Tag: Horses

Long, slow summer of the Mares

It’s been a long, slow summer. For the past few weeks, I’ve felt like I was holding my breath waiting for Kasane to reinjure herself. She hasn’t. But she might try, like the times she put her back feet through the stall wall and almost needed stitches. (She demolished that wall when she rolled in the stall and got cast.)

I’ve had three mares to work with: Kasane’s rehab cycle (3-5 rides per week on a regimented time frame), Breezy (my new two-year-old filly), and Sahra (Mom’s 16-year-old broodmare). Kasane is always my first priority, with Breezy next and then Sahra.

Breezy in stall
Breezy looking over the stall door

I started Sahra under saddle in December. We’ve had some very good rides but it’s hard to be consistent with the time she needs right now. The good thing is that she lets me ride her and remembers things between sessions. Her retention is excellent — as is her pushing back to see if you really want her to do something. She’s at a place in her training where she could be sent to a professional trainer and be finished anyway Mom wants. Sahra is doing solid walk and trot, mostly in a bitless bridle, but she understands the bit well enough. She’s good with me mounting from the ground or a block. We’ve done a few trail rides. She tolerates a lot (unless you push her too much, and then she pushes back, but a quick discussion and you work through it). She likes being worked.

Breezy and Sahra
Sahra and her granddaughter, Breezy

Mom is going to take Sahra to her farm soon. I’m hoping that she’ll be able to continue Sahra’s training in the spring. Sahra would be such a pretty driving horse, too.

Nominate Fudge’s EPM Blog

When Isis was diagnosed with Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis, one site provided answers and informative discussion about this disease, current treatment options, and tests: EPM Horse.org.

One of the keys to successfully treating EPM successfully is early detection. The more people know about EPM, the better chance they will have of recognizing the disease and treating it sooner. Fudge’s Mom, the owner/writer of EPM Horse.org, is taking an unconventional approach to promoting awareness by asking people to nominate the EPM Horse Blog for an Equine Social Media Award on Facebook:

I’m asking you to take one minute, go to Equestrian Social Media Awards, nominate app on the left, Category 13 Most Informative, put in http://epmhorse.org/WordPress/ and write one sentence about us. Please pass the link to your friends, it may save their horse. Nominations are accepted through 12/24/2011. Facebook and Chrome links are needed.

I’ve nominated this worthwhile site for an award. The information helped increase Isis’ quality of life during her last few weeks.

Memories of horses past

A dear friend of mine lost her mare, Cedars BlueMoon, today. Blue was 23 and, in her day, was a mischeivous, playful, smart little Arabian mare. She was also a 3/4 sister to Isis’ dam, Cedars del Taliah. Blue was a bay with four white socks and a pretty white marking on her head.

Sahsha, Hot Stuf, and Blue

I tried to explain to a friend what it is like to lose a horse. There is nothing that prepares you, even when you know it’s coming. The whole they leave is a 1,000 pound emptiness in your life. My horses are my kids (I don’t have children).

A vacant stall, halters, tack… But then you remember all of the crazy antics, the trail rides and “monsters”, and how many times that horse made you smile or laugh. And you realize that as huge a hole they left, your life would have been so much poorer without them.

I have few comparison points with dogs. I have loved my cats, but it’s different with horses. You and your horse trust each other with your lives every time you ride. The horse trusts you, as a herd mate, to guide and protect. And you trust the horse to be calm and steady (most of the time). You have a real working relationship with give and take. Some days are arguments and others are perfect.

I’ve been rolled on/under, kicked, bit, stomped, and slammed into the wall by horses. And yet I keep coming back. I can’t imagine life without horses. When someone like me loses a horse, it’s like a part of yourself dies with that horse.

Until you remember their antics, the things about that horse that made that horse special. It’s not just the horse that is special. It’s that undefinable relationship and partnership you have when you find a horse that you connect with. Blue and Mary Lou had that connection. Isis and I have that connection.

Here is to beautiful horses, fine Arabian friends, who have blessed our lives in so many ways. Here is to Blue, the cute little filly who was so tiny she could walk under her mother’s belly just by lowering her head. Here is to Indian Symphony, Isis’ grandmother, our first Arabian mare and the first mare we lost to colic.

Here is to all of our special herdmates who have passed on before us and their owners who headed to the barn to say hello and found an empty stall. Our horses are very much missed but their antics keep us smiling.

Lessons from riding

I’ve had a riding lesson for the past two Saturdays. It has been a roller coaster where my riding skills fluctuated from newbie to advanced.

Had my skills degraded? Muscle tone wasn’t as good as it had been in 2008 when we were able to ride more. In 2009, riding time was minimized due to Isis’ and my medical issues. Even though it was hard to ride when Isis tripped several times every ride, we figured out how to compensate for it. Finding out the EPM was responsible for the majority of her tripping was both a relief and a sadness. Every time Isis and I made progress, something devastating happened and we were pushed back.

This year would be different. Nerve damage takes 1-5 years to heal and horses recovering from EPM have to be kept low-stress. This is an opportunity to improve without any pressure from shows or clinics. New year, new improvements. I went to Weight Watchers to lose the weight I had gained (ever seen how form fitting riding pants are?). My exercise program is largely based around riding and work horses.
Read More Lessons from riding

Saddle fitting for the Courbette Bernina

When the chiropractor came out in early November, she pointed out that Isis’ spine near her withers had sore points. The sore spots were most likely caused by a saddle that didn’t fit properly.

I knew my old all purpose saddle (the Zaldi in the image gallery below, first picture) did not fit properly. When Isis first came here last year, I rode her in it a lot during jumping and lessons. When I focused more on riding dressage, I bought a new saddle, Courbette Magic. The saddle, and its special expanding tree, fit Isis perfectly.

When I looked for a new all purpose saddle, I wanted to find a Courbette Magic All Purpose. Instead, I found a Courbette Bernina: an all purpose saddle built on the same tree as the Magic but with wool flocking instead of foam. And comfy. So comfy. The Bernina was 1/3 the price it normally costs. It was “used,” allegedly, but the saddle looked brand new to me. No girth marks on the billets.

Here are the pictures from the saddle fitting, both before and after the first ride in it. Isis is modeling the saddle. I also tried it on Kasane, and it fits her. (However, she hasn’t been ridden yet so no pictures of me on her.)

Mom used to say that you knew a saddle fit properly if your “tush says aaahh!” when you sit in the saddle. This saddle is definitely a keeper.

Been a while.

Wow. So it’s been a while since I last posted. I’ve managed to land (mostly) on my feet. I went from being unemployed to being over-employed, but in a good way.

My old freelance contacts paid off in the best possible way: I was given enough work to get me through until I located a (hopefully) contract to hire position at an excellent company. I’m currently working about 50 hours per week, but I really like the job and the freelancing.

I am incredibly thankful to have had people take a chance on hiring me as an editor and letting me work remotely. It has been an awesome experience.

A few weeks ago, Isis colicked again. Mild, this time. Mostly from dehydration caused by the change in weather. We caught her early and she pulled through fine. (Here, Ms Vet, why don’t I just give your clinic a direct line to my bank account? Sheesh. This summer I put their kids through college with all of the vet bills I had.)

Chiropractor also came out and adjusted Isis — and mentioned that I need to have her saddles fitted because one of them isn’t fitting properly along her back.

So… adjusted horse is doing better. I have a new saddle (when I really wanted to get a new cell phone) and we’re finally back to riding.

Poor Kasane has been rather neglected because I’ve had to focus so much on Isis this summer. However, she will be getting back to pre-saddle work this week. With all of my time off for Thanksgiving I plan on spending a lot of time at the barn.

The cats all seem to be doing well. Ambush looks great. The nasty gunk on his fur has gone and his coat is soft to touch once more. Only thing is that I’m going through about 20 pounds of kitty litter per week because he pees so much.

Stella is playing a lot. I haven’t been as good as I should be about her fluids because of starting the new job.

Kiesha has her behavioral issues still. I can really tell when the Feliway runs out…

I’ve been reading more: poetry journals of all things. It’s interesting how reading poetry impacts how I write. I’m more aware of word choice (work as an editor this summer made me extra aware of grammar, word usage, and phrasing).

That’s the long and short of things for right now. I have more pictures to post of the saddle and how it fits. Pictures of Kasane with a saddle on for the first time. Pictures of the cats running around and playing.

Maybe, just maybe, I can relax enough so I am not so focused on the world possibly collapsing because of economic uncertainties.

If this job goes permanent after six months, I’ll be a very happy camper. I’m documenting IT with a bunch of hard core geeks. I got the job because I knew Mac OS X was based in Free BSD. 🙂 These are MY People! 🙂 (It doesn’t hurt that after the interview I was asked if I preferred a Mac, PC, or both? Yes!)

No riding for a while

The vet exam showed that Isis’ left side is weaker than her right. To correct this, I am supposed to work Isis at least every other day, weather permitting.

When she first trots, her back legs track wider then normal and eventually straighten out. It’s like watching someone with back pain try to jog. The last time she trotted like this was when we had our riding accident several years ago.

I am supposed to work her for at least two weeks to build up her hip strength. My vet also wants a chiropractor to examine Isis and hopefully adjust her before I get on. Hopefully the chiropractor will call me back soon…

Sad news

My stepfather woke me up this morning and said that my Mom’s favourite mare, Farah, had died during the night. Farah was a sweetheart of a mare: multichampion Arabian in halter and performance, dam of five or so babies, and an unchallenged lead mare. She was one of those grand matron mares who knows she is beautiful and incredibly gentle with all of the kids who took riding lessons on her.

She got my mom back in the saddle after many years of not riding.

She was my Mom’s favourite girl and my own mare’s sister.

We don’t know yet what killed Farah. She was fine last night and gone this morning.

Rest well in green pastures, Farah.

Out of town this weekend

I’m visitng my parents this weekend, so I’ll be possibly posting. Depends upon how exhausted I am from working at the barn. It’s a good exhaustion. 🙂

Mom has Isis’ daddy, Sirdar, and several of Isis’ sisters. She also has Kasane’s sister, Kenya, who is by the same sire and out of Isis’ sister, Farah. I am looking forward to seeing how Kenya looks compared to Kasane. Rajiyyah is also there. Sweet grey mare that she is. She’s getting ridden more and may be used in lessons.

Day at the barn

There was an informal natural horsemanship session at my barn today. One of the ladies started a three year old filly under saddle. The filly is a buckskin, Quarter Horse/Arabian cross. She is a rescue case and has not been handled much. She knew how to lead and not much else.

It was amazing watching how the filly responded and learned what was being asked. She is a smart little girl. She picked up what she was being asked to do quickly. She learned left, right, whoa, and was exposed to the saddle in about two hours.

It was amazing. She had her first exposure to the saddle and blanket and was fine with it being flapped all over her. She was perfectly content to have the saddle placed on her back and cinched. She could have cared less when the rider sat on her back.

Really amazing to watch. What an excellent filly and an exceptional, non-stressful experience for her first time under saddle.

Read More Day at the barn

Seeing Prize this weekend!

Ever since I sold Prize, I have felt guilty over what happened. To say I berated myself is an understatement. I felt like I had let down my horse. I had promised Prize I would never sell her, and then I had to. I swore that I would do everything I could to prevent that same thing from happening again. When you sell a horse in desperate circumstances, you have less control over who or where she goes. Apparently, she ended up in good homes with people who loved her and cared for her. She was incredibly lucky.

I called Prize’s current owner last night. Prize is at a barn that is on the way from my house to the barn where Isis and Kasane are. It turns out that Rody’s daughter had Prize for the past six years. She did everything with Prize: driving, hunter pace, anything. Rody said that Prize is amazing and complemented the training I did with Prize. (Well, we really trained each other.) I was delighted.

Since Rody’s daughter is in college (and currently overseas), they are looking for someone to come out and spend some time with Prize. Rody thought I would be a good choice, if I was in the area. She tracked me down through the letter I had sent when I first sold Prize. That letter was passed from owner to owner wtih Prize for 12 years.

I feel like a weight has been lifted. Like I have been given a chance to make amends and see that Prize is okay.

This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime things that happens.

This Sunday, I get to see Prize at 2:30.

I’m still in shock.

Prize… Again

Monday afternoon my Mom forwarded an email to me. A woman had emailed her asking if Mom had a daughter who had won a horse in a raffle…

Prize is still alive! She’s 23 and living in Chapel Hill, 10 miles from where I live. I’m going to call the lady tonight and go see my old girl this weekend.

I can’t believe she is still around.

One More Nite, aka Prize

When I was 16, I had a dream come true. On Mothers Day that year, we were at the regional show at Frying Pan Park, Vrginia. The horse show was part of the Eastern Amateur Arabian Horse Show Circuit. We arrived with a four-horse stock trailer with three horses, including the gray mare I was showing, Silver Run Sahsha.

The show had a big event: a purebred Arabian filly was being raffled during lunch. To support the club, Mom and Ed bought two tickets at $1 each. She was a cute filly, small, but very personable. During lunch, she kicked the handler as she was brought into the ring. She was was not malicious: she simply didn’t know what was going on.

When the name was drawn and the winner was announced, I couldn’t believe it. Mom was the winner! I was thrilled! My stepfather was not.

It’s hard to describe what it is like to win a horse, especially when you’ve always wanted to train a horse and be able to show. Do all of the training yourself and come home with a ribbon or two (it doesn’t matter what place the ribbon is either).

Read More One More Nite, aka Prize