then she slowly took come contact and asked him to carry himself. By golly, she got it. The horse looked fantastic! I was so proud. I LOVE watching people who ride better than I do make my horse look phenomenal.  I don't give that animal credit, if I would get out of his way, he could let out his inner rock star/ show stopper more often!

So then she had me get up there so she could see exactly how I was getting in his way. She was a huge cheerleader and basically helped me to discover that I'm asking my horse to be a dressage horse. I'm asking the big baby to collect and get really round and I'm puuuushing him from behind for everything. What I'm not letting him do is be that hunter that I keep saying I want him to be. I don't let him be long and low and floaty. So, without further pause, I show you what Granite can do while being coached by Ms. Jenn and ridden by yours truly:



Here is to continued success and BiG Strides :)

PS: I may have some additional exciting news.... suspense! 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Happy 1/2 Decade Big Guy... and bullet turns boomerang

Please join me in wishing my sweet, goofy, grey man a Happy 5th Birthday on April 13, 2012~

He's a bit parked out and his front end is on an incline, but his stance proved advantageous for some (almost) 5th Birthday Conformation Shots.

Closer...
Compared to April 13, 2009 at age two, his first birthday celebrated with me. WOW, has anyone else noticed how quickly he got so light. It just kind of magically happened in front of my eyes every day.

Same sweet baby eye. At least they haven't changed.

And now, on to the "fun part" in which we don't so much dodge the bullet from last week. As of Sunday, Granite got turned out again. He is was sound and his leg doing well. Happy Rachel! Then on Monday, I got the phone call that my 12 year old (beloved) car that was in the shop for some funky smells/sounds pretty much got a death sentence. $2,000 in repair work, too bad the car is only worth that much. I was a bit devastated as I drove my nearly dead car back from the shop (felt like going home to hospice care). 

Tuesday, I rode the pony for the first time in over a week. He was a butt head. So I lined up his trainer to ride him on Wednesday and get the boy back in shape. Thanks to a series of events, his trainer canceled at the 11th hour and it was too late for me to go ride. So, G got Wednesday off. 

But, then  I got good news. TK's father had managed to negotiate with a local shop to have the work done on my car for 1/2 the price. Cue, I get to keep my red car and can avoid a car payment for yet a little bit longer!

"Red Car" when I got her in 2005. Love little old red 
(and my since deceased beloved 1992 4-Runner. I form relationships with my toyotas I think)

So I headed back out to the barn today with full intentions of riding my pony before Grey's & wine night. And do you know what I found? The OTHER hind leg swollen! He isn't lame, but god it is a hot, swollen balloon. The horse has got to be shitting me!

Exhibit A^

Another view....

Enter: previcox, cold hosing, wrapping, nights in the stall, days in the small paddock..... 
Goofy "baby" (who is now FIVE) did it to himself. 

So tomorrow, he will be having a "sick in the stall birthday." I did buy him a apple lick-it and a bag of treats to make the medicine (and boredom) go down a bit easier. I love you no matter what big guy!

Monday, April 9, 2012

In Which We Dodge A Bullet

Granite spent Wednesday night in the stall due to a very swollen left hind fetlock/area. The stall survived... so did Granite. This is good.

I visited before work on Thursday, rubbed on some surpass, and let him out in a small paddock attached to his open stall. Around lunchtime my barn owner texted me that Granite has taken to galloping and pirouetting around the pasture so she stalled him. Thank you barn owner!

Thursday after work I hosed his leg and took him for a nice hand walk. He got a dose of previcox, standing wrapped, and tucked into his stall for the evening.

Friday morning. Holiday from work YAY. Was at the barn by 7:30 to unwrap the pony, rub on some surpass, clean his stall, and put him back in the little paddock. Apparently he was well behaved because he was still in the paddock when I returned around 4:30 to hose/walk/wrap/dose with meds for the evening. His leg is tight and there's very little heat remaining.

Friday evening involved a lovely dinner with my boyfriend's whole family and then The Hunger Games. It was a nice night. We stayed up until 2:30am... something I stopped doing regularly about 3 years ago (getting old is depressing).

Saturday morning, 6:30am... alarm tells me it is time to go to the barn. I'm meeting Eva (High Tech Horse) at 8:30am to go check out some barns since she has to move for work next month. I unwrapped the pony and cleaned his stall then turned him out. His leg is cool and tight!!! SCORE. No meds today to make sure the swelling and heat are really gone on their own. I left a note for the BO telling her that I thought he would be good with limited turnout in the paddock for the whole day and evening and I would re-evaluate Sunday morning.

Sunday morning 7:30am: BO had put the pony in the stall (I imagine she didn't see my note). But, his leg is still cool and tight with no meds, hosing, or wrapping for two days. I make the executive decision that he can go back to full turn out after he trotted out completely sound. He appreciated that. And I sighed with relief after having dodged a bullet. Daphne dog recently had to have minor surgery after 2 vet visits to properly diagnose the issue. She is doing wonderfully, but my credit card is still reeling after spring shots/float + 3 doggie vet visits + doggie surgery. I was really grateful that A) my horse was feeling better and B) I didn't have to find more money for the vet.

My car is in the shop today (joy), so I may not get to go to the barn at all today :( I was getting used to my double-doses of the pony every day despite not being able to get any saddle time in for an entire week now. Hopefully, I will get my car back tomorrow and if the weather cooperates, I should be able to ride/lounge/something every day this week and MAYBE even have a lesson on Saturday (and possibly a trainer ride on Wednesday).

I have a 5K on Saturday morning I am running with some ladies for work in support of my coworker's mother who is fighting breast cancer. It should be a lot of fun, we are running in sparkly tutus and zebra striped shirts :) I've been on a diet/exercise routine for about 1.5 months now and have lost a bit over 10lb. I have about 18lb to go until I reach my goal weight. It is sort of shooting for the moon, but I have TK on the same plan and he needs it as badly as I do, so we are supporting each other and enjoying the results we have seen. I feel much stronger thanks to spending 6-7 days a week doing some variety of exercise. It has been nice. Maybe I will actually not dreading buying a new bathing suit this summer....just maybe.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

What happens on Holiday/Lesson weekends?

Just take a wild guess...

Your horse (if he is a goofy, young, grey gelding named Granite) will injure himself. It is inevitable.

Yep, it's "Friday" here at the office and we are gearing up for a three-day holiday weekend. I even (re)scheduled  a much needed lesson for Saturday. And.... last night when I went to (for the first time this week) tack up and ride, I noticed that Granite's back right hind fetlock (outer right side actually) is swollen. No obvious injury, so he must have tweaked/twisted/torn something. I trotted him out and he is just slightly off. Thankfully, not hobbling lame, but he rarely gets noticeably lame when he has swelling or even an obvious injury: martyr. But there is definitely heat and swelling.

I cold hosed and buted and standing wrapped the boy before banishing him to his stall for the evening (he is typically turned out 24/7), then I hauled myself out of bed at 5 something this morning to go unwrap him and check him out. Still swollen, still hot. Fortunately, not worse. But, no better. So I put some Surpass on the injury and turned him out in the small paddock, leaving his stall door open in case he felt like hanging out inside today (which he won't). I'll go back after work and cold hose him again, and if there is no significant improvement I will be buting and standing wrapping and, yet again, banishing him to his stall for the evening.

So.... let's hope it gets better and not worse so I don't have to deal with vets on a holiday weekend. I'm hoping for quick recovery so I can still have my lesson on Saturday, but I have a funny feeling that it may not be in the cards for me. I may be borrowing the other boarder's little horse to hop on at some point this weekend. I'm not wasting my extra day off!

Cross your fingers for us.

I will say, being at the barn at 6 in the morning is so lovely. I wish I had the capacity to make it a regular occurrence (but, I'd have to get up in the hour of 4 to have time to ride before work). Nothing better than the smell of my sweet pony boy first thing in the morning. LOVE!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Flashback

My mom sent me this little relic this morning. Circa 1996. I was 10 and had just competed in my very first horse show. The sweet grey, that's Bonnie. The love of my equine life.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tourney Weekend and a Jump.

Don't you love when my dad comes to visit? He is in town for the 2nd and 3rd round of the NCAA tourney this weekend. We spent ALL day on Friday at the games (go Heels, go Lehigh, go to hell Duke), but on Saturday dad came out to the barn armed with his camera. I set up a legitimate little jump (its a "oxer" with a 6 inch spread). We popped over it twice and Granite didn't obliterate it, he cleared it, and looked kind of cute. I may or may not get to the barn today, the games are late, but it's dad's last day in town and we are kind of all over the place. Mom comes in town next weekend, so maybe some more photos. Enjoy.

The big man picks up his feet (and its documented)

video
Simple Change

Tailgate, go Heels!

Yay NCAA Tourney!

Lovin' it.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Victory... and subsequent defeat

Coming at you live from my lunch break...

Ugh, I started a diet/exercise initiative this week. I hate it, but it has to be done.
Something new this time though. Our Occupational Health Clinic at work has been hawking this phone app/ website called www.myfitnesspal.com  and everyone in my department has jumped on board. I've even convinced TK and my barn owner to give it a try. My thought is that if I surround myself with people participating in the same program as I am, that maybe they will be constant inspiration and support and I will succeed. We shall see. I've gained about 10 of the 22 pounds that I lost in 2010 back and per my 2012 goals, I need to lose them (and then an additional 15 more). Granite will appreciate it if I do, that's for sure.

So on to the victory... Tuesday evening, I rode the big grey horse. He was a total PIA! I had the new french link loose ring bit on him and he did. not. like. it! At. All! He tossed his head and chewed and tossed and chewed (He is getting 3 new teeth in as well, to his defense. But the bit fit and we had bit guards on just in case the loose ring pinched). He was behind my leg and just pissy. Typically, this is when I lose my patience and we get in a fight. And no one wins. But, some sort of zen came over me on Tuesday and I just started trying for small victories. I made sure my hands were way out in front, I didn't ask for collection but I asked him to move forward, and then into his bit. Before to long, he started to do just that. Then we worked on our lateral motion and before long, we had collection! Viola! So, while we were ahead, I got in my half seat and we went over our cross-rail. Success! He remembered how to jump again. We even landed at the canter (instead of halting as G is sometimes tempted to do after exerting THAT much energy over a 12 inch cross rail). We went over the jump 3 times at the canter and he really had a grand old time. I was so proud that I turned what could have been a waste of time in the saddle into a nice ride. For once, I wasn't demanding and Granite finally came around. Good Boy! PS-- the bit is going in the bottom of the tack box!

And then there was yesterday. Forecasted to storm, I didn't pack barn clothes or plan to ride. But at 5pm it was dry, so I went to my apartment to change and headed out to the barn. Of course, I was running later than usual so I figured, I'd save the time of tacking up and ride bareback. Also, I mentioned those new teeth coming in, so I figured I'd give the boy a break from anything else in his mouth. So I borrowed the barn owner's side pull (and wrapped some vet wrap around the nose-- my boy is sensitive). Armed with little more than my helmet and the sidepull, G and I went to the arena (btw, it is VERY windy although not storming...yet). G was rotten. I tried to channel that zen girl from Tuesday with no luck. Finally I took the advice of the all-knowing Jen who recently told me "if you aren't going to have a productive ride, at least you can get some exercise." So I let the reins go after 15 minutes of fighting for him not to ride around with his nose in his chest (can you avoid a bit when there is no bit??) and we hacked out on the buckle for 20 minutes. We even did a little canter. Yep, G would appreciate if I lose some weight. We didn't accomplish much, but he got some exercise (and so did I).

It is a top ten day today (77 degrees and sunny). So I'll be tacking up and using our trusty bit and we'll see if we can get something accomplished today.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Photoshop Funsies

I'm taking an online photoshop class through our local community college for work.
Today for our assignment, I used one of my photos of Granite. We are learning to colorize photos.
This turned out a little darker in Jpeg form. But it's still a lot of fun and will totally help me at work (I create a lot of publications and it helps when you can edit or create your own graphic art).


Work doesn't feel like work when I get to play with horse photos.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tack Sale, Hunter Pace, and Making Progress

Thought it was about time for an update!

I got to ride Granite 4 days last week, which is enough to make me happy. We had snow last Monday and it was in the mid-60s by mid weeks. So the ring has been slop-City, but we've been able to work pretty well in the dryer portion.

We've been working on our homework from February's lesson. I've been letting G have his head at the canter. We've been concentrating on setting up for transitions. We've been leg yielding. We've been going back and forth over a small cross rail at the trot and canter (me in 1/2 seat) to let G figure out how to get the feel for fences.

It is working :) I've had more consistent collection, more ease in lateral motion and on Wednesday, for a brief moment, it clicked and my horse learned how to jump! Of course, by Thursday, the munchkin forgot. But, you know what they say about young horses... 1 step forward, 2 back. He is trying however, and that's enough for me! The days are getting longer and last week and this week are relatively calm at work (meaning I can leave the office at 5:15 and be to the barn by 5:30). Unfortunately, it's raining and plans to do the same on Wednesday and Friday... just enough to never allow the arena to dry! I shall use the time to go to the gym and do some work on MY fitness!

I had a fabulously horsie weekend :) I spent Saturday at the Equestrian Exchange (Check it out, it's a huge consignment tack sale... amazing). I ended up with:

A used brown leather bridle with flash nose band and webbed reins -$25
very used Figure 8 Nose Band (for the heck of it)- $6
New (retails at $72) Avalon Standing Martingale (don't need it yet, but hopefully will)- $30
Beval Open Front Jump Boots - $12
Loose Ring, French Link 5.25inch bit- $14
Box of Thin Mint Girl Scout  Cookies- $4

He is sporting most of his new gear in the crappy cell phone photo bellow. Everything Fits! Score!
And no, I did not share the cookies :)

Oh and to top it off Eva and I traded girths. I had one (she gave me for my 24th bday) that was too small for G and she had a spare that was too large for her boys, so we swapped and the new one fit G! YAY.

V__B801.jpg

After that lovely shopping trip, Daphne had a vet appointment and I found time to try everything on the horse and then ride him in (most) of it. We don't need the figure 8 or martingale at this juncture in our training. After that, our barn owenr invited us to join her family and some friends to roast marshmellows and hot dogs in the fire pit at her house. TK came out and it was nice to spend some time with everyone.

Sunday morning found me up in the hour of 6am... for the second day in a row. Dianne invited me to (OK, I invited myself) to ride with her and her friend Cheri at the YVH Hunter Pace (check them out-- great group!). I rode one of Dianne's horses (large, 8yo, Spotted Saddle horse mare) and met up with Jen and we all enjoyed a slow ride through acres of gorgeous trail. How lucky am I?! Loved it. We came in 6th (and the group we set out with who came in a bit behind us got 1st). But, ribbons aside, I loved getting to get out of the arena, even if it wasn't with G. 

Sounds like, weather and circumstances permitting, Dianne and her friend Cheri may be willing to come pick Granite up (he is too large for our barn owner's trailer) and take us to a great park about 4 miles from our farm. Hopefully our barn owner can follow us over with her mare. And we can all ride together. This will be G's first trip ANYWHERE to ride. We've done some trails on adjacent properties that we have walked to, be we have never hauled him anywhere to ride. I'm stoked (nervous as well). Cross your fingers that it works out for us. But if not, we have LOTS of work to do and we can always venture to the nearby trails.

Yay for longer days and more time in the saddle. The pony is really coming right along and I sure do enjoy my time with him! 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Perfect Saturday

Oh what a perfect Saturday!
My Daddy came in Friday evening to visit us (yay!). Unfortunately, my mom had something come up and decided not to join him for the weekend. That's OK thought, we'll have a girls weekend next time she's able to come up.
Anyway, Saturday morning Daddy I set out early to grab some Burlington bred Biscuitville before meeting the farrier at the barn at 9am. Dad and my farrier chatted it up.
Good news is Granite didn't need back shoes yet. But the farrier says that because of G's slow hoof growth, he will need all 4s by the time the ground gets hard and the days get longer (more riding).
After G got his new kicks, I dressed him and myself up to head out for a ride. Dad has never seen me ride Granite. He's come to visit when G was just a little tyke, and last year when G had been off with his knee injury, so this was our time to show him what my baby horse could do.
And, because he's awesome, he took lots of photos.
So, without further pause, check out our lovely Saturday ride: (Please excuse the dirty horse and his crazy mane)









Love this stretchy trot, and my boy's sweet face.





 Canterrr






Perhaps we don't have a jumper here...

 Time will only tell.

Janey the Donkey = Presh

So we had a relatively nice ride. I was proud of the big guy, we have a LONG way to go, but what I love is that I'm starting to see improvement. Although having tons of photos (and some videos) from the ride, I realize that I have more work to do on myself (to get out of the way of my horse's success) that I realized.

After we left the barn, I took Dad on a tour of my office and then we took Daphne for a walk in our City's biggest park. We drove through the University next to town and then went to get some frozen yogurt. Loved it. We watched the Carolina basketball game and I made dinner before TK, Daddy and I went to a little downtown bar and watched one of my co-worker's band. My Saturday was pretty fabulous.

Today its cold and rainy and threatening to snow. Dad is supposed to stay until Monday morning (he has the day off, lucky!), but we'll see considering the weather.