Monday, 16 May 2016

Hock Injections

As I mentioned I made Dee an appointment with the vet after she started stopping at all the jumps. I decided to use Mom's vet again as thy specialize in sport horses and do a lot of maintenance on high-performance horses (think cutting horses worth upwards of $250,000).

Dr. Gayle started out by examining Dee. She hardly believed me that she is 19, and that she's a Saddlebred. She told me that she looks really good, and super fit. It's always nice to have a little professional validation. I also told her that she is on a monthly dose of Adequan (or the generic when we can't get it into Canada) and a monthly dose of Legend for show season. All in a preemptive effort to preserve old-lady legs. She thought that is a sound plan and didn't think it warranted adjustment.

Getting fit and shiny

We flexed her front legs and she trotted out clean and sound.

Then she had a mild positive on her left hock. And was nearly crippled after flexing her right hock. We discussed how she is a 19 year-old performance horse who's never had a joint injected. We discussed that her hocks are a very likely culprit for her stopping as she doesn't want to rock back and push off. We briefly discussed doing X-Rays but opted to do injections straight away and X-Ray at a later date if there is no improvement.

Dr. Gayle always does 3 injections into each hock (many vets do two) because she finds much greater success with the extra shot.

She twitched out a needle and her wet white legs made it look super awful
(concerning the first year vet student)

We also pulled a Coggins, did vaccinations and got Chase's alcohol injection while we were there. Add in some Bute, Previcox and the vaccinations for Chase and LittleAsshole and I closed my eyes and wept a little inside at the total. Who needs money for groceries or gas anyways?

Dee got a day off with some Bute and then two days of slow, straight, easy hacks (just to get the blood moving). By Thursday she was back to full work. The injections should reach full effectiveness within 14 days.

I figured we'd have a nice dressage school in the outdoor before our lesson on Friday. I only had 40 minutes to ride before I had to run home and help The Boy fix the brakes on the truck. As we all know, horses give no shits about your timelines. Dee was a fire-breathing, almost out of control dragon. We had no go, barely any ability to turn. All she wanted to do was GO! After fighting with her for just about 30 minutes, just asking her to walk and trot in a reasonable manner I finally gave up on a circle. We finished the ride with some leg yielding into downward transitions because she can't run off on me that way (without being uber belligerent, which she isn't). I got a couple of good ones and called it quits.

Friday's dressage lesson was a tad more subdued but Irina commented that her fitness is impressive and how she was sure feeling fiery. Suffice it to say I think she's feeling pretty good! Turns out all that conditioning I put in this spring is there, it was just masked by pain, tiring her out faster.

Thankfully Dr. Gayle figures we likely won't have to do her hocks again for 12-18 months, since she is so solid and on maintenance already.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Kick Harder-Think Less

I think Emma and I need to start a club. A club for Adult Amateur's Who Are Not Scared of Their Horses But Feel The Need to Pull at EVERY Jump Anyways.

I had a really great weekend, despite setting off my air vest for the first time. I managed to squeeze in a jump lesson with Sam on Friday afternoon. We were outside in her giant grass ring. The line set up was a 3 to a 6 to a 4 to a 2. All simple verticals and set on a 12' stride.

We got off to a rough start because I pulled Dee to the base of everything. Sam very tactfully mentioned that we will never hit a 12' stride if I feel the need to pull her down to an 8' one in front of every fence.

When I managed to let go (mostly) and really ride forward the line rode really well. Sam told me that no matter what happened over the fence my job was to push for the 12' (or even bigger) stride as soon as we landed. This way we were set up for success and if I didn't pull Dee was able to just carry it through.

Sam hiked the fences up (she's short, so they always look huge next to her) and we went through once more each way. I managed to ride FORWARD to every fence and even used half halts where they were needed, not just every stride. It was a great place to end it. Sam then told me to go look at the fences. The first was 3'3" and everything else was 3'6"-3'9"!!!

I love her this much. She tolerates me.

I have no idea when it happened but I seem to have gotten over my anxiety about jump height. They didn't even look big... Considering that a year ago I was barely getting around a 2'9" course I'm pretty stoked.

Saturday I got to head out to the foothills and trail ride with my mama and a good friend. I love riding with my mom and the weather was perfect, making it a really good day. I think we went about 10 miles in just over 2 hours and most of it was hills.

So pretty

Sunday I rode in the Training group in a mini XC clinic with Sandra Donnelly. She had brought some of her stadium jumps to the XC course so we could school some super technical things without having to do tons of galloping (the ground is rock hard because it still hasn't rained).

It went amazingly well while we were doing the stuff around the water. We started off just trotting off the bank. Sandra had me shorten my stirrups a hole and all of a sudden I wasn't getting left behind on the first stride after the drop.
No media from Sunday. So enjoy my superb Paint skillz

We then moved on to the vertical-2 strides-up bank-two strides-down bank-one stride-vertical. this rode really well for us (especially keeping in mind Sam's advice to really ride the first stride)

Then came the barrels. The orange skinnies in my masterful drawing are two barrels standing upright. We schooled them alone first. Dee ducked left the first time. She was a little surprised and not all that willing. A very aggressive ride on the second approach got us over it.

Next we strung it together as vertical, up bank, down bank, hard 45° turn to the barrel (in one stride) and then around the other way which had the turn to the barrel on two strides. The first time wasn't pretty but we got it done. Sandra got after me for not looking until it was almost too late. The nice thing about it was I was so busy worrying about where we were going that I completely forgot about pulling!

Our next course started out over the barrels into the water, through the water to the oxer on the way out. Left turn to the vertical bank line (straight through). Right turn inside the banks, and jump down into the water and up out of the water to the post and rail. Right turn, big gallop around to a cabin. Then oxer up the bank ramp, of the bank, 2 strides, off the bank into the water, hard right turn out over the barrels.

It all was going fabulously until the big galloping cabin. Here's where the pulling got in my way. I pulled, and I pulled, and I got a really crooked line. And then I looked down. And Dee exited stage left. I popped over her right shoulder, setting off my air vest for the first time. It was a simple fall and I was fine. I did need help to get out of my vest though. It doesn't deflate until the canister is removed and it was so tight I couldn't get the buckles undone.

One of the other riders told me that before her first Prelim she was having a minor freak out on the course walk over a giant table. Someone else told her to "Kick Harder, Think Less". This is my new mantra for XC, possibly for SJ too!

I got myself back on ad we did it again. This time I committed to the cabin (which was bloody huge, it was stamped Prelim) and Dee just popped over it like NBD. Damn pulling!

One of the other horses in our group is super ditchy so we headed over to school the big ditches. Dee couldn't care less so we jumped them both each way and then proceeded up the hill to jump the Training corner and wait out the histrionics of the talented but opinionated mare.

It felt really good to know that we could keep up with a Training/Prelim group and I'm beginning to feel good about our move up. I've got another clinic this weekend and then I'm off to BC for Chase Creek HT and the beginning of our season. If it all goes well we will move up to Training at the first AB event in June.
All part of the 'Let's Move Up' plan. More to come soon

Now to find a new cartridge for my vest (apparently everyone's falling off this spring and everyone seems to be sold out).

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Emergency Preparedness

We need rain. It's that simple. A combination of a mild (and dry) winter, higher than normal temperatures and lower than average precipitation has turned Alberta into a giant tinderbox.

Currently there are two wild fires burning out of control that are threatening homes. The big one in Fort McMurray has already consumed over 10,000 hectares (almost 40 square miles!), 1600 buildings  and is still not under control. Fort McMurray is a remote community in northern Alberta and it's remoteness is making it very challenging to evacuate.

This fire has forced people to make tough choices. Horses have been set free as it was their best chance of survival with the conditions and timing. Horse Nation did an article on it. The city is still unsafe so most people have no news on their animals.

An image of a girl riding one horse and ponying two others has gone viral. Word is that she and her horses are safe now. But it really underscores how terrifying an critical the situation is.
Image borrowed from FB, no photo credit given to pass along

Evacuation plans are not only for areas that are threatened by the big natural disasters (hurricanes, tornadoes etc). Before this I did not have a specific plan in place in case of an emergency. I know better. I work in the oil field, where safety is paramount and we have plans and drills for all manner of incidents.

You can bet that I will be developing and implementing an emergency plan for us and all our critters. Everyone thinks these are things that happen somewhere else. This has been my wakeup call for sure.

Do you have an emergency evacuation plan? If so, how do you make sure it is accurate and functional?