Wednesday, 30 April 2014

My Pony's Weight Problems

You know how when someone makes jokes about your weight and it really gets you down.

As it turns out, so do jokes about your pony's weight.

I bought that high flax supplement for Walker and it turns out its high in fat as well. He's already on High Fat High Fibre, and as a classic halter style quarter horse, he really has no problems packing on the pounds.  He takes the phrase "easy keeper" to a whole new level.

But when I mentioned to some barn people that the new supplement is also high in fat, they were all very "well, he really doesn't need that, does he?"

Excuse me?  You're seriously going to criticize my horse's weight? Back off, sista! Walker is just fine in all his voluptuous awesomeness.

Then the vet came out to do his yearly vaccinations and teeth floating, and she also did a full physical.

Loving life
And you know what she said?  "He looks lean and muscular."  Lean and muscular.  I kid you not.  TAKE THAT, haters.

Other than that, the vet pointed out that Walker has some fluid build-up in his hind hocks.  She suggested either a joint supplement or even injections.  I know that injections are common and maybe it's my phobia of needles and downright distrust of medicine, but I think I'm going to go with the supplement.  I had already been debating a joint supplement so she simply confirmed my suspicions.

She also suggested that I might like to try Soft Ride boots.  I have also looked at those before.  She thinks that a lot of Walker's stiffness coming out of the stall is actually foot soreness and that he might benefit from some added comfort.  She said that she has seen some great results with them, and frankly, I'd pay anything to keep my pony comfortable.

Not including this of course.
I doubt this is comfortable at all.

So needless to say, it was an expensive visit bound to become more expensive.

The Haunted Forest

I have developed a rather irrational fear of the outdoors.

It's kind of Walker's fault. I'm fine with other horses outside, but Walker is just a handful of jerk outside, regardless of being in an arena, outside an arena, or actually being fenced in. I mean, all horses are a little googly eyed outside, especially for the first time in Spring, but Walker just becomes a mustang. He's not spooky. He just thinks he's a mighty stallion of the outback.

But I digress.

I lunged Walker in the outdoor arena last week, more for my own mentality than his. While I was lunging, two kids came out and said they were going on a trail ride.

That's fine. Neither of them are adults but they are competent riders (read: 10x the rider I will ever be) and mature.

They disappear into the woods and I continue with my business.

Not ten minutes later, I hear bloodcurdling screams. Like multiple screams, one of which sounded like an animal.

To make matters worse, my never-spooky horse flips out. He was full on Arabian, tail stuck in the air and making those terrifying menacing dragon puffing sounds. He is now giving me the most fantastic trot I've ever seen, but he's also threatening to run me over in pure fear.

I assume what any other rational adult in the vicinity would assume: something jumped out of the woods and spooked the horses, and I just heard the sounds of children being trampled to death.

You know, nothing too dramatic.

So now I'm running. With Walker in hand. Who at this moment is like, "Oh my god! This must be serious if mommy is running away from it too." Yep. Reinforced that fear.

I ditch the horse at the barn and take off like an out-of-shape rocket ship into the woods.

Where I find the two girls. Calmly and quietly walking out on horseback.

"ARE YOU ALRIGHT!?" I practically scream at them, in the way an escaped mental patient gets all up in your grill.

"Yes..." They say.

Because the screams weren't them. In fact, they didn't hear the screams.

So clearly the woods are haunted.

I should probably stay inside. :)

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Next up on the wishlist

I think that we all have constant wishlists when it comes to ponies, but usually the big things are on the "someday wishlist" as opposed to the "I'll-be-buying-that-tomorrow wishlist".

For the past year or so I have been on a bit of a financial diet (or perhaps the term "famine" would be more accurate).  I've been doing quite well, not to toot my own horn.

Oh, who am I kidding, toot away!

But when I fall off the bandwagon, I like to fall hard.  Like an avalanche.

So I think I'm going to buy Walker a new Western saddle.

And myself new English riding boots.

Cuz they go together, right?

I would totally like to try something like this out

Ok, let me explain.  It is spring now.  And although it is difficult to tell that through the snow that is currently falling outside my window, spring means trails.  And trails, in my messed up brain, means Western saddle.  Because I like to lounge while I trail ride.  I want to be strapped to my horse like he were a rocket launcher and I were going to the moon.

I have had "incidents" before.  Like when Walker clotheslined me on a not-so-bendy tree branch, and I managed to stay in my fantastic Western saddle (with my head down by one stirrup, of course).

Or any and every time I have been in the not-fenced-in outdoor arena.  The barn owner is already conducting lessons out there in three feet of mud, and I'm nervously avoiding him.  My brain is not ready for that yet.  But a Western saddle would help.

What is wrong with my current Western saddle, you ask?  Oh, absolutely nothing.  It's great.  It's also an antique.  And I would really love something that I wouldn't worry about as much.  Something more rough and tumble, as it were.

As for the boots, my calves are too fat muscular and they won't fit.  Because I hate half chaps and refuse to wear my Winter riding boots any longer, I have been riding around with the boots half zipped up and flapping in the wind like the classy broad that I am.  It is time.

If I scrounge up the money, it should be rather easy to find a Western saddle.  The boots on the other hand... I would prefer to try them on.  And since Greenhawk has fairly limited options, I may do a little roadtrip.  To Dover Saddlery.  In another country.

I do want to see a Dover store some day!  Some girls dream of designer stores, I dream of tack shops.

Buy all the things!

So I finally shelled out and bought Walker all the accoutrements for The Program.

And while it pains me to admit, I absolutely understand why everyone at my barn goes out and buys these things now.  But of course I'm too proud to tell them that!  Pride goeth before the fall...

Anyway, Walker and I have started incorporating a little bit of The Program into our daily lunging routine mainly because I liked how it got him more sensitive to my commands, really using himself better, and paying attention to me.

I've been doing all of this with a normal nylon halter, lunge line and lunge whip.  When I share the arena with others and Walker is feeling like a jerk, I tend to put a chain over his nose because he is strong and pulls on the end of the lunge line.  Or does crazy things that makes me fear for others.

I really doubted that this flimsy little rope halter would have the same effect as a chain over my horse's nose.

I was wrong.

It is just as effective if not more so, without the worry I was having of being the cruelest mom on the planet for trying to overpower my pony with metal.

The lunge line is a great weight and so is the stick.  It is much stronger, and so you don't have to hit the ground as hard.  Let's just say that the first time I whacked the ground (with the same strength I was used to with my flimsy little lunge whip), I got my point across.

It's funny because, if you remember, I was totally skeptical of this Program at first.  Well, maybe not completely against it, but I was very "keep this away from me and my pony; we're just fine, thanks."  But now I'm starting to like the things we do.

Oh, don't worry, I'm not going to have Walker doing back flips anytime soon, but as with all programs, I like to pick and choose the elements I enjoy.

And I enjoy our new gear.

And, of course, he looks dashing in it all.

Blog Hop: Appreciating What You Have

I haven't been doing too well at catching all of these blog hops, but I'm finally catching up on all my blog reading.  This one from L. is particularly a good one as I think we all need a little reminder sometimes.

Let's take a moment to appreciate the Pros of our current ponies, whether you own them or just ride them in lessons.

Walker is super smart.

He is pretty handsome too.

He doesn't spook.

He gets along with other horses.

He is hilarious.

He loves attention of all kinds from all types.

He has a great jog.

He has a great mane and tail (if only I were better at looking after it).

He has personality.

He has a good heart.

That's just some of a few that came to my mind.

PS: Don't forget to check out Hillary's contest!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Diets and Baking

Walker and I have both gotten a little fat.

Luckily for Walker, he was not so lame tonight so he's back to work.  Kinda.

Not so luckily for Walker (or perhaps he would think it was lucky...), I think I'm going to put him on a new supplement which supposedly is high in fat.  Considering he is actually on a high fat high fibre feed, this will actually be added fat.

Why am I doing this?  Because it is also high in flax.  And my local feed store no longer just sells flax.  And I want flax.  So we will try it.  Could be a disaster.  I hope not.

As for me, I'm on a "kinda diet".  I call it that because it's not actually a diet.  I don't really diet.  But all my muscle tone has disappeared and been replaced somewhat so I feel the need to do something about it.

This includes exercise, of course, but I have also let some bad eating habits take over my life.  So I'm just going to go back to the eating habits I had before, go back to the regular riding and exercise I had before (you know, assuming constant soundness) and hope that works.

And I've taken up running.  But best not to ask me about it because I have taken up running ten thousand times unsuccessfully.  More specifically, I went running.  Yesterday.  Which makes me a runner.

I didn't go today.

I also baked.  Creme brulee.  And peanut butter chocolate squares.

baking disasters of a small kitchen
So the Walker/Natalie Diet/Exercise Routine of 2014 is off to a great start!

(Also, complete aside, but I can't believe it's time for Rolex already!  I mean, when did that sneak up?)

Monday, 21 April 2014


I apologize (again) for falling off the face of the earth.

Walker spent the better part of last week lame. I suspect that he got too excited by the nice weather and went running through the mud. Well, I don't just suspect. I know that's what he did. I simply suspect that is the cause of the lameness.

I buted for a few days but let him to back outside anyway hoping it would pass.

Then I left town for Easter and he got some more time off, which he needed anyway following the lameness.

I returned today to this:

A gigantic scar on his neck where he clearly got into it with another horse and no one bothered to tell me. So it has already scarred over without me getting a chance to clean it.

Oh and he's 10x more lame than last week. So I asked that he be kept in for a few days, which frankly, should have been obvious given the way he hobbled down the hallway.

But I'm too tired to be cranky about my lame horse being turned out for a week. 

I also slathered his front legs in Sore No More, which, even if it doesn't help, can't hurt. I guess.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Undoing a week of crazy

I didn't get back to town yesterday until late, so I didn't get out to the barn until today.  Because Walker was a little bit lame last week after a week off and because he got his shoes done on Thursday, I decided to just lunge him today and tomorrow to get all the silly out.

He had plenty to say about that.  Now that it is warmer and Spring-ish, he is sweating up a storm, and since he insists on being a brat, he got to sweat bullets while I made him work.

Yes, I realize that this time a week ago I was complaining about snowstorms, but that's literally how fast the weather can change.  This week we almost have no more snow on the ground.  

In fact, my barn owner taught a lesson in the outdoor arena this weekend.  Most of it was in the mud and they could only use a third of the arena, but he was outside nonetheless!

Walker got a quick attitude adjustment, which he needed, and then tomorrow hopefully we'll repeat.

I've also noticed that Walker has developed really dry skin.  He is always pretty itchy, and granted, Winter is a pretty dry season, but I noticed today that underneath his tail, the skin was peeling.

Does anyone have any suggestions for something I could introduce into his diet to help with dry skin?

I'm thinking about flax right now.  A fellow boarder suggested oil, but I'm not really interested in going down that route.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

By the numbers

As I mentioned before, I've been keeping a journal of all my rides. It has been very eye opening. When I flip back through, I really get a good sense of lameness issues, training issues, weather issues, etc.

In particular, I decided to do a run through of the numbers:

Walker has been worked 24 days between February 12th and April 5th. That's 24 days out of 52 days total, which is 46%.

Of those 24 days, only 15 of them were rides. That's 29% of the 52 days and 63% of all the days I worked him.

Although I don't keep track of snow days and days where I have to work late, by checking out the days I normally go and days where I didn't, I estimate that I missed about 15 days because of snow, work, sickness or lameness. Once again, that's 29% of the 52 days.

I have also missed 7 perfectly good Fridays (13% of the 52 days) for no apparent reason other than I was lazy and I can't seem to drag my butt out to the barn on Fridays.

Because of dog day on Thursdays, I missed every Thursday (8 days, 15%).

In my mind, those are some pretty deflating numbers. I console myself only with the knowledge that we were hit with an almost weekly snowstorm, Thursdays are out of my control, and so is sickness and lameness.

But as we approach the nicer weather, I hope that those numbers will get a little better as we prepare for whatever purpose we're going to have this summer. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

April Goals

I was going to title this post "April Showers", but "April Flood" is probably more accurate.  We finally got our snowfall counts for March.  Average for that time of year = 50 cm.  2014 March snowfall amount = 130 cm.

So now we fear the Great Thaw.

With good reason of course.  Since I forgot to mention that my barn flooded last week.

Oh yes.

Luckily, the water did not leak into the stalls.  It was ankle deep in the lounge however.  I show up to the barn literally on my way out of town (which was all pulling an Atlantis in one form or another) and dressed in normal people clothes to discover six kids and my barn owner frantically trying to push the water out.

We had to move all the couches out, the tables, the desk (and I pulled my back doing so, not to mention got all my nice clothes soaked, but whatever), but try as we might, we could not keep the water out.  Every time we got it out of the lounge, it just filled back up within minutes.  So we cut power, I checked on my pony, and skipped town.

It will happen again.  It will all happen again.  I no longer look forward to Spring.

That being said, I've decided I need a few goals for April, even though I'm away for the first half of it.  Regardless of what I decide to do about showing or not showing, I want Walker and I to be as fit and ready to do whatever I decide to do on a whim.  So I bring you:

Natalie's unrealistic April goals:

1. Exercise regularly - I need to get a little fitter since my body is still coasting on the 9 months of laziness I had when Walker was off

2. Work on leg yields - I think the missing puzzle piece in the Walker-needs-to-be-light-off-the-leg saga is lateral movements.

3. Trim Walker's mane - I let it go

4. Bath Walker the first nice day I get

5. Do a full tack clean - spring cleaning time!

*Upon reflection, it looks like this is more an "easily attainable list of tasks" than "unrealistic goals", but as we all know, everything can become unrealistic if you don't take the time to do it.

The Scary End

Saturday I went out to the barn, took Walker out of the stall, and he came up lame.  I was really disappointed, but I opted to throw him on the lunge line to see if he would work out of it.  He seemed to so I decided to lunge him a little bit, turn him out in the indoor arena to get the blood flowing, and then hop on for a short walk/jog ride.

When some people turn their horses free in the indoor arena, they roll.  Or they run.  Or they call to other horses.

Not Walker.

Walker just stands there.  He stands where you left him.  And he does not move.  At all.

This may have something to do with the fact that I trained him to stand still whenever I was doing things in the arena so that I could move poles, help people do things, or even leave the arena and come back - all while he just stood there.

But I also think he's just lazy.
Got to keep your ears warm
B was there so she suggested I go get a lunge whip.

Now, I don't really free lunge Walker.  There is a reason for this.  Mainly, the arena is full of things that he can get into, and he looks at free lunging as some kind of game where he attempts to run faster than me before I can stop him and make him change directions.

I was particularly worried about the tractor.  It has metal spikey things, etc.  B said, "Oh don't worry about that.  This is the scary end.  He will never come down here."  To which I replied, "Oh yes he will."

I no sooner said that when Walker galloped past me at full speed, cantered behind the tractor (which is up against a wall), leapt over a bunch of pallets, grabbed a mouthful of hay for the road, and picked his way through a tangle of stacked caveletti.

B said, "I see why he's so good out on the trail now."  Yuh huh.

Walker: defying people's expectations since 2005.

I need a purpose...

So as you know I passed the bar exam.

And then my firm hired me.

So it looks like Walker and I are sticking around at our barn and this crazy city for at least a little bit longer.

Before I knew this, I resisted making concrete plans for our training (jointly and severally - a little lawyer joke there).

Now I have to decide. Do we show this summer? If so, English or Western? If English, Dressage or Equitation/pleasure. If the latter, I only own a dressage saddle (and zero English showing clothes). If Western, it'll be pleasure. I could probably use a new saddle for that too. If Western Pleasure, I really should stop training Dressage and work on getting a quality lope back.

What about me? Do I take lessons on Walker? Do I take lessons on another horse? Do I jump? If I jump, do I show at it? If I show jumping, I have to ride another horse. And probably with my last trainer, who left the barn, which means showing with her barn, which means pissing off my barn owner.

For your convenience, I have included this nifty flow chart. You're welcome.

Decisions decisions