It is kind of crazy to think that I’ve been riding Coco for a whole year! In many aspects she should be further along in her education, but I always want to take it slowly with my young horses and let them tell me when they are ready to try harder things.
Looking, looking, always looking. You never know when a dog or a goat may come out of nowhere to eat you. Dried up brush is also very deadly.
She can officially walk, trot and canter on purpose. She mostly knows which lead I’m asking for at the canter, but we have done anything crazy like counter canter just yet. She moves off leg pressure when she feels like it. When she is focused on the killer dogs/goats/brush she will purposely ignore my aids. Maybe this is a “mare” thing or a just a “Coco” thing? She isn’t spooky when she’s away from home nearly like she is at home, which I hope is good in the long run.
Selfies while riding are hard.
My goal for her this year is to be working on flying lead changes by the fall. Once she has a lead change we will start dabbling in schooling shows. I’m hoping to take her to a couple more summer shows to do some hack classes and just get her out and about. Showing a young horse in the blistering heat of the summer can be advantageous for preventing shenanigans that cooler weather might perpetuate! I might take her on some trail rides with my foxhunting group this summer, but I’m kind of on the fence about those with her. I should probably take Simon so he is a bit more ready come hunt season.
She really is fun to ride. We have popped over a few small crossrail jumps and her talent is quite evident. Going straight is a bit of an issue, but we will start working on some cavalletti gymnastics and continue with dressage lessons to work on those skills. I have high hopes for Miss Coco Chanel!
She makes this face a lot. In her mind there is just no reason that humans aren’t perpetual treat dispensers and she’s pretty put out when that doesn’t happen!
It is kind of a long video with cheesy music, but you get the drift. At first I was terrified that it was something neurological. He wouldn’t walk straight and seemed a bit drunk. It wasn’t until I got him in his stall and ran my hands all over him that I found this:
Super, duper, giant fat stifle.
I texted the video to my vet and my trainer and both agreed (independently) that Sterling had most likely gotten kicked HARD in his stifle. Trainer recommended DMSO on it and vet recommended DMSO plus hydrotherapy twice a day as well as stall rest. Blargh. I was relieved to at least find an injury rather than something disease related.
Thankfully we have a well, otherwise this would be one expensive water bill!
Well, after a couple weeks of DMSO, hydrotherapy and stall rest the swelling just wasn’t going down so the vet came by this week to look at it and devise a plan. After looking it over he offered two options. Option 1 we could either put him back in work (he isn’t visibly lame anymore) and see if it goes down, but the risk there is that the swelling actually gets worse and results in permanent fluid build up on his stifle. Not very desirable. Option 2 was to lance the swelling and drain it. Gross, but probably better to get rid of the fluid. We went with Option 2. Sadly I don’t have any media from the lancing and draining, but suffice it to say it was gross. A mix of pale yellow liquid and blood. I hope you aren’t eating when you read this! Sterling was sedated and the area was numbed for the procedure so it went easily. Of course this is when Vet advised that I’m going to have to continue hydrotherapy AND try to squeeze fluid out of the newly cut hole for as long as the hole remains open. Sweet, and I don’t get the advantage of sedative and numbing.
More hydrotherapy after the stifle was lanced and drained. I bet half a gallon of liquid came out. Ew.
Vet advised that we may need to lance and drain it again after a few days. We are on Day 3 of hydrotherapy followed by squeezing the area to get fluid out. I enlist Boot City to help when he’s around since he has much stronger hands and Sterling can be a handful for stuff like this. I can’t imagine it feels good to have someone trying to squeeze a bunch of fluid out of a hole in your leg that is trying to heal. There seems to be a new spot with a smaller buildup up fluid, but overall the swelling has gone down. Sterling is mostly just angry that he’s on stall rest again and cries for his friends when they get turned out. Hopefully this works and we will be back to riding by early July.
My name is Tara and I love horses. Supposedly that is the first step to recovery, right?! I can’t imagine my life without these divine creatures playing a major role and am so grateful I have the means and the support of Boot City to have them. People often compare the hobby of horseback riding to playing sports or golfing or other “similar” activities, but there is one glaring difference. If you own or lease a horse you are responsible for the care and well being of an 800+ pound animal 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year. It is kind of like marriage; you take a vow to care for them in sickness and in health.
So far 2017 has had it’s fair share of “sickness”, mostly in the form of injuries. Right, Sterling?
We like to selfie while on stall rest. Again.
Simon tried to pull his hoof off of his leg this spring, but miraculously was never lame. The injury looked really bad and made me kind of nervous so I haven’t been riding him. I want to let the hoof grow out more and he is really just a baby so the time off is fine.
Simon trying on a hunt bridle to prepare for what we hope will be his future career!
Jaguar is kicking it retirement-style. His hurt leg is noticeably off, but he’s happy as a clam out in his pasture with his buddies. He even trots and canters sometimes! I thought he’d be annoyed at being retired, but he’s taken to it pretty well. He still bosses everyone around, including the neighbor horses.
The handsomest 24 year old, grandson of Doc Bar, past AQHYA World Championship qualifying reiner, retired fox hunter, there ever was!
Coco (so far) is one of my “in health” horses currently. She has had PLENTY of “in sickness” over the past few years so she deserves it! We will make our way to a few more horse shows this summer as Sterling convalesces. Miles, miles and more miles are my goals for Coco this year.
Hanging out in her giant stall at the horse show. My favorite thing about Texas Rose Horse Park are the huge permanent stalls. It is so nice for the bigger hunter/jumper horses to not be stuck is some tiny 10×10 or even 12×12.
Last, but certainly not least, Casey has been the VERY best step-in hunt/whipper-in horse I could have asked for! He was a perfect gentleman all hunt season, enjoyed a few trail rides and now is FOR SALE! The plan had been to take him back to Montana, but Mom thinks it would be best for him to stay in Texas and have a busier job with someone who will appreciate him. Casey is one of those horses that you can truly grab out of the pasture, jump on and go and there is no drama. I know because we did just that 2 weekends ago. He hadn’t been ridden since March and I hopped on (with no lunge) and he trotted and cantered around like he was ridden yesterday. And he’s only FIVE! He’s got SO MANY great years ahead of him! So, you should buy him, or at least tell your friends to buy him. For reals.
Poor Casey’s biological clock stayed on Montana seasons so he didn’t start shedding his winter coat until JUNE! When he would get hot and it was wet, well, he would roll in the mud to cool off.
No, horses are not just a “hobby”. I can’t put them in a closet and forget about them until the next time I want to “play”. They are my lifestyle and I love every second!
I have very little media documenting the momentous occasion, but Coco went to her first horse show last weekend and she was SO good! We Horsepooled with my horsey bestie so got to the show grounds (Texas Rose Horse Park near Tyler, Texas) around noon on Friday. We weren’t showing until Saturday, so it was nice to have plenty of time to see what kind of horse I had on my hands.
The impetus for this occasion was Sterling’s quarter crack lameness after I had already committed to my barn that I was going to the horse show. I texted Trainer and asked what she thought about taking Coco. Coco is by no means ready to jump a course, but it would be great to get her out and about and see how she is amidst the chaos of a horse show. Trainer loved the idea and was excited to finally lay eyes on Coco.
The horses settled in easily and Coco’s eyes were huge taking in all the sights and sounds.
Getting to know the neighbor horses. There was little to no squealing.
After settling in her stall for a couple hours I walked her around the show grounds and in the ring where we would show. She was a bit bug eyed, but not crazy and not spooky. We tacked up and headed to our show ring for a hack and she was super star! The only thing she kind of spooked at was a rail on the ground and some of the fill from the jumps that were taken apart. Trainer was very pleased with her temperament and optimistic about her future. I was, of course, elated.
I lunged and hacked her early Saturday morning to again see what kind of horse I had for the day. She was much the same, looking around but not crazy. We got her rinsed off and primped, ready to be a princess in the horse show. Our classes went around 10a. I made the mistake of riding her in the big hunter warmup ring before our class and she got a little jazzed by the traffic, so we went down and just walked around in the grass by our ring. Our first class had 5 entries (including us) which was a nice size. Enough horses to see how she would do in traffic, but not so many that she should get crowded or have to maneuver too much traffic. We got cut off once and she broke gait in the first class, but she got all her transitions, all her leads and couldn’t care less about the traffic. Yay! We got fifth out of five, but I still consider it a win because she did so well.
We stayed in the ring for our next hack class which only had four entries and it was much the same. We broke gait in front of the judge so I knew we weren’t going to place, but she was really really good. Happy to be there, not spooky, didn’t care about the other horses.
Pretty princess didn’t want to stand still for her photo op, so this is the proof she went to a horse show!
We were entered in a couple other hacks in the afternoon, but one had 9 entries which seemed like it would be pressing our luck and when we went to the ring to show in our final hack of the day she seemed like she was on the verge of brain fry, so we untacked and went for a lunge instead. We didn’t have any classes on Sunday so I lunged her early in the morning and took her for another hack in the Indoor. We were fortunate and no one was in there with us for about 20 minutes. After a few more horses showed up to lunge we went for a walk around the show grounds. It was stormy, thundering and had rained quite a bit, which often causes horses to act a little crazy. Coco took it all in stride easily. She marched right through the mud puddles, was unfazed by the sloppy ring and seemed to thoroughly enjoy being out and about.
The prettiest Coco Chanel.
I’m thrilled with how our weekend went and can’t wait for more horse shows with Coco! I was planning to take Sterling to show in Waco in June, but he has yet another major injury (more on this later) and will likely be out for most of the first half of the summer. With this turn of events Coco may get to go to another show to hang out and do a couple hack classes. Miles are good!
A few weeks ago I was perusing the Chronicle of the Horse forums and came across a thread about fecal egg counts. For those who aren’t horsey, this is a task that veterinarians have been encouraging horse owners to do for the past few years to better plan when and what to deworm their horses with, rather than just following the long-standing rotational deworming method. Many worms have become resistant to dewormer and by doing a fecal egg count you have a better idea what kind and how bad the infestation of worms in your horse.
The vet I used when I first had horses in Texas recommended just doing the rotational deworming and forego fecal egg counts, so I did. Fast forward to now, I have a new vet and he thought it was a good idea. It costs about $20/horse to do a fecal egg count and at first you should do it about 4 times a year to get a strong baseline of counts. I currently have 5 horses at my house and I was mostly just annoyed at the idea of spending $400 per year to do the fecal counts.
Back to the Chronicle forum thread. A couple commentors on the thread said they did their own fecal egg counts. Mind. Blown. I private messaged one of them with some questions and did a search on Amazon for a microscope and I was off and running!
This is the microscope I bought. Can you believe that you can buy a microscope for less than $100?! I was amazed! I also had to get a graduated cylinder, pipettes, a McMaster slide and a few other small things.
I’m going to do an overview of the method I used, but I am no expert on fecal egg counts!
Based on the advice from the Chronicle I utilized the McMaster Method for equine fecal egg count. I made my own flotation solution with water and Epsom salts.
First step: gather the poop. I got fresh droppings from each horse, put it in a plastic baggy with the horse’s name and the date.
Bags of poop. Fun things you may find in the fridge at my house!
Second step: measure the flotation solution.
Third step: measure the poop.
Fourth step: add the poop to the flotation solution.
Fifth step: mix up the poop and flotation solution.
Sixth step: pipette the liquid solution without getting any solid pieces in the pipette.
Seventh step: pipette the solution onto the McMaster slide.
Eighth step: after the slide has sat with the solution for 20-30 minutes you can read it under the microscope.
Ninth step: the method of counting the worm eggs utilizes the 2 chambers on the slide and counting eggs in each column. The columns make it easier to keep track of where you have counted. You add up your total eggs and multiply that number times 25 for a total count.
Under 99 is a low count and doesn’t necessitate deworming. 100-499 is medium and you should probably deworm. 500 and over is high and you should definitely deworm. 3 of my 5 horses had a count under 99 and 2 had counts of 750 or higher. I found this very interesting since all the horses have been here for a few months so have the same environmental impacts. I’ll deworm the two with high counts then do another fecal count for all 5 horses in a few weeks. You can get a low count on a horse that actually has worms depending on the lifestage of the worms when you did the fecal count. So I could have more horses with high counts later. I will also be able to tell if the dewormer I use works on the 2 horses that get dewormed. If counts are still high then I will need to use a different dewormer.
THIS IS SO FASCINATING! I feel like a mini-scientist! And yay for feeling empowered to care for and evaluate my horses’ health!
The vet came by yesterday to stab vaccinate my herd of horses plus I wanted him to do an evaluation of Sterling since he has been off on his right front for about 2 weeks. Rewind a little bit here. Sterling had a small quarter crack on both of his front hooves at the beginning of the year. 2 trims ago my farrier didn’t think it was much to worry about. Sterling historically has pretty good feet, especially for a thoroughbred. The quarter crack on his right front was getting decidedly worse so I had the farrier come out a bit sooner than usual and he chopped of Sterling’s toe to mitigate the growth of the quarter crack on his right front hoof. When I got home the day he got trimmed I was a little taken aback at just how much hoof was cut off! As a result I really expected Sterling to be sore the next day, but he was still normal and sound even 2 days later.
Fast forward to day 4 and he was CLEARLY off on his right front.
I sent this video to my vet. He advised bute (a horsey NSAID) for a few days and see how he is. At day 3 he was not as noticeably lame, but definitely still slightly off. I made an appointment for the vet to come over to look at him and do annual vaccinations. It worked out to be exactly 2 weeks after he exhibited lameness. I haven’t been riding him at all in the meantime.
We lunged Sterling in both directions and the vet confirmed that he is still off on his right front. The vet blocked his right front foot, which means he gave him a shot in his foot to make it completely “dead” for a short period of time. This allows the vet to see if the pain goes away with the numbness and confirm that is where the pain is located. We do this since horses can’t tell us where they hurt. We again lunged Sterling in both directions and the vet saw definite improvement, but noticed that he is still ever so slightly off and that it happens with both front feet depending on which direction he is going. In all likelihood this just means that Sterling is starting to show age in his front coffins, which I’m advised by my vet isn’t a big deal. It just means we may need to start injecting his coffins to provide comfort as he ages and gets some aches and pains. The injection provides him pain relief and only needs to be administered about once per year. It is more or less the same as giving him a horse version of aspirin or ibuprofen every day.
Before we got that route we will adjust his hoof care and will have the farrier put on these crazy named shoes.
The Kerckhaert Aluminum Horse Shoe
If this solves his problem then we will put off the injections for at least a little while. In the meantime, Coco is getting ALL the rides and is thus showing tremendous improvement in her education. Have any of my horsey friends used Kerckhaert shoes? Thoughts, opinions, feedback with similar issues?
I saw this blog hop on my Bloglovin’ feed from Hand Gallop and thought I would join in. Below are my answers to the questions posted from The Horse is Not Black’s blog hop questions.
1. What are your summer goals?
I’m currently working on my 6 month set of Power Sheets. As of yet I haven’t established exactly what my goals are, but the long and short of it with regards to horses is hours in the saddle! Coco and Simon both need a LOT of miles! Simon has off until the first of June from a hoof/coronet band injury, but Coco is getting a LOT of rides since Sterling has been lameish.
2. Do you have any tips or tricks for fly control?
Sterling’s dapper Baker fly sheet
We are BIG believers in the fly predators and have gotten them every summer for the past 3 or 4 years. They worked exceptionally well when our previous neighbor used them also. The more places with horses (and livestock) that use them the better they work. We also have overhead fans in all our stalls which the horses really seem to like. To me, the key to fly control is not any one thing. You have to do what works for you, your horses and your geography. I don’t want my horses swatting their tails very much so they all wear fly sheets. In June I’ll swap them from daytime turnout to nighttime turnout so they can be inside the insulated barn with fan during the hottest part of the day.
3. How often do you bathe your horse?
I only give a soapy bath for horse shows or to clean an injury. They get rinsed off if they get very sweaty from a ride.
4. Do you have any upcoming travel plans? Equine related or otherwise?
Always! In July I’m going to Montana with a bunch of horsey friends to stay at my family’s ranch for a week. Most of us are taking horses. I’m excited to get out of Texas heat for the week! Then in August my brother is getting married so that has us travelling to Ohio.
5. What is your favorite way to beat the heat?
The best sew-chine ever
Ride early in the morning and stay inside when it is crazy hot. I’m hoping to get some sewing projects done this summer. Texas summer is kind of like Montana winter; that is the time of year you plan to be indoors most of the time so you get your inside projects done!
6. Do you do anything to prevent your horse from sunbleaching?
It isn’t exactly purposeful for sunbleaching, but keeping them inside during summer days keeps their color dark. I only have one horse that will get sunbleached (Simon).
7. How hot is too hot for you to ride?
Gosh, above 95? It really depends on the humidity and the horse. Some horses can tolerate heat better than others. I also may ride and just not do anything strenuous. Work on leg yields at the walk. Opening and closing gates. The not-so-glamorous slow stuff that doesn’t get as much attention when it is 60 and windy!
8. How important is sun protection for you riding or just in general?
A champagne colored EIS shirt.
Very! I’m pretty fair skinned and burn very easily. My horsey bestie started wearing the fancy schmancy sun shirts a few years ago and I thought she was CRAZY for wearing long sleeves in Texas in August. Then I got one and realized their fantasticness! They keep you much cooler than any tank top ever could and they protect your skin from the sun. It really is a win win. I’m a fan of the EIS shirts because they are made in the USA. I have 5 EIS and one Tailored Sporstman shirts. Whenever I see EIS on sale I always try to snag one. I also wear the requisite sunscreen on my face and ride with a helmet and gloves (but not one of the helmets with the giant visors, I think they look kind of silly).
9. Have you ever gone swimming with your horse?
Kind of in the water, but not really
I have ridden Jaguar into the water, but I don’t know that I’d call it “swimming”. Sterling will hardly get his feet wet and Coco and Simon have never had the opportunity. I used to really want to take Jaguar to South Padre Island and ride him on the beach, but since he’s now a pasture ornament that dream will have to live on with another horse. Maybe Simon?
10. What’s on your summer wish list?
Gates on the stall runs
A driveway gate
A new bed
New horse boots
Getting my gifted Dehner’s adjusted to fit my skinny calves
I have quite a few young horses so it has been on my mind lately to get some good conformation photos of them. I’d like to have a pictorial reference for how the horses change as they get older. Especially since I have horses of significantly different bloodlines and breeds. In that vein, I got Boot City to snap some photos of Coco and Simon on Monday.
Here is Coco. She is a BAY 5yo RPSI registered mare by Coconut Grove out of a mare called I-Mai Tai. Mai Tai is by Mezcalero and out of a daughter of Amaretto.
The angle is off so I probably won’t use this photo for an actual conformation analysis, but for this post the point of this photo is that Coco is BAY. Her coat is decidedly red and her points (legs, mane and tail) are decidedly black. She is the textbook definition of the color BAY.
Here is Simon. He is a 3yo Thoroughbred gelding of undecided color by Ghostzapper out of a mare called Precious BROWNIE. Precious Brownie is by Golden Missile and out of a daughter of Explodent (TERRIBLE name!).
Simon’s papers describe his color as “dkb/br” (if you aren’t horsey, that means dark bay/brown). It has been on my mind lately that most every horse this color is described as “bay”. Well, to me, this horse looks brown. No one calls their horse “brown”. Why is this? It seems to be true of most all breeds that there is a bias against calling horses “brown”. I googled it a bit yesterday and the most specific description of brown versus bay that I could find stated that a brown horse tends to have tan around it’s muzzle, flank and at the top of it’s legs.
Here is a photo of Simon with his full winter fuzz. I think the tan spots are more prevalent here than with his summer coat.
So, people on the interwebs, what color is Simon and why?
In the nine years I’ve owned Sterling he has slowly but surely gotten much better about being ridden away from home, but he still gets quite distracted at new places. One of the best things about living in North Texas is the availability of really lovely facilities that allow outside riders, one of which is a mere 15 miles from my house. This past weekend Sterling and I made the trip out to Willow Draw to get some miles away from home.
Not many hunter/jumper barns have walls with mirrors so it usually takes Sterling a few minutes to get acclimated to the handsome grey horse that seems to do the same thing he’s doing.
It is SO nice to be able to see his frame in the mirror, though. Especially when I’m riding by myself. I can really see how my riding is affecting his frame and see the immediate change when I change something. There aren’t any jumps in the indoor so we worked on a 20 meter circle exercise we did at a lesson last week and then worked on his frame for the under saddle classes.
After 30 or so minutes in the indoor I wanted to get him out on the cross country course for a mini trail ride. As I’ve written in the past Sterling is NOT a fan of trail rides. However, I’ve only ever taken him out in large groups or with the fox hunt so thought going out by himself might go better. Willow Draw has a full cross country course, but we only ventured to one of the water hazards to see if I could get him to get his feet wet.
I didn’t take my iCellular with me when I went out in case he lost his s%&t and I got tossed into the water or something similar so I don’t have pics, but I was able to get him to get all four feet in the water! Here is a snap of the water hazard from the road. It is the one with the jumps in the distance, not the one right by the road.
I’m SO proud of him! He also had to cross a little ditch of running water and let me tell you, he cleared that 2″ of water by about 7′ both in height and the distance he jumped across. Dramatic much?!
There were some riders schooling on the cross country course and I wanted to stay out of their way as much as I didn’t want to overwhelm Sterling, so after our success at the water hazard we went back to hack a little more in the indoor.
Sterling was a very good boy and settled easily into the “new” arena. Just a couple years ago we would have had to lunge for 15-20 minutes and do plenty of hand walking before I would have DARED ride at a new place. I am SO appreciative that places like Willow Draw make it possible to use their beautiful facility.
My favorite thing about the hunt group of which I am a member is the diversity of horse interests among the members. Never before have I known polo players! Boot City and I got to attend the season opener for the polo season this past Saturday. It was an informal match, but guests were dressed up, the horses were (kind of) fast and the champagne was drunk while the divots were stomped!
The weather for the match was AMAZING! Especially amazing after being so very very cold on Saturday. I even got a sunburn on my scary white legs!
The players were very social and came by the sidelines to talk to the fans many times during the match. Check out this polo pony’s fabulous polka dotted polo wraps!
The appaloosa polo pony was a HUGE hit! We learned from the player’s wife that at most matches the opposing team’s horses usually need a couple minutes to just stare at the appaloosa before they can focus on playing. I am not surprised by this because Sterling always has to stare at paint horses before he can focus, too. Paint jumpers are the MOST scary to Sterling because they have loud hair and loud bell boots.
I’m excited to go to more polo matches this season for tailgating. My polo friends often ask me when I’m going to switch over to polo from showing hunters and I tell them that I’ll make the switch once I’ve mastered jumping, which will be never. Just ask Sterling, I still have a LOT to learn! Plus, if you recall from my polo posts last summer, polo is REALLY hard. I’m not sure I have the necessary hand/eye coordination to hit the ball with the mallet rather than my horse’s legs.