Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Adventures in Ringbone

At this point Chase belongs to my SO more than me. He works out of town and every single day he wants me to send him a picture of Chase. He rarely wants pictures of me or the dogs but he'll harass me if I forget to send one of Chase (he legitimately installed a better light on the front of the barn so I could take pictures after dark).

So it's been pretty rough for him this fall as Chase began to slow down and become more and more lame on that left front. We decided that it was time to take him back to the vet for more x-rays to evaluate where we're at.

Quick recap: Chase has ringbone and significant joint space narrowing in the left front. We've done a series of injections to facilitate the fusion of  P1&P2

With the alcohol injections he showed major improvement. In the week after his first one he cantered for the first time since I brought him home last fall. We did another in June and again in August. He was down to 1/2 a Previcox and was sassy and sound enough to take the Boy for trail rides.

As it got colder I noticed he moved around less and he was looking more and more lame. Cue a serious discussion with the Boy about quality of life. We decided to take him in for a new set of X-rays and a serious discussion with the vet.

The new X-rays show marked degradation and definite bone on bone. Basically it's trying to fuse really hard, but every time Chase moves he breaks apart part of the calcification that his body is trying to lay down. So what we've been attempting to facilitate  is actually happening. Unfortunately it's extremely painful (as anyone who has ever experienced bone-on-bone pain can attest to).
March 2016
November 2016

One treatment path my vet had used successfully in a similar case was bracing the lower limb to minimize movement. Basically a special shoe is built that allows for metal supports to be connected to it. Then the leg is strapped to the whole contraption. (I asked about a cast and he told me why it wouldn't work but I can't remember why for the life of me) Then 3-4 weeks of stall rest, doing the very best to keep them still.

The Boy and I debated our options for the rest of the day, but ultimately it came down to what he wanted to do. It is his horse and I've had some major financial challenges this fall so he is footing the bill. Ultimately we decided to forge forward with this experiment.

Thankfully my farrier is the best! He's actually a welder and teaches welding at a local college as a day job (he got burned out doing feet full-time) and he's super interested in anatomy and movement. I couldn't have asked for the more perfect person to build the apparatus.

Let me tell you though, trying to coordinate my vet and farrier simultaneously was like trying to herd cats on speed!

Chase also got 1 more alcohol injection into the joint (which was not an easy feat considering how little space actually exists in there). Then my farrier built one of the coolest/strangest things I've ever seen attached to a foot (in his words "I didn't miss a single day of farrier school, and they never covered this!").

It's a bit of a production to get him set up, but hey, it could be worse. First I wrap him from hoof to knee with a no-bow. Then the space in the shoe is packed with a tightly rolled polo (originally we were supposed to use a high density foam but after mashing the polo down to the consistency of a brick actually works better). Then another wrap from fetlock to knee. Next I wrap the entire brace to the leg, very, very tightly, paying close attention to the pastern piece. Finally vet wrap the whole thing to make sure it stays in place.

That is all one solid piece built right onto the shoe.

The back brace, it's got bolts welded to the bottom so I just have remove the nuts to take it off.

The final product, basically a giant elephant stump
So for now Chase is currently living the pampered life in a box stall. Before this he'd never spent more than a day in a stall so I was concerned about keeping him chill (the vet even gave me a Rx for sedatives). Turns out it's a complete non issue. He seems super happy about it. He's getting tons of attention from the barn owner and her young kids, plus I'm out there every evening. He also got to avoid the deep freeze of the last 10 days.
Still a total character

He did end up with a small pressure sore almost right away but we've modified the back piece and it's now improving.

Fingers crossed that this works. I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to my favourite cookie monster.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Location, Location, Location: ASSFS Blog Hop

It's been so miserably cold here that I have not been riding so I can really use the content boost. But  I wasn't sure I should write this during the cold snap and come off bitter about where I live...

Sarah of A Soft Spot for Stars started this fabulous blog hop. It's been fascinating to read about weather and cost differentials (except trims, apparently we all basically pay the same).


I live in Central Alberta, Canada, within commuting distance of Edmonton. The county I live in one of the highest horse/capita areas in the country (the highest is the area surrounding Calgary).

Agriculture and Energy are our most important and prevalent industries. While Edmonton is the capital city it doesn't have the high energy, bustling metropolis feel. Calgary (about 3 hours south) is a bigger city, and has a bigger city feel but let's be honest, is still a small city in the grand scheme of things (population of 1.1 million).

Our cost of living is on the higher side, but it isn't outrageous like some places. Property ownership won't put you into an unimaginable amount of debt. A middle of the road home in the city will run you $300,000. Acreages with 30 minutes of the city start around $500,000

  • Trim-$40
  • Shoes-$120 for front, $180 for a full set, $220 for a full set drilled and tapped
  • Average cost of full time training- ~$800 (plus board)
  • Average lesson costs- $35-$55 for group/semi private, $55-85 for private
  • Average monthly pasture board- $320-$400 with an indoor arena, $200 for no indoor
  • Average monthly stall board - $700-$1200
  • Hay: These prices are if you pick them up yourself, delivery is usually expensive. They also fluctuate wildly depending on the year. Last year, the drought pushed the price of rounds up to $150-$230, and that was if you could find any at all.
    • Round bales (1100-1400lbs)
      •  grass, $60-$80
      • alfalfa mix $70-$120
    • Square bales (50-60lbs)
      • grass, $6-$8
      • alfalfa mix, $7-$11

Ugh, where to begin. We've been in a cold snap for the past week and a half. On Sunday it was -33°C (-27°F) at my place and the wind chill made it feel like-41°C (-42°F). This is the day basically everything I own froze. My car has a frozen fuel line, my skidsteer is not usable because the hydraulic fluid is too thick for th pump to move, the horse's automatic waterer froze, the furnace in my barn quit because the propane can't warm up quick enough to vaporize, and the diesel gelled in the Herman Nelson heater (which could have been used to help with any of the above problems).

Winter (FOREVER) (OR October-March)

With that being said, it's normally not this cold in December. Generally January and February is when we will experience an arctic cold snap. Our winters generally begin in October and last through March, sometimes hanging around until April (snow on May long weekend is to be expected though). Temperatures can vary wildly but the average for winter is -16°C (3°F) (I had to look this up). We get snow but nothing like Teresa gets out on the east coast though, or like Cathryn gets on the west coast. I'm pretty sure our annual snowfall is something like 50", and generally we will get a good dump in the fall and then it will melt before winter actually hits. And then again in the spring, the snow will be nearly gone and we will get another huge dump.

The snow makes for some great photos though
Also, #mindyourmelon

The days are short. In the winter it is totally normal to get to work in the dark and go home in the dark. I only see my horses in the daylight during weekends so it necessitated buying a super expensive but awesome barn light. On Dec 21, we will see the sun for a very short 7 hours. Thankfully we are super close to the days getting longer. Also, the sky is generally clear here, especially in winter.
So very very true.

Spring (April,May)

Spring in Alberta is a crapshoot. It could be relatively dry and warm (this year) or it could be a monsoon, or we can go straight from Winter to summer. But we will have seriously shitty weather on May Long, every single year. the one year Alberta Horse Trials tried to run an event that weekend it go snowed out. We're a hardy breed here in AB, a little snow doesn't stop us. 6" of slush will kibosh our XC hopes though.
XC Schooling in the snow.

Basically the same weekend as the above photo, two years later

Summer (June-September)

Summer here is fabulous! The temps average around 20-25°C (68-77°C) with some days hitting above 30°C (86°F). The days are long, think almost 17 hours of sunlight on our longest day.

I took these course walk photos at~ 9pm

Fall (September-October)

Yet another crapshoot, sometimes we get fall. Sometimes it gets skipped for more winter. This year we had a fabulous fall. We had a wicked snow dump and cold spell on Thanksgiving (Oct 10) and then it got beautiful again and the snow all melted.
This was taken the day I hauled Sullivan 5 hours south for his RPSI foal inspection, on Sept 8
3 days later most of this was gone.
Fall is my favourite season. I love the sound of riding through fallen leaves. I love the smell of fall. I love how there are no bugs because we've generally had a couple of nights with frost.

Almost all of our leaves turn yellow, I do envy those who live in places that have more variation in their foliage

Riding Demographic:

According to the 2011 Census of Agriculture Alberta has by far the most horses in Canada, boasting 34% of the total equine population (whereas Ontario is second with 21%). You can do pretty much anything you want to here (also anything within 3 hours is generally considered an easy drive). It's pretty split down the middle between English and Western disciplines. The summer is short, but packed full of shows and clinics. I can quite easily fill every single weekend from May to Sept with a show or clinic (fun fact, I did this once. I was super broke and burnt out by the time October rolled around).

For eventing there are only 6 events held during our short season (June-Sept) and the furthest is 5 hours away, the closest is 45 minutes.

We have a few really decent local tack stores, which is good because shipping to Canada is unfortunately almost always over inflated (I'm looking at you RW, it would not cost $40 to ship a pair of gloves...) or not even available.

Most Frustrating:

Aside from the weather? The fact that we top out at Prelim in Alberta. If we want to go beyond that we have to haul to the States. Alberta actually has a solid contingent of riders who are going Intermediate and up but many of them end up spending the majority of their time campaigning south of the border. Those who can't up and move down south end up travelling down once or twice a year for 3-8 weeks at a time.

Final Thoughts:

As much as I complain about the weather I really love it here. While it would be nice to live somewhere where indoor arenas aren't a complete necessity for winter riding I seriously doubt I will ever make a permanent change of address.

The eventing community here is amazing. It's super supportive and encouraging. We were talking about it among some riders at a conference (most of us  in different disciplines) and discovered that if you realized you were missing a girth/cinch you'd likely have to run out and buy one for cutters, reiners, jumpers, and dressage. On the flip side both the eventers and the endurance riders figured we could easily come up with a couple options from relative strangers. And as a bonus Rebecca Farm is only 9 hours away.

Natural disasters are very limited here. We get the occasional tornado (the last really destructive one killed 27 people and was in 1987) and major blizzard and forest fires are a serious concern for the more northern parts of the province. But that's about it for my area. No hurricanes, no earthquakes, no major flooding concerns. I'll take our winters over all of the above (plus we have no venomous snakes and no rats).

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Rolex Trip!

Well I've officially booked my flights and reserved an Airbnb. A couple of girlfriends and I are off to Kentucky for Rolex!!!!

I'm super pumped. I enjoyed it last time I went in 2013 but I do not recommend attending Rolex while on crutches. It's challenging, exhausting and you miss the full experience.

The only upside to those crutches was rock star parking
And golf cart shuttle service
This time the trip is going to be a joint I finally graduated, and 30th birthday celebration.

I'm hoping for a rather awesome blogger meetup. Let me know if you are going to be there! Also, we are in Kentucky for a week (if we are spending most of a day travelling each way we are going to make it worthwhile) so if you have any suggestions for non-Rolex activities please feel free to share.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

He Jumps!

William is coming along really well. He's smart and is completely willing to try and figure out what I am asking for.

He's got contact figured out, his walk is fabulous, he's the trot pole master, his canter departs are beginning to come from lift rather than run, he bends reliably to the right (the left is still a struggle for more than a stride or two). He also leg yields both directions at the walk really well and is figuring it out at the trot. He does remarkably solid turns on the forehand. Shoulder in is coming along (he's much better on a circle, a straight line is still a bit dicey).

I let Dee wander while I ride him
He doesn't care and just goes to work like a solid citizen

He hasn't put a foot out of place under saddle. He hasn't spooked, refused to try something or even gotten annoyed. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'm sure one day he's going to have a spectacular reaction to something completely unassuming.

I had originally planned to wait until the new year before I started him over fences but he's been such a good kid that I figured it wouldn't hurt to throw that plan out the window.

So on Sunday we set up a little cross pole and away we went.

He didn't even blink. he just trotted over it like it wasn't there, each time.

So we raised it up a bit. And he trotted over it, just picking his knees up higher.

We finally raised it a bit more (the center was maybe 2'3" on a tall day) and he jumped with his front legs, trotting with his back legs.

So we cantered. And he finally jumped! With absolutely no hesitation he just cantered through like he's been doing this his entire life. We came around and did it off the other lead and when he was foot-perfect again I called it quits and got off.

I know I gush about him every time I post but he's just so much fun. And is making this retraining process seem so easy (so far, I have no illusions that we won't hit a wall at some point).
Blurry screen shot for those who don't watch videos
I love everything about this from the standard forward, his knees, his expression!

Bonus? My dressage coach loves him and thinks he'll make a fabulous dressage pony if this jumping thing doesn't work out.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Pseudo Blog Hop: Bloodlines

Alternate title: How to lose hours of your life on the Google-machine.

Since Emma started this pseudo blog hop I've spent way too much time really searching out William's family history. I know very little about TB bloodlines and I honestly bought him because his face was cute and I liked the look of him from pictures.

Oh look, ND and Mr.P, how shocking....

William was not a stellar racehorse. I'm pretty sure the only reason he raced for 3 years is because he came from a very small operation where his breeder/owner/trainer races as a hobby. He raced 15 times but only brought home $5,683. After feeding this horse for the past 2.5 months, I can tell you it cost them much more than that to keep him fed.
Born in a snowstorm and yet he still can't grow a decent winter coat

He was born and bred in Manitoba, Canada but he actually has an international pedigree. His sire Billy Allen is an Irish bred multiple graded stakes winner. Billy Allen successfully raced in 10 countries (interestingly enough he never raced in Ireland) before being sold to MB where he now stands at stud. His breeding fee in 2011 looks like it was $250, so not top-shelf, that's for sure.

While racing talent does not seem to be one thing passed down to William, his head is a different matter. They share the same refined head and almost comically tiny nose.

The shape of his head sure got passed down
Billy Allen is by Night Shift, a son of Northern Dancer. From the sounds of it, Night Shift failed to deliver as a race horse, racing 7 times but only winning once. He was imported to Ireland solely based on the Northern Dancer craze it seems. There are a handful of his offspring registered with USEF, mostly mediocre hunters with one eventer who's gone advanced (and another with no records but the owner listed as Bruce Davidson).

Night Shift-Those are Williams knees!
His dam, She's The Fashion, is an Illinois bred mare who raced for 9 years before retiring sound. Fingers crossed William got the genes responsible for that longevity.

His damsire is Gold Case who was undefeated in his only 3 starts before a severe case of founder ended his racing career. He's a handsome dude who has produced a handful of hunters (based on USEF records). What I did find during my time down the rabbit hole is that every one who talks about his offspring refers to them as level-headed, reliable and easy to handle. Those are all descriptors I have used for William. He's got a really good mind, and not much seems to phase him.
Gold Case, look at that chunky throatlatch!
It's been kinda fun to figure out some of the history behind my favourite baby racehorse but I still don't think I really care. I'm more interested in the horse in front of me (keeping in mind I don't have any interest in breeding, which is a whole different kettle of fish).

I need new photos, this is from 2 months ago. It's now snowy and leafless
Unfortunately my phone goes on strike when it thinks it's cold out, which is all winter.

Also, head on over and congratulate equinpilot on her 500th post! She's got a lovely giveaway to correspond with it.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

I Need a Favour

I've got it sorted out now! Thanks to everyone for the offers of help. The blogging community is really great.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Balance is Hard

Like may bloggers I'm engaged in a constant balancing act between horses, work and life. Lately I've been really struggling with that balance.

GreyDog captures my feelings perfectly
I'm closing in on the final stretch of my degree. I've been working towards my BComm very slowly, taking evening classes. My first post secondary credits are actually from 2005, making this the 12 year program as I am set to graduate in April (I haven't attended university consecutively, there's a few gaps in there).

In my push to graduate by April I have been loading up on classes. Generally I have been taking classes a maximum of 2 nights a week. This semester (and next) I'm in 3 classes. The extra class, coupled with an insanely busy fall at work and my other half returning to the oilfield (meaning he's gone 14 days at a time) has thrown my balance right out the window.

I feel like there is not a single area of my life that is receiving the attention it deserves. As a consequence I really have no time or motivation to blog. Which really sucks because I love being able to go back and see the progression.

Th good news? Sullivan is off on an adventure with my mom. Dee is home and is feeling better than ever. William continues to be the very best baby racehorse. Chase is happy and mugging for treats at every opportunity. Having them at home is great because even though I don't get to ride as much as I want I still get to see them every day.

My happy place

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I cannot wait until April when I will (finally!!!!) graduate. Until then I'm just going to try to keep balancing everything that needs to be done without burning out.
He tries so hard
And because I'm apparently a masochist I've also started applying to grad schools.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Catching Up with William

I adore this horse. He's such a sassy redhead! He's constantly testing the boundaries but once you explain them (in very clear black and white) he settles in well.
He's figured out that cookies come from the barn

He's been spending a ton of time tied to the Patience Tree. He's got a very nasty habit of pulling so he gets to stand there and figured out patience while I read my book. My dressage coach suggested tying him at least 6-7' up the tree because it's nearly impossible for him to get enough leverage to pull. It seems to be working. Last time I tied him up, he just cocked a foot and proceeded to have a nap.

The Patience Tree
We've had our first ride together. He was so good. It took about 15 minutes to get him to chill out at the mounting block. He was very determined that kicking out frantically would get the devil device away from him. But after some discussion (read:beating) he figured out that kicking out at me is completely unacceptable.
Note my face

That's my "5 year old, got a cookie" face

After a few minutes in the round pen I was feeling confident enough to move him to the very large outdoor. He was a really good boy. We walked, trotted and cantered as if he's always been a quiet sporthorse. There was basically no giraffing, he picks up both leads rather easily, he comes back the moment you think about stopping and he didn't care that my 911 Buddy was sitting on Dee in the middle of the ring. His steering is non existent, but I can teach that!

He's had the last two weeks off because we pulled his racing plates and are transitioning him to barefoot. He was slightly tender for a couple days but seems to be doing well now so tomorrow we are going to free jump him!

Cows are skerry!
It could have gone horribly wrong, buying a baby racehorse sight unseen, from another province, but so far, he's just fun. And cute. And I still get to ride while Dee is off at her health vacation.

Look at that ear fluff. He's the cutest

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Catching Up with Best Pony

We went to two local jumper shows in September. The plan was to do numerous divisions and see if we could expose her physical issues.

The first was the Killerney Derby. I have a soft spot for this show as it was the first show I took Dee to, and gave me my first cooler win. This year we did both the 2'9" and the 3'0" divisions, to the tune of 74 jumping efforts. I was a shitty pilot in the first class and surprised her with a triple bar and picked up a stop but it was smooth sailing after I got my act together. We picked up a second in the next class. A rail in the first 3'0" class landed us as the fastest 4 faulter and a 4th place. And then in the 3'0" derby class we were fast and clean, taking home the red and yet another cooler!

It's even in my colours!

The next show was the Gorsline show that we had great success at last year. Last year I showed on Saturday and this year I was on the Sunday. Sunday has the higher levels and a greater level of competition. We did both the 0.9m and the 1.0m. We took a fifth in the first 0.9m class (out of 27) and I was pumped about it, especially since there is money to fifth place. We then proceeded to have a great round in the 0.9m Jumper Special, taking home the win by a margin of almost 2 seconds. This landed us a hefty check and a new cooler.

We then stood around for a while and I made the mistake of not keeping her moving. Going into the 1.0m I was super nervous. Couple this with her getting stiff and it was a super rough round and we ended up getting eliminated after two stop. Horses are sure humbling. I got my head in the game, kept her moving until our next class and put in a solid round with a great jump off. We pulled the first rail, but once again were the fastest of the 4 faulters and took home a 4th. Overall it was great, I even came home with $40 more than my entries.

This is my favourite cooler photo!
Fortunately (unfortunately?) my plan to expose the NQR in Dee's back has worked. After our last show she came up with soreness in her lower back and hip.

So she's off to spend a month with my mom. My mom's business partner is an equine osteopath and the plan is for them to work on her quite extensively over the next few weeks. My mom is also 10 minutes from my preferred vet (I'm over 3 hours away) so it's easy to tap that resource if she isn't showing improvement.
William also got a treatment from them!
My mom is awesome, she's the entire reason I started riding and she has made it feasible for me to continue with this crazy obsession more times than I can count. I trust her with my horse implicitly. And I still cried after dropping her off (and even writing this is making me teary and I'm not a big crier).

So it'll be quiet(er) on the Dee front. I'm hopeful that this time will really help get her sorted out because I plan to enjoy her sassiness for many years to come.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Hitting Refresh

Going Training this year has been amazing, but knowing that I have a senior horse it became extra critical to prep correctly. I spent most of the year focused on fitness. We hacked out a ton, but always with a plan. Canter sets, trot sets, long trots, hill work, rinse and repeat. When we weren't focusing on fitness we were working to sharpen up our dressage and SJ. We worked, and we worked hard.

Always ready for whatever shenanigans I've cooked up
After a super shitty Sunday morning I made the last minute decision to haul over to the local grazing reserve and go for a ride.

I had the absolute best ride! I had zero plan, zero ambition and Dee and I basically just went for a toodle.

We trotted when we felt like it, cantered when we felt like it, galloped when we felt like it and  just had a total blast.

There is something so good for the soul about hacking out on the buckle, surrounded by the amazing fall colours and just enjoying every step.

I'm going to try an remember to throw the plan out the window every once in a while. I'm positive we will be better for it.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

And Then There Were Four...

3 posts in 3 days after nearly a month of silence? Apparently my motivation is returning (also, I hadn't planned to post yesterday but FB reminded me it was Dee's anniversary and that will always require a post)

So if you follow me on Instagram (which can only happen if you aren't basically a cave troll) you will have seen that yesterday brought a new arrival to our little acreage. Apparently September 13 is a good day to buy horses.

When we discovered that Dee was NQR I was chatting with a really good friend and had the passing thought that I should picking up a project, in case Dee didn't return to her previous level of competition. Said friend is a serious enabler and had tagged me in a photo on FB a few days later of a horse out in Manitoba (about 13 hours from my place).

Well that face required some investigation. After a conversation with his trainer (who is also is owner and breeder) I was pretty confident I wanted him. Some more photos and one race later I got a call that said he was mine if I wanted him. Apparently she had more interest in him but wanted to offer him to me first as she thought "it's be a good home to start his new life". The catch was he had one more race to run in two weeks (which was Saturday). So began the wait. If you know me you know patience is not well represented in my wheel house.

Well after a ton of last minute juggling (first we were driving out to get him, then shipping, then driving out and finally shipping) he was on a trailer to Calgary. My mom picked him up from the shipper as it was the first day of classes and I really needed to make it to class. She over-nighted him for me and then we met midway yesterday afternoon.

I've never purchased a horse sight-unseen before and was on pins and needles waiting to meet him for the first time! He's just as adorable in person as his photos suggested. He has the most floofy ears ever!
Seriously ear floof

He's 4 (but he's only had one birthday because he was born on February 29), approximately 16 HH, raced 15 times, never placing above second with career earnings of ~$5000. His JC name is He's The Fashion and his barn name was/will remain William.

He just needs a show name so I can get him a TIP's number. And to eat all the foods because he is very slim (he currently fits Dee's 75" blankets, but only after I shorten all the straps).
Dee hated him on sight (she normally doesn't give a crap about any other horses)

I can't wait to get to know him and see where his new life leads. And now I've got my very own $900 Facebook pony!
So Fancy, also note the right hind shoe

And so it begins. Right hind shoe!