Tuesday, 30 April 2013

HYPP...

NEGATIVE!!!!

We got our test results back and they were normal, so that means no HYPP.  Now I truly do have a healthy horse on the mend. :)

That's all, folks.

Monday, 29 April 2013

My Treat to Me

unfortunately, you can't "click to look inside"
but you can go to Amazon.ca and do so
I had to meet my new landlord today so I decided to pop into the local Greenhawk.  I had a gift certificate, and so I decided to buy Jane Savoie's Dressage 101 as per L. William's suggestion on one of my last posts.  I had been thinking about it before actually and decided now was the best time.

I meant to save my gift certificate for the new breeches I want.  I am in the market for a comfy pair of breeches but I have few options in my little neck of the woods.  I know I've talked about this before in an earlier post, but I am not having a lot of luck.  I'm currently angry at pretty much every major tack shop in North America.  To make a long story short, I want to try a pair of the Tailored Sportsman Trophy Hunter breeches.  They look comfy.  People seem to like them.  I want to be comfy.

So I tried to order them from Greenhawk.  But they only had one colour in stock in my size.  Normally I'm not such a princess, but it's really not a flattering colour.  They're not getting new stock in until July - and I don't mean "they" as in little old Greenhawk, Atlantic Canada.  I mean Greenhawk's main warehouse for all of Canada.  Can I just say now that it seems really impractical to wait to bring in new stock in July when the shows start in May?  Anyway, to special order them in would cost me over $250 (when they are normally less than $180).

There's a little tack shop a few hours from me so I decided to give her a call.  She told me that no one else in Canada stocks these breeches because Greenhawk pretty much has the monopoly on them.  So that option is out (as is mostly everything in my country).

Smartpak doesn't deliver to Canada, of course.  So I emailed Dover.  You need to get a special rate from them for shipping to Canada.  I asked them how much it would cost to send me two pairs of breeches (just because I figured a larger order might help with the shipping).  They said $120.  In shipping.  Not including the cost of the breeches or the tax.  And let's not forget, I don't even know if they'll fit because I have never tried them on before.  That's outrageous!  The cost of shipping is almost as much as the cost of the damn breeches.

So now I'm just spiteful.

My current plan: ride naked.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Bored

Apparently I don`t do well with vacation.

I`ve only been off for a little while now, and already I`m bored.  So far in the last 24 hours, I have:

- oiled all my riding boots
- oiled my Western saddle
- mopped the floor
- organized my closet
- gave Walker his meds
- hung out at the barn
- watched a zillion hours of tv
- reorganized my riding equipment

...and the list goes on.

Today, I went out to the barn in the morning to give Walker his morning meds (he gets them twice a day), and my barn owner said that although she was waiting for the back field to dry up before she turned the horses out up there, I could turn Walker out up there by himself.  He was so excited!  He`s been cooped up on stall rest at the vet clinic for weeks, he`s been sick for two months, and he hasn`t been in the back field since last fall (approximately 6 months ago, if not longer).

I didn`t even wait until we were inside the paddock before I unclipped the lead line, and he shot off like a bullet.  He rolled in the dirt (yep, that`s right - for the first time in the whole year I`ve had him, I got to see him roll... and I missed getting a picture).  He played in the big puddle out there (water up to his knees for sure - he loves puddles), and he grazed, trying to eat as much of the stunted spring grass that he possibly could even though I brought him a big pile of hay to eat instead.

After that, I decided to wash him since a couple other girls were washing their horses.  I was proud because they couldn`t get their horses to stand still, and they were trying to get their fathers to hold them while they hosed them off (we don`t have any places outside where you can tie your horse up to wash them).  But good ol` Walker just stood there while I hosed him down.  I didn`t even have a lead line in my hand.  I shampooed him up, but I just did a quick wash to make him feel better.  I didn`t want to scrub and scrub, especially around his neck, where the infection and swelling are still going down.  I`ll give him a proper bath soon enough.

Other than that, my barn owner was kind enough to tell me that I could ride one of her horses while Walker was sick.  In fact, she said: ``If I own it, you can ride it``.  Which was pretty nice of her.  I might just take her up on that since I honestly have NOTHING to do.

You guys should also head over to Hilary`s blog and check out the contest she has going on for Rolex.  I`m extremely jealous that she got to see it in person!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Saddles

I know, I know.  But it was free.
The cumulative worth of my saddles is maybe $800.

I saved my Western saddle from a collapsing barn.  Yes, that is right.  When I heard that there was a potentially salvageable saddle in the barn, I crawled through debris and underneath sagging beams while my father watched out for my death from the outside.  Surprisingly, the saddle only needed a few repairs despite living in a barn untouched for maybe 20 - 30 years.  It is 65+ years old and flashy as all get out.  I'm not entirely convinced that it fits Walker, but in fitting Western saddles, you only really have three size choices: full quarter horse bars, semi-quarter horse bars, or quarter horse bars (which I didn't know existed but which the saddle maker tells me my saddle is).  There isn't even a standard measurement for quarter horse bars.  Each saddle maker has his own.  So, frankly, it's probably a good thing that I haven't ridden Western in a while.

My English saddle is brand new but c-h-e-a-p.  It's actually an HDR, but I got it for maybe $300 brand new, if that's any indication.  Despite being black synthetic with a suede seat, it's actually surprisingly more comfortable and better made than some leather saddles I have tried before.  I like it because it does the job and I'm never too worried about it's safety.  I bought it because I have long legs and the lesson saddles at my barn are built for children.  They were giving me bruises on the insides of my thighs which once caused my mother to ask how I could get bruises on the insides of my legs - to which she quickly sputtered: "Never mind!  I don't want to know."  I'm not entirely convinced that saddle fits either, which is why I bought Walker a rockin' memory foam half pad to use underneath it until I can scrape together some money.

I love to saddle shop, or at least window saddle shop since I neither have fitters nor many choices to even look at saddles in my area.  People around here often have to fit the saddles themselves.  I am constantly in the market for a cheaper Western saddle since, although my saddle may not be the best, it does look kind of sharp in the show ring (and apparently black is becoming popular in the WP world).  With regards to English saddles, I definitely need a nice one of those, preferably leather (although I stick to my suede seat like glue) and it's a toss up whether I'd get a jumping saddle or a dressage saddle.  I currently have an All Purpose, and it seems counter productive to buy a second All Purpose saddle when I can have something else.  Obviously, jumping will be more useful, but the one time I ever rode in a dressage saddle, all I could think about was how comfortable it was.  That's it.  I guess I'll just have to buy both!

County Despri
I am pretty sure I have written this post before, but I had really hoped to be able to save up the money for a new saddle over next year.  Every so often, when life's little financial difficulties smack me in the face, I like to go off into never-never land and dream about saddles.

First of all, can I just say that there are some pretty neat saddles out there.  Take the County Drespri, for instance, you can actually change the flap so that you get a multi-purpose saddle that can be everything from a dressage saddle to a jumping saddle.  I'm not saying I'd want one or anything, just how cool that is!

While stumbling upon a used Stubben dressage saddle the other day for a semi-decent price, I ended up going on the Stubben website and finding this rather informative video about saddle fitting.  I have read articles about saddle fitting before, but I'm a visual person and I think this video is particularly helpful in demonstrating when a saddle doesn't fit.


I have also followed a lot of bloggers' troubles finding a saddle that worked for them.  What brand and type of saddle do you have?  Do you have more than one? With Walker on the mend, I have a lot of time on my hands, which has only translated into me reading everything I can get my hands on and window shopping for every useless piece of tack I can possibly imagine buying when I win the lotto.  You know what they say about idle hands...

My two black saddles just chillaxing beside eachother.
I'm going to bring black back :P

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Let's Talk About Collection

For months now I have been obsessed with collection.  Let me just preface this entire post by saying I get the concept.  I have had a horse collected underneath me.  I'm sure I've even collected Walker.

BUT I have a very hard time collecting Walker.  He doesn't have the nice round back that I want him to, and he's very good at putting himself in a frame and resisting collection from the back.

Some days I feel like we're at the top.
Most days we're at the bottom
When I was younger, my instructors never worked on collection with me.  It is a weird difference between the English and Western worlds (or at least this has been my observation), that in the former, they wait until you've mastered everything else to work on collection (hence the pyramid of training) while in Western, that's the first thing on the agenda.  I'm sure this isn't true about all barns, but it just seems to be the case with me.

This has all left me pretty confused/incapable.  The first time I ever worked on collection, the horses were so well trained that they understood that going into a frame meant collecting from the back.  I have no doubt that Walker knows I want him to be collected, but he has decided that I don't have the seat strength to do so.

I understand that collection is about driving the horse into the bridle, not pulling them into a frame, and that it requires a lot of seat.  Well clearly Walker requires A LOT of seat because I'm simply not satisfied with our results.

I have decided that part of the problem is probably a speed thing.  How can you expect a horse to really round their back and reach up underneath themselves when they aren't really going fast enough to need to reach up underneath themselves?  I realize that horses can be collected regardless of the speed, but I don't think it's helping much in mine and Walker's situation.

Has anyone ever had any problems with collection?  Do you have any tips or tricks for the horse that resists? Or better yet, do you have any tips for teaching me to be stronger with my seat or a better way of illustrating how I should be using my seat? 

My experiences with Walker thus far have taught me that you need to be 10x stronger in everything you do with him than with most horses.  You can't just squeeze.  You need to squeeze HARD.  You can't just expect him to be forward.  You need to KEEP him going forward.  So I'm assuming that my seat is just not strong enough.


How do you get your horse to collect effectively?

And I forgot to mention it, but I won a contest over at SheMovedtoTexas for a Absorbine Showsheen Try-Pak!  I'm very excited since I never win anything!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Riding in the Rain

It's ironic that I had the last post on collection prepared before I went to my Wednesday night lesson because then for the first time ever, we actually worked on collection - to a certain degree.  There were four poles set up in the arena in a circle and we were using the poles to do transitions.  We would trot up to the pole and then do a downward transition to walk over the pole.  The trick was to walk for the least amount of time possible and to make sure that the horse didn't fall on the forehand and simply lunge forward.  Then when all four feet were over the pole, we had to pick up a trot immediately and go towards the next pole.

I was kinda proud of myself, not to toot my own horn, but I was doing pretty darn good.  I was riding Harvey who I've never ridden before, and although he was definitely trying to fall on the forehand, I was really getting him to use his hind end.  I think it would be a great exercise for Walker and I to try once he is back in work.

Other than that, Harvey was a bit of a brat.  He was ridden in the lesson before me and would literally not move forward.  I mean, I had spurs on and was kicking the bejesus out of him, and he just stood there.  When it's not your horse, you really only want to kick so hard with spurs on because the last thing on earth you want to do is cause an injury!  So my instructor had to go get me a crop, which was definitely more effective.

That being said, I'm not the most graceful person with a crop.  It's too much going on, and I'm usually plenty strong in the leg that I don't need it for Walker.  Since he was ridden in the lesson before mine, I just hopped on him in whatever tack he was already wearing.  That meant I was riding in a not-so-comfortable saddle, which was slippery leather, and in the meantime, I'm trying to find the happy medium of spurs and no spurs.  My legs were all over the place, and my butt would just not stay still.  Then, we add the crop and I looked like a pinwheel on the back of a horse.

All in the middle of a rainstorm, of course.  Because when we arrived, our instructor said, "I don't care if it's raining!  As long as it's not a hurricane, we're going to ride in this outdoor arena until it's December!"  So we did.  And I trotted around, wind whipping the rain into my face with one eye closed, drenched to the bone, and lovin' every minute of it. :)

Discipline

When I was looking to buy a horse, I asked my barn owner to help me find an English-trained horse, preferably a thoroughbred or warmblood, who could jump. Instead she found me Walker, a Western Pleasure Quarter Horse. I have spent many a night grumbling about this to my mother so I won't go through it again here. In the end, Walker was a lot of what I needed at the time (not to mention everything I adore), and now that I'm ready to move on, he's willing to try and come with me.

The problem from the start was my lack of discipline - not discipline as in willpower or determination, but discipline as in area of interest. In my dreams, I have dabbled with thoughts of all of them and still haven't really settled on a clear winner:

Walker's purpose in life
Western Pleasure:
Obviously Walker's forte. He's got the comfiest gentle jog ever. For the record, WP is not as easy as it looks, but despite all my beaming pride when I'm able to accomplish such a drastic change in speed or gaits, it's definitely as boring as it looks. I like doing this mainly now to practice speed control. I get Walker going really fast and then I reel him in, preferably with seat alone, and I think it's a generally good skill to have all around.

the most impressive thing about reining: the sliding stop
Barrel Racing/Cow Penning/Reining:
I probably do the rest of the Western disciplines a disservice by lumping them together, but they are characterized by their speed and generally more practicality than, say, WP.  I rode a barrel racer once. It was not such a good experience. I asked her to lope but when she noticed there were barrels in the ring, she thought it was a competition and tried to end her run at a gallop out the open gate. A brave man actually had to leap in front of her to stop her, and while exhilarating in most situations, I'm not sure if its anything I'd do other than just for fun. The same goes for cow penning and reining. Looks fun, but I don't own any cows so the skills are pretty much lost on me.

Obvious choice of rider here
Hunter/Jumpers:
My current obsession.  I want to jump, and although Walker lacks the natural ability and god given talent, he makes up for it all by never refusing to jump a fence, even when he's unsure, even when I'm unsure, especially when I'm no help!  I've decided we can work on it.  We'll never be competitive in it or anything, but I enjoy the thrill of it.  I also think there's a part of Walker which likes the freedom of being wild.  Poor Western ponies don't get a lot of that.  In the future, I'm seriously considering taking lessons at a jumping barn, leasing a jumper, or buying a jumper as my second horse (second horse meaning I'll be keeping Walker and living in abject poverty forever).  That time is not now though.

Walker's leg will never do that.  Never.
Dressage:
I think this is where Walker might ultimately end up even if I end up sticking with the hunter/jumpers. We can always retire to WP, but I think dressage gives us a chance to work on other fancy maneuvers to keep us both fit and using our minds. My only concern with dressage, as is my concern with most of the English disciplines is Walker's Western tendencies: a low set head, lack of impulsion, and general dislike of firm contact.  I realize these are fairly crucial to the sport, but once again, I don't intend to be competitive.  I simply want to utilize all the tricks and tips that dressage is so good for.

I chose this picture for the sheer absurdity of it.
Obviously we can do that no problem
Eventing:
To be honest, it's not so much the three-part event that attracts me as the cross country schooling, and even then, I'm not so sure I'd want to get into eventing as a discipline. I picture cross country courses as more fun when I'm just out cantering in an open field and, oh hey, there's a log we should jump. I think it brings me back to my original plans for horse ownership, which was simply being able to ride regardless of the situation. I had a lot of dreams of open fields and trails, and I think cross country courses best preserves that image in my mind.

Whatever we do, several things are clear to me.  I have a good-natured horse who is willing to try it all.  He may not be particularly talented at a lot of them, but that's where a second horse comes in.  I don't expect Walker to do things if it starts to mean injuries or dread of me coming to see him at the barn.

For now we will play around, and who knows, maybe once we get going, he will turn around and surprise me.  It wouldn't be the first time.  I complain all the time about his "slowness", and then a couple months ago, I watched him outrace a thoroughbred in the back field who everyone by far thought was the fastest horse at our barn.  They can surprise you, those ponies.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Bad Time for Bloggers

It seems like lately it has been a bad time for a lot of people blogging about their horse woes. Lots of people seem to have sick/injured ponies or are having troubles in their life in other ways. The Universe sure is putting a damper on Spring!

I decided to take advantage of the good weather we've been having and I went for my first run. Remember about two three weeks ago when I boldly stated how I would be a runner while Walker was sick? Yeah. Not so much.

And every one after that...
"Running" really showed me the muscles I don't use while horseback riding with a severe emphasis on the ones I do. For instance, I found out that I need to stretch more, preferably to undo all that tension in my legs and hips from gripping the horse and saddle. Long before I ran out of stamina and was left panting on the sidewalk, I discovered that whatever muscle connects the front tops of my legs to my pelvis region need to be stretched. They seem to be key to this running thing, and instead I felt like I must be doing the opposite - scrunching myself up more than stretching out. I was literally in pain from not stretching and seriously doubted that I would make it back to my apartment. Unfortunately, I was doing my own sad little version of the Terry Fox run (He's Canadian. Google him), and it was not nearly as epic or heartwarming as it was pathetic.

Also, in general, I feel kind of old these days. I've been sitting on my couch studying, exams and every time I get up, my knees crack like an arthritic 90 year old woman. My massage therapist tells me it's unnerving that I can crack my lower back (my low lower back, almost level with my derrière) and when I wake up in the morning, my everything cracks. Dear god. It's a slippery slope in your 20s, that's for sure!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Proud Mama

Just a quick update to say that Walker has been sprung from the vet clinic.  He is back safe and sound at the barn, and decidedly happy to be there.

Unfortunately, he has lost a lot more weight than I initially thought.  For some reason, it didn't become apparent until I walked him out of his stall, at which point my barn owner immediately turned to the vet assistant and asked what we could give him to fatten him up.  Yep.  It was that obvious.  I would say, rough guess, he has lost somewhere in the lines of at least 100 lbs, if not more.  He is about to be switched from our performance feed (which is lower in fat) to a fattening feed.  Because he was bred to be a stocky horse, it is crazy noticeable on him.  Right now, I'd wager that he is skinnier than the thoroughbred in the stall next to him.

On a happier note, the vet assistant and stable hand had nothing but good things to say about Walker.  Other than his irrational dislike of oral medications, they said that he had impeccable barn manners.  The vet assistant told me that in her 20+ years, she has never met a horse that would simply let you give him a needle in his hind end without holding his halter or securing him to anything.  She thinks that we could probably do his teeth without bothering to sedate him as well (although I wouldn't put him through that).  She was not surprised to learn that I clipped him in his stall the other day without a halter on - clipped his whiskers, the hairs around his eyes, everything WITHOUT A HALTER.

Despite all that, he has become super weary of everyone coming into his stall.  He can do a mean turn on the haunches in a flash if he thinks you're there to give him his oral meds.  So whereas before he'd let me go and rub all over him, now he has a weary eye to me and if I so much as make a sudden movement, he's spinning in his stall.  I don't blame him though.  He just spent almost 2 weeks at the vet clinic where the only people who entered his stall (other than when I visited him) were there to administer some sort of medication.  I'm hoping that once he settles back into his barn life and realizes that not everyone is a trained professional ready to stick him with something, he will calm back down to regular Walker.

Until then, we have 10 more days of oral meds that have to be administered twice a day, oh joy, oh joy.  I'm doing the night time ones (when I'm available) and my barn owner is going to do the rest.  Unfortunately, I am busy over the next week or so finishing up exams, going home, appointments, etc. but she doesn't seem to mind.

She has offered to give Walker unlimited hay free of charge though, which is sweet of her.  She told me that if he can eat it, he can have it.  Once he regains his appetite, I think he'll be happy to discover that.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

All the pretty things

Despite poverty, I find myself entranced by all the pretty things that are coming across my social media lately (horse-related, obviously).

Take this lovely Horseware jacket for instance.  Although I don't find myself wearing heels to the barn that often (these are some killer shoes though!), I LOVE the jacket.


Or these gorgeous bracelets here and here.

I also love this Horseware polo, but realistically I'm attracted to galloping across the beach on the back of a grey horse - so well done on the advertising!


Take this lovely can't-wear-it-the-barn-but-it-still-has-ponies-on-it dress:



Finally, with all these lovely goodies, a girl needs something to put them in.


I won't even get into the breeches.  Oh how I just want one pair of breeches for summer that fit and are comfortable and won't cost me an arm and a leg. :(

I mean, seriously, this is not a good time of year to have no money.  Or more importantly, it is not a good time of year to be captivated by all the new clothing/tack/equipment being marketed for Spring.  I've started following a couple new bloggers devoted almost exclusively to equestrian fashion, and it hasn't helped quell the urge to just go out and blow my savings account!

Check them out:

Equestrian Stylist
Dappled Grey
Cavalcade Equestrian Fashion & Culture

Friday, 19 April 2013

Tangled Dreams

trying to eat the phone
I've been having a rough time lately, and it just seems like everything is going wrong. Besides Walker being sick, I've been stressed out over exams, my financial situation and a myriad of other things that just pile on top of each other.

Last night I watched the Disney movie Tangled. Let me just say now that I am a huge Disney fan. I mean really, do I need to even justify that statement?

Anyway, one of the big themes of the movie was following your dreams and what happens once you succeed.

I find lately that my dreams have also been "tangled". I've been so caught up in thinking that all my dreams are about to be crushed that I forget that my ultimate dream, my oldest dream - to own a horse - has already come true. I mean how many people can say that they've seen one of their dreams come true, especially a dream which has been the subject of so many birthday wishes and Christmas lists for as long as I can remember.

Lately I'm ashamed to say that I've been thinking about that dream in a different capacity, one that perverts the simplicity of it. I've been upset because I know that I can't take lessons, participate in clinics, be all that I can be as though whatever goal I accomplish will never be good enough. In my opinion, this is just me being selfish with my dream. It's ok to want more but it's important to be thankful for what you have.

we're both smiling in this one
I am thankful for my parents. They are kind and they are exceptional. They put up with my temper tantrums and melt downs, and they continue to support even the most absurd of my aspirations.

I am thankful for the friends of mine who have stuck around. In this stage of my life, many friends are transient, but I continue to keep many good friends in my heart forever. I know that a little distance and a little time does not change anything. This means everything.

I am thankful for my cat. I often under appreciate him. I often take for granted the warm feeling of another living being wanting only to be beside you, to love you unconditionally, to cry outside your bedroom door because he doesn't understand how you could imagine spending a night away from him. He is my companion in the lonely times, and he remains loyal to me all the others.

And finally, I am thankful for Walker, the original dream giver. Like all animals, his simple devotion uncomplicates my life and helps me put everything else in perspective. Together we are an unbreakable team regardless of the goals we accomplish or the skills we acquire.

I'm a firm believer in dreams. I always have been. I think sometimes we forget how simple it truly is to follow our dreams and how the path, however broken and full of obstacles it may be, is just as important as the end goal itself.

What were your dreams as a child? Have you accomplished them?

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Cat Love

"just let me love you"
I'm probably going to end up an old cat/horse lady but as it turns out, Walker seems to be a cat lover himself.  He tried to befriend the cat at the clinic, but sadly, it wanted nothing to do with him.

In other news, I think I am finally getting excited about moving to my new barn. I spent the other day creeping their web page and checking out the group on Facebook, and not only do they seem to have jumps and little fun shows, but there were some photo albums suggesting that somewhere on the property there was a cross country course just waiting for Walker and I to demolish.

The barn also seems to have monthly clinics, and although there's no way that I will be able to afford that, it is nice to know that if I could save up my money, I will not be completely cut off from learning.

Even though my barn owner is all about Western/QHs, I'm starting to get the impression that if I wanted to continue my ever so promising jumping career, we could do that there too.  The clinics seem to encompass everything from dressage to reining, and obviously the barn owner's main instructor (other than himself) must teach jumping at least at a crossrails level.


So now if I could come up with 2 cents to rub together, I know exactly where to put them.


I call this "unrequited love"
On the Walker front, the vet says that he is doing much better.  When I saw him yesterday, he seemed to be back to his perky self.  He was trying to get into my brushes and was optimistically restless in his stall.  The vet says that he is going to take him off the injection that he's getting and put him on an oral medication instead.  I gently warned him that Walker didn't like oral medication.

The vet said that I could take Walker home tomorrow and he would come out and check on him on Monday (he is gone for the weekend), or else I could leave him at the clinic so that they could continue to monitor his reaction to the oral medication.  Despite the cost, I went with the latter (and not just because I don't want Walker to literally bite my hand off).  I'm in the middle of my exams, and I don't have the time to go to the barn every day to fight with Walker nor do I have the mental capacity to handle another relapse.  I would rather he remain in the competent hands of the vet clinic until he is a-ok.

I would love for Chester to meet Walker
but I think he's more house cat than barn cat

Sunday, 14 April 2013

The Silver Lining

I have been a blogger downer lately so I've decided to talk about happy things.

Things I'm thankful for:
- Walker's health, which seems to be improving
- the fact that I can even take Walker with me to my new city next year
- regardless of lessons or shows, I still own Walker and can ride him whenever I damn well please

Things I'm looking forward to:
- when Walker is healthy
- continuing to learn to jump even if it means I have to do it myself
- trail rides in the summer
- SUMMER
- not being in school

My new goals:
- continue to learn to jump
- work on some dressage
- perfect our Western Pleasure (and get that unattainable WP lope I know he has in him but won't give me)

Ways to make up for what's lacking:
- be frugal and save money (hey, maybe I actually can save up for a new saddle if I try hard enough)
- work hard
- read lots of horsey articles/blogs to learn as much as I can
- be happy (because being down won't turn things around)

I've also included a couple pictures of my loot from the dreaded exchange the other day. Among the stuff I really didn't need, Walker got some lovely shipping boots that match his winter blanket, as you can see. And I got myself a pair of crochet gloves to try something new in the summer.





Squalor: The Year From Hell

Walker and I are going to be living in squalor next year. Well, that might be a slight exaggeration but things are not looking good for our future.

On the one hand, Walker is going to have a great facility. His new box stall will be bigger than his current one. There's a wash stall and a huge indoor arena. There's even a hot walker (a walker for Walker!).

On my end, my apartment, whichever one I choose to take, will be semi-decent. I'm either getting a washer/dryer included or I will have a hookup to put in my own. I am getting a two bedroom since, frankly, prices for one bedrooms were about the same and I have a lot of stuff.

The problem lies in the money. You see, it turns out I'm quite destitute. Shocker! :p

If I were a normal girl without a horse, my money situation would be fine. After all, my law firm does pay its students handsomely.

If I were the better half of a couple (or even the worse half), I would be doing great because we could share some expenses and I wouldn't have to worry about rent the way I am.

Alas, I am single female horse owner who has an astronomical debt living in a city where they overcharge you to live in a crack house.

After doing up my finances (and freaking out about how I was going to pay my bills), I had these somber discoveries re: Walker:

- I will not be able to buy Walker a new saddle like planned unless several thousand dollars falls from the sky
- I will not be able to show at all regardless of his health
- I don't think I can even afford lessons which probably upsets me the most (although I may be able to work for some or else throw in the odd private with my new barn owner)
- if Walker gets sick at all, I will not have the money to pay for it and will need to rely on the generosity of my parents (who also probably don't have the money to pay for it)
- whatever Walker might remotely need over the next year, I will need to buy it within the next two weeks before my line of credit gets cut off

On another somber note, my Baker breeches finally came in. I ordered the size I order in all my pants and breeches even though the Baker reviews suggested they run small. And guess what. They didn't fit. They were too BIG.

To make matters worse (because every cloud has a darker lining too), I had a pair of breeches to exchange when I got there.  They were a gift from my mother but it was past the date to bring them back.  They took the breeches (thankfully) but they would only give me a credit - not to be used for later, but to be used for right then and there.  So because my breeches didn't fit, I wasted almost $100 wandering around the store and buying Walker things he didn't need (like shipping boots, standing wraps, syringes, and lead lines).  Because you always need something at the tack store, until you have 10 minutes before your next apartment appointment and suddenly can't think of one thing that you actually need.

Welcome to a sampler of my life over the last couple of weeks.  Just one thing after another.

Spa Day

The pony's tail is much too long for his new straw bedding
I just can't bring myself to cut it
I recently visited a friend's barn where she takes lessons and stumbled upon an ad for a massage therapist. The lady is new to the area so she's offering her services at $50 for an hour (!), and I was told by some of the ladies at this other barn that once she gets working, it ends up being more like 2 hours.

So guess whose getting himself a spa day once he's back to tiptop shape (or at least not swollen and sore)?

Also, I've included some photos both of the swelling in his neck and the weight loss in his hindend. You can see where the veins under his jaw are protruding from the infection, and his flank looks so emaciated. :( I have to admit that while I understand that a diminished appetite for almost a month could easily mean weightloss, I am really only noticing it in this area. He doesn't seem overly ribby or losing weight in his belly. Other than feeding him lots, I can't really think of any other way to help increase his weight in this area. Has anyone ever had this issue with their horse?

The swelling is that big bump where his cheek meets his neck at the base



My pony's poor hip-protruding butt
You can easily see the weight loss when you compare it to older pictures. Who knew I took so many butt shots!

mid-March
Earlier in the Winter

Friday, 12 April 2013

Vet Clinic

Walker has since been admitted to the vet clinic. Don't worry! He has not taken a turn for the worse. I simply got a text message from my barn owner saying she was uncomfortable giving him injections since his neck was infected (presumably from injections). I of course leaped at the opportunity to send him to the vet clinic because now I can sleep at ease knowing he is in the hands of professionals. Also, little does my vet know, but now that he is there, there is no way he's leaving until he's 100% better!

Straw = yuck
Other than being a little lonely, he seems to like his new digs.  I'm less than impressed that he has straw bedding (never been much of a fan), but it's super thick so at least it seems fairly comfortable.

He also has his own personal window to the outdoors, which he seems to enjoy.

I went and visited him yesterday and he wasn't eating much.  The vet thinks that besides finding it difficult to lift and lower his head, all the meds he is on are probably affecting his appetite.  They decided yesterday to leave his hay on the ground to see if he would eat it like that, but he wouldn't so I hand fed him instead.  Today they put up a haynet and that seemed to work much better.

I'm happy to report that he will be staying at the clinic at least until next week.  He's getting injections every day all weekend, and then next week they're going to switch him to an oral med.  The vet wants him to stay there for a few days until they can see how that's working.  I'm much more content now that he's there, and frankly I don't see why my barn owner didn't suggest it in the first place.
Hand-feeding the pony
When I arrived to see him, I was met with this lovely sign.  Nothing like sending me into a panic than seeing that your horse is on quarantine!!  However, it turns out that it is merely a precaution.  They don't know if he's contagious (although they assume he isn't), but because they have another horse in the clinic, they decided to partition him off just in case.


The other poor horse got his foot caught in a feeder and has some sort of broken bone or something.  He's a good looking horse too so hopefully it works out for him.  Walker can't really see him from his stall, but when they were bringing him out of the stables and into the clinic to x-ray, Walker perked right up and called out longingly for a friend.  I'm glad that I am done school and have the chance to go out to the clinic everyday.


Since all I can really do is groom him, I've been giving him the royal treatment.  I've been brushing him thoroughly to help with his shedding, and yesterday I even clipped his whiskers.  It's a testament to how bombproof Walker is that I was able to pull out a razor, clip around his mouth and his eyes without him being tied or even with a halter on.  Yep.  He just stood there loose in his stall while I took a razor to his face.  Gotta love my baby.

Although the vet assistant may be a little cranky that he is hard to catch.  Apparently he's up to some tricks and he spins around in circles in his stall so that they can't catch him and give him his meds.  Oh Walker!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Quick Update on Today's Update :S

I think it's fair to say that it is a problem with all of us quick-tempered people that we're more likely to jump the gun and get angry over something than wait and hear a perfectly good explanation.

So on that note, I have a quick apology to do regarding my rage about my barn owner and vet.  I know that they don't read the blog or anything, but I still feel morally responsible for all my outbursts.

It turns out that my barn owner did send me an email regarding Walker's infection (yes, it is an infection now), but my stupid, incompetent computer didn't send it to me until I was literally on the phone with her.

It also turns out that my vet didn't call me because he had an emergency immediately after going to my barn that took him the rest of the day to solve.

My bad.

I did find out, however, that Walker's neck was swollen.  I wish this was a surprise, but I knew his neck was swollen for some time.  Of course, I am an absolute idiot and don't trust my own instincts.  I always assume that I am imagining things as I have a tendency to overreact when it comes to even minuscule details of Walker's health.

But apparently my instincts are pretty damn accurate.  Way back when Walker's legs were swollen, I also thought I was seeing things.  Nope.  He was anemic.  Then I thought I was imagining his neck being swollen. Nope.  He had an infection.

The lesson of the day: follow your gut

Also, I would like to apologize to everyone who has had to endure this last month with me complaining and whining and moping about my sick pony.  I just worry about him.  I'm sorry if it has not exactly been the most exciting or upbeat blog you've ever read.

More bad news

So I wrote a big woe is me post last night and had every intention of posting it today. The kind of post where I complain about lost dreams and dismal futures. All that is still relevant of course, but i got derailed. Ironically, in many ways, my day has only gotten worse since yesterday.

One reason is because the vet came out today. Apparently Walker is having a reaction to his anti-swelling meds. Apparently he can only pick up his head or put it down so far. He's currently back on the Do Not Ride list, and he's getting turned out again to help with swelling.

I can't decide which is worse. The fact that my horse is now worse off. Or the fact that I had no idea that the vet was coming. Neither he nor my barn owner told me. Nor did she or my vet call me to tell me all this. I only found out when I texted my trainer to ask if he looked a little better from yesterday. I'm missing my lesson tonight so if I hadn't asked, I wonder when they would have bothered to tell me.

I just called my barn owner and left her a message. God forbid she pick up the phone even though she is likely there. Tomorrow I will be calling my vet.

My horse is sick and no one can bother to pick up the damn phone and let me know!? I don't care if they're doing everything they can for him. If there are decisions to be made and information to be shared, I should be making them and receiving it.

I'm at the point where I'm seriously concerned about Walker's well-being and I'm starting to question the people supposedly caring for him. My barn owner is annoyingly dismissive about pony problems. If he's shaking, he's just shivering. If he has swollen nose, he just bumped it. Well, clearly this was not the case. But now I'm starting to question my vet who, by the way, is the only equine vet in the province. I think he's very intelligent and blah blah blah, but I think he's too much in the pocket of my barn owner. I'm afraid he has the wrong impression of me. I'm afraid he misunderstands my intentions, which are quite simple: I will pay whatever the hell I have to pay to get my pony better. I will ship him to the goddamn moon if there are competent people who could treat him there. I don't want guesses and surmises when we can do tests and get answers.

A sad worried Natalie is not a lot of fun. But a worried angry Natalie is a force not to be reckoned with.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

A Mopey Day

I'm kind of down in the dumps today.  I had a lot of realizations about Walker and related things that made me slightly mopey.

Weather: For one thing, it snowed today.  Yes.  That's right.  I live in Hell.

In other news, I dug up Walker's baby picture
(which was on the back of his registration certificate).
That cute little face definitely belongs to my boy!
Genetic Test: I went out to the clinic today to bring the hairs for Walker's genetic test, but it turns out that I didn't end up getting enough.  So now I'll have to go back tomorrow, except I only have a window of about an hour and a half over lunch, and the last time I went to the clinic at that time, they were closed.  Which means I probably won't get there until Thursday, and that will simply delay the test results.

Time: I don't have any of it.

Stress: I've got way too much of this.

Walker's condition: Today, he wasn't too good.  He decided that he wouldn't eat anything, and his legs were starting to swell up again.  By this point, the anti-swelling meds would be well out of his system, so this doesn't surprise me.  However, if he won't eat all his good food, he will simply go downhill again.  I spent the afternoon cleaning out his feed tub trying to convince him to eat his grain at least.  The vet says that because he doesn't like his supplement, we'll simply work on getting him to eat at all, since obviously he is wary now of whatever goes in his feed tub.

Our ride: This left a lot to be desired.  I was so thrilled with our rides on the weekend, but because he was all mopey in his stall, he was really lazy.  And of course, we had to ride in the indoor arena which also makes him lazier.  I could have forgiven him his laziness (although, to be honest, I had to literally squeeze squeeze squeeze just to get him to walk and not halt!), but once he got himself going, he then started acting contrary.  When I would ask him to halt, he would not stand still.  He would try to back up or else sidepass, and when I was asking him to canter, he would just fast trot.  I mean, I could forgive the fast trot since he never does that and I know he's not 100%, but backing up?  Not cool.  A lot of Western horses are disciplined that way.  They will back them up around the entire arena, and that's what we ended up doing today - except on his own accord.  Other than his bad attitude, I really felt all over the place.  Like I couldn't keep my upper body calm and like I really wasn't driving well with my seat.  It makes me slightly cranky because I was having rockin' rides on the other horses, but Walker requires so much more work that I look that much worse when I ride.

Our summer: I have finally given in to the idea that I will not have an ideal summer.  For one thing, we are moving to our new barn so that I can start articling at my law firm.  This means that I will have barely any time to do anything, and I really wanted to take advantage of the summer (especially since our Atlantic Canadian summers are very short).  As if that weren't bad enough, I am pretty sure I am going to get to NO shows.  I know I have said a billion times that I don't enjoy showing, but I was getting myself pretty excited to try Walker in a crossrail class.  I mean, we're no dream team, and jumping isn't exactly our forte, but I was trying to convince myself that we could simply have fun and chalk it all up to a learning experience.  To be frank, I read so many blogs and everyone seems to have so much fun showing, that I want to do it too!  The first show at my current barn is on June 8th.  I was going to keep Walker there until the week of the show, and that way I'd get to keep training with my instructor.  However, now I think I will have to start work earlier than I originally planned (probably early to mid May).  With Walker still on the mend, I seriously doubt that we can be prepared by early June (since not only his form, but my form could use some work).  I don't know anyone in my new city and I don't think my new barn is the type where they trailer out to shows much.  Even if it were, my new barn owner/trainer/instructor is Western, and without the consistent help by a competent English instructor, we simply won't be prepared for a crossrail class.  My current instructor knows a good English instructor down there, but I don't know if my new barn owner allows outside trainers.  The situation in my new city is a little different, and I can't afford to get off on a bad foot with the new barn owner.  Most of the barns are full down there, and my new barn owner has a 70 horse stall barn (and a lot of money), but he only ever keeps 20 - 25 horses at his barn at one time.  He turns people away regularly, and I only got this spot because my current barn owner put in a good word for me.  It's really not worth it to try and bring in another instructor if it means sacrificing that relationship because Walker and I will just get kicked out on the street.  So in summary: no time, no money, probably no lessons, and no shows.

The pity party is this way.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

GREAT Day

The handsome fellow and I rode in the outdoor arena today for the first time in probably 6 months.  And while all the other kids were terrified, had spooking/misbehaving horses, or else lunged the bejesus out of them to make them rideable, Walker was a very good boy without any of that other nonsense.

We only rode for about 30 minutes because the arena was still pretty muddy and wet, and I also didn't want to overexert him since he had a lot more energy outside than he did yesterday inside.

I let him walk around the entire arena and look around all he wanted.  Once he settled in, we did some figure eights at the trot, and I even got him settled into a nice western pleasure jog at one point, although it was still a bit forward.  I was just impressed that he would even consider dragging his nose on the ground after 15 minutes in the big scary outdoor arena.  Then, we worked on a couple circles of the canter but nothing too much so that he wouldn't hurt himself.  This is the part I was most proud of because I felt 100% in control.  Last summer, I never felt that in control, but I guess I had only had him for a few months at that point.  After a year of working very hard together (and me having a better understanding with that elusive inside leg of mine), we were able even to canter some nice small circles at the far end of the arena away from the gate without too much fuss or him wanting to bolt or go large.  I was very impressed with him.

Then I tucked him into bed and went on my merry way.  I will be back out on Tuesday to ride him outside again, and then I will have to decide if I want to put him through the rigours of a Wednesday night lesson or if I will ride another horse instead.

tired and cold but happy

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Good News For A Change

I went out to the barn to ride Walker for a planned 15 minutes at the walk, possible 5 minutes at the jog. I am pleased to say that I rode him for almost an hour, and we not only walked and jogged, but cantered too. He seemed to be feeling better and I made sure to take things slow and not ask too much. However, I realized that regardless of whether or not the tremors were from colic or hypp, that wouldn't affect how I ride him. After all, if he's going to colic, he'll just colic, and if he is hypp positive, the episodes are set off by dietary changes. So the only reason to take things slow with him is his anemia which, thankfully, is improving.

There was a tarp in the arena today, and although Walker was fine with it, another horse came in and was having an absolute meltdown. This caused Walker to be dramatically afraid of the tarp so now I have to desensitize him to it if he's still like that tomorrow. Monkey see, monkey do!

And because our barn is practically undergoing some rare bubonic plague of diseases, now another horse is sick. Or rather, she was having an allergic reaction and there were hives all over her! I felt so bad, but luckily, I now keep dexamethasone in my first aid kit so we were able to give her something for it. I mean really, what's next!?

Friday, 5 April 2013

Quick Update

I don't have much to update other than that I got a call back from the vet who has ruled out tying up as one of the causes of Walker's muscle tremors.  He checked the enzyme levels, and he can tell from that whether or not it was the cause.

While he still hasn't completely ruled out a mild colic, he also told me that Walker's potassium levels were high.  High potassium can bring about episodes in a horse who is HYPP positive, so it's becoming more and more imperative that I get Walker checked out.  I just need to pull a few hairs from his mane and send the paperwork off.  I'm planning to do all that Monday when the clinic opens again.

Although I don't want him to have HYPP, it would explain pretty much everything in my books.  He got the cold.  This put his immune system down.  Which led to the anemia.  He needed meds for that.  But he wouldn't let people give them to him orally.  So I hid them in his alfafa.  Alfafa is high in potassium.  And I went from feeding him alfafa 2-3 times a week to everyday for two weeks.  High potassium leads to problems with horses with HYPP.  BAM! Muscle tremors...

So while I hope he isn't positive, it would definitely make sense.

On other news, when I was reading Gingham's blog post the other day, it reminded me that Holly is a terrible tail rubber.  As you can see from the picture below, she sits up against the bar of her straight stall and has pretty much rubbed it clean.


So I made a point of bringing it to the attention of my barn owner who put this lovely contraption on her.  It's actually pretty cool.  It goes all the way from the base of the tail to the bottom to keep the whole thing protected.  Hopefully she'll be able to mend herself now.

Sore

On Wednesday, we did some exercises in my lesson to strengthen our lower legs.  At the time, I remember thinking - "hey, I got this.  I must have a strong lower leg."  Nope.  I was wrong.  So wrong.  I am in pain and have been in pain since Thursday morning.

The exercises were pretty interesting actually and aren't rocket science, although I'll be the first to admit that it takes some time to get the rhythm down.  We had to post for four beats, sit for four beats, and do two-point for four beats.  Obviously, our lower leg shouldn't move at all during the transitions.  This is where I learned that my lower leg is pretty steady during the sitting trot, which probably comes from all those months of riding Walker Western.  So when I went to transition from sitting trot to two-point, my leg actually never moved.  This is also where I learned that my leg is most unsteady while posting.  Sigh.  Oh well.  Good to discover that now then.

The other lower leg exercise we did was to post but stay standing in the saddle - it's not two-point; it's like a frozen posting trot.  So we would stand in the saddle for two beats, down one, back up for two, etc.  Then we did the same thing for three beats.  The trick was not to balance ourselves over the pommel of the saddle, which you naturally want to do because it centres your weight.

Even though it was really helpful to ride a horse like Holly who doesn't break pace, it was all still very painful.

On the Walker front, I have no updates other than that he is back to looking normal - the way he was before I rode him the other night and he started shaking.  This has left me in quite the dilemma because I don't really want to ride him again, but I'm going to have to do it sometime.  So for now, I'm giving him Friday off because I am swamped with work and need to get a handle on my classes.  I will take a drive out to see him since I have to give him some meds, but then I'll try riding him again on Saturday - probably this time exclusively at the walk.  I say that, but I know that if he's excited, I won't want to hold him back so I'll just have to play it by ear.

dreaming of Italy...

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Cursed

I am an idiot. I spoke too soon.

I went out to the barn very excited to ride today.  And to be truthful, Walker seemed pretty excited as well. I even intended to take him to the outdoor arena after I had sufficiently warmed him up in the indoor arena, and I knew that would make him happy.

I got on.  I walked him for approximately 10 minutes, and because he felt pretty good, I decided to jog him for 2 minutes.  Then I went back to a walk, a halt actually, because I asked him to change direction.  And then he just starting shaking uncontrollably.  I could feel it from my saddle.  So I hopped off immediately, removed all of his tack, but the shaking never stopped.


I talked to the vet on the phone, and the vet suggested that I simply watch him and see if it got worse.  It didn't get worse, but it also didn't go away.  He shook like that for 3 hours before it started to slow down, but by then I already called the vet back and had him come out.  Yep.  Another after-hours vet bill coming my way.

Anyway, the vet isn't entirely sure what is wrong.  He had a spike in temperature and wasn't eating.  He was also clearly uneasy.  He was shifting his weight in his hind end a lot and stretching very awkwardly.  Besides that, he didn't really have any big colic symptoms, but the vet did a rectal exam (right there in front of a bunch of 8 year olds getting ready for their lesson, might I add).  Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

Prognosis: Maybe mild colic symptoms. Maybe mild tying up.

MAYBE HYPP!

Now I don't know how familiar you are with HYPP (hyperkalemic periodic paralysis, for you fancy science people) but it is prevalent in Quarter Horses.  Or more specifically, it is prevalent in a particular bloodline of Quarter Horses, of which Walker is obviously not a part.  In fact, we called the AQHA today, and they assured us that Walker's bloodlines check out and he cannot have HYPP.

Well, stuff happens.  And it has happened before.  Mostly with fraudulent breeders or sellers.  As my barn owner explained, Walker as I know him could have been switched with the Walker on paper.  We don't believe this because we have Walker's baby picture on the back of the registration papers, and that pudgy little thing is definitely Walker!  So that means, if he does have HYPP, someone somewhere could have switched a stud, and although the AQHA is pretty diligent about this, it has happened before.

Now I'm not going to jump to conclusions or anything, but let's just say that was the first thought out of my vet's mouth.  Which isn't exactly reassuring.  It can be managed with diet, but let's just say that people go to great lengths to avoid getting horses with this defect.

Anyway, the other prognoses really don't make me feel any better, to be honest.  He has never colicked before or had a case of tying up.  Now I realize he has been on stall rest and was sick before that, but I'm extremely nervous to ride him again and have this happen again.

And mainly I feel bad for my sad pony who was clearly very excited to play in the arena.  For the first time ever, he wouldn't stand still to be bridled.  He just kept trying to walk towards the arena.  And then the minute this happened, he just shut down.  I want my Walker back.

Vet Approved

The vet said yesterday that I can start riding Walker again.  He took some blood, and I'm still waiting on results, but he has improved significantly enough that he thinks he is on the mend. :)

I decided not to ride him in the lesson since I didn't want to subject his first day back to those kinds of rigours, but my instructor said that I shouldn't have to worry about doing too much damage bringing him back to his regular level of fitness.  She estimates that it will only take me about 2 weeks to get him back to where he was, and given that he was sick and not injured, she says that the worst that can happen if I ask too much too fast is that he will be tired.  That's good to know.  Today when I go out to the barn, I am going to ride him walk/jog only, unless he's really excited to canter, and I'm only going to ride for a half hour.  I'll slowly increase his work load as the week progresses.

Instead I got to ride a mare named Holly in the lesson.  I was going to ride Coal, but my instructor said that he was looking lame in the lesson before, and since I didn't tack up another horse, she offered me Holly since she was ready to go.  To be honest, I really didn't think Holly was going to be my kind of horse since she's the type of horse an absolute beginner normally rides, but I was pleasantly surprised.  She is super sweet.  She never once put a foot out of place or even tried anything.  I think she is the most obedient horse I've ever met.  AND, she has a beautiful forward canter, easily as fast as Coal's but 10x more balanced.  When I rode Coal last week, if I didn't maintain inside leg contact while we cantered, I felt like he was going to slide out from underneath us.  But Holly didn't need that kind of reinforcement and she also didn't need to be kicked and kicked and kicked and kicked.  I wasn't wearing spurs and she just kept going until I asked her to stop.   What a novel idea!

The funny thing is that my barn owner is thinking about selling her and my instructor is devastated.  No one is using her.  Instead, all the kids are riding all the crazy horses that are recently giving everyone a hard time.  Holly is the perfect beginner horse, but she can also move up for someone who is looking for something with a little more go.  Needless to say, I will be handing my review of the mare to my barn owner ASAP.  She would be a waste to sell!

In other news, this is Ash.  He is ridden by H in our lessons.  I don't know if you can tell with his saddle on, but he is the most downhill horse I've ever seen.  I mean, even though you can't tell as much on his back with the saddle on, take a look at the legs.  His back legs are at least a foot longer than his front legs, and he is the clumsiest, cutest creature on the planet.  H has nicknamed him Moose, because frankly, he is long and gangly and awkward like a moose.


Because I'm swamped with school work, I don't really know my schedule for riding Walker other than that I will ride him today for about 30 minutes, and then probably this weekend.  My other goals: get two papers done and start preparing for exams.  I'm also gradumicated, people (you know, again...).  It has not come quick enough!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Stuff Riders Say

I found these videos while I was procrastinating today and they are pretty hilarious so I thought I'd share them with you all :)




Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The Lookbook

I've been spending the past few days shopping for breeches, trying to find something I like from Greenhawk since I have a gift certificate.  Because the choices are somewhat more limited here than on some of the bigger sites like Dover or Smartpak (which doesn't ship to Canada), I find myself simply dreaming of all the pretty breeches I cannot have.  Having absolutely no money and some pretty hefty vet bills is not helping.

Anyway, Hilary suggested that I check out Smartpak if only to read some reviews.  This led me down the rabbit hole towards their Lookbook with all their pretty outfits.  Now, let me just say that I really like fashion, but I am not necessarily the most fashionable person myself.  And definitely not at the barn.  While I was checking out the lookbook, all I could think about was how I'm lucky if my breeches are clean when I go to the barn, let alone worried about matching them to the rest of my outfit.  In fact, barn attire for me is usually 3 day old dirty hair, no makeup, whichever t-shirt I find in the bottom drawer, and a can-do attitude.

My new bogs - a little bright, but they get the job done!
I'm sure there are people who actually do look that awesome at the barn, and in fact, many of the bloggers I follow regularly post pretty pictures that make me really want to go back and take out all the pictures I have up featuring me at the barn!

Maybe someday I'll have the money to rock those looks, but until then, functional works for me!

Does anyone know of any other fun equestrian lookbooks/online magazines or catalogs? Smartpak and Dover refuse to send this poor Canadian their catalogs. :(  And I so love to window shop!

Monday, 1 April 2013

The Mane Attraction

In many ways, stall rest has meant that I can finally get a few things done around the barn that I never seem to find the time to do when all I want to do is ride. One such endeavour is Walker's mane.

For the record, I decided to let Walker's mane go this summer. I wanted to see what it would look like long and flowy. However, now that Spring is in the air, it's time for a trim.

The "before"picture
I may have cut it a little shorter than I intended to, but once I got to cleaning it up, I found that I ended up trimming it shorter and shorter each time.  :S I know that a lot of you pull your horse's manes but no one seems to do that at our barn. Everyone just trims them.  It's a process either way.


For the record, I did clean it up a little bit more than this.
It doesn't look nearly this shabby in person
Also, one of the kids taught me how to do hunter braids this weekend. What a process! I can't believe you guys do that for every show! In Western disciplines, we usually just band the mane, which means we put tiny ponytails in it, instead of braids or bumps. I'm a banding machine. I can easily band Walker's mane in under 30 minutes, but I think this braiding thing will take forever. My instructor will be so proud if I ever take Walker in a crossrail division. My poor, good-natured quarter horse will be all hunter-esque!

I also learned the importance of matching string...