Aprilfest and the Many Emilys

Friday night, my two pit crew kids, Ana and Emily (who I will call Emily1 for reasons that will become very clear), arrived here at the farm. They slept in the horse trailer that night so they’d be ready to go first thing Saturday morning.

We had to run down the road early to feed the horses at work and get back home to meet another Emily (who will be Emily2). Emily2 has a lovely little Quarter Horse named Duke. She emailed me some time ago about mentoring. So I’ve been answering her questions as best I can. Aprilfest was her first ride. It can be a bit hard to find the entrance to the ride site, so she followed us up with her truck and trailer.

The ride offered a 12 mile set speed ride and a ride n tie on Saturday, and then a 12 mile and a 25 mile set speed, and of course a 50 mile endurance on Sunday. Emily2 was planning on doing the 12 mile set speed rides both days. When Emily2 asked about resting heart rates, I offered to check Duke’s. Expecting a resting rate of 40 or more (given that he’s a Quarter Horse, not an Arab), I started listening. Holy. Cow. 28. That’s low. Especially given that he was freshly off the trailer, and had to be at least somewhat stressed at being in a whole new situation (though he sure didn’t look it!).

Dressy and I did the 12 mile set speed on Saturday. I am pretty sure I’ve never seen that many people in a 12 mile ride since I started in OCTRA. Up until last year, all our 12 mile rides were just mileage rides. But last year, set speed was voted in as a new discipline (sport) in OCTRA. And at the AGM in February, we decided to include Set Speed in the calculation of points towards the year end overall trophy (along with endurance, competitive trail, and ride n tie). So there’s a bit more incentive to ride even the shorter distances.

We rode with Sue and her good endurance horse, Clay. He’s a very mellow Arab. Just travels on down the trail. I’ve ridden with them before, and Dressy really quite likes Clay. She doesn’t always like other horses, often because they are too slow, or inconsistent in their speeds. It’s probably irregular speeds that bother her the most. But Clay goes steadily, and Dressy was very happy. Sue is fun to ride with. She has such a good time that it’s impossible to NOT have fun yourself.

My pit crew kids were awesome. We had another one join us at the ride… Viktoria. She’s a horse crazy kid that wandered up to me in a parking lot to visit my horse. We ended up chatting about distance riding and she got really interested. So her dad drove her up on Saturday for the afternoon. Chrystal’s daughter Olivia acted as the crew captain, since she has been crewing for years and is highly competent. The girls all sponged Dressy madly to get her cooled down at all the vet checks. Despite the cool weather, Dressy was very hot at every check. That may have been because of… well… all the fun (speed) we were having 🙂

I was very happy with Dressy’s final pulse on Saturday of 36. Her vet card was perfect, all A’s. Of couse it was only 12 miles, so really it should have been perfect. But that 36 meant that, since we finished at the maximum speed of 7mph, we got a Grade 1 completion (the best possible), and we tied for high score with Lesley and her lovely Anglo Arab, Tate. I have to give my pit crew credit for this one. Dressy is always too hot (temperature-wise, not temperament-wise… well, sometimes that too!) at competitions. Her heart rate is almost entirely dependent on how fast I can get her cooled down. By myself that can be a daunting task. But with Emily1, Anastasia, Viktoria, and Olivia all helping me sponge her, it made it much easier and faster.

Right after we finished, we tacked back up and headed out for the start of the 6 mile Ride n Tie. There were only two teams, so it was a lot quieter start than the 12 mile set speed. I teamed up with Chrystal’s older daughter, Emily. Who of course will have to be referred to as Emily3. She is a running enthusiast, which is my absolute favorite kind of ride n tie partner 🙂 I am an abysmally bad runner. But I have learned (with my experience of hotwalking thoroughbreds) to walk at a very good clip. So Emily3 started out running. I rode Dressy. FAST. All the way to the three mile check. There was a lay judge and another volunteer out there waiting for us. They were very startled to see me come in that quickly. I’m sure there must have been smoke drifting off Dressy’s hooves, given the speed we went. I jumped off and tied her, and left her there for Emily to vet through when she got that far. Then I started hiking. Made myself walk as fast as possible and only ran the downhills. I was pretty impressed to see, looking at my gps watch, that on the flat I can hike at up to around 4.5 mph. By the time Emily3, riding Dressy, caught up, I’d done 2.25 miles. I jumped on Dressy, rode her almost to the finish and tied her for Emily3 to ride to the finish. So we both finished before either of the other team (which included Em’s dad… who had to listen to the both of us crowing about it for the rest of the weekend).

So Saturday was a great day for Dressy. Two starts, two firsts 😀

Sunday we were in the 25 mile set speed ride. I had planned to enter the Silver level. But she’d done so well on Saturday, and though the mileage was not high, she went very fast all day. Fastest in the ride n tie actually (10-12 mph with lots of big hills). Silver level would have required that she go a bit faster yet (8mph). So I chose to drop her down to Bronze, which has a 7mph hour maximum average speed. And I’m glad I did. She had a great day, and did well, but it was enough.

We again went very fast on the first loop, riding with Sue and Clay for most of it, then dropping back to let her go. On the second loop I went out alone. Dressy trotted her slow trot for the entire loop. We didn’t walk at all, but didn’t hurry either. Chrystal and Emily3 caught up with us about 3 miles from the finish. Then gradually a whole lot of other horses started piling up behind us. Apparently riders are figuring out the strategy for set speed and are trying to hit that maximum speed. There were ten or fifteen horses at least who all finished right at the maximum speed.

Dressy’s final pulse was 48. Still very respectable and she got a grade 2. But her heart was rollercoastering a bit. Speeding up, slowing down. It’s a sign that she’s tired. Nothing wrong, and she still had all A’s on her vet card. But I know when she does that heart rate thing, she’s given it her all. So I’m glad I dropped her down to bronze.

She was absolutely STARVING after the 25. It was hard to get her to trot for the vet, because she was trotting over the FOOD (grass) and her mouth was sinking dowwwwwnnnnn to that luscious grass. I had a hard time getting her back to the trailer too… with all that diving for grass. After gobbling down all the food in sight, and a short nap, she was back to being bright eyed and sassy.

Emily2’s little guy, Duke, had a wonderful day too. Twice during the day he had pulses of 36. I was totally impressed with him. What a nice NICE little horse. Calm, well-behaved, and cheerful. Emily2 told me that he had a blast on the trails. Happy and forward. Duke looks like he’s going to be a star.

Sue and her horse Clay entered the Gold level of the set speed. She’s actually the first person in OCTRA to have attempted Gold. It’s a maximum average speed of 10mph. Like all the levels, in order to do well (grade 1), you have to get as close as you can to that maximum average and still have a very low final pulse. I’m not sure what Clay’s final pulse was, but it must have been good because they did achieve a grade 1 finish. So that’s far and away the best finish ever in a set speed event in Ontario.

Oh and in the endurance… Elaine won the ride. And BC. And high vet score. She had a very good day. Charlene was second. Michelle and Allieena fell, landing on Michelle’s ankle. Michelle finished the ride THEN went to the hospital to have it checked out.

On the way home in the truck, Anastasia was very enthusiastic when I asked if she wanted me to find her a ride n tie partner. So Emily3 and I may have additional competition at the next ride n tie.

Dressy was bright and cheerful this morning and quite happy to see me. I found a bit of heat in her left hind ankle, but then found a small abrasion right there. Looks like she probably banged herself on something. No lameness and no tenderness. So don’t think it’s anything to be concerned about. Though I’ll keep an eye on it.

Here Comes Aprilfest

Tomorrow is that start of our ride season here in Ontario. I’m always excited and very disorganized for the first ride of the year. I have to reassemble all my trailer and horse camping gear. Get groceries for me, groceries for Dressy, clothes for me, clothes for Dressy. You sure have to take a lot of STUFF when you camp with your horse.

So the plan is to do a 12 mile Set Speed on Saturday. It starts at 1:15pm. We are going to have to do it fairly quickly, because we are then going to be entered in the 12 mile Ride n Tie at 4pm. So we are going to have to scamper through that final vet check after the Set Speed ride. Yikes. Chrystal’s daughter Emily will be my running partner. And when I say that, I do mean the “running” part. Emily will be the primary runner. I’m pathetic on my own two feet. She loves running though, and actually does it for ***fun***!

Sunday we will do the 25 Set Speed. Not sure if I will enter the bronze or the silver level. Bronze is 7mph, and Silver is 8mph. She’s capable of either level. But I am working on keeping her steady and relaxed on trail. So I will likely wait until I see how she does Saturday before deciding what level to enter. If she relaxes and doesn’t revert to race brain, we might step up.

Farrier Visit and the Weather

Wow… Winter has returned. Or maybe I should say “arrived”, since we really didn’t have much of one this year. Yesterday was sort of horrible. Snow that was melting on the ground. And on the horses. Cold and windy too.

The horses have mostly lost their winter coats. Dressy is as slick as glass. And King is pretty much shedded out too. Dressy wasn’t wet or cold of course because she’s still heavily blanketed in my attempt at acclimating her to heat before the competition season starts. And she owns the run in shelter anyway, being the Queen of the Universe and all. So she was dry and comfy.

But King and Ares were outside when I went out in the afternoon to get them in for the farrier. King went in his stall to await his turn. He looked a little unhappy at being wet, but otherwise fine. When we brought him back out to do his feet though, there was a cold draft from the front door (which is broken at the moment so won’t stay closed) and he started shaking. And tucking his butt under himself. And then when the farrier picked up his right hind, his left hindquarter cramped up and he almost fell down. The farrier switched to the other hind and managed to trim it. But I told him just to stop at that point. They were trimmed but not rounded off or tidied, and I didn’t think it was important enough to make him stand there any longer. I bundled him up in a winter blanket and put him in his stall for the night.

He was much better within about an hour, and hollering for his dinner. Which was a relief, since this is exactly the sort of situation that seems to trigger colic in him. My little hothouse flower…

Ganaraska Ride

Yesterday we went over to the Ganaraska Forest for a ride. I took Dressy. Misha brought Diego, and Brooke came along too. As we were driving down Porter Road towards the forest, I dropped Brooke off. And she walked into Chrystal’s place. They rode Chrystal’s two mares down the road to meet us at the parking lot. Brooke was on Miss T, the little super Morgan. Chrystal was on Grace.

Wendy and Tracey also rode to meet us. At the parking lot, Wendy, Tracey, and Misha went off together to ride. I rode back up Porter Road on Dressy to meet Chrystal and Brooke. Dressy was a bit concerned that the her little herd had left her, so she was very relieved to see Grace and Miss T come over the highway overpass towards her. In fact, she was so glad to see them, that she got quite cow-eyed friendly with Miss T. And Miss T was being sweet to her too. Miss T. Sweet. Two concepts that just NEVER go together. But there they were. Bossmare best friends.

The goal was just to practice calm group trail behaviour. We worked on the passing game that we were doing at the clinic last weekend. The last horse in the line trots past the other two to the front, and slows to a walk. And we just repeat that over and over. Leapfrogging to the front of the line. Miss T and Dressy figured it out right away, and were very good. Grace was a bit less steady-minded though. She is not good in company, and it’s hard for her to have horses pass her. She’s very competitive due to her racing background. She jigs and bounces, and swaps directions back and forth across the trail (which is a sneaky way of blocking horses from passing her). But Chrystal persevered, and there did seem to be a bit of improvement. And to be fair to Grace, Miss T and Dressy had already learned this game at the clinic so they had a good idea that they were not about to be abandoned in the woods.

There is a nice little sandy-bottomed pond on the trail. So we always go there at least once so the horses can drink. All three were pretty obnoxious though. Splashing wildly and boldly venturing out into the deep end without permission. Grace is small, and Chrystal was complaining that her boots were about an inch above the water. I didn’t want to tell her that her right boot had already been IN the water. Apparently they were waterproof enough that it didn’t seep in because she never did complain about wet feet. There was enough water whooshing around that we all got a bit damp anyway. I think all three mares would love to go swimming in that pond. It’d be a long ride back in wet boots and breeches though.

We did some trotting eventually when we got bored with playing the passing game. And then Brooke went firing off in front with Miss T. Eventually galloping wildly up some hills with a big grin on her face. I think Miss T was grinning too. That kid likes speed way too much, which suits Miss T perfectly.

On the way back, Chrystal was beginning to get sore and tired from Grace’s jigging and silliness. So I offered to trade horses with her. It was interesting. Grace feels tiny. Itty bitty after riding Dressy. She never stops fussing. Head up, head down. Jig to the left. Jig to the right. Shake the head. Lather, rinse, repeat. I can see why Chrystal gets tired of it. I tried working with her to get her to walk. And she did improve enough that she walked maybe the last quarter mile. But it took a lot of focus. I had to demand walk. Throw the reins. Then snatch up fast when she broke to jigging again. I had to remind myself constantly to sit back and breathe to get her to settle. Sit back. Half halt. Breathe. Relax seat and upper legs. Breathe.

Grace is a great little horse in many ways. And if they can work through all the little issues, she’s fast enough to run every horse I know into the ground. But I do love Dressy. And so did Chrystal as they ambled along politely beside the jigging Grace 🙂

Brooke and Miss T got along great. Brooke may ride her at a few competitions this summer. She can’t ride Dressy too much this year, since I’m riding her myself.

We put all three mares into the trailer for the short drive back to Chrystal’s. Where we were greeted by Chrystal’s daughter Olivia who made us dinner. Lasagna, salad, and garlic bread. It was delicious, and we all ate like ravening wolves of course.

Centered Riding Clinic With Becky Hart

I was at a Centered Riding clinic taught by Becky Hart all weekend. Becky Hart is a three time Endurance World Champion, as well as being a level 3 Centered Riding coach. So I was pretty excited about this clinic.

Friday morning I was very relieved to see that both of the foals at work were doing much better. The clinic itself started on Saturday morning. But I had booked a semi-private lesson with Becky on Friday afternoon. With all the worries about the two remaining foals, I had been considering cancelling my lesson and just going Saturday. But it all worked out, and I went home after work, loaded up Dressy and headed out.

On the way, I picked up a passenger… Benson. He’s Sandy’s horse. A cute CUTE little chestnut Arab gelding. Benson wasn’t too keen on getting into a strange trailer. Especially a head-to-head, which meant he had to back into a stall. Eventually the barn owner came out to help, and we did get him loaded.

We arrived in good time to get Dressy tacked up for her lesson at 3pm. Marg and her horse Desmil were the other students. I was a bit worried that Dressy would be very bad in the arena. The last time I had her in an indoor arena was really quite embarrassing. I took her to a dressage lesson at Heather’s place, and she was appallingly bad. Head in the air… rampaging around… our circles were mostly lopsided triangles, stopping and starting. Pacing. Racking (or something vaguely resembling a rack anyway). Staggering around hither and yon. Yanking me out of the saddle. I kept telling Heather that she really was a good girl normally. So this time around I was quite worried that she’d be awful again.

Just to keep me guessing though, this time she was really quite good. I think it helped that we had that lesson first though. Marg’s Arab, Desmil, is really quite a nicely behaved and fairly low-energy horse. So I think that helped her relax in the first few minutes. The other good thing was that we really didn’t do much (or maybe any?) trotting in that first lesson. Becky went over each of our positions, making some adjustments, first standing still, then having us walk around the arena. Marg has some issues with stiffness due to old injuries (an artificial hip as well as some other fairly major bionic improvements… Marg is pretty amazing actually), so Becky helped her with ways to manage that.

My biggest concern was that I have been collapsing my left side. I’ve known it was happening for a long time. Several years at least. I’ve had to shift my saddle back to center more and more often. It has been making me completely crazy, since I can feel it happening but can’t prevent it. Becky gave me a couple of things to try at first. They didn’t seem to work. But then she had me visualize stretching a rubber band diagonally from my right hip to my left shoulder. And there it was. Magically I was straight. For the rest of that lesson, I didn’t have to shift the saddle even once. That was just a huge relief. I’d have gone to the clinic just for that one single visualization.

We had pizza that night, and Becky did a talk on endurance. This was not an endurace clinic, but of the 17? or so riders, only one was not a distance rider or wanting to be a distance rider. That was Lisa, whose first love is dressage. But Lisa was very interested in the topic anyway, so I don’t think she minded, and the rest of us were all ears. It was pretty interesting to hear exactly what the top riders are doing to condition their horses, and to hear the racing strategies. The big thing these days seems to be walking. She says that many of the top horses are walking two or three hours a day. Either under saddle or in exercise machines. Those are the walkers that leave the horses loose between the moving gates. They are pretty expensive and far beyond my means. But I thought about that a lot over the weekend, and have decided to try a lot more walking under saddle with Dressy. Not only will it be good conditioning for her, it might help to settle her brain a little bit. She’s been getting way too racy lately, and it’s been getting more and more stressful to ride her. A couple of days a week of strictly walking for two or three hours might relax both of us a great deal.

On Saturday, we started out with a discussion of the concepts of Centered Riding. I sort of knew a lot of it, since I’ve read the book and watched several of the videos. But the review was helpful. Then we moved to the arena.

We had two large group lessons first. I think this was where she did a basic assessment of what each of us needed. Dressy was quite excited by the number of horses in there with her. As well as all the people watching. She did a bit of jittering around at first. But settled down to walk fairly quickly.

Becky divided us up into groups of four to ride. A couple of people didn’t have a horse, but then some borrowed horses. It ended up being four groups of four horse/riders.

We watched and listened to the other lessons, which was actually pretty useful. It is good to practice stuff, but it’s also good to just absorb some of it and see the changes in both rider and horse. Becky is obviously a very experienced teacher. She’s patient and very observant. Takes her time and makes sure you understand what she’s trying to get you to do.

Although my crookedness problem now has a solution, there was one issue that I couldn’t immediately resolve. Becky wanted me to tilt my pelvis back a little bit so I’m on the flat part of my seatbones. But when I tried to ride like that, I had screaming pain in my SI joint on the right side. She had me return to the position that didn’t hurt. But I think if I do more stretching and continue with the Yoga work that Nancy is sending me, I can get my back to release enough to allow the position change.

For the most part, Becky left my riding position alone. I think that it’s not too bad when Dressy is just standing or walking in a straight line. But I definitely tend to fall apart on the corners. Dropping my inside shoulder. It’s a common error. I’m worse on the collapsing side, naturally. Dressy has trouble with corners, and needs quite a bit of help to maintain her balance and bend through them, and I’m not helping her enough. She’s pulling me out of the saddle a bit too, since she is so staunchly resistant to bending. If I’m not perfectly balanced coming into it (and I do tend to forget where I’m going and unexpectedly find myself IN the corner), then Dressy jams her nose out hard (unbalancing me further) and we slow down and stagger through it.

So Becky had me lift and shift my inside shoulder back through the turn (it’s exaggerated at first to retrain the movement). Step into the outside stirrup. Lengthen my inside leg. Open my inside rein to get more lateral flexion. And breathe. We learned to breathe out for every cue… up transitions, down transitions, etc.

Sandy and Benson practiced trailer loading both Saturday and Sunday when they had a few minutes and could play at going up and down the ramp with no pressure. And Benson, being basically good hearted and reliable was perfectly happy with the trailer after a couple of short sessions.

Sunday morning, Becky had us put saddles on a couple of those big exercise balls. They are kind of bouncy and responsive in a way that’s similar to horse’s back. So it allows you to feel how a horse’s back will raise with the correct movement of the seatbones.

We also did an exercise with a partner that demonstrated how the inside rein/outside rein affects the horse. Standing side by side, the “rider” reaches across the back of the “horse” and touches the outside of the rib cage, and with the other hand reaches across in front to guide the hand of the “horse”. It’s sort of hard to describe, but it mimics the action of the reins, and gives you a more visceral understanding of how it affects the horse.

We had another series of lessons with four horse/riders in each group. By this time we all could see quite a bit of difference in most of the horses. Deb’s Arab off the track was trotting nicely on a much softer rein. And when they stopped at the end of the lesson, he stretched his head down and relaxed quite a few times around the arena. Everyone was very impressed, because it would have been impossible to imagine him doing that the day before. Judy’s horse, Coquetta the Paso Fino was also much calmer (though Dressy still hated her for some unknown reason). Benson was still perfect and it’s hard to improve on perfect. But Sandy was looking more relaxed and happier riding him even when he did a few little zigzags at the baby raccoons chattering inside the kickboards. Lisa had a lovely big dapple grey Curly that had a ton of personality. His name was Sammy (which I believe was short for part of his registered name, Samurai something or other). Lisa said he could be a bit difficult sometimes, but he and Lisa looked pretty good out there.

I was a bit unhappy to see my darling little Foxy being a witchy mare though. Saturday she was rather obstinate and sticky about going forward. But Sunday. Wow. What a rude girl. She was pinning her ears and shaking her head. Stamping and kicking out. Her owner is a very nice rider, but has an ankle that was shattered a few years ago and is pinned together with a whole lot of hardware. So she really can’t use that leg and can’t afford to do battle with her horse. She finally had enough and got off. And then asked me if I wanted to get on her for a few minutes. And yes. You know I really DID want to get on that bad little horse. I reintroduced myself and some rules of etiquette to Foxy at the same time. I was mad enough that I did not care what my riding looked like and whether I was centered or not, so I’m sure it wasn’t pretty riding. Foxy WAS going forward when I asked, and was not allowed to have an opinion about that. When Sue got back on her later though, she told me that Foxy was much better for her. So that was a relief. I do not want to see Sue get hurt.

The final exercise of the day was a huge group lesson with all the remaining horses. A few people had gone home, so I think there were maybe 10 of us left by then. There was a bit of excitement at first. Mike’s horse, Easy, was coming apart at the seams when Dressy and I came in. I scooted her over to the far side and tried to stay clear of the rodeo. But Mike rode through it and got him sorted out and Easy figured out that he could cope with all those horses eventually. We did a sort of a drill team thing with all sorts of patterns. Dressy and Benson were the first pair, so that was a bit stressful. I get confused enough just following the other horses, never mind having to follow unexpected directions from a loudspeaker. But we did pretty well actually. And having to match Dressy’s stride (she’s 16hh and leggy) to Benson’s (who is perhaps 14.1hh and sturdy) was a bit of a trick, so I was proud of her.

All in all, Dressy was wonderful. Far FAR better than I expected in the arena. She handled horses milling around her without threatening to kill them. She tried hard to slow down her walk and trot to match all the little horses (mostly Arabs) around her. She worked with me almost the entire time, and not against me. A most co-operative boss mare. I was very proud of her.

Foal Update

On Thursday afternoon when we brought the horses in, I thought Diva looked a bit flat. And then I heard her grind her teeth. Which would indicate that she’d developed ulcers. We were quite alarmed and took her temperature. 103.5. Damn it. Boss called the vet immediately.

The vet was at another call very near by, so it didn’t take him long to get there. He was alarmed too after we lost Delilah to very similar (but worse) symptoms just a few days ago. He treated Diva a bit differently though. I am going by memory, so I might have it wrong, but I think he gave her metronidizole, and amikin, as well as one other antibiotic (maybe ampicillin?). Plus banamine and omeprazole. He also treated Max, who had a temperature of 102. That’s not high enough to be a concern since normal foal temperatures can be up to 101.5. But no one wanted to take a chance that he might get whatever that bug was.

The boss has been staying in the apartment over the barn to monitor the foaling mares and newborns (with a foaling camera system). So he kept an eye on her overnight. I suspect he got very little sleep that night. But by morning she seemed to be over the worst of it. When I got in at around 6 am, her temp was down to 101.5, and her pulse was down to around 76 (which is normal for a foal – they are normally about double the rate of an adult horse). She was still somewhat quieter than normal going out. But definitely brighter than the night before.

Max was a little demon going out. Rearing and charging off in all directions at once. So I’m fairly certain that he felt perfectly fine.

I’ve been away for the weekend, but I’ve had a couple of updates by text, and it sounds like they are both doing fine. Which is a big relief.

A Bit More on Delilah’s Death

Just to make it a bit more clear… Bernice, Delilah’s mother, did not cause her death. The trampling was awful. But Delilah died of a GI tract infection that was progressing too fast for the antibiotics to stop it. The vet warned that it could take her very fast when he saw her yesterday. He didn’t find any injuries from the incident. It probably didn’t help Delilah much to have the extra stress. But it’s just as much my fault as it is Bernice’s that she got trampled. I knew she was sort of slow and lethargic going out, but thought it must be because she’d just woken up. She probably already had a high fever by then and I never checked. And having a high fever and being weak and lethargic gave her a whole lot less chance of staying out of the way of mare politics.

Bernice was considerably better this year with Delilah than she was with either William or Albert. Less crazily protective. We could get in the stall with them and handle the baby without the mare bowling us over. And we’d all commented on how much she’d improved.

She is very sad and depressed today. She’s been in the stall with Delilah all morning, standing vigil. About an hour ago, she seemed to have started accepting that her baby was dead, and called to the other horses once or twice. During the night, the boss tells me that Bernice was helping him care for Delilah. Hanging over them both, nuzzling and licking her while he took Delilah’s heart rate and massaged her a bit to soothe her. She got additional banamine and omeprazole, and she looks as if she’s peacefully sleeping. It doesn’t look like she struggled or suffered greatly. Just faded away.

Delilah is Gone

The boss just called me. We lost that beautiful little filly a couple of hours ago. Damn it. DAMN.

Horses are always heartbreaking. But truly. There is nothing worse than losing them this young.

Delilah Has Had a Bad Day

Delilah, despite her rampant wickedness, is kind of my favorite of the foals this year. She is just so gleefully bad that she makes me laugh. But last night when she came in from the arena, she seemed a little subdued. I figured maybe she was just tired from a long day of rampaging. But this morning she was even quieter going out.

She went out in the pasture for the first time with her mom, Bernice. Now Bernice has a bit of a “history” with her kids. She loves them to the point of craziness. Her first was William. We saw her kick him in the head in one of her protective mother frenzies. The second was Albert. She kicked him in the shoulder, and that time I actually caught it on video.

When we put Dora out, Bernice got totally panicked and ran around the field a few times, then went to the far back corner of the pasture. Which was good. It’s a big pasture, and there’s plenty of room for the mares to stake out their own territory until they get relaxed with each other. We watched Dora and her foal Diva for a while (and I took a whole lot of photos of Diva).

Then a train came along. The tracks go along the back of the pasture. The horses are all very used to it. But of course Delilah had never seen it before and she got a little startled. Which got Bernice going again. And she came galloping up to the front. Somehow the two mares and the two foals got a bit tangled up. And Bernice, the big rotten cow, ran right over her own foal. Poor Delilah was cartwheeling under the mare as she spun around and around, and kicked at Dora. Dora, unsurprisingly, was having none of that and kicked back which worked Bernice up even more. Delilah eventually got herself out of the mess and back on her feet. And then Bernice… of course… ran her over AGAIN. And did the same thing all over again. That poor baby was trampled and tumbled repeatedly.

We managed to catch Bernice eventually and checked Delilah over. She seemed essentially unhurt, though she looked very shell-shocked and shaky. So we took them both back to the barn.

I initially thought it was just all the running around and the shock of the incident that made Delilah look so subdued. But I watched her carefully for a while. Eventually I started to feel a bit concerned. She really didn’t look right. Called the boss at work and told him. He said he’d get there as quick as he could. I finally realized that although she was going to her mother to nurse, she wasn’t actually nursing. She was grinding her teeth. Then she drank some water from the bucket. Then she lay down. Got up. Lay down. Called the boss again. Got the stethoscope out and listened to her heart rate. It was 136. Yikes. Called one of our other people down at the track and told her to shove the boss out the door NOW. And have him call a vet too.

That got the boss there in a hurry. Vet arrived shortly thereafter. He checked her temperature. It was 104. The vet thinks she has some sort of GI tract thing going on. Bacterial overgrowth maybe. And likely some ulceration, given the teeth grinding. So she got banamine, antibiotics, and omeprazole. Within about 20 minutes she was up nursing, and last I saw she was finally lying down and sleeping comfortably.

She’s not out of the woods yet, but she looks a whole lot better anyway.

Here are a couple of photos of Bernice and Delilah before the incident…

Diva… Way Too Much Cute

Dora’s filly, Diva, is remarkably cute. All foals are cute. Delilah is too. And Max… Loula’s colt as well. But Diva takes it all to a whole new level of calendar pinup adorable. It’s hard not to just stare at her tiny darling little self in fascination all day. And of course Diva herself would like people to admire her extravagantly at all times.