I am an incredibly fortunate equestrienne. I have two very lovely horses to ride (as well as a superb retiree and a couple ponies). I get to keep these creatures at home in the lovely barn we built for them and on grassy pastures on a few acres that are incredibly close to the downtown of one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. Yet I find myself constantly “shoulding”. What do I mean by “shoulding”? I should ride more. I should show more. I should go to more clinics. I should put on more fly spray. I should body clip. I should, I should, I should, I should. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with shoulding and just don’t. At all.
Jaguar enjoying some winter sunshine. His days of my shoulding are mostly behind him, other than the occasional questioning of some kind of geriatric horse maintenance.
Having a full-time job. Taking care of dogs/horses/cats/goats/chickens/ponies/donkey. Keeping up a small acreage. Curating relationships with friends and family. It all takes resources, all of which are finite. The biggest one being time. The second biggest one being cash. And those two things drive a lot of what shoulds happen and which ones don’t. The part that I struggle with the most with my shoulding is the why.
I’ve lived far too much of my life doing things because (I thought) other people thought that I should. Buying clothes I didn’t really like because someone else said they were cute. Overextending myself socially because I didn’t want to say no and hurt someone’s feelings. Going on trips that may have not been in the best interest of our budget because I didn’t want to miss out on anything. It’s only taken about 4 decades, but my self-awareness is finally maturing.
One of my biggest “should” struggles in a photo.
My greatest should struggle right now is Coco. What should I do with Coco?! ??????? !!!!!!!!!!!! She’s nine this year. I’ve had her at home for 8.5 of those nine years. If you had asked me when Coco was four what I thought she’d be doing when she was nine, I’d have told you showing in the Adult or Amateur/Owner hunters. The reality is that she’s only been to a couple rated horse shows and I’ve still never jumped a 3′ course of jumps on any horse, much less her. There are myriad reasons why we aren’t further along, but I find myself questioning my path forward with this horse ALL THE TIME.
My greatest mistake with Coco 5 years ago was not putting her in more precarious situations sooner. I should have taken her on trail rides, gone to more local shows, and just gotten her out and about. She is the “fanciest” horse I’ve ever had so I was nervous about “ruining” her, which is dumb. I’m a good rider and I don’t ask my horses to do stupid things. I was never going to ruin her by riding her like I rode all the baby horses that came before her, all of which have gone on to wonderful careers under saddle in various jobs. I’m getting her out and about now and it’s going really well. Her first few trail rides were comical (she was NOT getting her pretty hooves WET, OMG. But she will cross water just fine now) but she’s gained a ton of confidence.
I should show her at rated shows, but I just don’t feel it yet. My two primary resource challenges make me question biting the bullet and entering a show every time I get serious about doing an entry. I want her to foxhunt and hopefully will get her out this fall with hounds to see what she thinks. But there is always a little voice in my head that tells me I’m wasting a really nice horse so I should sell her to someone who will tap that potential. My dream of all dreams would be for her to be equally good at showing AND fox hunting. Serious shoulding going on here.
This horse has pretty much found his calling in the hunt field. And he loves him a photographer to cheese for!
Simon is a much easier should. His shoulds are more about body clipping (ugh). Fly sheets. Pulling his mane. And other banal shoulds that won’t remarkably change his future, just his day-to-day existence. Sometimes I think I should show him, but it would also be dumb to show him when I SHOULD be showing Coco. This past hunt season went really well for Simon. He was fit. He stayed sound. He got better and better all season. It’s easy to forget that he’s only 7 and (hopefully) has many years ahead of him to hunt and trail ride and maybe even go to some horse shows. I don’t feel the pressure that I should be doing anything different with Simon, and that makes him more fun for me to ride. Which is dumb.
At the end of the day, all a horse wants to do is eat grass and be safe. They don’t care about their potential. They don’t care if they win or lose. They don’t care if they have a show record or not. They don’t care how big are the jumps. They don’t care about any of it, unless they are hungry or scared.
I continue to struggle with my shoulding, but am getting better at prioritising things for myself, my family and my animals. No one can make these choices for me and at the end of the day, no one other than Boot City really cares in the long run. I regularly remind myself of this when I start shoulding and it helps me make better choices.
Ah, spring! I really do love the changing of seasons. Well, except summer. Since moving to Texas I do not like summer. The past couple weeks we have had idyllic spring weather. Not too warm and not too cold. The trees and plants look to be mostly recovered from snowpocalypse in February. Only the Crape Myrtles still have us wondering. We have one VERY large one and will be incredibly sad if it didn’t survive.
I don’t think I’ve ever introduced Lilybet on the blog. She hails from North Hills Hunt in Nebraska. Her mum is a Welsh Foxhound so has a wiry coat and her dad is a Deerhound mix. Lilybet is about 50lb and much taller than a foxhound, but lean like the Deerhound. She is nearly 2 years old now and is starting to fill out and look like she’s done growing. She adores romping around in the grass with her dog friends and occasionally getting into trouble chasing goats.
I got some new bedding to use in my LQ trailer. It is called Beddy’s and I learned about it from my blog friend Hillary. I’ll do a separate post later all about it and if I like it, but it arrived in the mail last night. Linda approves, at least so far.
Linda trying out the new bedding for the LQ.
We have 6 total cats and 5 are barn cats. This is Black Caviar (all cats except 2 are named after racehorses). We have lost SO many of our barn cats to coyotes and hawks and owls so I make most of them stay in the barn rooms at night. When they get out in the morning they run and find places to hide from the dogs. The hay wheelbarrow is often a favourite spot for hiding.
Black Caviar safe in the hay wheelbarrow
Gene has grown a LOT since he arrived late last August, but when I look at pics like this I’m reminded how small he is compared to my horses. He turns a year old in May and I’ll do a string test (explanation will be forthcoming on that) to estimate how tall he will be at adulthood. His co-owner is hoping for right at 14.2h because that is the size of a large pony for horse shows. I selfishly want him to be more like 15h because then he’s a better size for adults to ride. Regardless, he’s well loved and is an adorable pony!
Coco on the left and Gene on the right after breakfast
I hope everyone has a lovely weekend and gets to be outside in lovely spring weather!
After complaining last week about the scorching heat I’m pleased to say that things have taken quite a turn for the better! We got 1.25″ of rain on Sunday night and it’s remained in the low 90’s for highs all week! The humidity is also low so it almost feels like a Montana summer, but with a lot more dead grass and way more people around.
Regardless of the weather, Ouiser prefers to be inside. We let her wander around outside every once in a while, but she tends to make poor decisions and get stuck in trees or overstimulate the dogs, so that is a privilege she doesn’t get often.
I call this her “Olan Mills” pose. Google Olan Mills and you’ll see what I mean. It’s a cheesy pose with a silly accessory. Boot City loves that she covers his bag with cat hair. LOL!
I’m generally an early riser and Simon doesn’t do great in the heat, so all of my riding lessons this summer have been at 7:30a. Lately this has made for departures in the dark of the morning and the ability to catch a pretty colourful sunrise!
All hooked up and ready to go. This was a super hot Saturday with temps well into the triple digits. I’m hopeful we may be done with those for 2020.
Just because she’s pretty and very photogenic.
She spends quite a lot of time looking towards the back of the property from her stall run. I guess she will warn us if there are ever invaders from the back.
On lesson days I take along my Ice Horse tendon wraps to ice whomever gets to lesson that day’s legs. Sunday has started spending his morning asleep on the boots left in the boot basket. Most of them are Back On Track so I guess he likes the stimulation.
Sunday napping in the boot basket.
Last, but certainly not least, is a Gene update! He’s been wearing his halter for about a week and we learned today that he’s growing like a weed and will need a bigger halter soon! He’s reported to be pretty quiet and it sounds like he should be fairly easy to train, but only time will tell. His caretaker is going to start working with him on leading this week since he will embark on his trip south by the end of the month!
Gene outside. He reminds me a lot of Jaguar as a foal. I’m so excited to see him in person and see if the likeness remains. Jaguar was the easiest horse to train so it would be delightful if Gene is, too!
Have a delightful weekend! Wear your mask. Practice social distance. Wash your hands. And do something fun outside!
Even before Coronapocolypse came into the picture in early 2020 I didn’t have big plans to do much horse showing. The trainer I’ve shown with the past few years had moved away from Texas and I was really focused on my new fun fox hunting friends and trips. I was hoping to go to Belle Meade’s hunt week in February, but life and responsibility got in the way. However, the planning made me stop and think that I really ought to get more experience and coaching to prepare for jumping some bigger jumps. The highest I’ve jumped at shows is 2’6″ and in schooling is 3′ and only a handful of times. Most of the jumps in hunt fields range from 2’9″ up to 4′ at the more ambitious hunts. The coops Simon jumped at Burwell in October were more like 2’9″ to 3′. To that end I started researching hunter/jumper barns in my area and decided to take a few lessons at a barn called Bay Yard Farm.
I was attracted to Bay Yard for a few reasons. I knew a few people who rode there and seemed very happy with the program. Fellow blogger Kelly of Hunky Hanoverian has ridden at Bay Yard for the past few years and had blogged about her great experiences there. Most of Bay Yard’s clients are adults or mature junior riders and after riding at a more pony/kid focused barn I was definitely looking for a barn with riders I have more in common. They go to a few A shows every year and sometimes add in a local show here and there. Lastly, they do haul in lessons and and have a focus on hunters with a dollop of jumpers which suits my 2020 goals and my foxhunting hobby.
My first few lessons were delightful! It isn’t terribly unusual to start at a new barn and feel pressure from trainers to get a new horse, go to a bunch of horse shows, or do other things that can be perceived as high pressure. I have ridden with two of the four trainers at Bay Yard and both have been nothing but supportive and complimentary of my horses and riding goals.
At the end of July trainer JB texted and asked if I would be interested in going to a schooling show nearby. With no hesitation I responded “Yes!”. I was hoping to take Coco and started making plans to be sure she and I would be prepped and ready to show in mid-August. Coco then promptly whacked her leg on something and subsequently got a “no jumping for 2 weeks” order from the vet exactly 2 weeks before the show. Horses! Her 2 weeks would expire on Friday before the show that was on Sunday. I opted to continue to ride her on the flat with hopes she would be healthy and sound to show, but knowing that I may need to take Simon if she weren’t ready.
Photo from a fabulous BYF Junior rider/photographer. Coco is not very affectionate. LOL!
Thankfully she was sound and prepared in time to horse show! We entered the 2’3″ Junior/Amateur division mostly because it was the first division to go in the morning, but partially because it didn’t seem fair to ask her to jump bigger jumps after a few weeks off jumping and a couple of minor injuries.
To say that Coco was a good girl is an egregious understatement. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous how she would act. In the past she has been either a bit hot or very agitated at horse shows. She will seem calm and accepting of the situation only to blow up and express her disdain by misbehaving. She’s never been naughty or dangerous, but I’ve never felt relaxed with her at shows. This was completely different. We had hacked around the show grounds the day before and she had been a bit fractious, but on show day she was aware of surroundings yet amenable to do what I asked of her.
Scope has never been a problem for Coco. These jumps were quite small so she didn’t have the loveliest form.
We did two hunter trips and an equitation course and she answered every question I asked perfectly. She was a bit crooked in the lines and she has a bad habit of veering to the right, but she happily jumps the jumps and mostly gets her lead changes (especially when her rider asks for them correctly).
Here is a video of our second hunter trip. Pardon the ridiculously long trot around the ring before we actually start the course. She was a bit looky after the first hunter trip so I wanted to just trot around the ring calmly before we jumped again. And I couldn’t figure out how to mute the talking from the video so inserted some ridiculous YouTube music instead. Feel free to mute your computer now. Haha!
She is calm, keeps a consistent canter, gets her distances and looks like a lovely hunter. I couldn’t be more thrilled with our progress. The regular lessons have made a world of difference and I can feel that my riding has made drastic improvements. This is the first time in my life that I’ve been getting regular lessons and it’s helping so much! We got second place in the second hunter and we won the hack to end up as Reserve Champions in our division!
Happy girl over the tiny jump.
I’m hoping we can make it to at least one or two more schooling shows this year. If a rated show works out I might go to one of them since Bay Yard goes to those shows more frequently, but it’ll depend on my fox hunting trips. I’m going to start getting Simon fit for Burwell so will be taking him to more of my lessons and (hopefully) getting some practice over bigger fences. Learning and getting better is so much fun!
We are a full week into August; AKA my least favourite month in Texas. This is always the month when I question my sanity in moving here. Which is a bit ironic considering the only times I visited prior to moving to Fort Worth were in August. I shouldn’t complain too much since June and July were actually fairly nice as far as weather goes. I (always) wish we had gotten more rain, but the temperatures were not awful.
I’m fairly certain I’ve gone on more trail rides since March than I have gone on in one year ever in my life previously and I’m not mad about it! It’s been really good for my horses to get out and about. Simon even finally let me open and close a gate while mounted! He’s nearly perfect most days, but for some reason has remained apprehensive and even a bit fearful about opening and closing gates. I went trail riding on a family’s place outside of Waco a couple weeks ago and we finally conquered the task!
Here we are after completing our mission. Simon is still a bit unsure about the gate possibly attacking him. I’m proud as can be and Quila is in a constant state of supervision. Photo credit to our trail riding buddy and Chincoteague Pony co-owner.
Today’s post is very cat and Simon centric. Sunday Silence showed up at the barn this past weekend with a fat cheek! He had a fat cheek a few weeks previously. I presume he’s getting in fights with his cat friends. We had a cat with a somewhat similar fat cheek a few years ago and it was some disgusting larvae parasite thing, so I was REAL glad when the swelling had gone down the next day. Yes, my cats are named after racehorses.
Sunday with his fat cheek. He’s a sweet kitty who was rescued by a friend from the Weatherford Shelter this past spring.
And here we have MORE SIMON! Last weekend we went trail riding with a bunch of our OTTB friends. I dearly love trail riding with this group. Our horses all get along. They keep a similar pace. We can change spots in order 10 times and none of the horses get upset. We got a tiny bit lost and ended up off the trail for a bit, but we found our way and had a delightful ride.
Simon nearly ALWAYS has his ears forward during trail rides. He’s so cute.
And, last but not least, is my Work From Home Administrative Assistant. She doesn’t work very hard and she sheds quite a bit, but she’s sure cute! I may have to write her up for spending so much time napping in sunny places, though.
Pardon my dusty trim and nose prints on the window. She slept like that for at least 6 hours!
I foresee more trail riding this weekend. It’s going to be stupid hot, though, so we won’t be out too long. Hopefully we will have some updates on Gene this weekend. He’s eating well and becoming friendly so that is good news! Happy weekend, y’all!
We are OFFICIALLY more than half way done with 2020! Has there EVER been a year that more people have been excited to see come to an end?! Coronapocolypse hasn’t been awful to my close knit family and friends, at least not yet, but I’m excited for the year to be over because of the elections.
Things on the farm are at the very least a lot more REAL than the crap going on in the news and on social media, so enjoy some silly shenanigans and updates.
Ousier is a repo kitty and she LOVES her house life. She’s the easiest and sweetest kitty ever. We love her. We also really love our induction cooktop. If you are choosing a cooktop, I think induction is the best. Gas is complicated, albeit fancy, and electric is just awful. Do yourself a favour and get induction; it’s easy to clean and your water boils nearly instantly.
Ouiser can find herself the softest and weirdest spots possible to sleep. In this case, barn towels.
I worked from home one day this week. It was fabulous. Until I went to the barn to check on the horses:
Pablo peering out of COCO’S stall. Notice the feed bags and hay all over the floor.
This one is my personal favourite:
Yes, he has an ENTIRE BALE OF HAY in his stall. He can barely chew, so it’s not like he’s really enjoying this. #itsgoodtobe27
Then later in the week our lovely neighbour (one is lovely and one is AWFUL) invited the horses to come eat the grass. It was so lovely and idyllic for like 79 minutes.
Mostly they ran around a lot and eventually started grazing.
However, about an hour into their rendezvous next door, they discovered the deer feeder (Jaguar) and had to come back to their regular pasture to hopefully avoid colicking. BAD HORSES!
I hope your dependents behave better than mine and that it isn’t a bajillion degrees hot where you live so you can actually enjoy the weekend outside!
The weeks seem to go by a bit slower during Coronapocolypse. Mostly because there isn’t a whole lot going on during the weekends like there might be when we aren’t social distancing and most social activities aren’t canceled. Plus, it’s hot in Texas right now. It’s (thankfully) cooled off a bit the latter part of this week, but temps are still in the high 90’s, which inherently makes one want to take things more slowly. I have some fun horsey things this weekend, so I’m looking forward to horsing around with friends a bit.
Despite the heat, I’ve been getting some rides in after work. I got a super fantastic new bareback pad recently. I’ll blog about it soon, but for some reason summertime seems like a great time to ride bareback. Possibly because I can do it without wearing pants.
It appears that Simon and Samson have a bit of a bromance going on. It’s extra cute because Simon is the biggest horse we have and Samson is the smallest. Please ignore Simon’s lack of mane grooming. I promise I’ve been trimming it
What is it about cats in boxes that is SO entertaining?! I got a kick out of this one because the box is so very big and the cat can’t really get in it, but that did not stop her from trying.
Winx in a box.
I rode Coco for the first time in about 18 days after her vet visit cleared the weird welt as superficial. She was a very good girl and even walked and trotted through the sprinkler like a super star (she hates water and is usually pretty spooky). After our ride I groomed her and put some conditioner on her hooves since the ground is so dry in Texas. Who knew that one’s own shiny hooves could be so terrifying! She stood stock still until I undid the cross ties and then nearly jumped out of her feet, well, she would have jumped out of her feet if it were actually possible.
What, aren’t all horses afraid of their own feet when shiny from hoof conditioner?!
We have two neurotic and geriatric tiny dogs who both love a super fluffy blanket. One (the Italian Greyhound) is EXCEPTIONALLY neurotic and will scream at the top of her lungs if you pick her up wrong, not because it is painful but just because she’s crazy. Well, I succumbed to Facebook’s advertising algorithm and ordered two Soothing Beds that the internet told me would change my dogs’ lives. After watching the shipping status FROM CHINA for about 12 days the new beds arrived and let me tell you, those little dogs are OBSESSED with their Soothing Beds! Facebook Advertising Algorithm for the win!
Bunny LOVES her Soothing Bed! LOVES. IT.
And last, but certainly not least, the world always needs a Pablo update. This isn’t a particularly remarkable photo of Pablo, but he’s always cute and funny. He’s finally settling down and getting sweeter in his older age. We don’t really know how old he is, but we have had him for about 14 years.
Everyone loves the hairy ass. And the hairy ass jokes.
Y’all have a GREAT weekend! Wear your masks. Maintain social distance. Be kind to one another.
Last week Coco came in from turnout with this GIANT welt on her side.
Giant welt Day 1
There was a bit of a bald spot on the right tip of it and it was squishy. She was covered in hives just a few weeks ago, so I initially attributed this to a sting or something similar. I didn’t really do anything about it on Day 1.
Then, Day 2.
The welt has gotten longer and the swelling has spread down.
Day 2. It is still squishy, but you can definitely see the bald spot. I gave her Banamine on Day 2 just to give her some relief in case it was a kick injury and it hurt. She wasn’t sensitive to having it rubbed and messed with, which in and of itself is unusual because when I groom her barrel she usually tries to kick me.
Welt Day 3. So. Weird.
Day 3. By Day 3 it has gone from a squishy long swelling to a long and hard welt. She still doesn’t care if it gets touched and pushed on. The Banamine has done nothing to change it, or at least nothing to make it go away. There is still significant swelling below the weird welt. What on earth did she do to herself?!
By Day 6 most of the swelling is gone and the long hard line and bald spot remain.
Day 6. The swelling has moved down more, but the long hard welt remains. I’ve never seen anything like it. I talked to the vet and sent photos and they suspect a foreign body. I haven’t ridden her in over 2 weeks. I’m beginning to suspect she has ulterior motives to get out of work (she also hurt her right hock over the weekend, but icing has made that injury look OK). She goes to the vet today to get an ultrasound to figure this out. Any guesses?
Any horse person will tell you that most horse people are game to try many different kinds of therapeutic treatments for their horses. I’ve posted here before about chiropractic treatment. I’ve also explored acupuncture. Most recently I had Coco treated with PEMF, which is short for Pulsed Electromagnetic Field therapy. I’m not going to go into great detail about what it is and how it works, but generally it uses energy waves (pulsed) to treat damaged cells. The barn I show with uses it extensively and has had great luck using PEMF therapy. I live four hours away from my show barn, so to get my horses regular treatment I needed to find someone closer to me.
I finally found someone who works out of the Canton area and comes to my region somewhat regularly. Heather is fantastic to work with! She is extremely knowledgeable and is patient and calm with the horses.
I’ve posted on here myriad times about Coco’s various symptoms and ailments, none of which are debilitating, but I’ve always felt like she has something internal that just isn’t quite right. Horses are hard because they can’t tell us where something hurts or how much with words, only with body language. Coco is much better under saddle the past couple months, but she still seems agitated when I brush her barrel on her left side and still sometimes shows signs of discomfort when I first start riding.
Heather did a full examination of her prior to treatment and we agreed that a full-body therapy would be best. She was somewhat reactive to testing for signs of ulcers and for her female anatomy. She’s been treated for ulcers twice, and to be honest I never thought her behaviour changed after treatment, which led me to believe she didn’t have ulcers, or at least not bad enough that that was what was causing her reactivity.
Starting with her noggin, the flexible tubes emit a pulse. The pulse can be set to be really aggressive or very slight. We, of course, started very slightly on her poll and around her head. You can tell that she relaxed into it pretty well.
A horse’s poll (the area behind their ears) is more or less connected to their whole body, so anything out of whack here affects myriad other parts of their body. Her poll was somewhat reactive to the pulse, but not bad. So her body was telling us that she was a bit out of sorts here, but not to an extent that was worrisome.
This is another part of the horse’s anatomy that connects to many other parts. It is near the entrance to the thoracic cavity.
Coco mostly nonplussed at the therapy to the front half of her body. Her body showed a little reactivity at the poll and near the entrance to the thoracic cavity (which is also where ulcer pain would be manifested). She was mostly relaxed and Heather was able to turn up the pulsing a bit for these parts.
The back part of her anatomy was a bit of a different story. In this video you can hear the clicking sound the pulsing makes and see her body’s reaction to the pulse. This was where her body had the strongest reaction to the PEMF. There are any number of reasons her body was reactionary at this location. Perhaps due to trauma from her fetotomy. Her internal conformation may be causing some discomfort. She may have some intestinal parasites that don’t show up on fecal exams and are causing her discomfort. Heather did some additional examination that led us to believe the parasite issue might have some veracity as well as trauma from the fetotomy.
The part that seems to be the most distressed.
Based on her therapy and the examination done by Heather I have opted to treat Coco with a Panacur PowerPac followed by a short worming regimen to hopefully get rid of any internal parasites that might be making her uncomfortable. After that we will try to get some more regular PEMF therapy and see what we have. All in all Coco has been doing really well lately. Our rides are good. She seems happy and mostly comfortable. Definitely better than she seemed to be last fall!
Have you done PEMF for you or your horse? Any other therapeutic/non-traditional treatments? I’m curious to hear about your experiences!
Good Friday morning y’all! I cannot believe we are into the double digits dates of August! Soon school will be starting around here and traffic will be bad and the weather will start cooling off and all that comes with the change of seasons.
I’m trying to let myself enjoy the cooler temps we are having right now, but I’m having a hard time not being bitter about the lack of rain. We have been surrounded by rain clouds for a couple days and seen a lot of lightening and even some rainbows. But no rain.
When it gets warm, Tuffy gets in the water trough to cool off. This always cracks me up and it makes him SO happy!
Quila is a saint about letting the puppies climb on her. Some of the tan ones look a lot like her, so she’s extra cute with her doppelgangers!
This is Jackie, she is our newest foster. She had been in the Joshua shelter since about April. They had gotten to the point that where going to have to euthanize dogs to make room for all the new ones coming in the door, so we offered to foster her. She is a DELIGHTFUL little dog! Only about 27lb with lots of love and energy. We are smitten.
PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY ……………………………….. pass out. That is the theme of Dickens. He adores playing with Jackie!
Simon is lame right now with an apparent stifle injury (WTF, Simon!) and since Sterling is gone Coco is getting ALL the love! And it appears to make her very sleepy.
And speaking of Sterling, things seem to be going OK with his kid. Do you see his happy eyes? I think he REALLY loves his kid! I’m the proudest horse Mom this side of the Mississippi!
I’ll be spending the weekend wishing, hoping, praying, begging, and doing whatever else I can try to encourage the rain to fall!