Sunday, 26 October 2014

Miracles Abound

The vet came out on Wednesday to take follow-up x-rays of Walker's right front foot.

And she was overwhelmed by the change in him.

His toe length has improved, his sole thickness, and his feet in general.  After she examined the x-rays, she told me that a large portion of the coffin bone has actually regenerated.  We always knew that a little bit of it would, but apparently the results are outstanding.

So outstanding, in fact, that her prognosis has completely changed.

Three months ago, she told me that I would be lucky to get light work out of Walker for the rest of his life if I intended to keep him sound.

This time around, she tells me that she thinks I may be able to put him back into full work come Spring.  Full work!  I didn't even think that was going to be an option!

Just to be sure, we are going to give him the Winter off as planned and re-x-ray him again in the Spring.  If his feet still look good, we are going to come up with a fitness schedule and bring him back into shape.

Needless to say I'm very very happy with these results.  And so thankful that I decided to move him when I did.  At our last barn, he managed to deteriorate in under 6 months, and at our current barn, we were able to undo all that damage in about 2 months.  If I wasn't before, I am now a firm believer that environment can mean the world of difference for a horse's health.

The vet's only complaint: Walker has put on about 50 lbs.  Haha.  He is now on a diet.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Walker and the Electric Fence

In one of Walker's pastures there is a shed.  The shed is next to the barn which is attached to a cellar.

To keep the horses away from the shed, the barn, and the cellar, my barn owner has put up an electric fence.

The electric fence runs from the wooden fence, around the shed, around the cellar, along the edge of the barn and back to the wooden fence.

The space between the electric fence and the shed/cellar/barn is about 3 feet, maybe 4 in some places.

The electric fence itself is about 3 to 3.5 feet tall.

One day, my barn owner came home and saw Walker standing very still.  The closer she got, she realized that he was standing between the electric fence and the barn.

She scrambled to turn off the electric fence, searched my horse for the telltale marks of a struggle with electricity, and then followed the electric line to find where he had mangled the fence and brought it down.

But he hadn't.

The electric fence was completely in tact.

Because of the small space between the fence and the barn/cellar/shed, he could not have leaped the fence.  Plus, let's be honest, there is no way he could leap 3 feet anyway.

My only guess (other than magic or a canny newfound ability to take down and reassemble a fenceline) is that he rolled under the fence.

Picture this for a second.  There is barely enough room between the electric fence and the shed, but he is damned if he is going to be told that he can't be over there.  He would literally have had to drop to his knees, clutch his legs to his chest tight so as not to kick the low hanging wire and roll like an army soldier under this fence so as not to get electrocuted.

My horse is a ninja.

But honestly, to this day, we have no idea how he did it.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Lesson Recap: A Dancer or a Rider

Apparently Winter is going to be about pain.

On Monday we focused on our leg position again, and surprise surprise, I have not magically gotten back into shape in only two lessons.

I know.  You are surprised as well.

We had a lunge lesson where two of us shared a horse.  One girl lunged while the other rode, and we did walk/trot and posting at the walk/trot while focusing on this magical elusive position I am incapable of achieving.

We talked a lot about separating our upper body from our lower body.  Later in the barn, my instructor made us all get into our riding positions on the concrete and practice trying to knock each other over.

Yes.  This is what I am paying for, folks.

The goal of the exercise was to maintain the balance in the lower half of the body but be able to go with the flow, as it were, when someone rammed our upper bodies.  As it turns out, no matter how many times you push me in the back, even when I know it's coming, I will fall over.

Finally, we practiced contact.  With a lead rope and a friend.  We each held a looped lead rope and practiced seesawing and moving all over the place at different rhythms and trying to get the other person to lose contact or stop resisting.  What was really interesting was that after we did this with eac hother, we had to do it with our instructor so that we could feel what our contact should feel like.

It was definitely thought provoking.  I kind of wish I had someone who I could do this with regularly.  Like all the cool kids do, I'm sure.

We talked a lot about using our muscles and separating different parts of our body.  Then my instructor said that frankly, what it comes down to, is that in order to be competitive in something physical like riding, you simply need to train your body in that one particular way.  In her words: "You can either be a dancer or a rider.  Not both."

So the moral of the story?  There's still a chance for my ballerina career.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Putting Horse Stuff To Everyday Use

I am ashamed to say that the state of my storage room (or my home tack room, as I like to think of it) has deteriorated a little since moving Walker.  My new barn owners are still trying to get everything settled at the barn so I haven't really moved any of Walker's stuff in.  This means that it currently lives in three places: the trunk of my car, the back seat of my car, and my home tack room.

It may or may not be a little disorganized:

But the other day I was searching for something (and by the other day, I of course mean 3 weeks ago because that's how long this post has been half-written and forgetten) and found this Higher Standards package I ordered way back.

So of course I had to put it to good use!  But since I have nothing horsey left to clean (you can only clean clean tack so many times), I decided to clean some of my high heels.

And I used the Viva Carlos scent to boot!  It was my first time using it and I love it.

Looking Past Freedom

Work has been crazy lately.  We're talking 50-60 hour weeks kind of crazy (and I'm not entirely sure that even catches all the time).  There used to be a time that I went and saw Walker 6 days a week even when he was lame and unrideable.  Now I'm lucky to see him once a week.

This depresses me to no end, most of all because I knew it would happen.  I once said that if I didn't buy a second horse (or lease a second horse, or take 10,000 lessons a week) before I started work as a bona fide lawyer (instead of just the articling clerk), I wouldn't have time afterwards.

Why?  Because lawyering is time consuming, and it's difficult to break away from that unless you already have some sort of routine established.  Articling can be time consuming too, but when I was doing that, I was riding so I had no problem getting to ride, if that makes any sense.

This also means that I just can't keep up with blogs as well as I used to.  Either I have nothing to post or I have no time to read or write one.  I apologize to everyone who keeps getting my comments two weeks after the posts have been up.  I'm still getting to them.  It's just a bit of a time delay.

It also makes me sad because my money situation has not improved.  I am sad to tell you that I'm still not a millionaire and so I can't even devise a way to get more riding in.  Luckily for me, my riding instructor is fantastic and she pretty much just lets me crash random lessons and show up at odd times if I need to.  She is perfectly prepared to let me pay like $20 to just grab a horse on the weekend with some of the girls at her barn and go on a random trail ride.  So at least there's that.

Unfortunately, there is this great opportunity for a clinic coming up at the end of the month but I of course don't have the money and can't guarantee that I have the time.

So whatever balance I used to have, I need to get back.

Some days I kind of feel like this picture of Walker: like someone has left the door open and I'm still looking out the window for my escape route.

Thursday, 2 October 2014


I have returned to horseback riding lessons.

And actually, my trainer beat me to it.  She asked me to return, which was pretty flattering.  She wanted some more "advanced" riders to work with so she could update her instructor certification.  While I laughed and reminded her that I was nowhere near advanced, it was still nice of her to think of me.

I was already planning to return to riding this month so it was good timing.

I started my lessons this past Tuesday and because it's two seconds from Winter here in Canada, we are switching to basics mode.  We spent the entire lesson pretty much learning how to ride from scratch.  L has made her Winter goal to get all of her riders to have perfect seat and leg position.

So she made us find the perfect seat position and slowly work our way up to cantering (mostly walking and trotting though) keeping that position.  Every time we lost it, we had to start from scratch at the halt.

I halted a lot.

Here's how she said to find it:

  1. Take your feet out of the stirrups and lift your knees so that both of you seat bones connect with the saddle.
  2. Slowly drop your knees and bring your legs back until you lose contact with the seat bones.  Bring your legs forward just slightly to re-establish contact.  
  3. Now rotate your thighs in towards the thigh block.  
  4. Bend your knees slightly.  You heels should now be perfectly in line with your shoulders and should gently be able to slip into your stirrups (if they're at the right length).
  5. If you're me, you need the extra step to tell you not to shove your heels down at practically a 90 degree angle.
The inside of your legs are for going forward and the outside are for lifting (into the post).  She called us out perpetually if our toes were sticking out because that meant that we had lost our position and were using the wrong parts of our calves.

This may all seem like common sense, but it was actually pretty mindblowing in practice.  I have been in pain now for two days having used the actual muscles I should be using.