Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Our First Ride of 2014

Yesterday was gorgeous! It was sunny, 64 degrees, and slightly breezy. It's been so cold that I wanted to just lay down in the sunshine and soak up all the warmth. Oh how I long for summer.

Today we're under a winter storm warning, but let's try to forget about that and instead remember how beautiful it was yesterday. It was a perfect day to hop on Lilly and take her for a quick spin, so that's what I did.

"Did you bring me cookies?"
Because she's so out of shape, I mostly just took her for a test drive. I tried out all the old buttons to make sure they still worked, and was probably only on her for about 15 minutes. She was excellent, and I'm happy to say the buttons all still work well... perhaps a little too well. She seemed a little extra sensitive, so I'll need to start riding her in the snaffle bridle.

Proof that I was actually on her back! That's me in the shadow!
I decided to ride her without boots too. She's been doing very well walking to and from the pasture, and the arena is SUPER soft and sandy, so I didn't think she'd have too much of an issue. Aside from the occasional stone, she jogged and loped around the arena without any problems. I'm sure if we're anywhere other than the arena, she'll need her boots, but she's made so much progress since August and I'm just thrilled.

The expressions I capture sometimes make me laugh. :)
My pretty girl.
It was such a fun day, and I'm looking forward to this horrible weather going away so we can get back into the swing of things. I'm trying to take her to a show on March 1st, but we'll need to get in a lot of riding between now and then to get her back into shape.

The mandatory selfie.
Also, I've decided to sell my Old Mac's. I just don't think I'm going to need them... the only time she wore them was to try them on, so they're brand new. They're a size 3 if anyone is interested in them.

Stay warm everyone!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Blog Hop: Show Me Your Barn

I never really gave a barn tour when I moved to Lilly's current barn back in September. I guess it's because I was here once before, although not for very long, so it didn't really seem like a new barn and I didn't give it much thought. With everyone posting about their barns, I thought it would be a good time to do one about mine.

What I see when I pull into the driveway.

The main entrance to the barn.

The back side of the barn.

The barn aisle... Lilly's stall is on the left with the green blanket.

The middle area of the barn. The door to the left goes to the arena.

Lilly's stall. She's number 15.

Two wash stalls, and you can see the bathroom just behind the rope.
There's one for males and one for females.

One of the tack rooms. My locker is the last one on the left.

My super clean tack locker. :)

The arena.

A picture of the round pen, with the back of the barn in the background.

Pastures are mostly in front of the barn, on both sides of the driveway.

A zoomed in picture of the pasture.
It's a great place to board. We have hot water for the wash stalls, bathrooms, a little conference room with microwave and fridge, all the stalls have automatic waterers, and there are trails on the property too. The barn owner takes really good care of the facilities, as well as the horses. He's generous with the hay (which he grows himself), and the pastures are rotated and kept in good condition.

I keep telling him that the only thing that could make it better is a covered arena. He just laughs when I say that, but maybe one day I'll convince him.

Monday, January 20, 2014

2014 Goals

I've been going back and forth trying to decide whether or not I wanted to make goals for myself this year... and if I did, should I post them here? I feel as though being really positive and setting goals can sometimes backfire (it's Murphy's Law!), but I also feel as though staying positive can be a really good thing.

So what to do, what to do...

Normally I like to stick with black and white, cut and dry goals with some kind of metric. Either I met them or I didn't, but after giving it some thought, I decided to come up with a few unconventional, less specific goals for myself and Lilly this year, along with our usual goals. Here they are:

1. Go on a few trail rides this year - Showing is fun and I love it, but it's expensive, requires a lot of work, and can be quite stressful and time consuming. There are trails available at my boarding barn and many beautiful places to ride near to me. Lilly and I need to venture out and have some fun on the trails this year.

2. Obtain an APHA Certificate of Recognition in walk trot - This was a goal for 2013 that we didn't achieve, but we're only one point away, and I'm confident we'll get this done.

3. Accumulate four PAC points in showmanship - I set this bar fairly high last year, and while I still want to work on getting some more points in our favorite class, I'm trying to be a bit more realistic this year.

4. Be VERY diligent and mindful of what's happening in my horse's body. I hope to have a year full of ups, instead of downs, and I want Lilly to be healthy inside and out throughout the entire year. We'll be doing more tests, staying on top of any hoof issues and metabolic problems that arise, and trying to be more proactive instead of reactive. I'm armed with knowledge I didn't have last year, and I intend to use it wisely.

I hope 2014 is kind to us, and I hope it brings all of you good things as well!

Get ready, Lilly... 2014 is here!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Review of 2013 Goals

I've been dreading this post... perhaps that's why we're already 9 days into the new year and I'm just getting around to it. Long story short, when I looked back at my goals for 2013, I realized I didn't meet a single one of them. Not one.

Just to recap, here's what they were:
1. Take Lilly to a breed show.
2. Accumulate ten PAC points in showmanship.
3. Obtain an APHA Certificate of Recognition in walk trot.
4. Apply for memberships with JCHSS, CMHA, and TWHA, and attend enough shows with each show series to qualify for year end awards.
5. Get at least three PAC points in western pleasure.

The reason numbers 2, 3, and 5 didn't happen is because number 4 didn't happen. I just didn't have a chance to haul Lilly to very many shows this past year. In fact, we only went to two shows. It's difficult to accumulate points when you're not showing. Number 1 didn't happen simply because I couldn't justify the cost of a breed show when I wasn't able to ride my horse nearly as much as I would have liked.

Some of it was the weather, which was quite uncooperative until May-ish, and we even had a couple shows cancelled because of it, but mostly we were sidelined because of Lilly's hooves. It started with the seedy toe and went downhill from there. We had the mild bout of laminitis in late July, and she stayed quite uncomfortable until well into September. The last time I was on her back was early August.

Just not a good year to ride and prep for showing.

I did have one other minor, not Lilly related goal, and that was to post at least one picture in every post. I'm happy to say I did meet that goal, so thankfully my goal list wasn't a total failure.

See ya, 2013! Onward and upward!

Bring on 2014!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

2013: A Year In Review

Oh, 2013... I'm so glad to see you go.

You weren't all that bad, but you weren't all that great either. I do have a lot to be thankful for when I look back over the past year, though, especially knowing what some of my fellow bloggers experienced in 2013. Even though it has been a tough year for me and Lilly, I'm lucky to have a horse who is mostly healthy, and who is moving in the right direction. We have a few issues knocking on our 2014 door, but I'm armed with a lot more knowledge this time around, and hopefully we can get back on track.

January was kind of a wash... literally. We broke rainfall records all over the state, and it went into the books as the wettest January on record. Rain like that means one thing... soggy arenas! We were able to get in a few rides here and there, but the sunny, warm days usually followed the torrential downpour days, so even though we had a few days of gorgeous weather, I had nowhere to ride. We did make it out to one show, which was mostly a schooling show, and had a good day. We worked hard on NOT reacting to the loud speaker. By the end of the day, we had made progress.

A rare day spent in the arena.
The weather for February wasn't much better than what we had in January. We were still getting a lot of rain, and while I was able to ride a bit more this month, the rides were quite infrequent. AJ gave everyone a scare when he showed symptoms of colic, but it was fairly mild and he was over it in no time. He had a couple episodes like this in 2013 and I'm hoping we don't see them again in 2014.

Bored, and tired of the cold, wet weather!
March brought a lot of the same crappy weather we saw in January and February. I was starting to wonder if I'd ever be able to ride more than a couple times per month. Lots of cold and lots of rain. Our first show of the season was rained out, and the only real highlight of the month was when Alex came to visit and gave us a fabulous lesson. I bought a pair of spurs, chopped Lilly's mane, and dreamed about what it would be like to have a foal out of my favorite girl. Yep, a really exciting month.

The highlight of March... our lesson!
Sweet Lilly turned 13 this month... I reflected on how crazy it is that I've had her for thirteen years. It just blows my mind how fast time flies by. We had some really good rides, started planning for fly season by shopping for fly sheets, and I worked tirelessly to convince Lilly to shed her icky winter coat and show me that gorgeous spring coat I love so much. Because of the winter-like weather, however, she held on to it for dear life. It was also the month that we welcomed Seedy Toe into our lives. Despite my best efforts, he just won't leave.

The first of many, many soakings.
By now you're probably tired of reading about the weather... but we had some really crappy weather in May too. Luckily, the one and only show we had planned for the month went on as scheduled, with gorgeous weather. Lilly and I had a fabulous day in every way possible. She was relaxed and happy, her hooves were doing great, we both had a blast, and we came away with a reserve champion ribbon in the stock type division. I labeled it the Best.Show.Ever. It's one of those I'll remember forever.

Favorite girl at our favorite show.
Things started to get a little crazy in June. I started barn shopping (my least favorite thing to do in the whole wide world) because I heard rumors that my current place was thinking of selling. I wanted to have a backup plan in case the rumors became reality. We were still fighting with Seedy Toe (he had worn out his welcome), AJ celebrated his 27th birthday, and I decided not to go to the APHA show I had been looking forward to. We just weren't able to get in enough rides to justify the expense of a breed show.

Still soaking Seedy Toe.
Things got a lot crazy in July. I did end up having to move Lilly, and we ended up at a gorgeous facility with an indoor arena. Oh how I was looking forward to having an indoor! I was worried about how Lilly would do on the green grass, though, and what made it worse was that I was away for a good part of the month and wasn't able to monitor her transition as I would have liked. Things with the BM started to get a little weird and I was starting to stress about the care Lilly was getting. It was also a very sad month as my parents had to make the very difficult decision to have our beloved German Shepherd put to sleep. She was loved very much and will be remembered always.

We miss you, Bailey!
August is when things started to go downhill. I noticed early in the month that Lilly was a bit foot sore, and I was worried I had trimmed her too short. Considering I hardly take anything off her hooves when I trim, I found that unlikely, but I wasn't sure why else she would be sore. I was able to ride her once before things with her hooves really went south. There were a couple days where she was really sore, and some days where she was tender, and some days where she was fine. I was wracking my brain trying to figure out what was going on. Too much grass? Grass too wet? I was using sole hardener, soaking her in epsom salt, soaking her with oxine, and not soaking... trying to find something that would help. I reached out to my trimmer to get her advice and she suggested I call a mutual friend of ours who is also a trimmer, and more local to me. So I called her up and she came out at the end of the month. She suggested some new things to try, a new trim style, and we did a lot of brainstorming. I also wrote a password protected post because I was about to lose it with my BM. Finding yet another barn was starting to sound like a really good idea.

Oh look! More soaking!
September was probably the most stressful month I've had in a long time. Along with the few changes my trimmer and I decided to try, I also called my vet. We hadn't done xrays on Lilly in quite a while, and I was curious to see what kind of sole depth we had, and also if perhaps there was something else going on inside her hooves that we couldn't see from the outside. When she came out, we did nerve blocks and xrays, and came to the conclusion that she still has super thin soles and is quite simply foot sore. I struggled with the idea of putting shoes back on, but later came to my senses after many of you talked me out of it and my emotions calmed a bit. My good friend Alex also talked me off the ledge. She's friends with a trimmer I hadn't heard of or met before and Alex said she was great. I gave her a call to see if she thought she could help and after a long conversation, we set up an appointment. She came out, we chatted for quite some time, and she eventually trimmed Lilly's hooves. She trims quite differently than I was taught, and I was curious to see how Lilly's hooves would respond. We also started to consider that there might be some metabolic issues going on behind the scenes that are causing the soreness, especially since she's had thin soles for two years without issues. I also got the hell out of dodge and moved Lilly to a new barn. I decided one day that I had to move her, and pulled her out the next. I couldn't take it anymore, and I was worried about my horse. A barn I previously boarded at was kind enough to let me come in very quickly, so we made the move. I was so relieved to pull into his driveway.

Thin, thin soles.
As if I hadn't spent enough money on Lilly in September, I really ramped up spending in October. What else is my paycheck for, if not to spend on Lilly?? She had a chiropractic adjustment, got a fancy new pair of hoof boots, had a mineral panel done, and had her insulin levels checked. The mineral panel came back normal, but she was a bit low on zinc and copper so I started checking into ways to add more of those to her diet. My trimmer came out and was thrilled with the progress she saw with Lilly's hooves, and so was I. For the first time in quite a few months, I was feeling hopeful. Things were starting to look up, and I was starting to breathe again.

Her fancy new kicks!
We got the results back from Lilly's IR test, and while her insulin looked good, her ACTH levels were a bit concerning. Even keeping in mind the seasonal rise, her number, 126, was quite high. If Lilly was starting to show symptoms of Cushings disease, it could very easily explain what I had spent all summer trying to figure out... why was she suddenly foot sore. We came to the conclusion that Lilly suffered a mild laminitic episode in late July or early August and that's what caused all of her issues. We decided to do another test in the spring to get a more accurate number. My trimmer came out again and was happy with the progress she saw, and Lilly enjoyed another month of vacation.

Such a hard life.
December was pretty low key. My trimmer was out twice and I just can't believe the change in Lilly's hooves since she started trimming. Lilly is super comfortable, her hooves are changing like crazy (for the better!) and she is doing really well. I've been giving her time to heal and just enjoy being a happy horse for a while, but it's about time to put the saddle back on and get to work. The 2014 season is fast approaching!

Time off looks good on her.