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!