Sunday, October 31, 2010

It's hard to want to ride when my horse looks like this
and I have a head cold.

I did groom him and tried out a Skito pad I got an AWESOME deal on. It was too short for the tree of the new saddle. But it was so cheap it doesn't matter. I'll hang on to it. If nothing else it would make a great pad under a bareback pad.

Bella is doing great. she's still on stall rest and she doesn't seem to mind at all. I take her out and walk her and I feed her 3 times a day. And I give her that horrible 20cc penicillin shot with the huge needle. Not fun. She's been a really good girl for it though. I think it's more traumatic for me than it is for her.

I'm off to go trick-or-treating with the kids. Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Bella's stifle surgery went just fine. As I expected, the vet couldn't see the locking very well, but he could feel it, and he had been the one to diagnose it a couple years ago. It doesn't happen on command, and usually happens only in certain circumstances. It was very bad last week when I rode her for 10 minutes (or less) and as I told the vet, right now she's not usable at all, so we might as well do this. So we did. It felt very wrong as I watched him cut her tendon. I have to keep reminding myself that it's the only way she might be able to lead a useful life. And as every person there said, she has such a wonderful, calm temperament, it's worth it to give it a try.

She was such a wonderful, good girl. I hadn't loaded her for at least 6 months, and she loaded right up even though she hates trailer rides. She only rocked the trailer a couple times when we were passed by semis. When we got there she unloaded calmly and stood around and lunged and whatnot while there was large machinery working in the parking lot. He barely sedated her for the surgery and she was fine. The only problem we had was while she was in the stocks after the surgery. He was checking her teeth, so she had the speculum in her mouth and tied her head up high, then he went to use the power float. Problem was, the sedation had worn off and it was too much. She tried several times to say she couldn't handle it, then she shot backward, as much as she could in the stocks. So she got some more sedation. He gave her a bit seat and took down the sharp points that had started along the outside of her molars. They weren't bad, I've seen worse on a 3 year old. Oh, and he did confirm that she is 5 years old.

Miss Dopey trying to walk off that second dose of sedation, which was stronger than the first:

Here you can see both stifle incisions, if you look closely:
Here's a closer shot of just one. Tiny incisions.

And here is a picture taken over Scout's back as he ate. The new building went up yesterday.
They weren't supposed to be here until today, but they showed up right after we got Bella settled in. Lucky we were home - we had just heard a story about these guys showing up early when nobody was home and putting the building in the wrong spot.

Another exciting development - I found good beet pulp again! The stuff I've been buying is like a pelleted powder, and who knows what might be in it. I bought some at the feed store right near home and it's pelleted shreds, just like I used to buy, and it bulks up twice as much as the other stuff when I soak it. I know it sounds minor, but to me it's a wonderful thing. :)

I'd better get out and take care of Miss Bella now. She's to have Bute 2x daily and a huge shot of penicillin once a day, just in case. Plus she's stalled (for at least 5 days) so I have to haul her water and clean her stall. I really enjoy it, it's good to spend time in the barn.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I had to reschedule my vet appointment for Bella because of a builder. You know how they are, never here when they say they'll be, and then they're not here the next time they say they'll be either. So I rescheduled Bella's surgery for no reason, since they didn't show that day either. But we're all set to go tomorrow, and the builders are supposed to come the next day. (My mom is having a building put up to house her motor home, and we will keep our tractor in it too. Score!)

Today I attempted to get things ready for the surgery tomorrow. Scooped poop (thanks to my mom for being my gate person), worked on the trailer wiring (thanks John for finally figuring it all out), and was going to get the stall all set up for her but the trailer wiring took so long I couldn't get that done. I can do it in the morning before we go.

According to Dr. Rustebakke, this surgery is VERY minor, and in his experience it's like a miracle cure. So hopefully this time tomorrow there will be no more stifle problems in Bella's future, and eventually she can get on with her saddle training. I worry there might be damage to the joints from all the stifle locking in the past, but I'm trying not to be a pessimist. We should have had this done a couple years ago.

I can't remember what he said about recovery period, but I'm pretty sure she won't need stall rest for long at all. I'm excited to finally get this taken care of!

Friday, October 22, 2010

I only took time to ride Tonka today. I've been fighting a stomach bug since Wednesday. It's not severe, just a really unhappy stomach and a lot of sleepiness. Today I took it easy most of the day, but I made myself ride because it's supposed to rain for the next week. Yuck.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It was a momentous occasion today! My mom rode her horse for the very first time!
What's that you say? You recognize that horse? Did I mention Bella had a new owner? I think I might have, but I'm not sure.

I rode her first, since she was a little unsure and cranky. Bella, not my mom, silly. She was a joy to ride. Cranky, yes, but she did what I asked and overcame her fears. Then my mom climbed aboard and rode for the first time. We had planned on ponying them around the property, but Bella's stifle was having trouble so we called it good for the day.

I got in a little warm-up ride on Tonka, but I put him away after just a bit. I just didn't feel like trotting circles today.

This afternoon I got Cisco out and it was a very interesting ride. First, some Jehovah's Witnesses came and I had to be slightly rude. I hate it when that happens. I'm sure they're nice people and they're doing what they think is right, but they're invading my privacy. Anyway, after that I thought I might take Cisco up the driveway. He was being pretty good and I wanted to see if he'd be "bad" so we could work on it. We got halfway to the road, and I decided to turn around, just in case things went south where there wasn't room to handle it. He was anxious, worried, but I wouldn't say scared. He tried to keep going. I think he really didn't want to leave but that was the direction his energy was going and he had to do something with it. As I asked him to turn, he kind of did, then all his different body parts started to go in different directions and we backed off the driveway and he really leaned down into the bit. So I just set my hands and sat there and waited for him to give. Pretty quick he quit moving around and gave. And we stepped back onto the driveway and went back past the mares and into the pasture to work on serpentines and circles and straight lines and just basically staying between my hands and my legs. He did quite well. I noticed a few interesting things about his body though, that make me think he might need some bodywork or a chiropractor. When traveling in a straight line his neck is headed right. Like so:

And he has a hard time giving slightly to the left. He can bring his whole head and neck around, but then it seems to throw him off balance and his right front gets stumbly. His left hind is a bit "off" as well, in a more subtle way. The hoof is a bit clubbed and there is a dent in his butt muscle. Interesting stuff. I hope we can get it worked out. I don't think it's an excuse for his behavior, but it probably doesn't help if he's all crooked in his body and possibly in pain. I know I don't perform well when I'm hurting.

I'm off, still lots to do today. But I rode three horses today and soaked up all the sun I possibly could, so I'm happy. :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Today was an awesome busy day. I slacked on my housework just a little and played with horses most of the day.

First I rode Tonka, then I went and got Bella. I have big plans for her later this week, so I thought I better polish off the rust. I also made her appointment for stifle surgery next Tuesday.
Bella is such a good girl when I pony her, I can almost forget she's there. Which is exactly what I was thinking about two minutes before things went south all the sudden. But I reined them in easily, it was really only a quick scoot for both of them. Scout had come galloping up behind us as we paralleled his fence and I think they got caught in the excitement. (Speaking of which, Scout's exercise plan is me taking Tonka out to ride. He gets LOTS of exercise running around hollering. Even more when his momma is with us.)

I had to lay on the ground and wave my legs in the air to get Tonka to look interested for this picture.
You can't see it real well, but I cut Bella's mane to match the shorter (lighter colored) area that got pulled out when my sister was riding her. The long part was getting horribly tangled every day, and she was ripping it out, and I was getting tired of it. I think it looks somewhat natural. It's not terrible, anyway. I cut it with scissors first, and then cut slant-ways up into it with thinning shears until it was all fairly uniform.

After we rode they got to stand at the trailer and take a nap for a couple hours, then Bella got a pedicure.

This afternoon I went out intending to ride Cisco again, but I ended up trimming his hooves instead. He gets neglected more than the rest, and his heels were so high it was obscene. Of course, he has high heels anyway, but I was worried that if I rode him after trimming him it might stress his tendons. So I didn't ride, but I did put a bridle on him and and worked on softening to the bit. He was such a sweet, good boy this afternoon. I swear he's like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Sometimes I can't stand to be around him and sometimes I just love him.

And now I'm off to take a hot bath. My back is really stiff and sore after all the trimming I've been doing lately.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Holy cow, I was just telling my kids what I did today (because I swear they think I'm as lazy as they would be if they didn't have to go to school) and I was amazed at my list. So, even though it might bore you, here's my day:

Get up, have coffee and hang out with the kids.
Dishes (two drainer-racks full - no dishwasher here)
Many loads of laundry - decided to wash bedding too
Bath (I even shaved my legs!)
Online time
Sorted recyclables
More laundry
Mixed and fed daily supplements for horses
Filled trough
Saddled up and rode Tonka for an hour
Unhitched truck/trailer (ripped the plug off the wiring...)
Loaded up recyclables and dog, drove to town
Unloaded recyclables
Feed store - alfalfa pellets and air filter
Bank - deposit
Safeway - small grocery shopping
Pet store - dental treats - Huck went with and was a good boy
Pick up kid at school
Home again, home again,
Filled another trough
Saddled and rode Cisco while visiting with sister
Talked to friend I haven't talked to often enough lately
Made dinner - visited with kids over dinner, discussed our days

Now I think I might change that air filter and do some more laundry. There may be a beer in the near future too. Ooh, I think I'll do a maze with my son instead of the air filter.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A photo post.

My boy rode with me the other day. He's so cute on his good old mare.

Here he's looking at a deer on the other side of the creek:

Finally got the pictures from today to work. Notice Tonka's little "Mini-me" in the round pen. She didn't like him much. Mares aren't real interested in being his friend. (Doesn't that saddle look great on him?)

He was pretty distracted today, wanting to be with the wee mares and then wanting to check out Amy's new horse. We had to work on keeping his head low and his pace slow. But he was pretty good, and he moves well in the new saddle.

I keep forgetting to answer Linda's question from a while back about Amy's new POA, Sport. He is well trained for show and has a lovely jog that he likes to do. He's never been out on the trail and is easily worried. He just hasn't seen much of the world. He doesn't do anything terrible, he just needs experience. Amy likes playing in the arena, and she loves her new boy, so it doesn't bother her that she's not out on the trail. Besides, it's hunting season, which can be stressful even if you're decked out in blaze orange.
I had a wonderfully horse-filled day today. Loaded Tonka up to go to my sister's in the morning, and then came home and rode with a friend. I have some great pictures from my sister, in my email, but I can't save them to my computer for some reason, so I can't share them.

Here's a good one from this afternoon. Dixie was being super sweet while I sat on the mounting block with Huck under my legs and Tonka grazing next to me. You can see them all in the picture if you look closely.

Today John and I have been married for 10 years! We're going to spend tomorrow together, just the two of us. I can't wait!

I think I'll be buying my beautiful new saddle tomorrow, too. It works pretty well for Tonka. I've given up on finding the perfect fit, I don't think it exists. I think this saddle is as close as it's going to get. I feel so spoiled, I never ever thought I'd have a saddle this nice.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tonka and I went on a ride today to test out the saddle. He was a spaz. I can't be sure it's the fault of the saddle. We had a lot of things working against us. I was feeling a bit emotional, the wind was blowing, we were going out from home alone (he's never very good on our road, but other roads are fine) and maybe his EPSM was giving him trouble because of the cold and lack of exercise lately. I'll ride the saddle a couple more days before I decide.

I don't think I've told you all about the awesome app I have on my phone. If you're interested in logging the distance that you cover, you should have it. It's called EveryTrail, and it maps and tells you how far you've traveled. I went 7.5 miles today and a lot of it was in circles, working the kinks out on the trail, and then working at home to get him sweated up again. The map is funny, with big scribbles where we worked in the field out front. You can upload your stuff to the internet, or not. I haven't done that yet. Oh, and it's FREE. I think you have to have an android phone, but I wonder if there are similar apps out there for other types of smart phones.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Even the sun wanted to touch my beautiful new saddle today

The workmanship is really very nice. Someone put a lot of work into this saddle. It took me a minute to figure out how they got this seamless loop of rawhide around the horn. Must be from leg hide?
The maker didn't put his name on it, which I think is weird. Hopefully not because he was ashamed of it? I forgot to ask who made it, so all I know is it was made by an "Amish kid" who does good work. It sounded like he must be local. Anyway...

I have a generous 5 days, or more if I really need it, to make sure the saddle fits. He told me to drink a couple shots of whiskey and take it for a 20 mile ride. I probably won't do that, but I'll put at least 20 miles on it before I make up my mind. So far the jury is still out. But I have to say, I feel SO incredibly much better about this saddle than I did about that brand new, brand name saddle. It was crap. Fake fleece, squeaky, stiff leather, uncomfortable, badly built seat. The seat on this one - I could sit in it all day.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I'm returning my saddle. It does not fit, it is bridging, just like I told them. The woman was rude and still insists that the saddle fits, but they will give me my money back if the saddle is still in new condition. I'm appreciative that they're willing to work with me on it, but after the rudeness and the high-pressure sales tactics, and treating me like an idiot, I will not be shopping at that saddle shop ever again, which is a shame because they have a great selection of saddles there. I bought my first brand new western saddle there years ago. I had forgotten, but now I remember that they ordered me the wrong tree size and wrong color and I never complained, just settled for it. I rode so little back then it didn't really matter, and it fit my horses well enough, I guess.

I think I've decided to try out one of the used saddles at Indiana Harness so I don't have to worry so much about keeping it in "new" condition. He'll let me keep it for several days and is totally okay with me riding in the rain or whatever. If those don't work I'll go to the Tack Trunk and try out the Cashel. I have plenty of options, but I'm going to be so tired of driving back and forth to Spokane by the time this is over.

Maybe I ought to think again about treeless... I guess I never explained why I decided to look for a treed saddle instead. After joining an online forum about treeless saddles, and seeing how much those people had to dink with fit, pads, rigging, breast collars, cruppers, seat adjustments, adding bucking rolls, different types of leather, trying different brands, etc - I decided that treeless was no better and possibly worse than trying out treed saddles. I love the idea of closer contact with my horse, but the idea of having different saddle makers ship me demos and sending them back, dinking with fit, etc, just sounded worse than trying saddles close to home.

Friday, October 08, 2010

I can't even begin to tell you how proud I was of my horse yesterday. I wasn't sure he'd behave well, he's been known to get stressed out and get a little mouthy, practically sucking on my shirt and being pushy, when people fuss over him at the vet. But after an hour and a half in the trailer, he unloaded and was pretty good. A little jumpy at first. But I had no qualms about riding him in the parking lot of Indiana Harness near a very busy highway and a live (and fast) railroad track. The saddle maker commented on how quiet Tonka was.

We tried a Tenessean endurance saddle. It was pretty comfortable for me. A little strange without a horn, but I actually kind of liked that. I thought the shoulder was just a bit tight. Then we plopped on a couple others - an ugly Crates with an orange seat and a fancy barrel saddle (not my style). When I asked if any of the nice custom wades would fit, he brought one out. It was gorgeous. It was comfortable. It had matching hobbles hanging from it. I loved it. It was a tad too expensive, and I thought the shoulder was tight. It was also heavy like the saddle I just sold, but I might be willing to deal with that for such a nice saddle. But I thanked him, thinking I might come back later, and left for the next place.

At the Tack Trunk I went into the saddle area and the first thing she mentioned was a Crates, and I was tired of looking at Crates. The Reinsman looked too tight in the shoulder. I sat on an Arab tree saddle, but I think it was a Crates too. Then I noticed they had the saddle I thought I wanted, the Cashel Trail saddle. It was comfy. I pulled my trailer around back and tried it on. It seemed to fit. I didn't ride in it. The shopkeeper didn't have any help and she had to watch for people coming in the front door. I was convinced I'd come back and get it for a trial, but I had to return the Crates I had in my truck that I had trialled. On my way to the next place I realized I really didn't like how the back cinch was set up on the Cashel. It was just a slot in the leather. I do use my back cinch, and I like it snug. I was even thinking of rigging it center-fire. So that leather slot was no good, it would wear out. I really liked that saddle, I wish it didn't have that one little problem...

So I went up to Will Rogers intending to return the Crates. But, in short, they talked me into keeping it. I still feel like I fell for a high-pressure sale, but they did show me that putting it just an inch back from where I'm accustomed to putting it gave him all the room he needed.

Tonka was a gentleman and a wonder to ride, after getting used to being in the indoor arena. I think he told me his opinion. :) And he didn't jerk his head up in the air when I shifted my weight forward onto his shoulder and dismounted. The people up there seemed to like him a lot, and commented on his sturdiness. I love when I get compliments on my horse.

When I got home and saddled him up one last time and rode, I found that the seat was very uncomfortable. I'm hoping there will just be an adjustment period. I'm not sure why it was uncomfortable at home but not at the saddle shop.

Later, John hinted that he might have been willing to pay the extra for the custom wade. That really got me thinking, in a kind of sad way, since I committed to this Crates and the trial period was over. So I made a comment in my last post that was kind of ungrateful-sounding. I do love the look and feel of a custom saddle, with a comfortable hard seat. But what it comes down to is that I don't think that saddle fit him. And I can't afford a custom saddle made just for us.

This morning my horse is coated in mud. Hopefully later it will be dry enough to get him cleaned up and go for a ride.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

I am so tired of our saddle search. Today I finally made the commitment and bought one.

It's nice looking, but it's no custom saddle.

Tonka was quite a trooper, going from saddle store to saddle store, and finally getting home 8 hours later, only to have me saddle him up again. I just fooled around for a minute then put him away. I knew he needed some down time and a big drink of water.

The horn is my favorite part, with its rawhide binding.
It's a Crates light trail saddle, quarter horse bars, with quite a flare to the front for his big shoulder movement.

Let me tell you, I thought saddle fit was confusing for a novice like me - it only gets worse when you start listening to the experts! They all have totally different opinions.

I can't wait to ride again! I'm hoping to talk my son into going for a ride with me tomorrow since he has the day off school. Doubtful. I have a heck of a time getting him on his horse. I'll probably just ride around the house here.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

I'll be heading home today, I've been in Longview visiting family. It's been sad, being here without my grandma. It seems like so recently that we went out to dinner together. We drove past the cemetery but I didn't have it in me to visit the spot where she and my grandpa were buried. I know she missed him so bad that it was a relief to her to finally be able to join him, but it doesn't make me miss her any less.

My mom came with me and we spent a lot of time with my other grandparents. Helped grandpa fix a window frame that had dry rot. Grandma is having a lot of health problems but she still gets around just fine (although slowly) and she's sharp as a tack. I'm going to miss them while they're down in Yuma this winter. I also got to see my aunt and uncle and my cousin and his kids. Boy are they adorable. I love toddlers, it almost makes me want another. My mom keeps bugging me to have another, but I think two is enough.

I've been researching saddles while I'm here. I had heard a lot of good things about the Martin saddles built on the Axis tree - about how they leave plenty of room for shoulder movement. I discovered that the Cashel trail saddles (which are a lot more affordable) are also built by Martin on an Axis tree. I'm hoping to find a dealer in Spokane that carries them so I can try one on Tonka. Sometime next week I might haul him up there. There are 3 saddle shops (one in Post Falls) that usually have a lot of saddles on hand, so hopefully I can find something.

My sister got a new horse! She fell in love with a POA that was boarded at her barn and was about to go to Ohio for a big horse sale, but he was out of her price range. Her husband worked out a deal with the owners of the horse, and she found him in her round pen one day when she came home from a ride. So now Jeff has his horse back (Cowboy, the horse she's been riding, had been his before she took over riding him) and Amy is tickled pink with her new boy. His name is Sport. He shares some bloodlines with our Soxy, which is kind of neat.
He's been trained for show, never been out in the woods, so she has some work ahead of her. But isn't he a pretty boy? I guess he's too tall for the POA registry, but just right for my sister at 14.2 hands.

I better get going. I have a long day of driving ahead of me...