Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 In Review

January was a fairly busy month. I remember having mild weather and I was able to get in quite a bit of riding. Probably the biggest event of the month was a saddle purchase. It was the exact same saddle my friend rides Lilly in, so we knew it would actually fit her shoulders and I got it for a great price. It needed some work, but it was absolutely worth the trouble because I knew my saddle fitting nightmare was finally over! We also had a vet visit to determine if Lilly could possibly have UFP, Lilly got her teeth floated, and Alex came for a visit. What an exciting month!

It fits!!
February was a bit less exciting. I had some good rides and some not so good rides, and thankfully Alex came to my rescue (again). I don't have anyone around that I trust enough to ride Lilly, so it's always a blessing when Alex comes out. She understands Lilly and can give me pointers from the saddle. I usually need some tough love from her to get me and Lilly back on track. I also purchased a bunch of fun new toys to take to the trim clinic Lilly and I attended, and we did a lot of work in the round pen.

Getting a dose of that tough love...

Wow, 20 posts in March? That has to be some kind of record for me! Too bad they were all posts about nothing. I seriously rambled the entire month! Okay, so Alex came to visit, so that was a highlight, but I mostly just complained about bits, horse shows, and soggy arenas. We did go to a fun show, and Lilly was a pretty good girl. I was very happy with her attitude, even though she was still trying to anticipate the next move every time the speakers clicked on.

Being a good girl at the trailer.

April was a tough month for Lilly. She got a bad sunburn on her shoulders and neck, was vaccinated, had a reaction to her rabies vaccine, had a sore back, and was started on a series of Adequan injections. Lots of needles! Lilly also celebrated her 12th birthday and we went to a show up at the fairgrounds. I was disappointed in the horses I saw while we were there (we were walking and passed loping horses), but we tried to have fun anyway. April was also the month when Lilly finally shed out all her light colored winter coat and revealed that dark spring coat I love SO MUCH!


May was a really fun month because we managed to make it to three different shows! One was a CMHA show, one was a TWHA show, and one was a JCHSS show. We almost didn't make it to the CMHA show because one of my ribs had popped out of place a week or so before, and it was the WORST PAIN EVER. I wasn't sure if I should risk it, but in the end we hauled in anyway. We had three great shows, but Lilly was still being absolutely awful about anticipating. It seemed to be a theme for each show. It sucks because it isn't something I can work on at home, so I debated whether or not to blow my classes. Nevertheless, we earned quite a few PAC points this month and I purchased some pictures from one of the shows. Behold, my favorite picture of us so far!

Love this picture!

June was a boring month. I was having fits about the arena and contemplated switching barns again (even went and checked out a place), but in the end I decided to stay. June also seemed to kick off "Wedding Planning Season", so I'll warn you now that it only gets worse from here on out. We did manage to get in a few rides, but it was a pretty low key month.

After one of our bareback rides.

Don't say I didn't warn you... we had crazy hot temps in July and there wasn't a whole lot of riding happening this month. I did post some pictures of Lilly's hooves and enjoy looking at how much healthier they are since we pulled her shoes. At this point, she had been barefoot for just under a year. What a completely different horse I have now!


Since the wedding was only a month away, August was boring on the pony front. On the wedding front, though, things were hopping! I did make it home to see Boo Pony and had a wonderful visit with friends and family. Lilly felt extremely neglected, and unfortunately for her, it was only the beginning.

My sweet AJ.

One word: Wedding! Oh, and Lilly ripped her fly sheet to pieces.

Married to the love of my life.

Two words: Honeymoon and brand new house! (I guess that's five words...) I didn't write a single post in October. Shame on me! I had a wonderful time, though!

Our lovely new home!

Lilly and I got back into the swing of things a bit in November. My vet came to give vaccinations and freaked out at how pudgy my pony was, so we switched her feed and did a little rearranging with her supplements. I started riding her quite a bit, and was thrilled to report that she picked up where we left off so many months ago. She was having some issues with her right front hoof, though, and it was making it difficult to work her with any kind of consistency. I had my trimmer come out to make sure my trims weren't the cause of her issues and we decided that Lilly was ready for a pair of Renegade boots.

What a precious face!

December brought a new pair of Renegade boots, some gorgeous weather, and some wonderful rides on Lilly. I also made it home to Michigan to visit AJ. The show bug officially bit me this month and I am looking forward to 2013 and all it has in store for me and Lilly!

New Renegade boots!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

So Much Rain!

Yesterday we had gorgeous weather... today, not so much. Tornado watches all day, with tons of pouring rain! The BO texted me this morning to let me know Lilly was in the barn, which I promptly thanked him for. It's still raining out there, so any chances of hopping in the saddle anytime soon are nothing but a dream at this point. Just as well, I suppose, as it seems the leather ties for my reins have gone missing. I cleaned them the other day and left them to dry before tying them back on my bit, and now they're MIA. I just don't know what to make of that... maybe the dogs found them to be a fun toy and pulled them out? Where does one get itty bitty leather ties for reins? I sure hope Google knows!

Lilly got a little bucket of gooey horsey cupcake things and a beautiful AP saddle pad from the BO for Christmas. It's clear she loves the cupcakes much more than the saddle pad but I guarantee the pad will last longer than those treats!

I think she's finally losing some weight too. She's been on the Enrich 32 now since November 6th, and with the exercise and possibly burning some of that pudge when the nights are colder, she is starting to look less pregnant. I've also cut out carrots and have been feeding her sugar free treats (yummy!). The cupcakes won't help with her diet, but once they're gone, she'll be back to icky treats. No difference in her hooves yet, but she hasn't been on the new supplement for very long.

Umm, let's see... what else can I ramble on about? Oh! I put some new pictures in the header and left them full color this time. A new look for the new year!

I hope everyone in the path of this storm stays safe and warm!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

It was beautiful today. It started out sunny and eventually became completely overcast, but the temperatures were in the low 60's. It would have been a gorgeous day to ride, but it was my turn to work, so I'm keeping watch over the network instead of enjoying this glorious day outside. The hubby and I celebrated our first Christmas together as a married couple, and our first year in our gorgeous new house yesterday and it was wonderful. We're very excited about the upcoming year, and celebrating all it brings with our friends and family.

Lilly and I want to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy, prosperous 2013!

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

— Luke 2:8-14

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 14, 2012

How Many Is Too Many?

As is the case around this time of year, I start getting uber excited about next year's show season. I visit the websites of the different show circuits I plan to join at least 46 times per day, wondering when they're going to post next year's show dates.

"Come on! It's the middle of December! Where are those dates?"

The few who have their seasons posted might also have their new show bills available and I pour over the classes Lilly and I will be entering.

"Which classes to enter... hmmm... this one, and this one, OH and definitely this one!"

Before I know it, between the stock type division, the adult division, and the western and english divisions, I've circled 16 or more classes.

"Dang, that's a lot of classes... Okay, where to cut back? Not that one, can't cut out that one... maybe this one?"

The problem with some of these shows, is they have 3 or 4 classes that are essentially the same thing. Take for example, my favorite show series, JCHSS. For their western classes they have the following classes Lilly and I would want to enter:

Western Walk/Jog - Stock Type
Western Go As You Please - Adult
Western Walk/Second Gate (so gaited horses can enter too)

Those are all essentially walk/jog classes. The stock type class counts for the stock type division, the adult class counts for the adult division, and the walk/sg class counts for the western division, all of which I hope to compete in for year end awards.

Add on to those classes a western pleasure class and two horsemanship classes (one walk/jog and one walk/jog/canter), and I'm already at 6 classes. Plus I was thinking about doing trail this year, so we're now up to 8.

The english classes look exactly the same as the western classes, minus trail, so now we're up to 14 classes. In addition to the english classes, they have 4 huntseat classes we could enter, and don't forget about halter and showmanship. We could potentially enter a grand total of 20 classes. 20 classes?!

Obviously that's too many, but I just don't know what to cut out. I have been thinking about doing only western this year, but to be competitive in the stock type and adult divisions, I have to show in at least 2 english classes. And well, if I'm suited up for english anyway, what's a few more classes to try and snag a few more PAC points?

It just snowballs from there...

Then I remember that because of my work schedule, I will only be able to take Lilly to about half of the shows anyway. So unless we bring down the house and whoop up on everyone else there, we might not be able to get enough points for year end awards anyway. If that's the case, we could just enter the classes we wanted most since divisions wouldn't matter.

At one of the shows.
It seems like we usually enter about 12 classes, and at least one them is a ground class like showmanship and sometimes halter. 10 riding classes sounds like a lot, but we really aren't in the arena that long for each one. I'm not one to work her constantly throughout the day (although maybe I should) and I don't use her for my own personal chair, but I'm just not really sure how many classes is too many. I can't ask Lilly because she'll just say we shouldn't go at all.

I need to find a way to narrow them down... somehow!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bye Bye Warm Weather

Uh, t-shirt weather is long gone, and I'm SO sad!! Today was overcast, windy, and COLD... we're talking low 40's. I want the 70's back!! I managed to convince myself to get dressed and head to the barn, but once I got there, I realized I was severely under dressed to be spending any kind of time outside. So I braved the cold long enough to say hello to Lilly, squirt ACV in her hoof hole, pat her on the neck, and give her a cookie. Then I was outta there.

The tack room was fairly warm, though, and since my tack has been severely neglected the past 6 months or so, I figured it was a good time to find my Horseman's One Step show my bridles a little love. They thanked me when I was done and I must say they look much better. I'll have to carve out some time to do my english and western saddles later on.

Speaking of tack, can anyone recommend an online tack place that sells nice mecate reins? I don't want fancy horsehair ones or anything, just a nice set of marine rope style reins, and I'm willing to spend a little cash to get a really nice pair. I've seen some for $20 and I just can't imagine they're what I'm looking for. Or maybe they are and I'm so used to spending thousands that I can't comprehend buying anything that is reasonably priced! I have roper reins on my snaffle bridle at the moment and they just aren't cutting it. I don't ride in the snaffle much these days, but I'd like to have a nice bridle set up for trail rides and fun rides in the arena.

In other news, today was day one of the new hoof supplement, BioFlax 20, and Lilly licked her bowl clean! I'm crossing my fingers that it tastes yummy enough that she doesn't mind the fact that it's powder. I think the BO put a little bit of water in with her grain to make everything stick together, so with any luck I won't have an issue with her eating breakfast. Now I just need the supplement to work its magic!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

T-Shirt Weather!

I rode in a t-shirt today and I was wishing I had a tank top. 74 degrees in December? Yes, please!

This crazy weather does make it hard on the ponies, though. Lilly is clearly ready for cold weather and when the thermostat hits 70, she sweats almost instantly. I rode her lightly and I still had a sweaty horse to cool out when we were done. I'm not complaining, believe you me! I'll just need to get a new pair of clipper blades so I can do a little clipping to make her more comfortable if this weather wants to keep this up!

We're both still loving the new Renegade boots. I rasped her hooves a little bit today to clean up some of the jagged edges and make sure they fit properly in her boots. Maybe it's just because I'm a little nuts, but I swear her soles looked a bit more concave than they did last time I looked at them... is that possible? She hasn't even been started on her new supplement yet. Those will start being fed on Wednesday... AND, when I walked her back to her pasture, she walked across the stones like they were nothing. Again, not complaining! Just makes me scratch my head, that's all.

Anyway, we had a nice ride. She temporarily forgot her brain a couple times (the boys were all screaming for her today) but was easily reminded that she's not to scream back. We're in a really good place right now and I'm loving it. We have a bit she and I both like, she has a saddle that fits and doesn't cause her any issues, and we have tootsies that feel good and boots that work perfectly! I can tell she's happy every time I take her out for a ride. There's no cranky faces, no tail swishing, and no short steps. She jogged around the arena like a happy, healthy western pleasure pony. I loved it!

I hope eventually we'll be able to say that about her loping too. I'm sure we will, but she needs consistent work with transitions and staying soft. It'll take time to get her back into shape and then it's practice, practice, practice. We have made a lot of progress, though. She'll lope around on a loose rein, and while it would never win her a western pleasure class, it's great to be able to let her lope on her own and not have her end up at mach speeds within a few strides.

She seemed a bit stiff going clockwise today, especially at the lope, and she didn't want to bend in our circles. We do a lot of rail work and not a lot of circle work, so I guess it's time to start incorporating more lateral exercises and circles into our daily routine.

I hope you all had a great weekend!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Boys

I'm back from Michigan where I had a wonderful visit with family and friends. While I was there, I got to snuggle with these two handsome devils.

Two peas...
Sweet Justus
Precious AJ

Saturday, December 1, 2012

They're Here!

My boots came just in time on Friday! My trimmer was planning on coming out to help me fit the boots since she was going to be in the area, but when they didn't come on Thursday, I was getting worried. Thank goodness they came on Friday around 1:30 and I met her at the barn at 3.

Oooh... pretty!
They have a gel coating in the bottom for a little bit more cushion, and because Lilly has such dainty feet, they're cut back a little bit. They were a perfect fit, and were much easier to adjust than I thought. The website makes it look fairly complicated but it wasn't at all, so I won't have anymore nightmares about doing it in the future.

We did a test run with the boots before my trimmer left and Lilly could walk, trot, and turn on the pavement without any issues. No short steps and no painful steps. I think she really likes them!

After my trimmer left, I saddled her up and took her for a short ride in the arena. We did our usual walk/jog/lope and she was excellent. She didn't act ouchie at all and never took a short step. There are a couple spots in the arena that are hard and I felt her hesitate a bit before relaxing. I think she was anticipating the hard ground and then realized it didn't hurt with her boots.

Oh boy... now we can get back to work. Yay...
So far, I give the boots two thumbs up and can't wait to use them a bunch when I get back. It'll be interesting to see how she does when she can really work and not worry about stepping on a stone in the arena.

I'll be in Michigan all next week for an early Christmas with my family, so I'll bring back some pictures of my precious AJ. Have a great week!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Nice Weather!

We had beautiful weather today... sunny and in the mid 60's! It doesn't look like we'll be so lucky tomorrow, so I had to take advantage of it today.

Lilly is still a bit tender on her right front hoof, so we enjoyed a nice, leisurely ride in the arena. We did a lot of jogging and worked on some nice, large circles, but nothing too strenuous. I'm anxious to get the new Renegade boots so she doesn't take a short step every time she steps on a rock out there. It's hard to get anything of substance going when we're constantly interrupted by stones.

We did some loping circles as well, but I kept her down in the softest area of the arena. I've been letting her lope on a loose rein, provided she doesn't start running around all crazy. I want her to learn to carry herself without me constantly holding her together, so I figured now that we're pretty much starting from scratch again with her workouts, it's a good time to experiment with it. She's a bit quicker to the right, but holds her rear lead well, and is slower on the left, but loses her lead every so often. Rather than breaking down to a walk, though, she'll take a trot step and then go right back into the correct lead. So I feel like we're making progress there.

Nothing too exciting going on... waiting on boots, and preparing for my vacation next week. I was chatting with one of the other boarders about body clipping, and she wants to clip her horse as well, so we might be looking into that when I get back. Her horse comes in the barn at night and she wishes there was another horse in there to keep him company, so if Lilly gets a clip, she'll need to come in at night too.

This is the same boarder I mentioned a few posts ago. I spoke with her today about bringing her gelding in when I ride Lilly and she told me not to worry about doing that anymore. I told her he was getting better and I didn't bring him in the last time and she said that was fine. She thinks it's good for him to run around out there and blow off some steam. Thank goodness for that!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hoof Pics and Updates

My trimmer came out Friday to trim Lilly. I've been trimming her up until this point, but I wanted her to come out and take a look at my work and point out anything I might need to change or do different. Her visiting Lilly also worked out since I've been noticing a bit of discomfort in Lilly's right front hoof, so I wanted her to check things out.

She said I was doing a good job with Lilly's hooves overall. There were some things she pointed out that I needed to work on, but they were all things I would have done during my own trim, so I felt very good about how I've been doing things. (What a relief!)

When I told her what I was seeing with that right front (see this post), she said she didn't think it was the trim, and we haven't seen rain in weeks, so we don't think it's related to her diet. She said she's seen quite a few abscesses lately and we even found a spot on Lilly's hoof where an abscess had blown. So it's possible she has some discomfort from that, or perhaps she has another one brewing. She said Lilly still has really thin soles, so it could be just as simple as the sand is packing in her hooves and putting pressure on her soles and it still hurts her. We also found a tiny bit of thrush in her frog, so that could have been causing discomfort as well. Rebecca was able to trim out the thrush and I've been treating it with the ACV for the past couple days, and I do believe it's gone.

Here are some pictures I took this morning (so 2 days post trim). Her hooves just are NOT growing at all, so her trim was mostly to clean up the hoof wall, shape things up a bit, and remove some flare. The peace of mind for me was definitely worth it, though.

Left Front
(Sorry for the blur... not sure what happened with this one)

Right Front

I think overall her right front is much more correct and "prettier", which is why it boggles my mind that she's the most sore on that one. With the wonkiness of that left front, and the way it wears, it seems like she'd be having issues with that hoof. Horses never make things easy.

Her right front has always been taller than her left front as well, so I've been working on that, trying to get them more level. The first picture is from after the clinic we went to in February, and the second picture is from today.

Not much of a difference... you might also notice that she still has that crack in her left front toe. Rebecca dug out the dirt and gunk from inside the crack/hole and cleaned it up a bit with her rasp. I'm also treating it with the ACV. Sure would be nice if she GREW SOME HOOF!

Which leads me to my next point... hoof supplements. JenJ was kind enough to email me about a product she's been using on her barefoot horse, Saga. Saga also had super thin soles (5-6mm like Lilly) and since having him on this particular supplement, his soles have thickened dramatically. It's called BioFlax 20 and even though it's a powder (Lilly hates powder supplements), it's cheap enough to try. I've wasted more on less!! I'll see if I can get the BO to add some water to her breakfast to make the powder stick, and hopefully she'll like it. If I can't get her to eat it, I'll switch over to the Farrier's Formula, which was suggested by my trimmer. I hope I have good luck with the BioFlax 20!

"Why are you on the floor doing weird things with my feets?"
My trimmer and I also decided it was time for Lilly to graduate into a pair of Renegades. Hopefully I will hate them less than the Trails and I can just start riding her in those. I'm sure it'll be night and day for her in the arena without having the sand packing into her soles.

They come in all sorts of cool colors... and do you know how hard it was for me NOT to buy the hunter green? Hunter green is Lilly's color! In the end, though, I decided to go with these:

Renegade "Black Knight"
Boring black. Boring, boring, boring. Have I mentioned how boring black is? I figure it's the appropriate color for her to wear in the show ring, though. We'll stand out enough as it is with boots on. I don't need the judge's eye being drawn to the gorgeous hunter green boots on her hooves.

Anyway, I should have them by Thursday. My trimmer ordered them so we could have them made special for my very special girl. We ordered the cutback option (10mm) because Lilly has shorter hooves, and I also got them with the padding option. It's a 5mm pour-in pad they install at the factory. Pads without having to cut and replace them constantly sounded like heaven to me. Hopefully Rebecca will be able to make it out again on Friday to help me fit them.

Anyone need a pair of EasyBoot Trails, size 2? They're in really good condition!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

We all have so much to be thankful for... sure, there are plenty of things to complain about (I do it all the time), but today we should all reflect on just how lucky and blessed we are. My blessings are too numerous to mention this year, but I am extremely grateful for each and every one of them.

Lilly says "Happy Thanksgiving!"
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with friends and family!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Time For Boots Again?

I'm crossing my fingers that the crazy-love-struck-gelding issue might be resolving itself! I left him outside today when I brought Lilly in and he ran around and called for her for quite some time. I ignored him. I figured if he was still acting like a dum-dum when I was ready to take her to the arena, I'd bring him in. When I was ready to take her out, he was calmly standing at the gate, so I hoped for the best and left for my ride. He whinnied a few times while we were gone, but he didn't run nearly as much as he did the previous couple times. Maybe he just needs a couple experiences like this to learn that she WILL be back. I'm not good with confrontations, so if this could just go away on its own, I'd be very happy. Here's hoping!

I had another great ride today. Lilly is doing so well that I'm really getting excited about next year's show season. We were starting to hit that sweet spot right when I had to stop showing earlier this year, so I'm very anxious about starting up again next year. I keep trying to bring myself back to reality and not think too far ahead, but it's hard when she's doing so well! I think next year we'll really concentrate on western and not try so hard to do both seats. I'm sure we'll end up in a few hunt seat classes, but our focus will definitely be on western. Maybe it's time to start shopping for a show saddle? (Actually, the thought of saddle shopping makes me ill...)

She was still a bit tender at times today during our ride. It was all I could do not to mess with her hooves when we got back to the barn, but I'm going to wait for my trimmer and see if it's something I'm doing wrong, if we're just still dealing with the thin sole issue, or if it's something else. It's odd to me that this is all starting now since we weren't having this issue back in the summer. I'm hoping it isn't from changing her feed to Enrich 32... she had previously been on a mostly grain free diet (just a handful of Ultium) and now she's on a pound of Enrich 32.

I'll need to start riding in the boots again if this keeps up, except I've decided I don't like the EasyBoot Trails. They're big and clunky and I can't do any pole work when she's wearing them because they get hung up on everything. It wouldn't be an issue if Miss Lazypants would pick up her feet, but she doesn't. It might be time to change to a new boot... one I can show with next year since we're planning an ambitious 2013 show season.

Don't be jealous of her braids!
Also, I don't know what I was thinking in my "It's Go Time" post, but I will also have all next week to ride before going home for Christmas. YAY! So we'll get in two good weeks before she gets a week off, and we should be able to get quite a bit accomplished.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Better Than I Hoped!

Lilly was moved to a smaller paddock a few months ago because the three geldings that were pastured next to each other couldn't get along. They would get into fights over the fence and after knocking down boards and attacking each other, the BO decided he needed to do something about it. That meant Lilly was moved from her nice, large pasture to a smaller pasture and the aggressive horse was moved to her pasture. Now she separates the boys so there will be no more fighting. And people say mares are a pain in the ass... whatever!

The problem now is that the gelding that was moved into her pasture is obsessed with her. True to form, Lilly could give a crap about him, but he MUST SEE HER AT ALL TIMES. That was fine and dandy when I hardly ever took her out of the pasture, but now that we're starting to work again, he is completely freaking out when I bring her inside.

He raced around like an idiot the other day when I brought Lilly inside to trim her hooves and when his owner and trainer arrived for their lesson, I could tell they were a little upset. I guess I should have brought him inside because he could have hurt himself running around out there. So from now on, could I just bring him in and put him in the stall if I'm going to take Lilly out of the pasture? If I just grab him first, he'll be really easy to catch, and then I can go get Lilly. Oh, and just toss him back out when I'm done and Lilly is back in the pasture.

Of course I said I would, and I did today when I brought her out to ride, but really? I have to mess with someone else's horse every time I want to ride mine? Maybe I'm being a bit silly (or being a bitch) but I don't WANT to mess with your horse. He seems like a nice horse and he was a gentleman when I brought him in today, but I don't know him very well at all. What if something happens and he gets loose or he does something stupid in the stall while Lilly and I are in the arena? No doubt it'll be my fault somehow. And what exactly do you want me to do with him when Lilly and I are going to a show? Take him with me?

Am I overreacting?

But enough about my ranting... this is the adorable face I saw when I grabbed a few things from my horse trailer. She stood at the fence nickering at me. :)

I just love how much more white her snip has with her winter coat.
Do you see that dirt??!! I don't know what has happened to my princess while I've been away! I asked her if she wanted to go for a ride and she whinnied while she trotted over to the gate. It's possible she thought I was asking her if she was hungry, but I doubt that!

It was overcast, cool, and windy today, so on our way to the arena, there was some snorting and a few moments where she spooked in place. Then she freaked out about the pile of jump standards on the outside of the ring that she was sure would attack her at any moment. Not to mention, goober boy was in the stall screaming like a mad man for his girlfriend. I was starting to wonder what kind of ride we'd have.

I tightened up her girth, which I didn't need to let out by the way, and hopped on. She immediately went into business mode... her head went down and she flicked her ears back at me. She only spooked one other time during our ride, and that was when some weird 3-wheeled bicycle with a yellow flag on the back came tooling down the road. She did a little scoot and then turned her head to see what the heck it was. I got her attention back on me by asking for a leg yield and we were on our way.

She was wonderful today. I am so thankful that she's the kind of horse you can ignore for three months, and then when you get back on, she's ready to pick up where you left off. I couldn't believe the jog I got when I asked her for it. It was amazing, and she did excellent the entire ride.

Today turned into more of an evaluation rather than day 1 of our get-in-shape-plan. We jogged, we did some long trotting, we did some transitions, and I worked on loping quite a bit. Rather than doing one lap around the arena, though, I worked her on a circle, using half the arena. We'd go one time around and take a short break before loping again. She is really weak on her left lead and had a really tough time holding it together. We'd get about half way around and she'd switch leads in the back. She seemed pretty good on her right lead, but we'll have to work on strengthening her hindquarters. After a couple times around at the long trot, she was huffing and puffing but she did great at the jog. We worked for a total of about 30 minutes and then called it a day.

I'll have to adjust the routine a bit, I think, and work in some ground poles, as well as some other exercises to build up some muscle tone and get her stretching. I'll go through my fitness book and see what I can find in there.

When we got back to the barn, I took her outside for some conformation shots. She humored me as always, and stood still while I took the pictures.

Her "less white" side always looks less pudgy...
She looks thrilled, no?
I did notice that she seemed a bit tender on her right front during certain times during our ride. It wasn't bad, and just when I thought I felt something, she's be fine. I couldn't see anything when I had her jog some circles for me after I hopped off, but I think she's still a little tender on that hoof. It's the one she's been the most tender on since going barefoot, and also the one we had x-rayed. She had really thin soles and I'm not sure that she's grown much in the past year and three months since she's been barefoot. I'm anxious to see my trimmer on Friday to ask her about it and perhaps look at options. I'm worried that we might have to change course for next year's show season. Maybe we'll need a composite or rubber shoe for next year?

We had a great day and I'm looking forward to more of the same tomorrow!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

It's Go Time!

Tomorrow is the official start day of Operation Pudgy No More... you know, time to start riding my horse again. It has been a crazy summer and fall, with the wedding, honeymoon, and new home purchase, but I'm at a point now where I think we can start working on getting back in shape (me included).

It's been chilly outside these past few days, so I think the warm fall weather is gone and the chilly fall weather is here to stay. I have quite a bit of cold weather gear that I received last year, but didn't use too much because the winter was so mild. I don't think we'll get that lucky again this year... so hopefully it keeps me warm because I hate the cold. It'll be very easy to say, "it's too cold to ride today!", but I'm going to bundle up and push through.

Here's the schedule for next week, and also the following week. Lilly has been off for so long that I feel like I really need to start from scratch. She's not only out of shape, but she's overweight, so I want to take it easy with her.

Week 1 - 30 Minutes

Monday - Thursday
5 minutes of loose rein walking on the rail and over ground poles
5 minutes of contact walking, 30-meter circles, and leg yields
5 minutes of trotting on the rail - split in both directions
5 minutes of jogging off the rail - split in both directions
1 lap at the canter in each direction
5 minutes of contact walking cool down
5 minutes of loose rein walking cool down

Friday (My Thanksgiving Observed)
Hoof Trim Day

5 minutes of loose rein walking on the rail and over ground poles
5 minutes of contact walking, 30-meter circles, and leg yields
5 minutes of trotting on the rail - split in both directions
5 minutes of jogging off the rail - split in both directions
1 lap at the canter in each direction
5 minutes of contact walking, 30-meter circles, and leg yields
5 minutes of loose rein walking cool down

Sunday - Friday
Days Off

Wait, what? That's right, just as things start ramping up, they must come to a screeching halt once again. Just for a week, though. As is often the case, I'll be working Christmas Day this year, which means getting home to see my family (and AJ) won't happen unless Christmas falls on December 3-7. So I'll be going home that week to see my family and celebrate the season with them. When I get back, though, it's back to Operation Pudgy No More!

Lilly won't be in shape by the end of that first week anyway, but maybe it'll get her in the mindset... work a week, off a week, work a week FOREVER MORE. :) We might have to seriously consider a body clip of some kind. I never did get around to doing that last year. I guess I'll see how it goes and decide from there.

I've used this workout many times before. I hate to count the number of times we've had to start over from scratch, actually... it has worked quite well for us, but I'm curious to know if anyone else has any exercises they like to include in their workouts. How do you bring your horse back from a long break?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

More On The Pudgy One

Thanks for all the suggestions and ideas on my "fat kid" post. I think I've decided to switch her over to the Enrich 32, which I actually already have, and monitor her for now. I'd rather do one thing at a time, I think. Plus, winter is coming and I just don't think four flakes of hay is a lot, so I'm not going to cut back on her hay just yet. I might ask the BO to give her one flake in the morning, I'll give her another one when I visit in the afternoon, and then they can give her two at night. She really doesn't have anything of value in her pasture, especially since she was swapped to different, smaller pasture that was eaten down when she got there. She has digestive issues when she has food to eat, so I hate to think what she'd look like with just two flakes of hay. I am, however, going to invest in a NibbleNet if I can figure out which one I need. The BO is quite thankful that I've decided to ditch the small hole net.

My goal is to start riding her again next week on a consistent basis. I am working my butt off trying to get our new house unpacked so we can have some semblance of normalcy there, and then I won't feel like I'm neglecting my new wifely duties by spending all my free time at the barn. So a change in feed plus exercise will hopefully equal a less pudgy pony. If the combination of those two things doesn't seem to help, we'll move on to plan B.

I've had quite a few people tell me my vet is overreacting and I agree with them to a point. Is she fat? YES. Is she obese and dangerously overweight? I don't think so... she doesn't have a cresty neck and she doesn't have any fatty deposits on her body. I certainly can't see ribs, but I can feel them with just a little bit of pressure. What has me a little worried is that two years ago, I was pouring the food to her and she was skinny. People kept telling me I needed to put weight on her, and I was working to add about 100 pounds of weight. Why was she such a hard keeper then, and she's such an air fern now? Have any of you had horses go from one side of the spectrum to the other like Lilly has? She has always had routine vet care and has her teeth floated once a year, so it wasn't an issue with chewing her food. It's just weird that she gets practically nothing to eat now and is so fat.

From what I read about IR horses, they go from being normal horses to fat kids that you just can't keep weight off. Lilly is twelve, and this is about the age where this kind of stuff starts happening. So while I'm taking a more cautious approach to the IR issue, I don't want to rule it out in case there really is something going on with her.

I will also be looking for healthier treats. I've been told that carrots are loaded with sugar (who knew?), so I need to cut back on those. She was horrified when I told her.

Say what?!
In other news, I trimmed her hooves yesterday for the last time until after my trimmer comes. I felt like I needed a "check-up" to make sure I'm doing everything the right way and that there's nothing else I should be doing that I'm not. She's coming to trim the day after Thanksgiving, so hopefully I'll get an A. It'll also make me feel better to know that Lilly's hooves are in the best shape possible for the start of her exercise program.

Noms, noms...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Portly, Rotund, Fat, etc...

Not only was I gone for over 3 weeks in September and October, but I wasn't really participating in the world of Lilly for quite a while even before that. If you have ever planned a wedding, you know just how busy those last few weeks are before the wedding date. I think September 11th was the last time I took Lilly for a ride, and even then, along with the last few rides before that, those rides were just to play around a bit and get her out. Serious, consistent rides for us were done in early July, so needless to say, my horse hasn't received very much exercise these last few months.

When I went to see Lilly for the first time since being back from the honeymoon, I thought she looked humongous. Where did all that weight come from? Did she put it all on while I was gone, or did it happen slowly over the course of a few months when I was too busy to exercise her? In any case, she's quite plump. I'm hoping all this house drama will be over this week and things can go back to "normal" next week and I can start regularly visiting the barn again. I had planned to start her slowly back into work and hopefully work off some of those pounds.

This year for vaccinations, I did what I've decided is the best course of action for Lilly... one shot at a time. The reaction she had to the rabies vaccine has me worried for her, so my vet is under strict orders to give one shot per visit, and put us on the schedule for another visit a few days later. When she gave Lilly her E/W and West Nile, it was dark outside. When I inquired about when she was going to give the Flu/Rhino shot, she said she'd stop over this morning.

I got a text from her this morning at 9am that said, "Lilly needs to lose some weight. What is she getting for grain?"

I replied, "The sad thing is, she's not getting any grain. She gets a vitamin supplement, an ulcer supplement, and a handful of Ultium to make it palatable. No beet pulp either like the rest of the farm."

She replied, "YIKES! Call me so we can discuss!"

So I called her and we discussed how fat my pony is. She's getting 4 flakes of hay, a handful of Ultium, and is on a pasture with brown "grass". That's all she gets to eat and she's the size of a house. My vet thinks she looks preggers and has informed me that she's at a weight that could be detrimental to her health. What do you do for a fat horse that hardly gets any food? We discussed locking her in the stall and putting a muzzle on her, but it's too late in the year for that to do any good. It's probably what I'll have to do next spring, though, and she told me to start mentally preparing myself for the muzzle now.

She wants me to load her up and haul her to the clinic so we can put her on the scale and weigh her. I have a weight tape, but how accurate are those things really? The guy at the feed store swears by them, but you really have to do it the exact same way every time. So as much as I don't want to haul her 30 minutes for a scale, I'm going to start planning that now.

I double checked with my BO to make sure a handful of Ultium hadn't turned into 2 pounds of feed like it did last time this happened. He swore he was only giving her a handful once a day and he wasn't giving her beet pulp per my request. He asked if I wanted him to cut back on the hay, but she needs to eat something. My vet suggested soaking the hay to get rid of some of the sugars, but I can guarantee the BO will not go for that. So I might need to look around for some "crappy" hay since the barn's hay is really nice.

My good camera is locked up in my brand new house, so these are all iPhone pics and they aren't very good. The white hides quite a bit of detail, so you might not even be able to tell anything from these pictures, but does she look like she's part Holstein?

And look, someone gave her hay!
No babies in here!
"Why do you keep saying I'm fat?"
My vet wants her off the handful of Ultium and off the vitamin supplement. (Great news since my new SmartPak just shipped!) I ran out today and bought a bag of Enrich 32, so she's going to have 1/2 pound of that for breakfast, and a 1/2 pound for dinner. I'll leave her on the ulcer supplement. She has six weeks to slim down on her new "diet" and if she still weighs the same then, we'll test her for insulin resistance.

I'm still doing my research on what that diagnosis would mean, but it doesn't sound like very much fun.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Wedding Pictures!

I'm still going through pictures, but here are a few of the highlights!

Beautiful bouquets!
Not quite the sunset I had hoped for, but still beautiful.
Seal it with a kiss!
The bridal party.
My amazing and beautiful bridesmaids.
Typical picture of the guys!
So heavy!!

The rings.
Reception tent.
The bakery did a fantastic job with the cake!
Acting a fool!

More pictures to come later once I get a bit more organized!!