Should Be Fine

The vet was here and had a look at King. She thinks he will be fine. There is still quite a bit of swelling, but it has gone down to about half of what it was yesterday (probably from all the bute, which is an anti inflammatory). His gums and teeth appear to be okay, though she did say that if one of the roots is cracked it might not be apparent right away. He’s on antibiotics as she thinks some of the swelling could be a bit of infection. However she thinks that it’s primarily just trauma… badly bruised from the kick.

She is a dentist, and had a good look at Dressy’s teeth and also at Ares while she was here. Dressy has the usual sharp edges on top, and some hooks coming back. She gets those every year, so that’s what I expected.

Ares has quite a bit of stuff going on in his mouth, and definitely needs work. Nothing drastic, but just a lot of edges, hooks, etc. He loses a lot of food when he’s chewing, so I knew there was going to be work to do there. She’s offered a very considerable discount on Ares work, which is wonderful. I consider him one of my little charity cases, and I do expect to lose money on him. But it would be nice if he didn’t turn into a money pit. She knows though that I do this for a lot of Standardbreds, to try to get them on track to being useful, happy backyard and/or competition horses instead of ending up as meat or throwaways driven into the ground as buggy horses. So this is my vet’s contribution to my Standardbred rehab efforts. And it’s very much appreciated.


A Bit of A Kick in the Head

Last night, while I was at work, Jen tried turning Twister out for a while with the herd. It didn’t work out too well. I arrived home to see King running Twister hard. The ground was slippery, and I was pretty alarmed at the intensity and speed of the attacks. Twister was not putting up a lot of resistance, just trying to get away. But he did kick out, and managed to double barrel King in the shoulder and the head. Which just infuriated King, who redoubled his attempts to kill Twister. King finally slipped and went down in a muddy spot and we got his attention enough to catch him and bring him in.

He was heaving, billowing steam, and bleeding from a wound to his jaw. Also a big soft lump to the front of his shoulder. I tried to get a good look at his teeth to make sure nothing was broken in there, but there was no way he was letting me anywhere near his mouth. In the end I just left it alone and crossed my fingers that it was all okay in there. The wound was pretty small, more like a puncture, but it did bleed some.

Today the lump on his shoulder is down, so obviously that was nothing too serious. But the jaw is considerably swollen. So I have the vet coming in the morning. He’s on bute in the meantime to try to reduce the swelling. Hopefully she can get in there and have a good look at him.

Twister has a few bite marks, but is otherwise fine. And he’s back by himself in the little side paddock… for his own safety.

King has never been aggressive in his life, so this is not usual at all for him. Diego doesn’t surprise me when he gets like that. But I have no idea why King has developed a sudden hate for Twister… who he has lived with for his whole life.

Oktoberfest With the Queen of the Universe

There are probably a lot of grumpy endurance riders who rode today at the Oktoberfest ride in the Dufferin Forest. It was wet and cold, and got worse through the day. However, I am not one of them. Dressy and I had an absolutely marvelous day on the trails.

We rode in the 25 mile Set Speed ride with Chrystal who was riding her young mare Grace. It’s been a long road to competition for Grace. She came off the Arab racetrack a couple of years ago, and instantly came down with a dreadful case of EHV, badly complicated by bleeding ulcers. She nearly died of it. And once she recovered from that, she had to get over some behaviour issues that caused some injuries to herself (bolting and cutting a leg among other shenanigans). She’s a very competitive little mare, and very fast.

Chrystal is a good match for Grace. But Chrystal has a quirk. She does NOT like to get up in the morning. So as is usual with her, when the set speed horses started at 8am, Chrystal was still tacking up her horse. I rode Dressy in circles… round and round and ROUND. Dressy was not happy about it. She knew perfectly well that we were late and we had horses to catch. But eventually we got all sorted out and got going. With two minutes to spare before the cutoff start time of 20 minutes.

It did not take long before we started passing horses though. Grace quite obviously loved that. An entire day of passing other horses is exactly how Grace likes to organize things. And remembering how Grace behaved on trail just a year ago, I was really pretty impressed at how well she kept it together. Not too much sideways galloping, no knocking other horses off trail (or their feet), and only minimal running off without permission. Dressy was happy to go with Grace. She had no problem trotting after Grace’s gallop, and even broke to a gallop here and there.

At the mid veterinary check, Dressy was in great shape. She had a minus on gut sounds, but that was just hunger. She was otherwise all A’s. Grace also looked good. She often gets girth galls, but this time she seemed fine. The cooler weather probably helped.

We again were a bit late going out after our hold, so we lost another ten minutes. But both mares trucked right along and again started passing horses. I think we actually sped up throughout the loop. And towards the end, as we turned to go up a long grade, Grace picked up speed, and Dressy bolted to catch up. And she actually flattened out into a dead run. And she maintained it for a considerable distance.  It was a balanced, fast, racing gallop. When I first started riding her a few years ago, she couldn’t gallop or canter at all. Then she developed a sort of off beat gallop. Quite a gangly odd thing. Then she sort of developed a better uphill gallop. Then managed it a few times on the flat. And lately she’s started doing a few strides of canter. But she has never flattened out before and run like that. I was a bit flabbergasted.

We walked in for the last mile and a half or so, as we were a bit ahead of our maximum speed (7mph in a bronze level ride) and needed to kill a bit of time. Dressy met parameter, and vetted through her 30 minute check with a Cardiac Recovery Index of 44/36. Which means that she had her pulse taken (44bpm) and then had to trot out 125 feet and back. Then have a second pulse (36) taken exactly 1 minute after the first pulse. It’s a measure of how quickly they recover. Normally you want to see the second pulse be no more than 8 beats higher than the first pulse. But Dressy was 8 beats LOWER. So there was no question that she was absolutely fine. Better than fine in fact, given that she also had all A’s and very loud gut sounds all the way around. She was perky and still trotting way faster than I could keep up with in her final trot out.

Both Grace and Dressy got a Grade 1 finish, which is the highest score you can get in a Graded Set Speed ride. Sort of like a perfect score. Misha thinks there were two other horses with Grade 1, and maybe one with Grade 3, and a bunch of Grade 4. But she rode the 50… in the pouring rain (not Misha’s favourite thing, rain!) and I am not sure if her brain was thawed enough to take it all in. So there could be more. She rode someone else’s horse to a 5th place finish (exactly the pace his owner wanted, so a big success).

Once we were done, we went back and I threw a rain sheet on her. And went to have a cup of hot chocolate (Chrystal’s daughter Olivia made it for me… Chrystal has the BEST kids!). However, on the way over, I ducked under the gooseneck hitch of their trailer, wearing the hood of my raincoat so I couldn’t see, and brought my head up just a little too soon. Oh man. I bashed my forehead so hard I went down like a felled tree. I am now sporting a big goose egg bump on my forehead. It was starting to bruise within a couple of minutes, so it’s probably going to be pretty tomorrow. Seems to be superficial though… no headache. Just a bit of residual humiliation.

It started to rain a bit harder while I was eating some lunch, so I went to check Dressy. She was starting to shiver, even with a blanket and a rain sheet. So I put her on the trailer, packed everything up, and brought her home without staying for the awards. She looks terrific now that she’s home. Bright eyed and happy. Ate her dinner and is back with her herd, Queen of the Universe.

I believe it was the best ride I’ve ever had on her. She was forward, fast, and steady all day. She didn’t overheat. We had absolutely no issues other than just WAY too much fun 🙂


Handsome in Harness

I picked up a used set of jogging harness for Dressy from a friend recently. Last night Misha was bugging me about seeing Dressy all dressed up in it. So I got her harnessed up and ground drove her around the yard. She is lovely in harness I must say. She’s long, lean, and glossy black. And she was behaving like an angel. So I showed both Misha and Jen how to drive her. I should have had my camera, but forgot to grab it.

The mare was very calm, and walked quietly. I was heartened to see that, as she had a rep for being a runaway on the track. Even during morning jogging she was difficult to drive and they used to tow (pony) her behind another jog cart. But she looked quite pleased with herself, and accepted accolades from all of us for her beauty and charm with a graceful nod and smug acceptance of cookies.

I talked to the Standardbred trainer I used to work for, and he thinks he has an old jog cart that he can give me. I want to see if she will jog politely around the back field. It’s about 3/4 of a mile around, and I’m hoping that we can do a bit of that over the winter. If she behaves well enough, I can maybe tow King and get some exercise into both of them at the same time. Especially on days when I don’t have enough time to ride them both. Fingers crossed…

Heading out for the Oktoberfest ride today after work. Dressy is in the 25 mile Set Speed ride tomorrow. The weather is cool, and that suits her much better than the heat of the summer. It should be a good day for her.




Twister’s Work is Done

Twister spent the summer taking care of Reno, the orphan foal. He was quite wonderful at it. He seemed to know that Reno needed shepherding and comfort, and was quite willing to put up with baby shenanigans. So good at, in fact, that all three foals spent much of their time cavorting around him, chewing on his mane, or generally hanging out with him. The two mares got so comfortable with him that they left him to babysit much of the time and wandered off to do lunch by themselves.  But when Reno got tired of one of the other foal’s rough play and ran back to Twister for protection, the big guy (bigger than babies anyway) would glare at Al (it is usually Al who causes trouble) and send him scurrying back to his mom.  Esmerelda, who is our only filly this year, was so enamoured of Twister that she’d stand chewing his neck and/or licking him for long stretches. Twister put up with everything with grace and good cheer. Never biting or kicking any of them. Just the occasional glare when they got totally out of control.

Twister helped some with the weaning process. But it was obvious that Reno had grown up enough that he really didn’t need him. Reno is so confident that the other two foals took a great deal of comfort from him.

Last night I took the truck and trailer down to the farm at evening feed. Jen loaded up her pony while I fed, and we brought him home. There was a fair bit of excitement here as everyone welcomed him home… well, perhaps welcomed is the wrong word. There was a lot of crazed herd dynamics. Twister had to kick King, since King was being a bit pushy. But then Diego joined the mix, and that was bad. Diego is not polite about his heirarchical machinations. He gets downright ugly about it. So Twister got to go into the small side paddock for the night.

Twister, Nikita, and King will all be put in a separate paddock this winter anyway, since they are the “fat ponies”, so it is not a crisis if it takes a while for Diego and Twister to come to terms.