Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pedicure Day!

My trimmer was out this morning to give Lilly her second trim since going barefoot. It has been roughly ten weeks since the shoes came off and things are going better than I expected. Lilly's soles are still quite thin (5-6mm) but the soreness on her right front is less noticeable than it was only a few weeks ago. I don't have radiographs from when the shoes first came off, so it's possible that her soles were even more thin then and they actually are growing... I won't know for sure unless I periodically have the radiographs done but I've been so happy lately that I'm going to think positive for once and tell myself they're thicker now than they were before.

Having the radiographs this time around was quite helpful. My trimmer, Rebecca, is fantastic and I always learn so much from her when she comes to the barn... and even when she doesn't come to the barn because I harass her via email quite frequently. We discussed what she saw on the radiographs and how she was going to correct the rotation on Lilly's right front. She actually doesn't like to use the word rotation because it's such a negative term. As horse owners, when we hear the word rotation, it brings images of doom to our minds... So she thinks it's more correct, at least in Lilly's case, to think of it in terms of weakened lamina. This all happened in Lilly's hoof because her toes are way too long. As the hoof grows and grows, and the toe is never taken back (because it seems most people are afraid to bring back the toe or even rasp the hoof wall), the entire hoof structure is pulled forward (hello underrun heels...). In that situation, the coffin bone has no choice but to "rotate", as it can't possibly remain connected properly.

Also, if we look back at the radiographs of her RF, sure the coffin bone looks rotated, but if we remove the excess toe, magically the angle of the coffin bone and the hoof wall match:

Chop, chop...
Your opinion of the many different barefoot methods and lines of thinking might differ from mine, but I think the coffin bone should not be parallel to the ground, but rather have a palmar angle of 3-8 degrees. When these radiographs were taken, her palmar angle was 6 degrees. Her hoof wall had an angle of 48 and a coffin bone angle of 52. To compare, in her LF the palmar angle is only 2, her hoof wall angle was 47 degrees and her coffin bone angle was 48 degrees.

Ok, I feel I'm rambling a bit, but this is as much for my benefit as it is for someone reading who might actually be interested in what I'm babbling about. It all makes sense in my head, I just hope I was able to put it into words that are actually correct and make sense to someone other than me.

So, here we go with our before and after pictures!

Left Hoof

Left lateral - before
Left lateral - after
No major changes in these lateral photos. Some toe was removed, the toe was rolled, and the hoof was was rasped. We're trying to get rid of the old growth rings because they can be painful, and we want to "train" the new growth to grow properly. If we leave the hoof shape as is, which isn't a healthy shape, the new growth will begin to grow in the old growth patterns.

Left heel - before
Left heel - after
An example of why this trim method is called "Proper Balance Horse Trim". The goal is to balance the horse’s feet and body as best as possible, and I can see a difference already in the medial loading issue that she has on this left leg. She still leans a bit to the medial side, but the shape of the hoof is much more balanced.

Left sole - before
Left sole - after
I love sole pictures. The bars were trimmed along with any high spots on her sole that could cause pressure points. The heels were also trimmed and cleaned up, along with parts of the frog to encourage more stimulation to the back part of her hoof. I watched very closely when she was trimming these front feet so I could do a bit of this in between visits. I rasped a little bit a week or so ago, but just barely.

Right Hoof

Right lateral - before
Right lateral - after
Quite a bit of toe removed on this one and I think it looks fabulous! Same thing on this one too in regards to the toe rolling and hoof wall rasping. Lilly was pretty good about all the trimming, although she can't (or won't) hold her hooves up very long, so we used the boots a lot during the trim and she was much happier. I wish the wash stall had a rubber mat on the floor...

Right heel - before
Right heel - after
A much more balanced heel, although the right leg is much less crooked looking than her left one. Her heels are still pretty contracted, but the central sulcus is much less deep than it was and I can easily keep it treated for thrush. Her hairline is looking a lot less wonky too.

Right sole - before
Right sole - after
More sole pictures! Pretty, pretty... and just to compare, this is a picture of her right sole right after the shoes came off back in August:

Squished heels!
Not the best great picture, but WOW... the shape is completely different! And those heels!

Rebecca and I had discussed hoof casts and their possible benefits for Lilly. We thought she looked pretty good when we walked her up and down the barn aisle, but Rebecca decided we should go ahead and cast. Hopefully they'll help her grow stronger, healthier hoof walls and soles. There's an excellent article written by Pete Ramey for anyone interested in reading about the possible benefits. The article states the following:

I believe that the most important reducer of hoof flexion and circulation is lameness; a lack of movement or worse: Compensative movement. No doubt the presence of the cast robs some of the flexion of the hoof capsule, but the casts tend to make compromised horses so comfortable, the increase in correct movement seems to create an excellent “circulatory trade-off”. In the real world the foot is healthier overall when you remove a cast. Well connected wall growth and healthy laminae will have been produced and the sole will be thicker (from what I’ve seen, every time).
I'm looking forward to seeing how they work for her in the pasture and if we notice a difference in her after the casts come off. Lilly did trot to me in the pasture today, which is a first for her in quite a while, but she is still ginger in certain areas of the field.

Here are her hooves with the casting material on them:

Too bad we couldn't have green ones...
Protection for tender tootsies!
Our next trim will be in 5-6 weeks, depending on what happens with Rebecca's schedule. I wonder if the casts will last that long?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Can't Stop Bragging!

For all of you discriminating against my pudgy pony, I'm happy to report that she is officially off alfalfa pellets. It's funny, though, because the day I asked the BO to stop the alfalfa pellets, they started the beet pulp. According to my research, beet pulp is higher in calories (by about 300 calories per pound) than alfalfa pellets, so we had to stop that too. Now she just eats coastal hay, pasture, and vitamins. There's not enough grass in the pasture to justify a muzzle, so that's where this diet stops... plus, we do have a history of on and off issues with diarrhea, so I'm not trying to cut that much food from her diet. She needs it to keep her digestive tract happy, and so far things in that department are looking good.

Speaking of looking good... I am head over heels in love with my horse's heels! (Heh... get it?) I took a bunch of pictures in preparation for tomorrow's visit from my trimmer. I'm a 'before and after' freak, so I wanted to have some from right before her trim. I decided not to post them because the trim itself is what I'm most excited about (I'll post those tomorrow), but check this out:

Butt crack free!
You'll notice that the deep "butt crack" is missing! She also seems to be shedding some of her frog... that's a first for us, but everything looks really healthy!  For anyone needing a reminder, just look back at this post from when the shoes first came off. I am absolutely amazed at how much her hooves have changed in the past 10 weeks. And it isn't just the physical changes in her hooves that are obvious... the changes in her attitude under saddle are nothing short of spectacular.

It's as if I have a new horse. It's the horse I always wanted, and the horse I knew I had, but I just couldn't figure out how to get her past certain issues that were always a problem for us. It absolutely must have been hoof pain/heel pain/back pain... the shoes are off and now she is SO happy and SO relaxed. I wish I had started with the hooves instead of seeing them as a last resort when all else failed. :(

I've been sticking to my riding routine and we've been working every other day. I modify things as necessary, but I really enjoy the routine because it gives me a plan and goals to work toward during our ride. This picture is from a few weeks ago, but I wanted to include a picture of my happy girl.

Happy!
I rode her yesterday and she was amazing. I had to use a lot of leg to keep her going at the trot (unheard of) and we did all of our cantering on a loose rein (unheard of). No bit chomping, no tail wringing, no snarly faces or ear pinning... just a willing, responsive, relaxed, happy girl.  I was so happy and so excited that I broke down in tears.  This is an amazing time for me and my horse.

At the risk of sounding like someone from the barefoot nazi club, HOLY CRAP! In 2 short months, I have completely changed my way of thinking about shoes and how they can impact a horse. Sometimes what we think is best for our horses is not really what's best for them, and I will do everything in my power to avoid putting shoes back on her hooves, even if it means never showing again.  I've caused her to endure painful hooves long enough.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Radiographs - DP

I finally got the DP radiographs from the vet today.

The image of her right hoof.
Image of her left hoof.
You can see that the right hoof looks pretty good, but she is definitely loading the medial side of the left hoof. It doesn't look to be an issue of conformation, which is what I was afraid of, so I'm happy about that. I'll be anxious to see what my trimmer thinks about the radiographs.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Darn Good Ride

I must admit, it's really fun to be making posts about riding my horse!

We had some torrential downpours this week and today I found the arena closely resembled a swamp. Instead of having a wonderful, large oval to work my horse, we ended up having to ride in a kind of strange circle shape to avoid all the water and squishy spots. Regardless, I set up a bunch of cones to help me with the exercises I chose for Lilly and we did the best we could with what we had to work with.

We tried hard to stick with the routine, but I couldn't find my dressage whip so I had to skip the leg lifts. Boo... And since we didn't have a long side, all my exercises were modified.

Warm-Up Exercises:

On the long sides of the arena, ride a ground-covering trot and on the corners, slow the trot - 3 laps in each direction. Since we didn't have a long side, I just worked on speeding her up and slowing her down in different areas on the circle. She was quite lazy today (yay!) so it was a bit challenging to get her to extend the trot. She wanted to go slow, and when I asked for more speed she wanted to canter.

At one end, ride a 20m circle, after leaving the circle, increase speed the length of the long side, and resume working trot at opposite end - 3 laps in each direction. This was a challenge too because of the water so we ended up doing the same exercise as before, but included the 20m circle. She likes to drift when we make circles, especially at the trot, so I set up 4 cones to shape my circle and tried to keep her inside them. It didn't work... but we're just starting! :)

Canter a 20m circle, after leaving the circle, increase speed the length of the long side, and resume a working canter at opposite end - 3 laps in each direction. Again, no long side, but we did speed up in the areas I thought were safe. She actually enjoyed the speeding up part a little too much at times and the footing had me worried, so we just did some nice cantering instead.

Exercises:

Spiraling In and Out: Rising trot on a 20m circle for a few circles and then spiral in until the circle is about 10m. On the way out, nudge with the inside leg when rising up and take about 3 circles to get back to 20m - Repeat twice in each direction. I totally forgot to go clockwise on this exercise and I have no idea why, so note to self for next time. This exercise played out similar to the warm up exercise, though, and instead of taking 3 circles to get back to 20m, it took us about 3 strides. Definitely have a lot of work to do where circles are concerned. I was impressed with her consistency, though. She trotted nicely on a loose rein and I didn't need to ask her to slow down. This will also be a good exercise for me because it forces me to concentrate on the circle and where we're going. I don't have time to look down and fuss over Lilly.

Sprint Lines: Space a number of cones throughout the arena using varying distances. Get into a nice canter and when you reach the first cone, sprint to the second cone. At the second cone, slow down to a working canter - 3 laps cantering, 3 laps walking; repeat the pattern three times in each direction. I tried this, but the footing just wasn't where it needs to be. So instead of speeding up and slowing down, we just cantered. She is doing excellent picking up her leads and all our transitions have been from the walk. Talk about progress!

Cool-Down:

10 laps of loose rein walking cool down. While we were cooling down, I started practicing the reinless whoa. She'll stop if I say "whoa", but she doesn't do it off my body, so we've been working on that a bit.

Rein backs over a pole. I really need to find my dressage whip because she has a difficult time picking up her hind legs to step over the poles. Those muscles need strengthening. With this exercise you can also back them up a hill, but at the old barn I didn't have a hill so I've been using the poles. In this arena, though, I have a hill, but it's pretty steep. We'll work toward being able to back up that hill!

All in all, we had a great ride. She's come a long way since I started this blog, and she's so quiet lately that I have to attribute it, at least in part, to her hooves and the fact that she's barefoot. I really noticed the change in the last couple months and the biggest change is that her shoes came off. She's so relaxed and calm and I love that about her now. She seems a lot happier and that's what it's all about.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pudgy?

I mentioned in my x-ray post that my new vet (Dr V) thinks Lilly is about 100 pounds overweight. The great thing about her mentioning that, was that she promptly went to her truck, got a weight tape, came back, weighed her, told me how far off the tape was, and then showed me all the "fat pockets" on my horse. She said Lilly was an easy 7 on the body score chart, and quickly approaching an 8.

Here we have exhibit a...

"This is embarrassing, mom!"
"Focus on my dapples and not my belly..."
Because of her white coat, the fat pockets are hard to see, but they're up around her withers and down along her shoulders. Dr V also commented that she couldn't feel Lilly's ribs. Okay, so she's a little fat. I've never denied that she's a bit overweight, but I'm not at the point where I want to make her wear a grazing muzzle. She mentioned about possible IR issues, but Lilly hasn't always been an air fern. I don't know much about IR so I'll have to do some reading.

She's on 24/7 turnout to help her hooves, she has hay but barely eats it because she prefers to eat the grass (what there is of it), and she gets 2 lbs of alfalfa pellets. Alfalfa pellets have roughly 1000 calories per pound... so she's not getting a whole lot to eat. I suppose I could cut out the pellets completely and give her a handful of something at breakfast for the vitamins. It's actually nearing beet pulp season, so I'll look into cutting the alfalfa and replacing it with beet pulp. I'm hoping the new exercise program will take some weight off her.

Speaking of which, after the x-rays I took Lilly for a ride. I set off with the intention of sticking to the new routine, but an opportunity for some training in another area presented itself.

She was a little on edge already because an old "flame" of hers came back to the barn. He has medical issues and sometimes stays with us because his veterinarian lives very close by to the barn, so it's easy for her to come over often and take care of him. He was screaming for Lilly all afternoon and all the horses were riled up. She wasn't very focused when we were working in the arena and two of the pastured geldings decided to come up and watch. Their pasture shares a fence line with the arena, although they usually keep their distance.

My sweet girl is also in heat, but she never misbehaves because of it... she might be a little more excited about visitors, though, which was the case yesterday. Every time we went past the boys, she nickered and wanted to stop and make kissy faces. So we did a lot of work down at that end of the arena until she decided the boys weren't worth all the hassle.

I was able to get in some planned exercises too and she was excellent. She's really learning to rate her speed and I can ask for a slower trot and she'll give me a nice jog. We can get about four or five strides in before I have to put her back together, but she's really starting to figure it out. She also has three gears at the canter now too instead of one really fast one! First gear is still a little fast but nothing to complain about, second gear is what happens when she gets unbalanced, and third gear is what I pushed her into when we were doing our warm-ups. I was really impressed!

She's a bit more out of shape than I thought, which I figured might be the case. This is also a strange time of year because we had 85 degree weather this weekend, but Lilly's coat has thickened quite a bit because of the 40 degree nights. She was sweating shortly after we started working and I had to hose her down when we were done. I wanted to err on the side of caution so as not to overheat her.

She's doing so well after such a short amount of time that I'm excited about how she'll progress over the next few months once we're really able to start working.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Radiograph Results

I'm late posting these because of some technical difficulties. It appears that the eFilm Lite program used to view the x-rays doesn't play nice with Vista or Windows 7. My fiance and I had to get creative last night, but we got them to work. The vet gave me two CDs, one was supposed to have lateral views, and the other was supposed to have the DP (Dorsal Palmar/Plantar) views. As it turns out they both had the same images and I'm missing the DP views. Once I get them, I'll post those too.

The new vet and her crew were super nice. Lilly was an excellent patient and stood completely still on two blocks with her hooves spread apart quite a bit... I was surprised, especially since her long lost boyfriend is back at the farm and he was screaming for her throughout the entire process. Good girl, Lilly! :)

So that you can form your own opinion first, I'll tell you what she said about the x-rays after the images. She took a bunch of notes while doing the x-rays, which were only coherent to her, so she's going to write them up so they make sense and send them to me. For now, I'm going off memory...

Left
The left hoof looks good, except for the thin soles. She didn't see any arthritis or bone spurs, although she did see a hint of sidebone in there. When I asked her what the cause of that could be she said, "because she's a horse." Good enough for me!

Right
Hopefully no one gasped when they saw this one!  This is our problem hoof and now I think it's clear why. She has an obvious rotation, about 4 degrees, although the vet said that's not enough to be concerned about. She said the thin soles are most likely the issue, but the soles on her left hoof are thin also, and she's a lot more comfortable on that hoof. There's a bit of sidebone in this hoof also, but it is free of arthritis and bone spurs like the left hoof.

So, in general, she said the x-rays looked good... thin soles, yes, but she was happy with everything else. If you'll recall the heel shots I've been taking, Lilly was loading the medial sides of her hooves and her pastern bones leaned to the inside. The DP x-rays were taken to evaluate that issue, but those only showed slight issues as well.

After chatting for a while about the hooves and the rotation, we think this probably showed up at some point during Lilly's rehab. It could have been when she first tore her ligament, or it could have happened during one of the abscesses she had. Either from removing the wedge pads or when she ripped her shoe off (and half of her hoof).

She did comment that she thinks Lilly is about 100 pounds overweight and that certainly won't help matters. The problem there is that she isn't eating anything as it is. She gets minimal amounts of hay because she wastes it, preferring pasture to hay, and she's only getting about 2 lbs of alfalfa pellets per day. That's fed mostly for the protein benefits, but also as a means of getting the vitamin supplement into her belly. She suggested a grazing muzzle, but I'm not sure I'm ready to go there yet.

These images are on their way to my trimmer, so I'm looking forward to what she has to say about them. Hopefully I can get the other images soon to send as well. She'll be out next Wednesday to trim.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Exercise Plan!

I hope I'm not getting ahead of myself by putting this plan together, considering we haven't done Lilly's x-rays yet (come on, Monday!), but I don't see any reason why I can't put Lilly back to work. The x-rays are mostly for my own curiosity, although they might tell us why she's a bit sore on her right front hoof without boots, and they'll also help my trimmer make better decisions with Lilly's hooves. I'm hoping that's all they show us and that everything else is normal in her hooves.

Thanks to the EasyBoots, I've been able to ride Lilly like a normal horse several times and she was fabulous... no soreness in her hooves and no issues with the saddle. She seems happy and I'm definitely happy! Because she's been out of work for so long, she's really out of shape, and I want to make sure I take it easy bringing her back into real work. I feel like her body is still adjusting to the new hooves and I want to make sure we have a good plan that makes sure she's comfortable and not pushed too hard.

I work best when things are written down and right there for me to see, so I put together a routine of sorts, with different exercises from two different books. The first is by far my favorite and I know a few of my readers have this book also: Equine Fitness: A Program of Exercises and Routines for Your Horse by Jec Aristotle Ballou. It's my favorite because not only does it list the different exercises, but it lists what part of the horse's body they work. There are a number of different exercises available for each target area and predetermined routines based on your specific goals. It got me off to a great start with Lilly's routine. The other book I used is an old favorite that a lot of us probably have in our library: 101 Arena Exercises: A Ringside Guide for Horse and Rider by Cherry Hill. I enjoy this book because the exercises listed are more like patterns, and they range from the most simple to way too complex for me!

I'm hoping to ride Lilly four times per week. I know that won't always happen but I'm going to try to stick to it. I'm also going to try to ride every other day rather than two or three days in a row. That way she can have a break in between rides. I'm sure this plan will change once I get going because I'll have to gauge her level of fitness once we start working and make adjustments as I go along. Days one and three will be for increasing suppleness and building strength. Day two will be for increasing her fitness level, and day three will be for us to work on the "normal" things we need to work on. I'm hoping to stick to this schedule for 2-3 months, rotating different exercises in here and there to keep it interesting and increasing the number of laps as I notice her fitness level increase. So here's the plan!

Day 1 - cardiovascular fitness, strength training, and suppleness

Prep:
Leg Lifts: Ask her to lift her hind legs using the dressage whip - exercise #39 (Equine Fitness)
2 Laps: Loose rein walking on the rail and over ground poles

Warm-Up:
Warm-up 1 (trot): On the long sides of the arena ride a ground-covering trot and on the corners, slow the trot. 3 laps in each direction - exercise #26 (Equine Fitness)
Warm-up 2 (trot): At one end, ride a 20m circle, after leaving the circle, increase speed the length of the long side, and resume working trot at opposite end. 3 laps in each direction - exercise #27 (Equine Fitness)
Warm-up 3 (canter): At one end, ride a 20m circle, after leaving the circle, increase speed the length of the long side, and resume a working canter at opposite end. 3 laps in each direction - exercise #27 (Equine Fitness)

Exercises:
Spiraling In and Out (trot): Rising trot on a 20m circle for a few circles and then spiral in until the circle is about 10m. On the way out, nudge with the inside leg when rising up and take about 3 circles to get back to 20m. Repeat twice in each direction - exercise #1 (Equine Fitness)
Sprint Lines (canter): Space a number of cones throughout the arena using varying distances. Get into a nice canter and when you reach the first cone, sprint to the second cone. At the second cone, slow down to a working canter. 3 laps cantering, 3 laps walking; repeat the pattern three times in each direction. Exercise #2 (Equine Fitness)

Cool-Down:
10 Laps: Loose rein walking cool down
Rein Backs: Over a pole, varying the heights of the pole - exercise #10 (Equine Fitness)

*****

Day 2 - cardiovascular fitness

Prep:
Leg Lifts: Ask her to lift her hind legs using the dressage whip - exercise #39 (Equine Fitness)
2 Laps: Loose rein walking on the rail and over ground poles

Warm-Up:
Walk: Briskly for 5 laps

Exercises:
Arena Interval Training: Canter for 3 laps, then transition down to a working trot for 3 laps. Reverse at the trot and canter in the opposite direction for 3 laps, and working trot for 3 laps. Continue this sequence 4 times. Exercise #19 (Equine Fitness)

Cool-Down:
10 Laps: Loose rein walking cool down
Rein Backs: Over a pole, varying the heights of the pole - exercise #10 (Equine Fitness)

*****

Day 3 - the basics Lilly and I need to work on

Prep:
Leg Lifts: Ask her to lift her hind legs using the dressage whip - exercise #39 (Equine Fitness)
2 Laps: Loose rein walking on the rail and over ground poles

Warm-Up:
Warm-up 1(trot): On the long sides of the arena ride a ground-covering trot and on the corners, slow the trot. 3 laps in each direction - exercise #26 (Equine Fitness)
Warm-up 2(trot): At one end, ride a 20m circle, after leaving the circle, increase speed the length of the long side, and resume working trot at opposite end. 3 laps in each direction - exercise #27 (Equine Fitness)
Warm-up 3(canter): At one end, ride a 20m circle, after leaving the circle, increase speed the length of the long side, and resume a working canter at opposite end. 3 laps in each direction - exercise #27 (Equine Fitness)

Exercises:
Long Serpentine: Jog up the long side of the arena and jog a 30-foot half circle to the right. Jog down to the opposite end of the arena 30 feet from the original track and jog a 30-foot half circle to the left. Repeat the entire width of the arena and back four times - exercise #49 (101 Arena Exercises)
Trot, Halt, Back, Trot: In sequence until I start to feel the hesitation and her trot is slower. - exercise #23 (101 Arena Exercises)
Guess What: Using a five-loop serpentine, begin by walking the first loop and stopping in the center. Trot the second loop and stop in the center. Trot the third loop and stop in the center. Walk the fourth loop and stop in the center. Trot the fifth loop and then walk. Practice three times varying the placement of the halt - exercise #81 (101 Arena Exercises)
Change of Lead Through Trot: Lope down the long side, into the corner, and on the second corner, lope a 40-foot circle. Head across the diagonal after the circle and perform a simple change in the middle. Perform this 2 times on each lead - exercise #27 (101 Arena Exercises)

Cool-Down:
10 Laps: Loose rein walking cool down
Rein Backs: Over a pole, varying the heights of the pole - exercise #10 (Equine Fitness)

*****

Day 4 - same as day 1

*****

With any luck, we'll kick this off on Monday after the x-rays! :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

We're Lovely!

Carol from the Dressage Training Journal has nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award! I also found myself nominated on Simply Horse Crazy and It's Quarters For Me. Thank you all so much for thinking of us! Lilly and I are flattered. :)

We're lovely!
As the proud recipient of this award, I have two very specific duties to fulfil. I have to share seven things about myself and pass this award along to 15 newly discovered blogs!

I'll start by sharing seven things about myself... hmmm...
  1. I finally received my Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology early this year. I've been working toward this degree for over seven years and I am extremely proud of myself for sticking to the plan and achieving this goal.
  2. Nothing gets under my skin more than people who constantly whine and complain about something but make no effort to remedy the problem. Either do something about it, or quit whining!
  3. When I was in high school, I worked at a Standarbred breeding farm not far from home. It was a great experience for me and I learned a lot about the horse business... racing, breeding, weaning, and so much more. I also learned that I was not going to make it as a veterinarian as I had hoped. That was discovered after I passed out for the third time while helping the vet with minor surgeries.
  4. I hate being the center of attention. When I was growing up I tried my hand at school sports... softball, soccer, and volleyball. I was quite good, but I hated playing because at some point during the game, I'd end up with the ball. Volleyball was the worst because I knew I'd have to serve. I was the only girl on the team who could serve overhand and the coach made me do it every time. It felt like all eyes were on me and it made me terribly nervous. Oh, and you can forget about seeing me dance in public!
  5. I despise leftovers. Unless it's something really good (spaghetti from Carrabba's), I never take leftovers home because I can't stand how they smell after they're cold. Thanksgiving is the absolute worst for me... we always have leftovers but someone has to fix me a plate and warm it up while I stay far away from the kitchen. If leftovers do make it to the fridge, they have to be in sealed containers so the smell cannot escape. No doggie bags or styrofoam containers!
  6. I absolutely love the beach. Fresh water, salt water... I don't care as long as it has sun and sand! I recently became engaged and my fiance and I are planning a beach wedding.
  7. I am a very light sleeper and I can't sleep without some form of white noise. If I'm traveling somewhere and they don't have some sort of white noise generator (like a fan), I have to sleep with earplugs or I'll be up all night.
Now we're on to nominations! I don't have 15 new-to-me blogs to nominate, so I'm going to have to break the rules and include a few I've been reading for a while who hopefully haven't been nominated for this award yet.

  1. The Glorious Hoof
  2. Diary of the Overanxious Horse Owner
  3. Just Horses
  4. New Horse Owners
  5. Things I Learned From My Horse
  6. Equine Artists International
  7. The Blogging Horse
  8. All Horse Stuff
  9. Galloping Mind
  10. The Cheyenne Chronicles
  11. The Equestrian Vagabond
  12. Manitoba MoonSox and Me
  13. Pia's Parade
  14. The Sprinkler Bandit
  15. Farno's "New Vocation"
Thanks again for the award and for thinking of my blog! :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Back To Real Riding

Things have been busy around here... not so much on the horse side of things, but in my other life. My parents came down from Michigan for a few days and we had a really nice visit despite a couple days of less than stellar weather. They went back home this morning so life has officially gone back to the usual routine...

On the positive side of things, though, the weather is much more pleasant for my horse and she even has two functioning boots for riding. She's perfectly sound when wearing the boots and I haven't had any further issues with my saddle. All that good news means I can actually ride my horse! And when I say ride, I mean ride! No more taking it easy... it's time to get back to work! She's definitely out of shape, so I'm putting together a fitness routine that I'll be using next week to get her going again.

I rode her a bit yesterday so my parents could see how absolutely adorable she is (albeit a little pudgy). Here are a couple pictures:

Always perfect for mounting and ride preparation.  :)
Happy hooves = happy horse!
Yesterday we just had a short ride, but today we actually worked on some "serious" stuff. I'm thrilled with how wonderful she is under saddle considering how little I've been able to ride her. A strange "calm" has come over her since the shoes came off and I don't know if it's a coincidence or not, but I didn't see any of the anxious Lilly I'm used to from recent times. We did walk, trot, and canter work and she was responsive, patient, and GOOD! She wasn't chomping on the bit at all during our ride, and when we did a little bit of cantering each way, she stepped right into both transitions without fuss (from the walk!) and had the correct lead both times.

It all sounds like fairly simple stuff for most, I'm sure, but for me and Lilly, those are all things we've struggled with. She's really smart, very sensitive, and I really struggle keeping her focused on doing only what I ask. She anticipates like crazy and when I don't let her do what she thinks we should be doing, she gets frustrated... the frustration turns into things like chomping on the bit and shooting like a rocket into the canter. Once she's worked up, she has a "hair trigger" for most of the ride and even the slightest bit of leg pressure must mean canter!

Today, though, she was amazing. She was calm, easy to get along with, and we had a great ride. She even did her stifle exercises without getting all huffy! (I back her over slightly raised poles...)

Even though over the past couple weeks/months she hasn't really been able to be ridden with any real work in mind, I've been taking her to the arena to walk around. During that time we did a lot of playing. I would drop my reins and ride by steering her with my legs only... I taught her to back up without the reins, side pass without the reins, pivot without the reins, and essentially be completely functional without reins. I think that has made a huge difference with her sensitivity because now she knows that pressure doesn't always mean go faster. When I was riding today, I had to be very specific with my cues because she wasn't sure if we were turning or if I was asking for the trot. And she didn't get frustrated with me when she wanted to turn and I wanted to trot. It was more like, "oh, okay mom..." instead of her usual frustrated attitude.

We're starting in a great place!

Also, Lilly's x-rays have been moved up from Thursday to Monday. The veterinary office that I was hoping could do the xrays finally got back with me, so I'm looking forward to Monday! I also ordered a product called Farrier's Fix that is supposed to draw out hoof soreness and help tender feet (among other things). It came highly recommended by a few people, and for $20 I figured I should give it a shot. I've spent way more on way less, so why not?! For sore hooves it should be applied daily and yesterday was our first application, so there haven't been any noticeable results yet, but it's still early and I'm hopeful!

As I was out enjoying a wonderful day with Lilly, I couldn't help but think about Andrea and Gogo. I gave Lilly an extra hug and spent a quiet moment with her in honor of all they have been through. May Gogo rest in peace, and may the memories they shared never fade.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Soliciting Hoof Advice

Because you are all so smart and I value your opinions, I wanted to get some advice about an issue my dad is having with his horse's hoof.

Justus has a history of hoof cracks on his right front hoof, but if he's shod long enough, they can get the crack to grow out. Once the shoe comes off, though, the crack slowly comes back. Justus is retired and my dad would prefer to keep him without shoes. I figure there must be a way to keep cracks at bay without shoes.

The crack has gotten a bit worse over the past few weeks and now Justus is uncomfortable on that foot. We're looking into getting a pair of boots for him to wear to keep him comfortable until we can get the crack under control, but how to do that is where I'm hoping I can solicit some advice.

My personal opinion is that there's most likely some bacteria in the crack that is keeping it from growing out. I suggested he start spraying the crack with apple cider vinegar to try and kill the bacteria that's growing in there. Soaking would definitely be better, so I'm going to suggest that as well.

I'm also thinking that since he's barefoot, a mustang roll might help alleviate some of the pressure that's being put on the hoof wall. I think that's why it's cracking, but that's just my very unprofessional opinion.

Here are a few pictures of the hoof and the crack. He actually has two cracks, but the bigger crack is the one I think is causing the issues.





Any suggestions or ideas you might have would be much appreciated!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Haiku For A Saddle Pad!

Kate from The Adventures of Lucy is giving away a beautiful painted saddle pad and all you have to do to enter the contest is write a haiku! Since I want to win in the worst kind of way, I'm plugging the contest here so I get an extra chance at winning. The pads are beautiful and I want one for myself!

Gorgeous!
Here's my desperate attempt at a haiku:

New tack is awesome
Lilly loves to show it off
Wonder if we'll win

Heh... good luck everyone!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Few More Updates

I've been thinking about the x-rays Lilly needs for her front hooves, and rather than using my regular veterinarian, I've decided to try someone different. Rebecca has suggested I try a vet she trims for, so I put in call to the office today. I haven't heard back yet, but with any luck they'll call me soon.

I also received my new EasyCare Trail boots in the mail yesterday. I was surprised that they sent me a replacement for each boot instead of just the one I was having the most trouble with. Now I have a spare, though, so I'm very grateful. So the good news is, I can go back to riding without having to worry about her boot falling off!

I've also not had another issue with Lilly's saddle. I had a feeling she was going to do this to me... she'll be great for a while and just when I think we're good to go, she'll surprise me and start acting uncomfortable again. I've been planning ahead, though, and when she does it again (because I know she will) I'm going to try her with a half pad. The boarder I've become pretty good friends with is super nice and always offering her tack for me to try. She's got a really nice half pad that I'm going to try when the time comes.

She's so nice, in fact, that she let me ride her boy Music the other night. She felt sorry for me, so we traded horses. He is huge, and super sweet! I had a lot of fun riding him. :)

The other night at the barn I took advantage of the pretty sunset and set up my camera on the arena gate. Using my remote control, I snapped a few shots of me and my sweet girl.

I gave up trying to get her ears up for the picture...
Oh wait!  Ears are up in this one!  :)
I'm loving the dirty nose she has from playing in the dirt! LOL

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Happy Fall!

I haven't had a lot to write about lately... everything is pretty much status quo. Lilly's hooves are looking good, and I've been riding her quite a bit at the walk. I'm still waiting on a new boot from EasyCare and I'm hoping I hear from them soon so we can start doing trot work again. I might just break down and buy another one, that way I'll have a spare if I need it when the EasyCare boot comes.

She's still sore on her right front hoof without boots and I've decided to go ahead and get x-rays done. I'm trying to work out something with the other ladies at the barn so we can all split the farm call charge. Hopefully we can get that scheduled soon so I can start to rule out certain things as being the cause of the pain.

I also decided to put her back in the stall during the day. It's just to rule out sugary grass as a cause of her soreness... she's never shown any lameness due to grasses before, but she was always wearing shoes and it definitely would have masked any discomfort she had. She's been in the stall since the 26th and I haven't noticed a change yet, but I want to give her some more time. I've got plenty of that...

We're starting to see some beautiful fall weather around here, and I hope everyone else is too!