This blog has MOVED!

Please visit for the most updated content. All these posts and more can be found over at the new URL.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lessons in Glueing #3

After announcing in an off-hand comment that I got my motorcycle license on my blog, I got a stern lecture from a sister.
"What is acceptable to announce on the blog, without a personal phone call to her and parents"
  • Announcing I have acquired a motorcycle license is OK, and even a bit entertaining.
  • What is NOT appropriate to announce on the blog without prior notification: Marriage, loss of a limb, moving to Europe, etc.

I'm was not convinced. I counter-offered with "how about a mass e-mail?", "Only if it comes with pictures", she replied.

So any whoo...onto the actual glueing process. Lessons learned.

I glued yesterday because it was suppose to be clear most of the day on Tuesday, and rain on Wednesday (today). Can anyone guess what happened? It rained Tuesday evening, while I glued, and is a perfectly clear day today. Mmmmm.....I will refrain from making jokes about weather forecasting here.

It was about 50 degrees. I had exactly 20 seconds from the time I squeezed the glue into a mixing tip, to the point where I could no longer get the glue out of the mixing tip. As a result, I did NOT get as much glue in the boot as was probably appropriate.

If these boots come off, it's definitely a user error, not a product failure.

For those of you that need step by step instructions, this should help you visualize...

Step one: Dig through your throw away clothes pile and select a pair of jeans, a shirt, and a pair of shoes that are no longer appropriate for public display. Decide, on second thought, that the jeans are so inappropriate that bending over your horse's feet in them may just cause passerbys to run into trees/fences/buildings and tie a sweatshirt around your waist.

Step two: Assemble your toys. Admire your layout. It will never be this organized again.

Step three: Prepare a trash can. A big one. A HUGE one to collect gloves, papertowels, and mixing tips. Should also be big enough to hold your sanity when you decide to throw it away and actually glue on boots.

Next step: prepare horse by crawling around on all fours while cussing. If she just stands there, you are ready. Extra bonus points if she gives a big sigh.

Next step: Prep hoof and boot. This is the easy part. Smile.

Next step: Put glue in the boot. Try and wipe it off the sole and realize that it's already setting. Put it on hoof. Realize you don't have enough glue. Try to take boot off. Get half way and realize NO WAY. Pause and think. Try to squirt some in sidewall - realize you need a new mixing tip. Balance hoof on top of head while you reach for the gun which is on the other side of the horse. Overextend your knee you just spent $800 in physical therapy on. Squirt glue on sides of hoof. Realize that you got some under the heel. Pull boot off enough you can frantically try and scrape that clump of glue off and then stick the boot back on. Flick that clump of glue up your horse's nose and then yell at her for moving. Wonder if you got glue underneath the edge of the hoof, where it will bruise. Realize that while you were in contemplation you glued your hands to the boot, having lost both gloves earlier in the process. Rip away the top layer of skin and leave it on the boot.

Next step: Repeat 3 more times

Next step: go back with a new mixing tip and try to fill in any heel gaps on all installed boots. Realize you should have just left well enough alone because now you are worried you have too much glue around the back.

Next step: go home and pour yourself a drink. What's done is done. Hope that it's "good enough" and be grateful you got to practice before Tevis.

So I *think* her boots are good. I'm *pretty* sure they will stay on, and I'm *fairly* confident I didn't get the glue in an area that will bruise. How's that for confidence?! I'm so glad I tried this before Tevis, and if it doesn't work, I know what to do better for next time (and I have my strap ones). If I REALLY screwed up and she ends up with bruises, then I still have Virgina city to go for, so I'm not stressing.

I wonder what my trainer is going to think of her pretty boots today in the lesson? :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Wild West is ON!

Today was the day for making a final decision on whether I would be going to Wild West and riding 155 miles over 3 days. A forecast of rain chilled me to the core (literally) and I had all my excuses ready:

"Her suspensories are still a bit sore"
"Her glands are a bit swollen from giving vaccines"
"My knee is giving me problems and I want to give it some time"
"I'm not comfortable with my saddle fit"

All of which (of course) are partly true or at least were true at some point this month......but mostly they were all baloney. Because my real reason for wanting to cancel?

I don't like riding in the rain and I'm a wimp. And the last time I did a ride in the rain here I was traumatized.

So it's been with great trepidation that I've watched the weather forecast.

The pattern has been 3-4 clear days with 3-4 raining days and then repeat. They were originally predicted rain over the weekend, 2 weeks out from the ride. That meant if the weather system sped up or slowed down, I would have clear days instead of raining.

Gradually the rain got pushed earlier and earlier in the week.

As of today, they are predicting showers on Thursday and Friday, with 0% chance of rain and clear skies (and in the 70's!) Saturday, Sunday and beyond. With the trend of rain moving earlier, I'm willing to do the ride. If nothing else, the rain will move EARLIER, not later into the weekend. As of right now I get 2 clear days out of 3 for the ride, and I might get that third, depending on the system.

That is an acceptable level of risk.

I'm going to Wild West!!!!!!

Which brings us to Glue on Boots Lesson 2:

When deciding to glue on boots look at the weather.

You may think that Wednesday is a perfect day for gluing on boots if you are leaving Thursday and riding on Friday. However, if the forecast is for RAIN on Wednesday, then perhaps TUESDAY is the perfect day. Especially armed with the knowledge the glue set up is Temperature dependent, you don't necessarily enjoy drying hooves with a blow dryer, AND you lack a covered space to glue.

Yes, I'm thinking Tuesday looks just fine.

And BTW - I finally figured out why I need one mixing tip per boot. This was probably obvious to everyone else, which is why no one bothered to answer my question when I posted it various places. Once the glue is hardens. If you glue one boot......and work with that boot until it's set on the much to you want to bet that the glue in the mixing tip is also set? LOL. So you must remove the tip and place a new one on for the next boot!!!!!!!! Lightbulb moment for Melinda. I'm posting it hear in case anyone else is common sense impaired like I am.

Stayed tuned for more lightbulb moments. I never manage to do ANYTHING new without some sort of embarassment to myself, and glue ons will be no exception. (we aren't even going to TALK about what happened at my motorcycle training course last weekend!) I'm envisioning myself glued to the concrete slab by the soles of my shoes.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Glue on boots lesson 1

Please excuse fumbling ipod fingers!

There is a difference between rubbing and denatured alcohol. But sometimes they are the same...and sometimes they are not. And very rarely are they properly labeled as one or the other. Very confusing!

Needing DENATURED alcohol for thgluons on boots project, I (of course) google the subject.

Here's the basics: rubbing alcohol is safe for tHe skin. Some denatured alcohols are also rubbing alcohols. Denatured alcohol is drinkable alcohol that has had gasoline, methyl, or some other substance added to make it not-consumable.

So here's your final exam:

Store 1 has one alcohol labeled "isopropyl rubbing alcohol".

Do you buy it?

If you answered "no because I need a comparison to be sure of what I'm buying," you are correct!

Store 2 has two choices:

isopropyl rubbing alcohol
ethyl rubbing alcohol

which do you buy?

If you answer is "look at the inactive ingredients because I'm still not sure", you are correct!

Isopropyl has water, ethyl has (among a long list of other nasty chemical sounding names) methly.

Ding ding ding ding - we have found a winner - ethyl rubbing alcohol is denatured alcohol!

Thank you for playing. Being thus educated, maybe YOU won't accidentally buy a GALLON of the wrong stuff...and then bore a very nice pharmasist at store 2 with a long explaination of how you THINK you are right (by choosing the ethyl alcohol) because of yada yada yada.....but you need confirmation...

Anyone need any rubbing alcohol? (the isopropyl non-denatured kind!)

Friday, May 21, 2010

If you think 20 meter circles are evil....

...then I dare you to go out and ride a box. A real box with real corners and real straight edges. Then make it smaller. Make the sides and corners all have the same amount of strides.

You only get credit if you do this exercise in an arena or court where you can actually judge your straight line, or around cones or other markers.

Raise your hand if you would like to go back to the not-so-evil 20 meter circle.

In other news, Farley had her first jump lesson (and my second) today. This little horse has never jumped ANYTHING before today and was absolutely stellar. She was very strong and seemed to have fun. At the end we jumped this solid cross country jump (about 2 feet high) and when I took her around the second time for our final jump, she was definately like "WHOO HOO!" Ha! I'm thinking her hocks feel good....

Both of us felt like doing something different today, which is why I asked my trainer to do a jump lesson with us today. I knew we would canter a lot in jumping and it would help us both to focus on something else while cantering instead of doing our regular dressage lesson and picking the gait apart. And it worked! She was very forward, picked up the correct lead most of the time, and had transitions that were pretty decent.

And she actually JUMPED. What a good little horsey.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Don't grip!

Posted from my ipod so please excuse fumbling fingers!

Revelation # whatever:

Dont grip! I finally stopped gripping at a trot (posting) and it was
magical... I felt like a rubber band going up and magically!

I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to TRULY stop gripping. I could
have SWORN I was not gripping before but obviously...

My trainer said that it's kind of like not having knees an she's
right, I feel like I have feet (with heels pointing down) but I
literally feel like I'm bypassing my knees and I can't feel them! I
felt like a horse hock-light and springy and rubbery, where as before
I felt more like a foreleg (this totally doesn't make sense but
hopefully you get my feeling). It was literally effortless. Obviosly
I'm trying WAY too hard at rides to post and I bet I would be a LOT
less sore and chafed if I can POSSIBLE put this into practice for more
than a 20 meter circle or two.

What I want to know is....when I stop gripping at the canter, how
magical will THAT be? :)

My motto is now, as I go around the arena (and down the trail), is
don't grip don't grip don't grip don't grip.

Yes, if you see me on the trail, you are welcome to, as a way of
greeting, yell at me "DONT GRIP!"

Check out my blog - Boots and Saddles!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New Blog Element - Pages

I have taken some information off my side bar and transfered them to seperate pages. It's still a work in progress, but all the content that *was* there, is *still* here somewhere!

Under "Conditioning Data" I have posted some pdf of Farley's conditioning activity. I update these graphs on a monthly basis for my own use and try to look for patterns. You are also welcomed to take a look. Included is some data from my 2009 ride at Tevis. You are welcome to comment on the information.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Book Review - Amazing Grays

Amazing Grays, Amazing Grace

Pursuing relationship with God, horses, and one another

By Lynn Baber



There are so many books in the world and so little time to give even good books the time they deserve. Some books, as you read them, are so rich, so full of imagery and truth, that you take your time, trying to absorb every nuance and make your own connections. Tess of D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, and specifically two of CS Lewis’s books (4 Loves, Mere Christianity) hold a special place in my heart as these kind of books.

I can add Lynn Baber’s book “Amazing Grays” to that particular book shelf.

The book’s unassuming in appearance, less than ¾” thick, belies the thickness of idea, thought, and philosophy that permeates every page. I received my review copy as I boarded the plane to Demopolis AL and I was excited – a light read about horses, relationships, and delightfully entertaining stories that tied everything in a neat little bow for the plane ride. Instead I found myself only able to read one chapter at a time, and sometimes barely able to do even that! Half way through the chapter I would find my head so stuffed with new perspectives and ideas that I would have to skim the last half of the chapter to insure none of the things I wanted to further contemplate on got pushed out of the way.

My relationship to horses has always been emotional and indefinable. Baber has come the closest to explaining that relationship in all its intricacies. She clearly defines the relationship between horse and handler and the responsibilities of each in a way that I have come to intuitively understand, but have also had trouble explaining.

To fellow Christians, I think the religious foundations of the book will suit any denomination. Like CS Lewis in Mere Christianity, I feel Baber has steered clear of details that divide and instead focuses on the theology we can all agree on. I’ve often thought that God gave me the love of horses in order to help me understand relationships of friends, family, and God and Baber appears to agree. Baber alternates between horse philosophy and religion to illustrate whatever principle is the focus of the chapter – sometimes she uses religion to explain a certain facet of the horse relationship, sometimes vice versa.

For the non-Christian, I would encourage them to give the book a try, especially if you are having a problem your horse relationship. You might gain an insight into what is putting the brakes on the deep relationship with your horse that you crave. Even if you chose to ignore the religious content, Baber’s horse philosophy may give you a new perspective.

The book concludes with a beautiful story of a very special horse (not one of the greys) that Baber feels she “failed” and squandered a beautiful gift from God. It is moving and very touching as I think most horse people have regrets or feel guilty about a particular horse.

In conclusion I would like to share some of the ideas I’ve been recently contemplating based on my reading of “Amazing Grays, Amazing Grace”

  • A horse that “loses” it (even by degrees) is experiencing a lack of leadership. For example, if you ask a horse to do something during an endurance ride that it would normally do at home, but refuses at a ride (let’s using standing still when asked as an example…) there’s a lack of leadership. The horse is no longer putting its complete trust in you and is looking inwardly for that leadership.
  • The point of trailering out and riding in new places is not to desensitize the horse – it is a test of your relationship and leadership. I think showing (like a dressage test) is a good way of testing relationship as well – because it demands that you do a certain movement at a certain time, in a certain spot.
  • The better trainer will know lots of different ways to get the same result
  • There is no substitute for time in building a relationship
  • If the horse refuses something politely, insist politely
  • Being the judge in the middle of the ring is a whole ‘nother perspective than being a competitor on the rail
  • The habit of obedience versus the habit of task
  • Most horses accept the offer of Leadership and Relationship. A few must be dominated before accepting Leadership.
  • “You get what you breed. If you breed an idiot, you will likely get an idiot. It is a truism that the one characteristic you do not want reproduced in a foal s the one you are most certainly going to get. Yes, there are exceptions, but why accept such long odds when there are so many great horses out there already?”

A weekend of trails, boots, and unofficial plans

On Saturday and Sunday I tested out my boot modifications.

I have it (mostly) figured out

On Saturday I started out with a 1 and 2 on the front, and a 1 and 0 (later switched out for another 1) on the hind. It looked as mismatched as it sounds - each boot was a different color. I found with dismay that not one piece of my tack actually matched.

What a dismal excuse for an endurance rider. A blue halter, yellow boot, red boot, bronze boot, black boot, brown saddle pad, pink water bottle, and camo water bottle holder.

So how did it go?

I won't bore you with the details of the ride - the crazy, lunging, bucking, scramble up a soft embankment (I had wisely dismounted), the grass that was taller than my shoulders when mounted that obscured a familiar trail, and my success of riding with a hackamore all weekend. Instead I'll give you the bottom line (aren't you grateful?):

After refitting the boots properly (and remembering to tighten those D*MN set screws) they DO continue to work very well. I'm not confident enough to use them at Wild West or Tevis as my primary boots without time to fine tune the fit, but will do very well as a solid Plan B.

Of course, after glorious trail rides all weekend, my aunt (and "horse-sister") and I couldn't help talking about Tevis.

I know I know I know!

Official Tevis season doesn't start until AFTER Wild West.

But, but, but.....can you really blame us? We watched the video documentary my brother produced on my ride last year and there it was....our favorite conversation topic just hanging there.

I've decided that unofficially talking about crew plans is perfectly fine prior to the start of official Tevis season (June 1st) as long as nothing goes in writing, I don't actually start e-mailing instructions to my crew, no ride strategies are discussed, AND I don't start writing long winded blog posts. that spirit, no official details yet. But unofficially I'm excited to have even more family members joining my crew, I'll be better organized than last year (which is hardly possible), AND I'm hoping to convince my brother to once again document the journey even if he doesn't get paid this year (does my everlasting love count?).

And with that, I'm DONE discussing Tevis.

I promise.

Until June 1st at least, in which I will bore you with 6 weeks of preparation, worst case scenarios, plans, sub plans, contingency plans, and when-all-else-fails-plans.

In other news....I've started my vet school application. Online application opens June 3rd. although I could technically wait until as late as September to apply, with Tevis and Virginia City 100 planned, it will be the prudent thing to get my application done in June. Hence having a rough draft personal statement done NOW, and my employment information (must be a complete history since high school) gathered PRIOR to the open date for application. Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

To glue or not to glue?

To glue or not to glue?

To use the strapons or glue on renegades?

I’m terribly conflicted on what to do for Wild West, which will impact my booting decision for Tevis.

After talking to Renegade, I think all of my boot failures, including the innumerable failures at American River, had a root cause in either using the wrong size boot OR not making ALL the modifications to the boots necessary for a perfect fit.

Here’s some of the tips I’ve learned from renegade regarding their strap on boots.

Before sharing, I want to stress that anyone trying to troubleshoot renegade boot retention problems should use this as a guide only. Renegade themselves should be your go-to source for answers – they are immensely helpful and know their product and will be able to definitively give you answers of why your boots aren’t staying on. And I can (almost) guarantee their solution is NOT going to be duct tape or vet wrap.

Tip 1 – If the shoe fits….doesn’t mean you should wear it. In this case just because you CAN pop the boot on the foot doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Clues that you may need a size bigger: Boot “pops” on the foot….and then you cuss like a sailor to get it off. Look at the sidewalls – is the hoof way bowing the wall out? Not good. Gina explained to me that just like a basketball can be forced into a ring that’s too small and it appears to be secure, give it the right force and it pops out – if you put the same ball into a ring where there’s space around it, it jiggles around in there happily. My RF boot came off at American river because I was shoving a size 2 foot in a size 1 boot. I’ve never had problems retaining a boot on this foot before….so this is definitely a good hypothesis. Especially considering that at American river when the boot wasn’t busy popping off, the sidewall was laying itself under the foot….Looking at the rest of the feet, the LF is moving towards a size 2 and the hinds are moving towards, or actually may be a size 1 depending on how I trim.

Tip 2 – if the boot needs to be cut back and the cables shortened, then the sidewalls should be shortened as well so they don’t interfere with the captivor. I had no idea. I cut back the sole of my LF boot on her first set of boots. I still ended up losing this boot so I tightened the cables, probably more than I should have. This was the boot that the cable snapped on at 20 MT. Hindsight being 20/20, what was happening was the captivator wasn’t in the optimal position due to the sidewalls, which was causing boot retention problems and when I finally DID get it to stay on by tightening the cables too much, they eventually snapped under the stress……then when I put new boots on for American River I didn’t cut back the boot at all (completely forgot I had cut back her first pair….). The combination of her hind feet and the rocks grabbed the excess and kept pulling that boot off. Solution – cut back the side walls of any boot I cut back the sole.

Tip 3 – The length of the boot needs to fit (cut back if necessary), even on hind feet. I learned that rocks (just like a heel on a too big sized sandel…) will grab the excess behind the feet (front OR back) and pull the boots off. If more than ¼” extends past the heels CUT IT OFF (and shorten the side walls too). This was probably responsible for ALL of my hind boot failures I’ve had since the very beginning (only happened once before American river, but….).

Tip 4 – Velcro straps can be UNFASTENED at vet checks, cleaned, and then used again. I need to find out more about this. If I have to undo a velco strap for any reason during a ride, then I replace it since I know that the “sticking” power of the Velcro is reduced in the presence of dirt, sand etc. It would be nice to be able to clean the Velcro.

The biggest lesson learned is that if my renegades are coming off, especially when they DID work before, there’s a reason and it’s probably going to be fixable. I’m so grateful that the boots are SO customizable and it’s so easy to do so. It’s also especially gratifying that ALL of my boots that “broke” due to my learning curve (snapped cables and busted cable canals) can be affordably fixed! How great is that? Through ALL of this I’ve only lost/damaged beyond repair 2 boots – and that’s after hundreds of miles in 8 months!

Here’s my problem – I’m confident that with these modifications the strap ons are going to continue to work very well for me. BUT, I don’t have time for them to “prove” themselves before I have to ride the 2 most significant rides I do in a season – the 3 day Wild West and Tevis.
  • I CANNOT do 3 days of what I went through at American River. Wild West is the highlight of my season.
  • One boot failure is too much for me at Tevis. I take that back. One boot failure that causes a strap on to hang around her pastern and requires me to dismount is too much. I’m perfectly willing to ride her barefoot until I can replace a boot if a boot comes off (she proved that much to me at Wild West). I’m much more likely to lose a boot “cleanly” if using glue ons.

So….what am I going to do?

  • I have purchased glue ons from renegade and the adhere glue/accessories so now I have a backup plan no matter what I decide. I’m already feeling less stressed.
  • For Wild West I can start off with Strapons, and if I have a disaster switch to glue ons (if I put glue ons on at ~5pm, would they be ready for a 6am start?). Or should I start with glueons and only use the strapons if the glueons fail? I’m on the fence about which way to go.

For Tevis I’m leaning towards glueons. Here’s why. Yes, it’s possible to get through Tevis with strapons, especially considering I got through 20MT, which was possibly even worse booting conditions than Tevis. However, Gina explained to me what was involved in getting their rider through Tevis with no booting issues using the strap ons last year:

  • Kirt/Gina crewed for her. Her horse’s feet were groomed by Kirt and the boots were perfectly fitted for the horse by Renegade personally. At every vet check, (that crews were allowed at), the boots were checked by Kirt/Gina, the straps cleaned, adjustments made, and the boots reinstalled.

Here’s my reality – I will be the only person on my crew with booting experience. If I want ANY booting stuff taken care of at the ride I’m going to have to do it. I had enough trouble taking care of myself last year at Tevis, I just don’t think I’ll be able to do what Renegade did for their rider AND also ride the ride. Not to mention I very much doubt my ability to groom the foot and fit the boot perfectly comes even close to matching Kirt’s and Gina’s!

Having to deal with booting issues at Tevis would probably be too much. I think my best bet is to use glue ons, and have perfectly fitted strap ons (or at least as close as I can get them…) as backups. Even if I lose a glue on, I WON’T have to stop on the trail in an unsafe part to take the boot off because it WON’T be around her pastern. If worse comes to worse, Farley has great feet and would probably be OK barefoot for quite a few miles (she basically did most of American River barefoot….).

So considering everything – any advice of what do to for Wild West? I’m not making any final decisions about Tevis (booting or otherwise) until after Wild West, so let’s get that figured out first!

I know I can always put shoes back on, but I was really unhappy last year how “tall” her foot was with pads and where the breakover was and I would like the protection of the pads for this ride. I also did NOT like her feet looked coming out of pads AND her legs tend to fill more with shoes on….so putting shoes on is last resort – especially because if I lose boots (glue on or strapons) her feet are transitioned enough she’ll be sound on a rocky trail.

Strapons are my perferred way to go - Glueing on boots for a week or more can have an undesirable effect on the hoof, similar to shoeing. It would be worth it for a multi day (like Wild West) or Tevis, but I wouldn't glueon regularly.

And while everyone is in advice giving mode….anyone know if the footing at Virginia City 100 is easier on boots? If I do go with glueons for Tevis, would Virginia City be a good place to do another 100 in strap ons? Any cliffs to fall off of while I deal with boot issues?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Power Tools!

I don't own any power tools. Which is a shame. I own.....screw drivers, a hammer, allen wrenches. I ask for power tools every christmas and....don't recieve them. Matt (boyfriend) pretends he doesn't hear these requests as he looks positively pained at the idea I might actually own and use a power drill.

So I did what every good women does. Buy her own.

I decided I wanted a dremel tool. Versatile, small, and useful.

I called Matt so he could (virtually) join my on the momentous day.

Me: Where would the dremels be?

Matt: Try the tool corral

Me: That's where I AM!

Matt: Look by the bits

Me: Osh doesn't SELL BITS.....oh never mind (can anyone guess what bits I was thinking about.......?) Look at all the attachments I could....

Matt: (silence)

Me: What attachments should I get (keep in mind I had yet to actually look at the tool). Should I get the cordless or the cheapie?

Matt: I think this is a bad idea. What are you going to use it for anyways?

Me: To trim Horsey Feet!

Matt: (silence)

Me: Oh cool! It comes with drill bits. I LOVE drills. I can drill holes!!!!!

Matt: (silence)

I am now a proud owner of a dremel tool.

Let's talk about why I need a power tool to help me trim Farley's feet.

Farley's feet have gone through some wonderful changes over the last 8 months:

  • They are now a full Renegade size bigger
  • They are now concave
  • The hoof walls are TWICE as thick as they were

That last development is why I need a tool. In the summer time, Farley's hooves, even before barefoot, get very very hard. Hard enough to make my farrier cuss every time he had to trim. I've been doing just dandy up until this point - the rain has made her feet easy to work with, I've been able to get an excellent roll on the edges of the wall and the white line has continued to get tighter and tighter.

Until......about 8 weeks ago. It started to dry out. Her hooves started to take on the apparence of summer - hard hard hard. I was still managing to get her heels down and the foot balanced, but my mustang roll was suffering. Magically, her hoof walls seemed to have gotten thicker and there was just NO WAY I could rolll to the white line or the water line as needed from the bottom. I could do the roll from the top just fine, but couldn't start it properly underneath.

It was starting to tell - Farley's feet have been going backwards in the last 6-8 weeks - the white lines is starting to stretch again at the quarters and she's losing concavity. The last straw was sending pictures into Renegade and realizing I felt like apologizing for the how her feet looked.

A girl's got to do what a girl's go to do.

Today was my first day trimming with the power tool. If you considering adding a power tool to your farrier tool collection, here's some of the things I discovered:

  • Using a power tool DOES NOT REPLACE YOUR RASP. You still need your rasp to roll from the top, trim the heels, balance the foot. I ONLY used the dremel tool (with the sanding drum attachment) to do the 45 degree roll from the bottom (and then finished it from the top with a rasp). If you can use the rasp to do the same job, use the rasp - your edge will be more consistent and it will be a cleaner edge. However, if you are in my situation where it's dry and the hoof is hard and thick, a power tool may be the only way you can realistically get that roll (weak girl here is tiny little hands).
  • Use the rasp to clean up the power tool work, just to make sure there isn't any irregularities. Using something like a dremel tool with a sanding drum tends to want to make little undulations (which is bad), especially if you are a new user.
  • Keep the tool moving and don't use pressure.
  • Cordless is good
  • Use the higher speed setting
  • If you are new to trimming - spend at least 6 months using a rasp only - NO power tools. You need this experience.

Overall I'm very happy. Using the dremel let me put a strong roll on the hoof wall, which I was unable to do with just the rasp. I finished the roll from the top with the rasp. The feet look GREAT, and it was fast. I don't think I'll need to use the dremel every time - probably just every other time, now that I have a good roll established.

I was very careful with the dremel and I could see where it would be VERY easy to really create some damage with the hoof. This is why I reccomend that you DON'T START with this - use a rasp for a while so that your mistakes take longer to make and aren't as damaging.

Bottom line: Won't replace my traditional farrier tools, but a wonderful addition in the summer time for maintaining Farley's little feeties.

Monday, May 10, 2010

My first triple rated dressage show

Blogging has lapsed, not for the lack of material, but for the lack of time and energy. I have several posts coming up that I hope will be very interesting, so please stay tuned!

Today’s entertainment is: Melinda’s first “recognized” dressage show.

On the fence about showing? Let me see if I can help you out.

Please rate the following in terms of enjoyment level:

1. Bathing and grooming until o’dark thirty, then sleeping 3.5 hours, and then rising to finish grooming and trailer to show. You know it’s early when Starbucks isn’t open….

2. Wearing white clothing around horses.

3. Wearing boots that make your feet go to sleep.

4. Eating liquid breakfasts

5. Grooming and grooming and then more grooming

6. Being judged on the last 8 months of training based on a 3 minute test.

Do I have you convinced to go out and renew you GMO, USDF, and USEF memberships RIGHT NOW?

All kidding aside, here’s what I learned at this show and why I’ll continue to show:

  • Grooming for a show can be a bonding experience. I don’t usually spend much time grooming Farley. As long as I knock the dust off the saddle area and spend a few moments untangling her mane, we are good. However, while preparing for this show, I discovered there’s another bond that forms after spending 3-4 hours grooming a horse and it’s a good thing.
  • Showing is a test of your ability to do something on demand. Yes, you can do it at home, or in a lesson. But, can you perform when you have one shot at the movement and must perform at the designated location? That’s a whole ‘nother ball game….Just as doing organized endurance rides has different stressors than a conditioning ride of the same length, so does showing test your equitation skills.
  • Because humility and acceptance of reality is a beautiful thing in an otherwise bossy and controlling person!
  • Because sometimes, you get that magical moment where you and the horse connect and actually DO something that’s spectacular in a very personal, quiet way.

The show went very well.

It did not start well….She jigged and got very tense. We managed (with coaching from my trainer) to get through most of it and before I knew it, it was time for my first class – intro A (remember – I scratched from training level after 2 weeks of not-so-good schooling last Wednesday). I knew this was my throw away class as I hadn’t ridden the intro A test since last November. I second guessed my caller and made one mistake because I thought she was wrong (she was right, I was wrong – lesson in humility #1). Farley was tense and not very round and through, but we got through it without any outright naughtiness so I was pleased. I knew it was good enough for a high 50. Back into the warm up pen and I had ~10-15 minutes to prepare for my next test.

For some reason I was over flexing to the left. I couldn’t feel it from the saddle, but from the ground (apparently) it was pretty obvious. I went into my second test (intro B) vowing not to put ANY pressure on my left rein when it was inside…..

I thought my intro B went very very well. Unlike in November, she was BETTER in the second test. My trainer was able to watch this test and was very pleased (which made me pleased).

I had a magical moment on my last change of rein on the long diagonal where me and Farley just clicked and we did the best change of diagonal I have probably ever done! Those moments are why I do dressage and how cool is that it happened during a show? I knew that movement was good for a 7, and I thought the test probably scored 62-65 (trainer agreed, and her husband…and my caller….). I was so happy…..

I scored a 59+% (can’t remember the exact score). We were all a little shocked. It was still good for 2nd place (yes there were more than 2 people!) – it’s the judge’s first year and my trainer said that she was being a bit conservative. Lesson in humility and character building #2!

So I didn’t get my coveted 60%, BUT Farley performed SO WELL in the second test I have trouble caring what the actual score was. I couldn’t have asked for more and so what if it wasn’t scored a 60? The judge was scoring consistently (only 2 tests in all intro classes were in the 60’s) so I’m feeling pretty good! Here's what went really well:

  • None of the naughtiness from the rides in November was in evidence,
  • Farley performed according to her ability (and to my ability to give cues!)
  • I remembered all of my coaching while in the ring (didn't space out), and tried hard to put it all into practice, even if it didn't look like it :) (position and prepare for corners, ride her RUMP in the center line, look early for the center line, swing wide at A when entering the court, keep a pleasant expression, carry the inside hand, turn with every stride on the circle, the diagonal is my money shot, let my elbows move at the free walk, etc.). Even though I was nervous in warm up and going to the test, I could think and concentrate during the test and I actually ENJOYED my tests! :)
  • She was FORWARD in the tests and I didn’t have to use my whip even once during a test.
  • We also got a judge’s comment that we made “a very attractive pair”.

Can I really ask for more at my first recognized?

The show gave out bottles of local wine (the area is well known for wine) for all classes places first through third, so I got 2 bottles of wine to try! (intro A was good for a third place even at a 55%– only 3 people in the class) Very happy – I really enjoy a glass of wine but I’m often too cheap to buy.

BTW – even though I was ADAMENT I was NOT going to overflex during the second test, I STILL got comments from the judge throughout intro B that she was overflexed to the left (lesson in humility #4) so hopefully in my next lesson on Wednesday I can get that FIGURED out. I have a feeling I’m collapsing to the inside, going to the left, which is contributing to the feeling that she isn’t flexed enough (which makes me overflex). I got a eye-opening picture at physical therapy on Friday of how uneven my body is (my left side has been compensating for injuries on the right side for 10 years), AND coupled with the white hairs on Farley’s left side, I have a feeling my position is questionable to the say the LEAST. I’m going to really focus on evenness in the next couple months – while riding, running, sitting etc.

As you can imagine, Sunday afternoon was spent napping in the recliner and sipping on glasses of wine....

Dressage pictures

Phooey! I left my show story at home!
You'll have to be content with post-show pictures for now.
Overall the show went very well. A photographer from my barn came, so I'll have riding pictures later. My show clothes fit and feel great so I'm curious to see how the whole "picture" looked (because I dressed at the show I never got to look in the mirror, so I have NO IDEA how I actually look!).

Here's Farley at the start of the show. *sigh* The whole "big head" look because I wanted her to face the camera...Notice the pretty tail!

Post-show picture with my bounty! In this picture Farley is attempting to eat my red ribbon. It was the funniest thing - she could NOT leave the ribbons alone. At first I thought she was going for the prize carrots, but nope, she wanted the ribbons! (BTW, these pictures are really really big - I didn't compress - so if you want to see the details of her conditioning, click on the pic to make larger. You can compare to her previous condition posts here)

Finally, a decent picture of both of us looking reasonably happy. Even though the day started off sunny, it quickly turned breezy and cool (and later rained) so both of us were happy to hop in the trailer and go home.
Farley's just losing the last of her winter coat so she has an odd patchwork thing going on!
Story and ride pics soon! As you can see from the my "bounty", the show went reasonably well.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Good news!

I got a call back from renegade today and it seems like we may have a very simple answer to my boot problems -

Why I lost the Right Front: - Farley's foot has outgrown her boots.
Even though you can stuff a foot into a boot doesn't mean it fits... :)

Why I lost the Left Front: There's also the possiblity that a cut back is needed for her LF. When she said that I remembered that I had cut back her yellow pair for the LF....but not the burgandy or black pair I used at American river.....

Why I lost the hind boots: As far as losing hind feet - those boots might need to be cut back too! Even though there's no foot to pull it off from behind, it can get caught in rocks and yanked off that way. This was the first truly rocky ride I did so it makes sense that this problem wouldn't manifest itself until now.

So in summary - my awful boot experiences at American River may be very fixable. I'm off to send pictures and info to the ever-helpful Gina to confirm our suspecions. She was so patient with me and gave me a lot of her time this afternoon. She also talked me through why she is not recomending glueons and why I should stick with strap ons. I can't speak highly enough of renegades customer service and how they really believe in, and confirm through their actions, the importance of hoof health, barefoot, and designing a product that works.

My lack of attention to detail and probably got me in trouble at American River.

Hopefully in the 3 weeks between now and Wild west I can get my boot collection in ship shape.

American River in Pictures

American ride in pictures - Melinda's attempt to have a normal life again. I hope you enjoy.

Farley learns that cereal really IS a part of a balanced diet.

Preparing my gear for the morning while Farley watches....or not.

Melinda mounts and tries to keep things down to a dull roar. WHY am I leaning FORWARD? At least I'm not in a chair seat. This just might be the first ride pic EVER where my leg is acutally back.

Coming into mile 17. What you can't see is I have exactly one boot on, with 2 attached to my breast collar.

At the water trough at mile 17. I'm NOT posting the one that Mom got of me from behind. Does she have to take one pic EVERY ride that shows my ample bum complete with panty lines?

A pic of my lucky boot. It's the black one - the only one that never came off during the ride. It's also one that I used at 20 MT. I fear it must be retired - the cable is starting to fray.

Farley 's opinion of the whole thing....

Starting out for Auburn from Rattle snake bar. A new bit and new boots. A new start?

Riding off from rattlesnake bar - unfortunatley my optimistic view didn't last long, because as soon as I got behind that big tree, I lost another boot. So soon!

At auburn for the lunch vet check. Look at those rippling muscles? (I"m talking about the 4 legged beast here...)

At the lunch check. Mom holding the lead. My only instruction was "don't let her step on it". Mom isn't a horse person, so as long as she didn't have to make Farley DO anything, she was fine. :) thanks mom!

Trotting out at Auburn.

Leaving lunch for cool. I wave.

coming into Cool. I'm leaning forward because I'm shouting/talking at this very cute kid in front of me. He wants to do Tevis this year and came up to do this ride so he could get miles and see part of the tevis trail.

Starting the trot out at Cool. She had the lowest pulse of the day here. Look at all those critical, judgemental eyes staring at me.... *shudder* :)

Finishing in Auburn. Melinda talks while Farley drinks


A barefoot trot out over gravel at te finish.

My life in 4 Acts

I have wonderful draft posts stacking up on my desktop. Posts about crew bags, and whether to boot or glue at wild west, and how American River has altered my outlook on endurance.

And yet, not one of them is ready to publish because every time I sit down to write, what I want to do is whine about my present state in life.

Which I have held off doing. After all, in the grand scheme of things I KNOW my present trials are chicken scratch. After all, some people (like endurance granny and Mr. Mom) have REAL problems.

I have a lot to be grateful for – my horse is sound, my rent is paid for, and last I checked I was still employed.

But darn it! I’m having a hard time here! And since I sincerely doubt I will write ANY THING of value until I get it out, I have decided this is MY blog and I will whine if I want to. So there.

Act I
Fortunately, my doctor DID take me seriously. Fortunately, I now have a nifty protocol that hopefully keeps me from ever getting poison oak again. Because…..unfortunately I have decided that it is highly unprobable that I will EVER be able to give myself an epi-pen injection.

I was fine with it until I read that it can be used through your clothing. Like jeans. As someone that is quite familiar with injections I know for the needle not to break, that needle is quite large. Uh…..people have suggested that I will be in too much pain and too close to dying to even care and I will just do it. Except – I usually have 24 hours between when I first know I have poison oak and when the real reaction occurs…..I’m suppose to give myself the injection when I first know I have it. Which means, I will feel fine. I’m suppose to stick myself with this thing while still in a rational state of mind.

I think I should give up and have the instructions tattooed on my body. That way when people find me unconscious and insensible, they can do it for me.

BTW – I still have poison oak. New patches every day. Swelling on the face still not totally gone. Not to mention in a bad mood because I’ve now spent $200 on preventatives, medication, doctor visits.

Mom said “if, while you were at your worst, someone offered to touch your body with a magic wand for $100 and make it dissapear, would you?”. My response – “no – I could spend that on an endurance ride”.

Act 2
I can’t run. Or walk. Or exercise. After behaving itself fabulously throughout physical therapy, my knee decided to act up and become inflamed. It hasn’t felt this bad since I actually injuried it. At PT today they said I should rest it. Ice it. No running, so I inquired about walking….Nope. I didn’t ask about riding. As you can imagine, I’m going crazy and self-medicating with icecream (have I mentioned I LOVE icecream?)

Act 3
After behaving atrociously at last Friday’s lesson (Farley, not me...), I did my homework with Farley and brought a reasonably behaved pony to today’s lesson. Unfortunately not well enough behaved or trained to show training level this weekend.

I won’t lie. I was devastated. I gave myself a stern talking to during the lesson “Melinda, you are a quarter of a century old. Practically an adult. Get a hold of yourself. You can bawl in the truck later.”

Which is exactly what I did. I gave myself exactly 5 minutes to wallow in self pity and cry my eyes out.

I worked so hard to get my canter showable. It was there. I had it. And then I went to Alabama (not my choice by the way) and lost a week. Which translated to setting us back about 2 weeks for some reason. Like my trainer said – if we had one more week…..

So I’m showing 2 intro classes. I’ve already spent the money on the show. I didn’t want to spend the $ at a recognized show to show intro, but it looks like I don’t have a choice. Disappointment is a hard pill to swallow, but I’m sure there’s a valuable lesson in here applicable to endurance somehow, but I don’t feel like looking for it right now.

Act 4
….is a bunch of little stuff that isn’t making any of the big stuff easier to swallow.

Farley’s back has white hairs. A lot of white hairs. She’s not sore so I can’t figure out if it was this saddle or the last that gave them to her. Was it this saddle combined with my atrocious riding since all the hairs on on the left side of her spine (near the middle ofher back?) So I have an e-mail out to a saddle fitter trying to get an appointment. This is probably $$.

My trailer running lights and tail lights don’t work. Need to schedule a shop visit. More $$

I have NO idea what my PT is going to cost me….I haven’t seen a bill yet. YIKES! They’ve totally fixed my Achilles and right knee so that’s priceless right? Especially at 25?

I’m sick of going to see doctors and I have 2 MORE appointments in the next week.

I’m trying to decide whether to use strap on boots or glue for wild west.

I lost all my checks. Somewhere in my apartments. They are so lost I’ve had to order new ones and use money orders to do things like pay for wild west.

I’ve been plagued by migraine-like headaches every night.

I haven’t had a REALLY good ride on Farley (where both of us just clicked) since the Friday before American River.

I have blisters on the bottoms of my feet and toes. Since last Thursday. These were born out of a decision to run on the hotel treadmill barefoot after I realized I forgot socks. I tried walking in my shoes without socks and gave myself blisters on the back of my heels. So took off my shoes....

I think that’s actually it! So now that I’ve gotten it all out, maybe we can return to regularly scheduled programming?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ride of the Week

Gundiva has honored me by featuring on of my ride stories on "Ride of the Week" over at the "Tails for the Trail" blog. Check it out!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Training vs. Conditioning

I have come to several conclusions this week, the greatest one being:

A great dressage horse may make a good endurance horse, but a great endurance horse doesn’t necessarily make the best dressage mount.

Other, lesser conclusions are:
1. God gives me the horses I need, rather than the horses I want
2. Those horses will develop within me humility and character.

I think one of the things that makes a strong endurance horse is also what makes a poor dressage horse – an independent mind that is capable of problem solving and making good decisions.

Yes, I know that we are talking about an animal whose brain in the size of a walnut. I try to avoid significantly anthormorphizing animals, but I’m convinced that horses have a reasoning power far beyond what their physical attribute suggests.

One of the things I value about Farley is her mind and ability to keep both of us safe on the trail, even when I’m not holding up my end of the partnership. Many many times she has “covered” for me on the trail – going up cardiac hill at American River because I couldn’t dismount, babysitting me in the dark at 20 MT 100, and getting me back to camp after I became hopelessly lost at wild west.

If she’s tired or sore, I WANT her to tell me so I encourage her let me know and to communicate and give me feedback on what I’m asking her to do.

Unfortunately, this independent spirit manifests itself in the dressage court and is less than desirable...

Sometimes Farley decides she doesn’t want to do circles or serpentines, or really much of anything. Cantering, especially, is the first thing to “go” when she decides she has a different agenda for the day.

Most of the time she plays along.

At Friday’s lesson she didn’t.

It was awful. She played along for about 10 minutes and then I couldn’t do much of anything with her. It ended with me saying to my trainer “I can’t do it” and then she got on and schooled her for me.

By the end of the lesson I was seriously doubting our ability to show even Training 1 next Saturday. All the progress made in the last 8 months seemed to be gone in one fell swoop. I was frustrated and disappointed. What was going on?

But then Saturday I schooled her and she was fine. Really good actually. And focused for much longer than usual. Thirty to forty minutes is usually Farley’s max for quality arena schooling and I stayed on 60-70 minutes. Apparently Saturday she decided she wanted to play.

Which got me thinking (not for the first time) – how well trained do we really want our e-horses? I don’t particularly want my e-horse to do canter departures from a halt, I don’t want them to stop if I’m not looking at the right spot or not using my seat in the right manner. I want her to stop on the trail if something is not right, but I don’t see it.

Is it too much for me to expect for her to know that she MUST move off my leg in the dressage court, but that she has a choice on the trail if something is wrong? That when I ask for a canter in the court it is not a suggestion, nor are we going to discuss it?

It’s that strange mix/balance of obedience and free will that an e-horse must have that is difficult to judge and train for. What is the horses’s motive for doing something? Did they think it was appropriate to grab a bite because it’s an allowable situation, or are they ignoring cues and grabbing a bite in defiance of the rider? One I’m OK with and is even desirable, but the other is a no-no.

I want to be fair to my horse and not confuse her, which makes it difficult to draw absolute boundaries.
*It’s not OK to walk past my shoulder with yours – except when it is….like when you have to pass me so I can tail up a hill.
*It’s OK to eat in any bit except your dressage bit.
*It’s OK to want to go slower on the trail, but not OK in the dressage court.
*It’s OK to ignore my seat on the trail, but not in the court
*I will never ever give you the cue to canter from a standstill at a ride. I promise. But I might ask in the court.

Because of all this, I probably have a better e-horse than dressage horse.

Sometimes I wonder if my lack of insisting on complete obedience on the trail has its consequences in some of her bad behavior at rides – at approximately 1 out of 7 starts she behaves like a fire eating dragon at the start. She won’t always stand for boot issues if other horses are passing us on the trail. Sometimes, she pulls on me to go back to camp faster than I would like. If the pulse down for a gate into hold is within sight of camp but not IN camp, I have a very hard time getting her to stand and be quiet. Am I sabatoging myself by not asking for complete obidennce all the time?

But, 90% of the time she is so very good and she does her job so well and takes care of herself so well, I think that I have struck an appropriate balance of a horse that listens to me but also takes care of herself. And possibly, if I insisted on micro managing her more we wouldn’t be as successful. I’m giving her room to train ME and on more than one occasion she has gotten me through a ride, not the other way around. Would I lose that if she was “better” trained?

There are a couple of cardinal rules that are to never EVER be broken and she understands those (like never EVER invading my space or bumping into me) - maybe I need more of these? But which ones?

Anyone else running into contradictory training issues? Any insights? Am I asking too much of my horse to understand that trail time is her time, and arena time is my time?

I’m not giving up dressage – it’s too valuable for both of us. It’s like going to couples therapy - we are learning to communicate and understand each other, and specific skills such as conflict resolution. But it is so different from endurance it makes me question how it all fits together – which is a good thing.

Guest post

I have a guest blog up on my sister's blog here.

Less funny and more grouchy unfortunately.....*sigh*

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Horse Religion

I have a book that I’ve been asked to review, and I’m really enjoying it. I’ll share it “officially” in a week or so, but in the meantime I wanted to share one of the ideas she mentions – the more ways a horse trainer knows how to teach a concept, the better trainer they *probably* are.

If one trainer knows 4 different ways to teach a horse to sidepass and another 6 ways, the latter is *probably* a better trainer.

If one trainer knows 2 ways to teach canter departures on the correct lead and the other knows 4….well, you get the idea.

One of the many things I appreciate about my trainer is her flexibility in teaching concepts in different ways depending on rider and horse experience/age/history.

Many times during our lessons she will make a comment that we are learning a particular concept a certain way because Farley has “history” behind her and is NOT a green, young horse. She’s an experienced, older horse who has a lot of miles.

I’d like to give you 2 examples I have in mind, but first – “why do I even bring this up at all?”

I frequent forums such as the Horse Grooming and Supplies forum with some regularity. I mostly refrain from giving advice, but sometimes, if I see someone struggling with a concept that I too struggled with, and am making progress with, then I like to offer techniques that worked for me, especially if it differs from the “standard” advice that everyone else is giving and that the person has tried (and without success).

A perfect example is picking up the correct canter lead.

When I was first cantering in my dressage lessons it was VERY difficult for Farley to pick up the left lead. Trying 20-25 times was not unusual. In my lessons, my trainer asked me try a certain technique that she stated outright that she would NOT use in a green horse, but is successful with older horses that are being retrained. When asking for the lead, you slightly COUNTER bend/flex the horse to the outside while pushing with the inside leg into a corner. This frees up the inside shoulder which can allow them to pick up the lead more easily. And after all, the lead starts in the BACK not the front, so your inside leg is what’s really asking for the lead and it doesn’t *really* matter what the front is doing.

Of course, after the horse has “learned” how to pick up the lead, you ask for the lead straighter and straighter and eventually you have a pretty nice canter departure. You don’t want to overuse the counter flexion tool, but it’s a tool nevertheless.

When I gave this particular piece of advice to a girl on HGSF who seemed to have a similar history to Farley and me, you should have seen the outcry! How DARE I counter bend the horse to teach a lead. It’s a HORRIBLE idea and will RUIN the horse. Instead, pull that head and neck around to the inside and keep on kicking! I’m here to tell you that would have never worked in my situation. Farley is not a quarter horse confirmation (or dressage confirmation for that matter!) and doesn’t have a strong hindquarter (working on that!). Weighting that inside shoulder would have made it WORSE. Like my trainer said – probably not a technique you would use on a young green horse and you certainly don’t want to over use it, but it’s nice to have a couple tricks up your sleeve to teach a concept don’t you think?

The second example is related to a concept I just *recently* have begin to use in my dressage training.

Low and Long

Does it shock you that I’ve been doing dressage for almost 8 months and have just started doing a substantial amount of long and low work?

I’ve been working Farley in a frame that resembles a 1st level frame more than a training level frame. We incorporated lots of stretching at the walk and trot, but didn’t ask for lots of long and low work. The reason for this (as explained by my trainer) is because with a horse as with as much “history” as Farley, (especially when none of that history is proper training) it’s often necessary to teach obedience and “brokenness” first. Farley had NO idea what what “yield” to the bit meant (or any other part of her body). She resisted ANY contact with her mouth at all and traveled so strung out and had traveled so many miles this way she needed a lot of support in order to start learning to carry herself “properly”.

Now Farley is comfortable with contact, has built up more proper muscle (trainer has been insuring she’s traveling through on the hind, not bracing etc – it’s not just a “frame”), is more likely to ask what I want when I apply pressure instead of throwing a hissy fit, we are ready to take a step “back” in our training. Our transition to working in a long/low frame went very well last week. Farley was calm, knew what I wanted and we “played” with connection and contact. It was fun and since we had 8 months of learning obdedience, softness, and aids it went well.

I understand “why” green horses are started long and low and the value of lots of long and low work when starting dressage. HOWEVER, I’m grateful that my trainer can individually evaluate horses and is also willing to try something “new” with a non traditional rider/horse pair. Because, let’s face it – most beginning dressage horses don’t have thousands of trail miles traveling in an inverted frame!

So even though some may frown and cringe at the thought of 8 months without a base of long and low, I think my trainer made the right choice for Farley and I – after all, that’s why I’m her student! I trust her advice, my horse (and me!) are continually improving, and the feedback from other trainers and clinicians have been very positive about where we are in our level of training and how Farley looks and is responding.

BTW – My trainer has told me to do all my schooling and warmup in long and low from now on and only bring her “up” now for lessons and shows. I LOVE long and low so I’m excited! Can’t wait to see that top line in a couple of months!

It's Human!

I’m human again!

Well, almost.

The chipmunk is gone, as are the various discharges leaking out of my face. Now I’m dealing with the side effects of being given massive doses of cortisteriods. A much preferable dilemma to be sure, but notable nevertheless.

For example – I’m a cold person. I’m ALWAYS cold and I deal with the heat very well. Now, I’m beet red ALL THE TIME and have hot flashes.


It’s rather novel.

And then there’s the increase in heart rate which I suspect is making it hard to sleep.

And the fact that I’ve managed to sunburn my face and neck by simply walking from the office, across the parking lot, to the rental car.

On the other hand the poison oak on my face now looks like all the internet pictures. The more I research, the more I realize that going from perfectly normal to a swollen, highly liquid state in less than 48 hours is NOT A NORMAL REACTION. It’s just normal for me. No wonder the doctors look at me in disbelievement when I tell them it was poison oak. My fear now is that I will tell my regular doctor what happened and they will think I’m exaggerating and not give me the preventative/rapid reaction drugs that I think I need to have on hand the next time I’m exposed. I really should have taken pictures like my mom suggested. I’m not sure they are going to accept my jello and chipmunk picture as evidence….

Interestingly, 48 hours after a massive dose of Celestone, it’s not causing the poison oak to go away like promised, it’s just controlling it to the point it looks like a “normal” reaction. I’m fine with that.

Plan for the future:

• Ivy block for preventative
• Technu for after-exposure
• Epipen or steroids in hand if swelling starts and I can’t get to the doctor right away (I may easily be in a situation where it would take me 24-48 hours to see a doctor).

Ah – the adventures of being an e-rider! Worth every minute of discomfort….I swear. You believe me don’t you?! Five days of pain and misery in exchange for 12-24 hours of joyous trail riding?????

(Post written on Friday).

Saturday update:
After 14 hours of sleep in my real bed, now I truly am human again….Maybe. I’ll let you know. I reviewed the pictures my mom took at American river and me and Farley both look so happy and it’s so beautiful. Farley looks like she’s having FUN. Almost enough to make me want to go back next year…..

Just kidding. I think