Friday, November 6, 2009

Back on Track

Finally! Sunny skies, dry pastures, and a pony with four working legs. Our treatment for Halo's leg went quite well. Either the kick wasn't as severe as we feared, or early treatment prevented it from getting worse. I have more pictures from Day 2 of the injury (October 29). Even on this first day, I think the swelling looks much better.

The white goo is just Corona ointment I put on there to protect the hair in case of any drainage. Overall, there didn't seem to be too much drainage. Each time I went out, I hosed the leg, disinfected the wound with iodine, and then applied Corona. The barn owner took care of giving her bute and antibiotics with her feed.

By last weekend, the swelling had sunk into her knee. We did some walking that day to see if it helped with the swelling. It seemed to a little bit, but I didn't want to push her to do too much.

As of yesterday, she's swelling-free, and perfectly sound on the leg. I worked her lightly last night, and she was a very good girl! She's become great about saddling up, and there was no bucking with the saddle on the longe line last night. I think she likes her new saddle better - that or she's just getting used to wearing the saddle.

Speaking of saddles, now that things are looking up, hopefully I'll have some more under saddle reports soon! My dad was kind enough to get me a leather hole punch for my birthday, so I've now adjusted Halo's sidepull to fit much better.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Little History: Smot

Since Halo is injured and I'm worried about her, I've decided to finally post a blog on a different topic to keep my mind off it. Let me introduce (drumroll please) Mo!

Mo (formerly called Smot) was my second horse, and the first horse I trained myself. I bought him as a wormy, lice-infested, underfed yearling, and trained him from the ground up. He wasn't even halter broke when I bought him.

Now he's a stately middle-aged gentleman at 14 years old and about 16.2 hands. He was foaled in 1995 on a Thoroughbred breeding farm in Estacada, Oregon. His pedigree is viewable on allbreedpedigree here: Mr. Cornell and I was able to get some interesting information about it from a message board I frequent. This is what one of the members said:

"That is a beautiful pedigree! Lots of older names you rarely see anymore, especially up close. Broodmare sire Bupers is a half brother to the mighty Buckpasser, who was one of the best conformed racehorses ever. Sire El Granada was a half to G1 winner Tap Shoes, and his sire Forli is one of the most influential racehorse sires of the 20th century. Basically, your horse has a lovely classic pedigree for a racehorse, although not a particularly fashionable one."

I sold Mo in 2004 after leasing him to the same woman for two years. She has given him a wonderful home, and has been kind enough to let me visit him over the years. Unfortunately, life has taken its toll on his legs as you can see from this conformation shot:

He has always been over at the knee, which hasn't bothered him much, but his hind legs are a little worse for wear. His pasterns are dropped on both sides, which could either be from DSLD or from both of his suspensories being blown out (after I sold him). He's also had some major accidents through his life, including one that hospitalized him for a time (immediately after I sold him). It was a freak accident where he hurt himself in the pasture. The dropped pasterns make him look posty in back, and he's definitely stiffer in back than he was as a youngster. At some point I'll have to scan some photos of him to do a comparison of how he's changed over the years.

Despite his accident proneness, Mo is a horse that will always be very dear to me. I love Halo, but no horse can quite replace where Mo is in my heart. He has a sweet, goofy personality, and has always been willing and eager to please. In the time I owned him, he was always a barn favorite, though a bit of a troublemaker. He used to take off other horses' fly masks and then chase them around with the fly mask in his mouth!

I miss Mo dearly, but enjoy visiting him when I go home to Oregon. The pictures in this post are from September of this year. I put a buyback clause in his sale papers, and I've already told his current owner that I'll gladly take him back if he becomes too old/lame to be ridden any longer.

Until then, he has a wonderful home, and I'm lucky to have known him.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October: Month of Leg Injuries

I got a call from the barn owner today letting me know that Halo managed to get herself another wound. It appears that she got kicked in the forearm. The wound is small, but there is some swelling, surely to become more over the next couple of days. Unfortunately, if it continues to swell, it could easily become infected and essentially turn into a puncture wound.

To head off the likelihood of that happening, I got to drive an extra 20 minutes past the barn to go pick up some antibiotics and bute from the vet. We fed her a load of grain with molasses and applesauce to get the meds down her. She was dubious at first, but cleaned her bucket. Hopefully she doesn't wise up on us over the next week or so.

The wound doesn't look too bad, but the potential for swelling is the main concern. She's quite lame on the leg at the trot. Normally I wouldn't worry much about a wound this size, but the barn owner never calls unless she thinks some kind of action should be taken. Since I don't make it out to the barn every day, I'm glad the owner is so attentive and keeps her boarders informed.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Spunkiness and Setbacks

I worked Halo for the first time in a while last Sunday. We've had a lot of rain since I returned from my trip to Portland, and the barn has been a muddy mess. I saddled her up and took her to the round pen for a short longe lesson. The outdoor arena is so soaked it's impossible to even go out there right now, and about 1/4 of the round pen is also a mucky disaster. Despite the space restrictions, she was raring to go. Unfortunately she decided to have a buck-a-thon with the new saddle, so we got to work through that. I pushed her forward until she gave me a nice canter in each direction without crowhopping or bucking.

Today she was much better behaved, but when I pulled her out of her mud hole of a pasture, I noticed her off hind leg was a bit swollen. There wasn't a lot of heat in the leg, so I decided to take her up and see if she was lame. She wasn't off at all, but I didn't want to push her too much, so she got only the briefest of workouts. Fortunately she was very well behaved, so I did not have to drill her on anything. Here are some pictures from before and after I worked her. The swelling went down a bit after exercise. Unfortunately these are not the best pictures - it was so warm and humid outside that my camera lens kept fogging up, and the fussy filly didn't want to stand still!



The pictures aren't all that clear, but I think she looks puffy around the fetlock in all the photos. Before I left, I treated her leg with liniment. The barn owner will keep an eye on it, and hopefully I'll be back out soon.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bareback Odyssey

So far, you may have noticed that I'm always riding Halo bareback. I think I've touched on the reason before - I have three saddles, and not one of them fits her properly. My previous horse was a thoroughbred, so he had a very narrow, high-withered profile as opposed to Halo's mutton-withered roundness.

While I was in Portland, I stopped by Portland Outdoor Store. They usually have massive numbers of saddles on consignment, and this trip was no exception. I fell in love with a Passier close contact saddle and a brown Crosby dressage saddle, but neither was meant to be. They may have fit me, but I was on the lookout for something that would fit Halo.

Amazingly, I came home with a saddle for $25! I doubt it will last me very long, as it's already got a hole in one panel. But the billets and tree are completely sound. It's a no-name all-purpose saddle with a nice wide tree. Despite being hideous, and nothing I can show in, I think it's a good choice for Halo right now. I will be able to trail ride in it with no worries of destroying anything since it's already in such bad shape. Anything she does to it won't matter in the long run. Plus, it's hard to say no to $25 for something that is still sound for work, even in bad condition.

I got the saddle cleaned up last weekend and took it to try out on her. The first two pictures here are of her in the "new" saddle.

It's sitting a little too far forward in these pictures (Halo's downhillness doesn't help), but you can see that she's got plenty of room in the shoulders and clearance over the spine. Below are two similar pictures of Halo in my Crosby close contact saddle (which I dearly love).

You can see that while she still has clearance over the spine, this narrower tree is digging into her shoulders even without the weight of a rider. I also don't like how the channel looks as though it doesn't provide enough room for her spine.

I'll get more pictures of her with the new saddle, girthed up and all, once we've had some more time working with it. I did work her in it last weekend, and for the most part she was good. She's been off work for a couple of weeks, so it took some extra work to get her focused and tuned in to me. After longeing, I decided not to get on her, but to spend some time flapping around with the saddle, leaning weight into the stirrups on both sides, and smacking the panels with the stirrup leathers to accustom her to noise and torque on the saddle. The only thing she didn't take well was me putting my foot in the stirrup and hopping. It caused her some alarm. Of course, since I've only been riding her bareback, I've used the mounting block to get on. Having my foot bump into her elbow was a completely new sensation for her. I'll be spending extra time working on that over the coming weeks until it becomes commonplace. While I prefer to mount with the block in the arena, it's easy to imagine a situation on the trail where I'd need to get on from the ground after falling off. I sure hope that doesn't happen, but I want to be prepared!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

APHA at Last

Halo's breeder and the APHA finally came through for me - I now own a registered filly! I received her papers in the mail yesterday, and am as proud as can be. It was worth the 9 months of toil. Now that she's officially in my name with the APHA, I can register her with other associations like PtHA and PHBA. I don't know if I'll bother with PtHA since she's solid, but I am almost definitely going to register her with the PHBA as well. It will give her more show opportunities, and hopefully a likelihood of finding a good home when and if I ever sell her. In the meantime, the other thing that will bring her a good home is good training.

It's funny to see the old picture I took for Halo's papers back in February. She's grown up and filled out so much since then.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hoof Trims and a Few Pictures

Last night I went out to trim Halo's feet. We had a nice three solid days of rain over the weekend, and she's been standing in mud, so her feet are nice and soft. I got her legs rinsed off and gave her her badly needed trim. I managed to do all four feet in one go, which is unusual, but my back is definitely punishing me for it today. I'm headed out of town again this weekend, so it was necessary to get it done before I left. She was pretty good given that she hasn't been worked in a while.

I have some pictures to share today that were taken by a friend of the barn owner who was visiting from Denmark for a few weeks. Photography is a hobby of hers. She wandered up to the arena one night when I was working Halo and took some nice shots. Unfortunately I was dressed in my typical hobo barn clothes. At least Halo was looking good!

It's funny, both horses I started myself have liked to mouth my feet when first learning to go under saddle. I think at this age they tend to explore with their mouths. No biting is allowed though!

I want to yell at myself to sit up straight!

I really need a saddle!

Although I'm going to be out of town next week, the good news is that I get to see my former horse, Smot (now referred to as Mo), while I am in Oregon. I hope to get some pictures and do a blog feature on him. He was the first (and only other) horse I started, and he is incredibly special to me. I think the term "heart horse" is a little cheesy, but if I had to apply that term to one of my former horses, it would definitely be Smot.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Another Late Update

These pictures were taken the weekend before Labor Day weekend. I keep forgetting my camera when I go to the barn, but Casi was with me today and was able to take some shots of Halo under saddle. Saddle such as it is, anyway. I have an upcoming post planned to catalogue my saddle woes, and hopefully get some helpful input.

Here I'm asking her to turn back toward the rail with my outside leg and inside rein. I like the bend that she has here. She's getting much better at following her nose, though she's still far from perfect.

This is only our third or so time trotting! This is a super lazy trot, but as you can see, it's very easy to sit. She's stopped tossing her head during the trot for the most part. I think longeing her with the sidepull on helped her get used to the sensation of it on her face at higher speeds. Still, it probably could use to be shortened a hole. I'll put her in the snaffle soon, but she's got some teeth coming in right now that I don't want to bother.

And here is the latest naughty behavior. You can see from the lines in the dirt that this is the end of quite a string of going backwards. She does that when she decides she doesn't want to do what I ask. I won this battle, but could have handled it much better. I need to quit worrying that she's going to rear, and make her turn so that it's harder to back up. I've had some time to reflect on why this happened, and I'm hoping I can handle it better next time.

No workout would be complete without a stop to smell the plastic flowers!

Poor Halo. I think she's embarrassed.

And every good pony needs a good head rub once she's done working.

Monday, August 24, 2009

So Behind!

I'm so behind on blog posting, and at this point I don't even have work to hide behind as an excuse. I've been going to the barn, but I seem to be consistently forgetting my camera. Plus it's tricky to take pictures the times I'm actually up on Halo. My camera is rather bulky, and an accident would be all too likely.

The latest news is that Halo and I have now had our first couple of trots. We've only gone about halfway around the round pen at a time. Sometimes she tosses her head, which I am attributing either to annoyance with the sidepull, or that I may be slightly off balance. I'm still riding her bareback, so she's extra attuned to what my weight is doing on her back. I have to say, though, the first time I felt that trot I almost laughed. It's smooth as smooth can be.

She hasn't given me any real trouble since I've begun to get on her with more regularity. We're always keeping the sessions very short, and I stop and get off once she does everything I ask quietly. For example, we'll usually walk around once or twice each direction, trot halfway around each direction, and then practice whoa and back. If she's good, I get off. She does sometimes resist a little bit with backing up, but she's improved by leaps and bounds since I first started working with her on it.

Speaking of leaps and bounds, I did something very stupid this past weekend. Fortunately nobody got hurt. Because Halo has been so good, I thought it might be okay to let Casi get up on her and just walk around with me leading her. Halo apparently decided otherwise. She's never given me one bit of trouble with mounting, but the minute Casi got her leg over her back, she backed up and hopped a couple of times, tossing poor Casi into the dirt! I felt terrible, as it was completely my fault for thinking it would be okay. I am sure that something caused her reaction, whether it was the feel of an unfamiliar butt on her back, or perhaps the mounting block, which I was reaching down to move when she decided to jump backwards.

Casi and I were both a bit shaken, but once I established that Casi was completely unhurt, I got back up on Halo. Let me tell you - I was a little nervous about it! However, Halo was perfectly obliging and quiet as always with me. I hope I am not developing a one-person horse. I think once she's greenbroke to walk-trot-lope, I'm going to have to see about having some other experienced riders take her for a spin to make sure she doesn't get too locked into only having me ride her.

I've considered sending her off for a month or two of training, but I'm honestly afraid to do it. Besides the cost, there are so many horror stories about things trainers do. And there's no way to know it all since you can't be there every minute. I definitely would like to work with a trainer as she gets further along, but I don't think I'm comfortable sending her off to school by herself.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ok, Ok, As Promised!

I know I keep promising updates and failing to deliver. My latest excuse is that my work schedule has changed. I'm now working 10-7, which is better in some ways and worse in others. I'm still adjusting, and trying to figure out what I can fit in during the morning hours before I go to work.

I have a couple more photos (albeit crappy cell phone ones) from last week's morning session with Halo. The first picture cracks me up - she's giving me a look that says, "what the heck are you doing here so early, Mom?"

I expected her to be spunky first thing in the morning, but she was actually pretty laid back. Her longe session was brief because she was so relaxed and responsive. I got on her for a few minutes and we worked on walking. She's gotten a little balky now that she knows what I want her to do, so we've been working on maintaining constant forward motion. I'm not fussing with her too much about direction yet, though I ask her to stay in some semblance of a circle around the pen.

I know her mane looks horrid right now. It is in the middle of growing out from the last awful haircut. We were planning on our first show August 8th, but since vet bills waylaid that plan, she gets to stay her scruffy self for now.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Best View

The view from Halo's back early this morning. More to come!

Monday, July 27, 2009

It's Been a While

Sorry for the lack of posts! I've had three sessions with Halo since my last post, so I'll try to summarize what we did. The weekend before last I took her on a trail ride. It was my first time ponying her off Taz. I think poor Taz was a little bit annoyed having to mind the baby, but he was very good about it. We had a moment or two of naughty behavior on Halo's part, but she settled in fairly quickly and kept up with the group. Taz likes to walk fast, and apparently so does Halo - we ended up leading or being close to the front for most of the ride. Unfortunately it has been so incredibly dry here that the ground is splitting open. The fields are barely safe to ride in because they are riddled with cracks. We kept our pace at a walk due to that (and because one of the other riders was recovering from a recent surgery). It was a great opportunity to take Halo out, and I'm glad we kept to the walk.

The last couple of sessions I've had with her have just been basic longeing. The horses are back to being cooped up in their dry lots now that all the grass is dead, so she has a lot more energy. I'm also getting paranoid that she's getting overweight, so keeping her fit and exercised is as important as ever. Her legs don't need any extra stress.

I took some new conformation shots:

I think her neck shows the most dramatic improvement over the past year. She went from looking very ewe-ish to having a nice shape to her neck. It's still a little shorter than I'd like, but those bones are the last to fuse - she may gain a bit more length.

She's still noticeably downhill, but she's been see-sawing quite a bit over the past year. She'll never be uphill, but if she makes it relatively level, I will be happy.

She's well-balanced overall, but still light on bone in her legs. Her feet also do not look as good as I'd like. She's as sound and happy as ever, but these pictures are reminding me that I need to bring her toes back. It's getting a lot harder to rasp now that her feet are so dry and hard. I worked on them last night, but it's going to take a few days to get them where I'd like them.

Halo also looks almost like she's a tiny bit back at the knee, but I don't think that's the case. I think her ridiculously long pasterns are making her appear that way. She does have very long, weak pasterns, which seems odd. To my knowledge, that is not a trait present in her immediate bloodlines.

Any commentary is welcome!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Flying Dirt

It seems that pastures are all gone for the summer, which means that Halo and her friends are now confined to their dry lot. Despite the heat, that means Halo has exponentially more energy! I took her out and longed her last night with the bareback pad on. She was very hyper, and wanted to go, go, go. She did buck some at the canter, but I pushed her forward. Fortunately, it didn't take much cantering in the heat to decide that maybe listening to me so that she could stop was a good idea.

After 15 minutes or so of that, we moved into the round pen. I took off her halter and did some free-longeing work. I wanted to see if I could get her to do rollbacks on the fenceline. Sure enough, she can roll back. I had her do it once or twice each direction and then stopped. I don't want to push the issue since a) she was very good about it, b) it was hot out, and c) it's tough on her hocks to do a lot of that. I didn't get the best pictures, but it was beginning to get dark outside. Still, you can see all the dirt she sent flying.

This second picture is really odd. I think I caught her post-roll back at the point where she was launching out of the turn.

And here she is as I'm sending her out at a walk to cool off a little bit.

After this I slipped on her sidepull, did about five minutes of walking/steering from the ground, and then I bit the bullet and jumped on. I wore my helmet this time! We worked on the very basic concepts of walk, stop, and back. We did some turning through the middle of the pen, but mostly walked around the perimeter. As long as she was moving forward where I pointed her nose, I stayed completely off her face. I want her to have a relaxed frame. I think too much contact was a mistake I made with the first horse I started. He was very well-behaved, but didn't stretch down as easily or as much as he should have. Hopefully I can avoid that pitfall with Halo.

She was fantastic! She had typical baby moments of wanting to toss her head while backing, but she quickly figured out that if she lowered her head and backed I would immediately release pressure. We only backed up one or two steps at a time - just enough to let her know that she was doing the correct thing. Then we'd release and stand for a few moments before picking up the walk. To keep things clear, I tried to pause between each thing I asked of her so that each action was definitive. We would walk, whoa, wait a moment, back, whoa, wait a moment, and then walk again. As I said before, she was wonderful.

Afterwards she got hosed off and walked for a little bit, and then got her dinner. She was a happy filly, and I was a happy horse mom.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Perking Up

So far, so good with Halo's recovery from colic. This weekend she looks much more like her fat and happy self, and doesn't have that sucked-up look she had when she came home from the clinic. She's eating well, and drinking like a fish, and overturning water buckets whenever she has the opportunity. I think she misses having a pond in her pasture.

I trimmed her feet last night and she was miss fidgets about the whole thing. I decided if she was going to be that fussy, I might as well put her on the longe line for a few minutes and see how she was moving out after the trim.

We had some guests haul in to use the arena last night, and Halo was in high gear showing off. She pranced around on that longe line with her tail straight up in the air like an Arab. Goofy filly. I let her canter a few times each direction to work some of the punk out of her, and then quieted her down and made her listen. I focused on having her obey my requests for transitions, even if the gaits weren't her prettiest. We only worked for about 15 minutes, but she was sound as could be and very energized. I get the sense that this is the kind of filly who is going to need to have a job.

I forgot my camera, so all I have is a blurry iPhone pic, courtesy of Casi:

After all that she still had her tail up a little bit!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Honeymoon Pictures

Not much going on with Halo this week since she's still recovering from her colic. She looked great when I saw her on Tuesday, so I'm feeling a little more confident that she'll be okay. The real test will be this weekend when she comes off the meds she's been on all week. She's back out in the normal pasture now, but I've been slipping her some alfalfa and a bit of hand grazing when I come out.

Here's a few pictures from our honeymoon! I managed to find horses, even 2,500 miles from home.

Huey was the amiable Percheron who took us on our carriage tour in Victoria. He was very perky and always eager to hop into a trot across busy intersections.

I found a horse at the Butchart Gardens! They're installing a carousel soon. One thing I haven't grown out of since childhood is my love of carousels...probably because I was always afraid of bigger rides.

We went over to Vancouver one day. This picture was taken at the harbour and I was very happy with how it came out. I miss the mountains already.

And near the end of our trip we went ziplining!

Ziplining was a big stretch for me because I'm scared of heights. After the first couple of ones, we figured out that if I go off backwards I don't get scared. It's looking down at the ground off the platform that makes me feel terrified and sick. In the end it was pretty fun!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Quick Update

We saw Halo yesterday, and she was doing better. She got out of the hospital Friday night, but went back in on Saturday. Argh. The bills are definitely not good right now - I may be selling my vintage Circle Y show saddle to help recoup some of the costs. I don't need it as much as I need a healthy horse!

She came home again on Saturday night. Their theory is that she had colic on Wednesday, then the stress of being cooped up at the vet gave her some gastric ulcers that caused her discomfort on Saturday. So she's on horsey Maalox for a week. When I saw her yesterday, I was pretty alarmed by how much weight she'd lost. Not that she couldn't have stood to lose a pound or two, but it was a pronounced difference.

Overall she was her usual alert self. We gave her a bath to clean up some of the muck that accumulated in her tail from being at the vet (and all the oil they put in her). She also got about 1/3 flake of alfalfa. The vet wanted her started on alfalfa at first because it helps draw water into the gut to keep things moving through. She should be getting more food as the week progresses, and will hopefully be back to most of a normal diet by next weekend. I'll likely be out tomorrow again, so there will be more updates and pictures then.

Thank you to everyone for your good thoughts!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Good Thoughts Needed

Apparently summer is the season of trips to the vet. Halo is spending the night at the Elgin veterinary clinic tonight. She has gas colic, and we're very concerned about her. Unfortunately, I'm also still out of the country on my honeymoon. Please send your best thoughts to Elgin that the little girl will pull through just fine and be on her way home tomorrow. 

In the meantime, here are a couple of our wedding pictures. I'm on the left in both shots.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Agitation and Allergies

What a week! I apologize for the lack of updates. I'm leaving for Canada on Thursday to get married on Saturday, so things have been hectic to say the least. And, amidst all the chaos, Halo managed to get case #3 of random swollen lymph node syndrome.

These pictures are from last Monday, and it's clear that she's very swollen on the right hand side. I first noticed the swelling when I was out on Sunday.

As of last Thursday, the swelling had gone down a bit.

Last week I put warm compresses on her swelling every time I went to the barn in hopes of drawing out any infection that might be present. However, the lessening of the swelling makes me think that it's unlikely to blow out. I was a bad horse mom and didn't go to the barn this past weekend, but I checked in with the barn owner and she's about the same. Argh. Hopefully I will make it out before I leave on Thursday, and I have a friend who may check in on her while I'm gone.

The vet was out last week and said that he does not think it is Strangles, but to continue monitoring her condition and to call him if anything changes for the worst. Through it all she's still continued to act like her normal perky self, so I doubt it's anything severe. I feel confident that it may be an allergy to something growing in the pasture.