Maya’s mother promised her a trip to the park today. But this morning Maya announced “Maya ride Dressy!” Her mother explained that if she went to ride Dressy she would not get to go to the park. Maya thought about it and nodded emphatically, “Maya RIDE DRESSY!”
So this evening, Maya arrived looking very cheerful. “Hello Dennanna, Maya Ride Dressy!”
We all trooped out to the barn to see Maya ride. First she got on Dressy. Dressy was so good that when I tried to lead her forward to give Maya few steps of walking in the barn aisle (with Maya’s mother and Jen holding her on both sides), Dressy would only take one step and stop. Another step and stop. She was just much too worried that the baby would fall off.
So then we brought King in and put him in the aisle. Maya wanted to ride him too. King was perfectly happy to have that much attention and he stood nicely. But he doesn’t have quite the same maternal instinct as Dressy, so he wasn’t afraid to walk forward and back up with Maya riding him. It gave her a little bit more of a ride that way. Here is a little short video clip of Maya sitting on King… She’s still kind of obsessed with Dressy though, even while riding King. Kept pointing at her and announcing “That’s Dressy!”
Picked up the EasyCare Fit Kit from Baker’s Tack Shop the other day so that I can fit Dressy for some new boots. I really like the Gloves that I got for King. The only issue I had with them was the old style gaiters, which gave King terrible rubs around the pasterns until I replaced them with the new style.
So I got Dressy’s feet all cleaned up and tried on different sizes from the Fit Kit. She’s a 1.5, and the fit looks good. There’s a bit of a V in the front slot once they are on, and they are nice and tight. There was a distinct ‘pop’ when I took them off in fact. I think they’d probably stay on if she walked around in them without any attachment at all. So with the gaiters they should be very secure on her.
The hind feet are also 1.5, so that’s convenient. I’ll probably just order the fronts for now though. We won’t need boots on her hinds until Stormont at the earliest. That’s the first ride this season that has any rocky footing. Might as well make sure they work fine on the fronts before committing to putting them on the hinds as well.
She went well in the original style of Easy Boot, but we had some problems with her getting sore behind when the buckles were cranked too tight. So the Gloves should suit her much better.
This year, I’m trying to focus on heat. Dressy has always had issues at very hot rides. She is bigger than the Arabs, and is black (mostly) too boot.
She’s got a few advantages that do help to make up for those shortcomings of course, which is how she’s done as well as she has. She is fairly small-bodied. She looks bigger than she is because her withers are high, and her legs look very long with that shallow body. She’s exceedingly thin-skinned so when she heats up and starts to sweat, all her veins pop up under the surface and are very visible. That helps the blood to cool which then cools (relatively speaking) the rest of her.
She is always inverted coming into the vet checks. Inversion is when the horse’s breaths are faster than their heart rate. In other words, she pants just like a dog to cool down. It’s not a bad thing, so long as she doesn’t stay inverted for very long. If my Arab, King, came into a check inverted I’d probably have heart failure myself (especially since he’s so lazy that he’s probably never stressed his system in his life). I expect it with Dressy though, and am not alarmed. I just get to work cooling her as fast and as aggressively as possible.
But this year, I’d like to see what I can do to improve her ability to cope with hot weather. So I’m trying a few new strategies.
The first thing is simple heat acclimatizing. She now has a heavier winter blanket. That’s going to stay on for the remainder of the winter and spring.
I also picked up a nice quarter sheet that just ties on the back of the saddle. It’s cotton with a polar fleece lining. I’ve put that on the saddle, and will leave it on all through the spring and early summer (except at rides of course). I rode her in it on Monday. I also have a heavy woolen quarter sheet that I could put on as well. But it has to go under the saddle, so it’s a bit more fiddly to tack her up with it.
Depending on her coat, I may clip her before the first ride. But her coat is normally very fine anyway, so I will have to see.
Another thing I’m trying this year is more salt in her diet. A lot more. All her meals now have loose salt added (she used to just get it in her morning feed). At the moment it’s around 2 ounces per day mixed into her Tri-max and soaked beet pulp. Normally horses will eat no more than 1% concentration of salt in meals before turning up their noses. But apparently if you gradually get them used to it they will eat a lot more. Susan Garlinghouse is giving up to 4 or 5 ounces of salt in each mash successfully.
The point to all that salt is to get Dressy drinking more water. She does drink well. But even as well as she drinks, I don’t think it’s enough to make up for the buckets of sweat coming off her. It should also allow me to feed her a lot more salt and/or electrolytes in her meals at rides. Which should help somewhat with electrolyte losses. In theory anyway… we’ll see how it all works out in practice!
Just got back from the annual awards banquet. Brooke went to the awards with me. She was very excited. She rode Dressy for the first half of the season (until her motorcycle accident). And she had accumulated enough points by then to hold on to 7th place in the Junior rankings.
She was also in the Youth Team Challenge, which gives the kids points for any volunteer work they do, as well as their competing. So if they pit crew, volunteer at rides, stuff envelopes… whatever… they get points for their team. Brooke’s team was Brooke, Stephanie, and Laura. They took second place.
So she picked up her ribbon, and all the great prizes that sponsors donated (thanks to Misha’s initiative actually) for the kids. She got a nice pair of SSG gloves, a certificate for a bag of feed from Shur-Gain, and a bottle of Sinew-X from Omega Alpha. As well as a hat, and a syringe. Maybe more stuff too… I think I lost track.
Dressy won the high point Standardbred trophy again this year. Which I’m very proud of, of course. There were four Standardbreds competing through the season. I sent Brooke up, since I thought she’d get a bit of thrill collecting the trophy.
But I’m actually more impressed that Dressy won Reserve Champion in the Set Speed category (which are distances of under 50 miles), since she was up against a lot more horses of all breeds, many of them Arabs. Mind you, the horse that beat her was a great little Arab. Michelle Watling’s Klein. Awesome little horse, and cute as a button.
We were up late, dancing the night away (well… Brooke danced under duress. Chrystal and I held her hostage on the dance floor until, after a couple of aborted attempts, she finally escaped. Apparently teenaged girls don’t like making complete fools of themselves. Who knew?) Brooke stayed in a hotel room packed wall to wall with kids, so could not have slept much. I had to go to a board meeting this morning, and then drive several hours home. And then we had to fix the stall wall that King sat on yesterday (amazing how much damage a butt that size can do… just passively sitting on a wall). By the time that was all done, I was totally out of steam.
Brooke still had enough energy to clean stalls, play some clicker training games with Ares, and groom him before she went off home. She says she’s tired. But you couldn’t tell that by looking at her. She still had a big grin on her face when she left.
Dressy showed no particular interest in her ribbons. Perhaps I’ll haul the trophy out to show her tomorrow, and see if she cares at all. It’s probably all beneath her. The Queen of the Universe rules… trinkets are not likely to impact that greater truth.
Jen’s 2-year old niece, Maya met the horses for the first time the other day. I went out to the barn to find both Dressy and Ares fascinated with the tiny human in her mother Robin’s arms. Maya fervently patted Dressy’s neck over the stall door while she and I had a chat about the horses.
“Do you like the horses, Maya?”
“YES”, she nodded firmly.
“Would you like to ride a horse?”
“YES”, another firm nod.
“Wanna go ride fifty miles with me tomorrow?”
“NO!” She was very clear on that.(Okay, maybe it was a bit too soon for that idea).
“Wanna ride Dressy right now?”
So we brought Dressy in and put her on the crossties. Dressy just wanted to see the baby. She adores kids. The smaller they are, the better Dressy likes them. She goes all doe-eyed and gooey. Very maternal mare.
Robin was not quite as convinced as Jen and I were that it was a grand idea. But Maya was completely good with it, so up she went. BIG smile. We got her to pat Dressy’s withers and she did that enthusiastically. Eventually something startled her (not Dressy… the mare stood like a rock) and she wanted to get down. But she went right back to patting Dressy, so she wasn’t all that scared apparently.
Jen just informed me that today, Maya has spent the entire day babbling about the horses.
“Mama… want ride DRESSY!”
Jen is very pleased that her initial attempts to infect the poor unsuspecting child with horse fever have worked so well. In fact, I think I might have even heard some chortling…
I haven’t ridden more than a couple of times in the last two weeks due to the footing. It’s just been horrible. Frozen mud, and big skating rink patches of ice everywhere. It’s gradually been melting off during the days, and for the last few days I’ve been eyeing the ground hopefully as the ice patches disappeared.
We’ve had quite a bit of snow over the last 36 hours. Brooke came over, so we decided to go out for a little walk with the horses to try out the footing. King hasn’t been ridden for a few weeks, so he was pretty enthusiastic, “helping” me put his tack on and being generally cute and obnoxious while I tried to get him ready.
It’s quite pretty out with all the fresh snow. But we had to go down the driveway for a short stretch to get to the back field, and hadn’t gone more than fifty feet or so before we started hitting small patches of ice under the snow. We managed to get off the driveway and into the grassy areas which seemed sort of okay, but still rough footing under the snow. But then we had to cross the driveway again and hit a bad patch that I had no idea was there. King went for one big skid. Then Dressy hit it. My heart was in my mouth watching, because Dressy ended up skidding on all four feet, sideways. Down a slope. Geez. She and Brooke were both fine. But really, that was enough for me. We quit for the day. Apparently the footing is NOT safe yet.
On our way back from the big slide though, we rode around the edge of the pond (where the footing was quite good) and I pulled out my camera. Being conscious of King’s penchant for exquisitely timed antics and not wanting to lose my camera, I pulled off one glove and put the camera strap around my wrist. JUST as I did that… with one glove in my teeth, the reins in my left hand, camera in my right… RIGHT on schedule (the little rat!), King broke into an exuberant sideways canter through the snow. Me, cursing up a storm, calling him creatively bad names as I tried to find my reins. And Brooke, trying not to fall off Dressy, laughing. I told her if she kept laughing I was going to make her ride King instead of Dressy next time…
I managed to snap a couple of good close up shots of my knee in the melee. But then took this shot of the pond, and King’s completely innocent face after we got re-organized from his romp.
Took a few photos of King yesterday. He is, of course, fat, dirty, and hairy. But he had a bit of fun anyway. I thought I’d free lunge him in the round pen for a while. But the footing was nasty. Frozen mud. He actually looked slightly lame in there, but then I led him out and he had a little bucking spree on the lawn and looked perfectly sound. RUDE, but sound 🙂
Since he appeared to be full of steam with no way to blow it off, I turned him out with Diego and Zamaluck where the footing is marginally better. Much careening ensued.
Eventually, I put Dressy in with them too, since she was also full of steam and rudeness. More careening ensued 🙂
I’ve put in a little slideshow below with quite a few of the photos. Dressy has very obviously been hanging around with a bad crowd. She’s got her tail flagged so high in those photos that she looks more Arab than the Arabs.
I haven’t quite got all the settings figured out on the new little camera. But it didn’t do too badly considering I had the shutter speed too slow and it was a fairly drearily overcast afternoon.
After Ares realized that he had lived through the vacuum monster attack, Brooke took him out to try lungeing him in the round pen. They had a few miscommunications, and Ares got kind of worry-headed. He just desperately wants to be a good horse, so he stresses if he doesn’t understand. But once Brooke figured out how to give him signals he could understand, he settled down a bit.
I got on him again and rode for a few minutes. He was a little more worried about it all today though, since Misha was cantering Diego back and forth on the driveway (trying to work out a few kinks there too). Ares really didn’t understand what they were doing over there, and could mostly only see Misha floating along above the hedge with the sound of disembodied hoofbeats echoing. So it all looked and sounded totally WRONG to him. But other than looking alarmed and turning to see a few times, he was quite good.
Today Ares learned about vacuum cleaners. He was quite disgustingly dirty, and when Brooke brushed him, billowing clouds of dirt just kept resettling on his coat. So I pulled out the horse vac. I don’t use it very often (much to King’s disgust… he adores being vacuumed). Ares seems to have never encountered a vacuum before, because there was a great deal of alarm on his face as I brought it over. His eyes got huge and his whole body trembled. He quite clearly knew that he was about to be sucked into that evil thing and digested.
However, as he usually does with bad, scary things, he just kind of gulped, quivered, and waited to die. Brooke started carefully on his shoulder while I held his head and told him what a good boy he was. “Okay” he told me “I will stand nicely while she kills me”. So I stepped back and took some photos.