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Friday, February 22, 2013

Why yes, I DID ride this morning.

During my ride this morning Farley was a little perturbed.

"THAT is the dog you have chosen to go with us?"

Me: yes.

Farley: But it doesn't even ACT like a dog. Are you sure it isn't a rabbit?

Me: it's white, has a fluffy tail and bounces. It could be a rabbit. Pretend you are Alice.

Farley: (spooking) GEEZ!!!!!!!!! I didn't know dogs could MOVE and JUMP like that.

Me: It's called being athletic.

Farley: No, being athletic means completing Tevis and numerous other 100s. If I acted like that you would call me stupid and sell me.

Me: Probably.


I'm feeding for the next couple of days for my barn owner so made sure to get there early enough to go for a spin around the orchard.

I took Tess with me. This deserves a post all to its self, but because I have accepted the fact that if I wait to write important posts, they don't get written, this landmark gets squished into this post (although the trend is I *think* I'll be able to write about more than one thing, and I end up having to end early so I can do something like actually pass my classes!).

One of my reasons I chose a Brittany is to have a dog athletic enough to go on conditioning rides with me. Taking a dog along is good for my mind and my horse's mind. A year ago Tess went on her first trail ride. She was attached to a long leash and it went well, although she got stepped on and was generally completely clueless about horses, even after being boweled over by Farley. It was a promising outing and I've continued to work on Tess on being off leash, and the concept that the whole world isn't full of fuzzy loving things that adore white bouncy puppies.

Since then she's gone on daily off leash walks with me while I introduced the moving commands we would do from horseback, to endurance rides and horsey walks where she got time to really think the huge creature that walked beside me, and a better understanding of the world that not everything is puppy-safe.

Today, 2 weeks shy of her two year birthday the time was right. It was early enough that there shouldn't be a lot of people out and about in the fields, Farley had been out 2 days ago so shouldn't be entirely wild, and during our daily lunch walks we were no longer having to work on training.

I was happy to see she was keeping her distance from Farley, and instead of seeing her as a big dog, was giving her a healthy dose of space and respect. I mounted up.

Tess was really confused. Where was Melinda? The voice was coming from somewhere above the snorty thing but no where did she see the creature that she associated with ME. Apparently wearing a coat and helmet and sitting on a creature presents a slightly different picture. She conceded to come with me, but kept looking behind her at the ranch as if wondering whether she was making the right decision to go with this weird beast. She actually stopped a couple of times and when I called to her started to run back to the ranch, being VERY confused about where I actually was.

I knew she's a smart dog and it wouldn't take her long to figure out that the four legged, 2 headed creature was her person, so I was patient, talked to her and sure enough, 10 minutes later she was out and about like a normal walk.

Farley's pace and Tess's pace is PERFECT for eachother.

Tess lasted approximately 25 minutes before she lost her puppy mind all over the trail. At 2 years old she acts reasonable and adult like a majority of the time. The joy of racing through the river bottoms without interference from me (because I could keep up with her and see her!) was too much to handle and I had zoomy puppy with empty dumb eyes that required a 3 minute sit stay so that the pieces of her brain could sift back through her ears and into her skull near the end of the ride.

Once the glazed over look faded, I released her and we finished our ride.

Success!!!!!!! Tess is now perfect. She has fulfilled every wish I had when I was picking out a dog. I wanted a companion that could go on the trail with me off leash, who came when called, who was independent in a healthy way (no separation anxiety), and who was friendly towards strangers (both the people and dog kind). I didn't know that it was going to take 2 years --> but after understanding growth, maturity, and dog development better, it makes sense and I realize how unrealistic my expectation was to have an "adult" dog at 1 year, no matter what the size of dog.

Moving on to other thoughts

I swear I'm getting dumber. The smarter I get in school the dumber I am in real life. The whole absent minded professor thing is TOTALLY true. The more I know about medicine and animals and differentials that less easy it is for me to remember where I put my keys, or what day of the week it is, or what years I rode Tevis. I go around 90% of the time not knowing the date or calendar day.

I'm actually contemplating giving both me and Farley a "vet school" do and going super short on both of us. Her mane is a mess and mine isn't much better.

I am officially registered for the convention and have reserved my hotel room. Tess will most likely be going with me, so if you see a weird looking white Brittany, you have probably found me! Come over and say hi.

Gear recommendation: Looking for a GREAT jacket to ride in and do some barn stuff? Look for a snowboarding jacket on sale NOW and you won't be dissapointment. In a lapse of judgement I agree to learn out to snowboard with Matt as a "couples" activity. LOL --> we have both agreed that at 30 we are both too old and fat to learn to snow board, but both of us persevere on and have yet to actually break anything. Matt is heavily subsidizing this broke college student for the snowboarding experiencing but there has been a couple of pieces of gear that I am responsible for --> one of which was buying a jacket that didn't result with snow down my pants. (I know I know I know --> stop falling down and I probably won't have snow in my underwear....). I found one online that I bought based on price and when it came it was OK, but not "WOW". I was contemplating sending it back, but then I happened to ride in it on Wednesday and it has become a WOW.

1. 2 way zipper on front means that I can have it zipped it all the up to my chin, But have it unzipped from the bottom for ventilation or movement.

2. Generous cut sleeves and cuffs work well for gloves or non-gloved hands. I undo the cuffs and the sleeves cover my hands on the reins. Or the cuffs can be tightened to keep the weather out.

3. No fuzzy anywhere! I fed Wednesday evening after my ride and NO HAY STUCK TO IT!!!!!!!

4. Ventilation zippers. Strategically placed under the armpits, in the saddle I was super comfortable at all times because I could ventilate it many different ways beyond just the front zipper. Snowboard jackets are meant for an athletic event which is why they are better for riding than some of the other cold weather jackets I've tried.

5. Generous long cut. That doesn't bug me while I ride because of the 2 way zipper.

I'm bringing it to the convention if anyone wants to check it out.

Picking a vet - I'm finishing up my second year communication courses (most notably end of life and euthanasia scenerios) and it's been really interesting. I think it's important to realize that people who wear the vet "coat" are as varied and different as the rest of the general population and there are differences of opinion between vets that may or may not impact the experience you get at the vet office. I am of the opinion that when looking for a new vet, after getting recommendations from people you trust, you should interview the vet and talk about things that matter to you, and see how the vet stands compared to you. Don't know where to start? Go to the AVMA website and read some of their policies. Like or don't like some of them? There's your starting point for your "interview" with the new vet to see where they stand compared to you.

Call up, make an appointment, pay the exam fee, take or don't take an animal, and have a conversation with the vet.

Here's an example of where it might make a difference. When is the right time to put down an animal? Some vets might say as long as they are eating and drinking there is a quality of life present that euthanasia is not warrented. Some might say that is just the price of admission and that they should be able to get up on their own and defecate/urinate. There is a variety of opinions and you probably even have your own.

If I was moving to another area and needed to find a vet I would want to talk about quality of life and euthanasia, what they use for pain management (is it a one size fits all or do they have lots of animals and will individually assess animals?), how much face to face time does the vet/client get in a routine appointment, if I have to leave my animals overnight, where will they go to the bathroom and what precautions are taken to make sure my animal doesn't escape (double leashed? fenced property? runs?), what recent CE (continuing education) have the vets participated in, what are the special areas of interests of the vets, and what types of cases are typically referred and which ones are handled in house. Do they have electronic records? Or hand written?

I feel this information is well worth the exam fee I would pay to be able to sit in a room and talk with the vet without my animal in order to make a decision of where I am going to spend my vet dollars. I've had excellent luck finding quality care for Farley based on recommendations from horse people I trust, but finding a small animal vet that I like has proved to be a different story. My biggest pet peeve? Not giving my animal a complete physical exam, yet charging me $50+ dollars for doing so. The physical exam is extremely valuable --> and I think that how the physical exam is performed it indicative of the overall care I can expect from that hospital.





  1. See you in Reno...I, um, should be easy to locate. Purple cowboy shirt. Almost no blonde hair. If you see that, you've found me (or Funder).

    I'm doing an Endurance 101 clinic--please come to it!

  2. Actually being able to go to your session is the reason I'm doing the member convention instead of the vet ce one!


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