Let’s Go Fly a Kite!

Or a horse….whatever works for you.

Boing!

Boing!

Now I have that song stuck in my head though… “Let’s go fly a kite…up to the highest height…let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring!”

Anyway, Dahlia’s new hand walking regime is going….interestingly. Some days she is the picture of perfection and would rather stop and eat after 10 minutes that keep walking. Some days its like trying to contain a dragon and we spend far more time hand rearing, hand leaping, hand bucking and hand spooking than anything. As evidenced by the photos.

Higher!

Higher!

Her leg is healing really well, its almost completely closed and I have been allowing it to be unwrapped so it can breathe while I am there and also while we walk. Walking does sometimes cause it to seep a little bit but that’s normal. Leaving it unwrapped does also cause a fair amount of swelling right at the site but I have found, obviously, that walking or allowing her to move more helps keep the swelling down. I have a feeling that it is just going to need to be weaned off of wrapping which is fine.

Look how tall I am, mom!

Look how tall I am, mom!

Dahlia is, however, returning to her home today. Its a bit bittersweet. I think that had she not injured herself that I would have learned a lot riding her and we would have made some good progress under D’s tutelage. Its a bummer that things went down the way they did but I just can’t keep her any longer. It has been so incredibly stressful having her injure herself under my watch and I don’t think my heart or my sanity can handle it any longer.

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Sometimes she drives me absolutely bonkers but I will miss her, she is a sweet little mare and I am excited to hopefully see her at events in the future with her owner!

How could you not love a face like that?

How could you not love a face like that?

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Starting to ride again

Because Kaitlyn over at Something to Talk About has been working late a lot recently and her mare, Tillie, is coming back into work after so much time off I have ridden her a couple of times.

Do you have food for me??

Do you have food for me??

Tillie is a lovely little redheaded Thoroughbred mare, my favorite kind of horse. She has lots of opinions and quite regularly her opinions are that I am being too demanding and that she knows better. Ah mares, you just gotta love them!

So darn cute

So darn cute

Anyway, the first day I went to ride her I was lucky enough to have my trainer there already finishing up a lesson with Emma and her mare, Izzy. I wasn’t expecting to get a lesson or anything but I am pretty sure D just couldn’t handle watching me ride so poorly so he gave me a short 20 minute lesson or so. We worked on getting Tillie to accept leg, not swinging her haunches when asked for bend, relaxing and connecting over her back, and me carrying my inside left hand a little more forward. Nothing earth shattering or overly difficult in theory. However, after only riding sporadically for the past 7 weeks since Dahlia injured herself my leg muscles were definitely tired!

Oh hey!

Oh hey!

The following day I went out to revisit some of the things we had worked on the night before, the trot work went smoother however the canter was disastrous. Emma summed it up perfectly when she said, “That was really, really rude of her.” Again, ah mares! We had a bit of a lesson again last night, once again nothing earth shattering, still just working on getting her to accept leg and not have random hissy fits about the fact that my right leg is asking her haunches to not fall to the outside. Hopefully Kaitlyn continues to allow me the opportunity to continue riding Tillie and between the three of us we can make some good progress!

So innocent looking

So innocent looking

Early mornings

I will start this post off by saying that I enjoy sleeping just as much as the next person, there is nothing better than snuggling under the covers and just disappearing for a little while. I also am an early riser, I have never been one for sleeping the day away, I don’t need to get up at an ungodly hour of the morning (although being a working student means that I do that far more frequently than I would otherwise choose) but I have rarely ever slept past 7 or so, I prefer to get up and get my day going.

Miss Dahlia is not as much a fan of mornings as I am. Or maybe it was just that she wasn't allowed to graze anymore?

Miss Dahlia is not as much a fan of mornings as I am. Or maybe it was just that she wasn’t allowed to graze anymore?

Having a horse on stall rest though has meant that I can kiss my sleeping time goodbye. Until this week I have been getting up and leaving my house by 5:30am to get to the barn by 6 to feed horses (might as well since I am there, right?), check on Dahlia, clean her stall (worst stall horse EVER! She is like a freaking tornado in her stall!), stuff the hay net so she can keep that little stomach of hers happy, redo the standing wrap, sometimes redo the entire bandage, and also hand graze/groom her for a little while. She loves these little forays out into the world, the only chance she gets to escape the end stall. Silly mare can’t play nice over the stalls with the horses in training so she was put in isolation all the way down at the end of the barn. To be honest, she really doesn’t seem to mind most of the time. As long as she has hay and water she is a pretty happy camper. I am sure she would love to get out and stretch her legs more but she is handling the stall rest with surprising grace and ease. I was definitely expecting more fire breathing dragon behavior from her.

Yummy grass!!

Yummy grass!!

Although I am not normally thrilled when my alarm goes off in the early moments of the 5 o’clock hour by the time I get to the barn, and subsequently to work, I am normally glad I went ahead and got out there early. D’s barn already has such a sense of peace and tranquility about it and that feeling is heightened in the early morning hours. It is so quiet, last week when it was cooler there was this lovely mist that would make everything all hazy. Nothing smells better than a barn in the morning and nothing sounds more lovely than contented horses quietly munching on their grain, occasionally rattling their feed pan or snorting out the piece of grain they inhaled in their haste to stuff their faces.

Early show morning with Lion and Dale

Early show morning with Lion and Dale

And the sunrises. Nothing beats the sunrises. They have been glorious. I often have found myself pausing while emptying the muck bucket or while carrying hay into the barn, bringing horses in, grazing Dahlia, etc. just to watch as the sun rises and turns a brilliant, fiery red, while bathing the sky in reds, pinks, oranges and finally the blue of a new day. Even when I was at the height of my worrying about Dahlia I couldn’t help but to leave the farm feeling refreshed, recentered and ready to greet the day.

I mean really, is this not just absolutely lovely?

I mean really, is this not just absolutely lovely?

Dahlia: the biggest miseventer of them all!

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I apologize for being MIA for so long. To be totally honest I was afraid to blog there for a bit. You see, Dahlia, tried to cut her leg off and I was terrified that the injury was going to get infected and be really, really bad. So obviously, my logical decision was to just avoid talking about it all together.

So pretty...even if she does hate being in a stall

So pretty…even if she does hate being in a stall

The injury was a fairly deep cut right over the back of her right front leg, directly over the tendon. Mare was walking on it alright, a little tender, until she would stand still for a bit and then she was 3 legged, knee buckling lame. Her tiny little toothpick leg also looked like a stovepipe it was so swollen. My mind immediately started leaping to all the grisly, gruesome possibilities of tendon involvement, infection, vet bills, etc….oh, and the fact that I don’t own this mare!

All wrapped up! We are now on to regular no bows and standing wraps

All wrapped up! We are now on to regular no bows and standing wraps

The vet came out and sedated her and we decided to inject fluid basically into the tendon sheath to see if it made a reappearance, indicating that the tendon sheath was involved. Apparently there is no foolproof way to test for that but that’s the best test. Luckily, no fluid reappeared, I was thrilled! The vet warned me though that it was not a definitive diagnosis of no tendon involvement but it was promising. The chunk out of her leg was large enough that he wanted to try and stitch it together, unfortunately, she had done such a number on herself that there was not enough skin to stitch it all the way together. Got a number of stitches in and wrapped her up good and tight and set an appointment for him to come back in 4 days to look at her leg.

Are you sure I can't go outside and play?

Are you sure I can’t go outside and play?

4 days later she was still sound walking on it, was not a happy camper about being stalled, and when we unwrapped it it was looking more or less how he expected it to, a.k.a. not that great. Cue my anxiety levels increasing again. Did some more stuff, wrapped it back up again and set an appointment for him to come back in 6 more days. In the meantime I changed the wrap a couple times, did my best to keep her happy in the stall, and hoped and prayed that she would come through this alright.

Blurry face!

Blurry face!

Well, we are now 2.5 weeks past the initial accident and she is sound (at a walk, although she did jump over the wheelbarrow while I was cleaning her stall one day and take off down the barn aisle…looked pretty sound then too!) but is still being kept wrapped and in a stall with very limited walking so that it has a chance to heal and grow skin back over the giant bald area. The vet said that her wound is approx. 22mm wide and that skin grows at a rate of approx 1mm every 10 days. So we are looking at around 100 days before her leg is hopefully all closed up and healed. My anxiety levels won’t drop until after that point, I can tell you that! I am trying really hard not to worry about her soundness, she is sound at the moment and hasn’t shown any signs of it slowing her down, even when it first happened she was still trucking around the field and yanking me around trying to graze while I called the vet but I can’t help but worry.

Oh HIII! Did you need help wrapping my leg at all?

Oh HIII! Did you need help wrapping my leg at all?

The Plague

Covered ears!! Still didn't stop all her dramatics over the flies though

Covered ears!! Still didn’t stop all her dramatics over the flies though

For the last week, ever since the XC clinic, I have been afflicted by the plague. Yes, the plague. It has made a comeback since, you know, like the 1300s or whatever, and for some reason chose me as its starting point for creating an epidemic.

Ok, that is perhaps a bit dramatic, but let me tell you, it felt like I was dying from the plague!

overly

I was so sick that I didn’t even go to the barn on Monday (Sunday really did a number on me between helping D at the event, coming back and helping him ride other horses, chasing the stallion down the road when he jumped on top of me and ran me over while I was trying to get on him, feeding and turning out the horses and riding Dahlia…all while unable to eat anything without severe nausea and gradually getting to the point of even water causing severe nausea), and as fellow horse people know, we have to be pretty sick to not even step foot at the barn. Ended up in the ER on Tuesday, Wednesday stayed home from work, Thursday went straight home after work. Friday I did manage to get to the barn and hopped on for a quick walk around the field (took me almost an hour to get her tacked up because I was still feeling so poorly). Friday though I did get to try out the ear bonnet I got for her from a friend. I think it looks pretty spiffy on her!

Saturday I tried to go out to the barn to help D jump school his horses, luckily Kaitlyn from Something To Talk About was able to come and help because within an hour I was lightheaded and nauseous again. Apparently not being able to eat anything for an entire week wears you out? Who woulda thunk it??

This was basically my stomach for over a week

This was basically my stomach for over a week

Sunday I was finally feeling well enough to go out and try and ride and got there to find Dahlia had pulled a shoe.

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Of course she pulled a shoe, I was finally feeling better! Ah well, I suppose it was probably good to get some extra rest. The farrier is coming out today to trim her up and re-shoe her so tomorrow we should be back to riding and hopefully I am done with The Plague and no one else catches it either!

I was way more excited about the ear bonnet than she was, clearly.

I was way more excited about the ear bonnet than she was, clearly.

STTA Blog Hop: It’s Ok to be Weird

I am almost 100% positive that this blog hop was made especially for me!

K over at Something to Talk About and I are good friends and I am new to blogging and blog hops so decided to use her idea as a test run to see if I could figure out how to do this. My understanding is that I missed out on the one Firn did of Everyday Wins so we’ll try this one instead! I swear, I am a decently intelligent person but sometimes the simplest things are stupidly difficult for me to figure out!

I don’t really have any of current horses I have been riding so we will start with my pride and joy, Ruby. I had to sell her right before moving to the East Coast and at some point I am sure I will do some posts about her because she really was my baby. She also had a marvelous sense of humor and was constantly getting herself into little spots of trouble and being weird (I think its why we got along so well…she made up for me not being weird at all….or something like that!)

She got the bucket stuck on her face after untying herself and like any good mother I had to take a picture of it when she came to find me to rescue her. She was spinning in circles trying to see if there was still any food left in the bucket. I laughed so hard at her!

She got the bucket stuck on her face after untying herself and like any good mother I had to take a picture of it when she came to find me to rescue her. She was spinning in circles trying to see if there was still any food left in the bucket. I laughed so hard at her!

Photobombing her boyfriend, Prince. I was trying to get a picture of him for his owner who was on vacation and Ruby decided she needed to be the center of attention. Always.

Photobombing her boyfriend, Prince. I was trying to get a picture of him for his owner who was on vacation and Ruby decided she needed to be the center of attention. Always.

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A “well timed” photo when she was on ‘restricted movement’ following her tendon injury. I allowed her to roll and she was shaking off all the snow. Two seconds later she was about 8 feet in the air doing the most impressive airs above the ground. Definitely NOT what the doctor ordered at the time!

I tried to get a nice couple of photos of Ruby before one of our last rides together. I was really having a hard time saying goodbye to her and I just wanted a couple normal pictures to remember her by. Instead I got this:

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And this:

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And this as well. Gee, thanks for that, Rubes.

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Then of course there was this guy that I took to his first show. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. goes into his mouth. Always.

Oh Willie...

Oh Willie…

Then this lovely photo of one of my trainer’s horses the night before an event. I had gotten him all braided nicely, there was a rainbow in the background….and he did this:

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One of my trainer’s other horses thought it was a great day to be alive one morning at 6am when I was feeding:

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And a few that I know Cathryn from That Red Mare will enjoy if she reads this. Dahlia, (apparently its a recurring name in my horse life) was a little rescue filly that I helped save 2 years ago along with 24 other horses from the same property. I stayed up all night within the first couple of days literally holding her up while she got IV fluids in the barn viewing room because she was so dehydrated. She and I really clicked then and she would come running every time she saw me, and of course, I was completely smitten with her as well! She, and Blossom, her half (more like 3/4 or 7/8) sister were fostered by my parents over the winter of 2014-2015 and were Ruby’s pasture mates during that time. She helped teach them how to communicate like real horses, it was really quite funny to watch.

Dahlia thought something was pretty funny!

Dahlia thought something was pretty funny!

And this picture of Dahlia is both adorable and so goofy to me. Its adorable simply because I was like a proud mother with her, she was practically perfect as far as I was concerned…but I also am aware that the picture is a little bit laugh inducing and goofy to look at.

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Can’t wait to see everyone else’s funny horse pictures!

XC Clinic!

So this past weekend, Dahlia and I participated in our first XC outing in a clinic with my trainer. As I said in my previous post, I was a little hesitant to do the clinic, not totally sure I would be in control (and to be honest I didn’t always feel in control) but as a whole it went pretty well. We warmed up with D finished up with the previous group and Dahlia was pretty chill. We trotted and cantered all around the field and let me tell you, she was NOT tired at all! That mare has an engine! Every time we would turn up the hill she would flatten her ears and really dig in but my main focus was on just letting her be a little bit more and not being so worried about controlling every stride. Easier said than done.

Some of the barn rats were there so I gave them the task of recording Miss Dahlia and myself. They were given strict instructions: keep us in the center of the screen, none of this focus on the jump until we go over it and then hurry up to the next jump to wait nonsense. I wanted to be able to see what happened in between the fences as well. Well, I forgot to tell them to record with the phone sideways too but that’s ok, its a learning process. Ha!

We warmed up over the little log, wide sweeping turn to the little post and rails, another log, over the carrot jump and then two little logs. I feel like video always makes things look slower than they feel, through the two end logs especially and up the hill I felt like I had very little rate-ability or control really but tried not to worry about it, she wasn’t going anywhere.

He noticed she was a little forward though and suggested that I gallop her around a bit over some bigger fences to back her off a bit. Ha! She did not really back off but that’s ok.

One little rolltop:

And then I got chastised. We were supposed to go over the little log, left hand turn around to the bending 4 stride line over the roll tops. Dahlia was ignoring my right leg to make the turn originally so we had to circle (fail) and then as we were coming to the rolltops she was moving up and up and up and I was trying to avoid using my hands too much because a) that makes her fight more, b) D is always telling me less hand, and c) he had been telling me to let the jumps back her off. Well, we ended up getting a 3.5 strides in there and D really fussed at me afterwards about not moving up to the jumps. Not picking to them but also not moving up. Ok, go around a 2nd time, aaaand….same thing happened. So we got chastised again and D ended up getting on her.

After D got on her and schooled her around he handed her back to me and told us just to walk around while the other two people in my group schooled some more. Basically we were told to go think about what just happened and lick and chew over it haha. Then we moved on to the ditches and banks. Dahlia was a pro here, I was very proud of her, she didn’t look at anything all day long. I had obviously never schooled her XC before, or really even jumped her a lot so had no idea what to expect but she really was a trooper. We trotted over the little ditch a time or two, up and down the bank a time or two and then started stringing them all together with the log on the top of the hill after the bank. I could certainly tell that D had been on Dahlia because it went smoothly, that would not have happened at first!

And we finished up at the water. Nothing too exciting to report here, a little jumping in and out of the water and we called it good.

All in all the clinic went about how I was expecting it would. We had some moments where we were really together, we had some moments where I was really not in control, D had to get on her and when I got her back things were much better. Its just going to be a matter of continuing to learn to work together and refining some of those moments…and establishing who is actually in charge. (Hint: its not the one with gray hair and 4 legs)

Taking a step back

So last week I was getting rather frustrated with our lack of progress in the canter specifically. Seemed like we were always fine for the first half a circle or so but as soon as she started wanting to blow through aids and I had to use more leg we just fell apart. Specifically when tracking left. Its her harder direction to get the lead, she REALLY wants to drop that left shoulder and counter bend like a mad woman and I have a much harder time keeping my right leg back. I have been doing a lot of work to make myself more balanced in the saddle and although I don’t tend to sit heavier to one side or the other as much now I am still struggling to get my hips even, that right hip/seatbone just always wants to be further forward compared to the left (this is something I have noticed even when standing on my own two feet as well so I am making a conscious effort to correct it there as well).

cant-do-it

After the jump school debacle from earlier in the week we spent the rest of the week really working on our flat work and it got progressively wilder and wilder. She protested and ignored the outside leg more and more, quite enthusiastically when it was the right leg, our transitions got worse and worse and we both got progressively more frustrated with each other.

We were supposed to participate in a Cross Country Clinic on Saturday and Friday morning, in a bit of a slump, I actually texted my trainer/the clinician and told him how our rides had been going and asked if we should even come to the clinic. Between the issues at the canter, the bolting at fences, her frustration, my frustration, etc. I just didn’t know if we should just skip it for everyone’s sanity and safety. His response was to bring her to the clinic, we would do whatever she was comfortable with and he would get on her if necessary. So Friday afternoon I decided that a nice, easy, ride was in order. Focus of the ride would be on me and working on some of my position issues, the only requirement from Dahlia was that she keep a nice slow, steady rhythm and that she not lean on me. I didn’t care about bend, I didn’t care where her head was as long as she wasn’t pulling on me.

And guess what?! We had a lovely little ride! She was soft and light, she was actually bending and carrying herself well for her level of training, and best of all, she didn’t throw any fits about my legs or anything. We even cantered a bit and instead of diving on the forehand and running through all outside aids she actually stayed fairly up and balanced. Again, for her level of training and ability right now but still, it was progress! The plan now is to do periodic rides like that so that neither of us get too frustrated in the future.

Finished off with a nice little hack through the fields

Finished off with a nice little hack through the fields

My cat is here!!!

When I relocated to the East Coast one of the toughest decisions I had to make (besides selling my beloved Ruby) was to leave my precious cat, Mia, behind. Luckily, I was able to find someone who was willing to foster her so I didn’t have to find a permanent home for her but it was still a very difficult thing for me to do.

Mia the day I dropped her off at her foster home

Mia the day I dropped her off at her foster home

I got Mia a little over 3 years ago when I was a senior in college. My roommates and I decided that we really wanted (needed) to have some house pets even though they were expressly forbidden in our lease. Enter Mia and Callie, two adorable 6 month old kittens. Callie was the bolder, friendlier, more vocal of the two but from the time Molly and I picked them up Mia was 100% mine. She very calmly settled on my lap the whole ride home, not worried about a thing. Every day she would sit on “my” part of the couch (where I normally did homework), waiting patiently for me to get back from class or volunteering or work so she could curl up on my lap while I did homework or watched my favorite TV show.

So happy to see her!

So happy to see her!

When I graduated Mia moved with me and became even more my cat. Anytime someone came over she would hide from them unless we had been sitting for awhile and then she could come out and claim me as hers, all while staring menacingly (as menacingly as an adorable face like hers can get!) at my company. She slept with me…or rather on me, her favorite sleeping position was draped across my face/neck, played fetch with her little bird that had the “real mouse” squeak, entertained me for hours playing with her “fish on a stick” toy (no human interaction needed!), comforted me when I was sad (there is little that is more calming and therapeutic than the purr of a cat), and most importantly, was there day or night, rain or shine, loyally sitting in the window of my grandma’s condo where I lived waiting for my car to pull in (and yes, she knew my car vs my mom’s car even though they were the same make, model and year) so she could run and greet me at the door.

I have always thought of cats as being more standoffish, less likely to bond to a person and less interested in interacting with humans. I have always liked cats, simply because I like all animals, but I certainly never thought I would cry over having to leave a cat behind when I moved. I knew I would cry over having to sell a horse, losing a dog, etc. but never thought I would cry over a cat, nor be so excited to see them again. What can I say? Mia is just special. I always tell people that I am still not really a “cat person,” I am just a “Mia person.”

Mia's favorite spot to spy on me in the condo while I would get ready in the morning/at night

Mia’s favorite spot to spy on me in the condo while I would get ready in the morning/at night

Anyway, my saint of an uncle was in the Midwest the last few weeks visiting family and he agreed to bring Mia back East with him and she arrived last night. I was like a kid on the last day of school all day. The day moved soooooooo slowly and the closer to 5pm it got the more anxious I got. I didn’t know if she would really remember me (its been 7 months since I have seen her) or if she would really care but she was definitely just as happy as I was. She has never been much of a snuggler before. She likes to be close to me but only when she chose and did NOT like to be held. Well, as soon as she heard me she came running to the front of her crate, sticking her paw through reaching towards me, and purring like a maniac. I let her out and she could not get close enough. She was climbing up me, rubbing all against me, and purring like a freight train. Every time I moved around my room she came running after me and I hardly got any sleep last night because she was wanting to be so close to me the entire time. But that’s ok, I was just as happy. I can definitely say that my heart is very content…and some of it is a contentedness I didn’t even realize was missing.

“Won’t you rub my belly, please?”

Back to your regularly scheduled equine posts now.