A Carrot From My Hand

Venice managed to S-T-R-E-T-C-H her neck and wiggle her lips far enough to just barely take a carrot from me this evening. Twice. A big breakthrough! I was on the other side of the fence, staying low and just reaching one hand through. It took her a long time to commit to such a rash act. But she really loves carrots. Well… she just really loves food in all its’ various and wonderful forms 🙂

Sure Are a Lot of Accidents Going On…

Yesterday, shortly after getting home from the emergency room with my new (and very itchy!) cast, I had a phone call from Misha. She had just arrived in that very same emergency room. In fact, she was probably going in one door just as I was going out the other door.

Her injury however is considerably more serious than mine. She has a compound fracture of both bones of her lower leg. She was, like me, spooked off her horse. But apparently being a bit more acrobatic than I am, she actually landed on her feet (as opposed to face and elbow…). She just landed too hard on one of those feet.

I am just back from visiting her in the hospital. She is looking a little ragged around the edges, but coping. She had surgery last night to pin her back together. They may let her go home on Sunday, but will probably be stuck at home for at least another week. And will be in a cast for six weeks more.

Ungrateful Mare

You know… after all the money and care I lavished on Dressy this past year, you would think she would at least refrain from actually harming me. But she has injured me more in the last three months than in all the previous five years I’ve ridden her.

Yesterday, she spooked at something unknown. Perhaps a leaf rustling? Really, I have no idea what it was. She leapt sideways and backwards towards poor Ares, who understandably also spooked. I managed to stop Dressy. But Ares unseated Ana (one of those fairly slow, controlled falls… so Ana was unhurt) and started to trot away. Dressy spun hard right to bolt after him and because I was already slightly out of position, and my left elbow was still sore and weak from our last escapade, I came off hard on the left elbow again. I felt something pop and figured it was sprained again.

Ana got back up on Ares once we caught up to them back at the barn (Jen put them in stalls and drove back to pick us up). And he was a very good boy for her. But I was hurting too much so quit for the day. And decided that I have had enough. Dressy is retired. I won’t be riding her on trails anymore. I had already decided to pull her out of competition because of her anhidrosis. But she is just way too unpredictably spooky to be safe. And I am too old to ride through that sort of thing constantly. She is generally okay if she is behind another horse, but I cannot ride behind horses all the time. I thought for a long time that she would improve with experience and exposure (as King did). But no.

After a very bad, sleepless night, I went to the doctor today. He sent me for x-rays and then to emergency. Sure enough… she broke my elbow. I am in a half cast until the swelling goes down. Then to the fracture clinic next week for more x-rays and likely a regular cast.

So my riding season is finished. I guess that it will give me plenty of time to work with Venice. Who frankly, despite never being handled in her life ALREADY looks far more reliable and steady-minded than Dressy.

King Is In Love

King is totally, head-over-heels, in love with Venice. Really, it’s embarrassing. He hangs around at the fence staring longingly at her. Nickering seductively. Showing off his airy Arab trot. Nuzzling her face and nibbling her neck over the fence. He’s a gelding. But seems to have forgotten that. He stayed next to her fence all night, and most of today too.

Venice is not helping at all. She is captivated by his antics. And appears to be in season. This is not a mild platonic friendship. It gives me hope that she may not be in foal anyway… despite the belly.

I had to turn the electric fence on to keep King on his assigned side of the fence. Normally I quarantine new horses in the round pen well away from the other horses for a week or so. But because she’s not halter broke and thus there is no real way to move her around, I had to put her in the paddock she’d be staying in long-term. Which is right next to the main pasture.

Other than the romantic antics, she has settled in very quickly and easily. She’s eating with enthusiasm, and is very interested in everything that goes on. She seems to have stopped dripping milk, and her udder looks slightly smaller today. Ann tells me that her filly took the separation very well too.

And Here She Is!

This morning, Ann put a bit of Atravet (mild sedative) in Venice’s breakfast, separated her from her six month old filly, and shooed her towards their stock trailer. She’s not halter broke, so handling options are pretty much non-existent. They barely had time to ask and she had popped right on. It took them rather by surprise, since they’d been worrying about how difficult this might be all week. Ann’s husband drove off to a local coffee shop, while Ann stayed for a while with the filly to make sure all was well. The filly went back to playing with her friend within a few minutes and Ann was able to leave her daughter in charge and head down the road to meet up with her husband to deliver the mare.

Apparently she rode quietly, just looking at everything. No fussing at all. The trip was fairly long. Nearly five hours I think. When she got here, they backed the trailer up to the paddock gate. We blocked both sides and just let her come out on her own. After a few minutes, she walked to the back of the trailer, looked around, and calmly stepped down and walked into her paddock. She looked around, circled the paddock at a walk, had a nibble of grass, whinnied at the other horses once or twice and eventually set about eating hay. This little mare is no drama queen, that’s for sure!

Eventually, I let King and Twister out of the jail paddock (but left Dressy and Ares locked in) and into the paddock next to her. They are both quite amiable with new horses. And both of them like mares. Venice showed quite a marked preference for King. Twister was interested in befriending her, but she sort of nipped his nose and went back to nuzzling King. Her mama is a grey too, so perhaps she just likes his colour.

Meeting King

She could use a few groceries, though she did get a good start on weight gain at Ann’s place (she’s only been there for three weeks). It’s going to take some work to get her to even allow me to touch her, much less get a halter on her. And obviously, given that she’s never been touched, she’s never had her feet trimmed, never had shots, never had her teeth looked at, and until Ann fed her some wormer last week, never been wormed. Oh yeah… and although she’s not “supposed” to be in foal… that belly looks a bit suspicious. So she’s going to be quite a project!

My New Mare

This is Woizero. She is a straight Polish Arab, 4 year old mare. She’s not broke to ride yet. Not broke to anything actually. So we’ll be starting from scratch. She has a foal at her side, but will be weaned when I pick her up next week.

I am trying to come up with a barn name for her. How about ‘Venice’? We have all those town names for horses at work (Jasper, Paris, Reno, etc.), which is what made Chrystal think of it when we were brainstorming names yesterday. But I’m open to suggestions if anyone can think of something good.

Here’s her pedigree, for those who are interested in such things: http://www.allbreedpedigree.com/woizero. I really like these lines.


Summer’s End Training Ride

On Friday, we loaded Dressy and Ares in the trailer. Then we drove to Tottenham to pick up his Royal Cuteness (Benson), and then down to Milton to get Java. That’s the first time I’ve had the trailer completely loaded up with four horses. I had to go right across Toronto on the 401. On Friday afternoon at rush hour. That was a miscalculation on my part. I had meant to hit the 401 earlier in the day.

Anyway, we finally made it to Bailieboro (south of Peterborough) at around supper time. Dressy and Ares spent over six hours in the trailer. But they both seemed just fine. Benson was as cute as ever. And Java, at 27 years old, looked bright-eyed and interested in this new adventure.

We set up electric paddocks with Benson on one end, Java on the other, and Dressy and Ares in the middle. Ares spent the first few hours in the very center of his pen, petrified of the electric fence ALL around him. It took him all weekend to get around to grazing the grass near the fence. Dressy began flirting madly with Benson. Hmm. In season. She eventually managed to whip her tail over the electric fence (which was turned off, thank goodness) and then wrap it around her legs. Quite tightly. She panicked for a moment, but as soon as I yelled at her to stand. She froze. And stood like a statue while we carefully untangled her legs. She’s certainly got a working brain in that beautiful head.

Saturday was the clinic. There were presenters on a number of topics. Ana seemed to enjoy it all. She particularly liked Michelle’s talk on training and calming horses. Saturday evening, Emily, who was parked next to us, discovered that Duke had sprung a shoe. She managed to get a farrier in to reset it before dark though.

Sunday was the big day. First was a four mile ride n tie. Ana and Emily teamed up on Duke. Jaclyn and Annie rode Java. They were up against Sarah and Linda, and Lesley and Hailey with Hailey’s adorable chestnut pinto pony, Chester.

I don’t know exactly how old Hailey is. Maybe five? But oh my goodness… talk about excited! That kid was scampering around, brushing her pony, organizing her stuff, changing the pony’s halter, and just generally getting ready for the event of her life. Her mom and dad both went out with her. But dad managed to twist an ankle on the first loop. So he retired for the day. Mom did both loops leading Chester and Hailey. I did see her mom actually get on the pony for two steps. “See? I am riding the pony” she said as she crossed the finish line.

Sarah and Linda came in first. Jaclyn and Annie were second. Ana got a bit lost trying to follow trail ribbons, so she lost quite a bit of time. Then Duke trotted out a bit lame. The sprung shoe apparently came back to haunt him. So no placing, but they did get a mileage completion. Hailey, her mom, and Chester finished third. Hailey was VERY proud of herself.

After the ride n tie was over, we went out for the 15 mile set speed. On the first loop, Jess and her thoroughbred Earl, and Sandy and Benson went out with us in a group. Ares made it very clear that he was to be out in front. So we followed obediently. He was pretty excited, and hasn’t yet learned to maintain a steady pace. But he was unceasingly bold and forward. His ears were up, he looked at everything with interest, and just kept traveling. After two miles, Ana asked me when the next competition was. I told her that she needed to finish THIS competition first before she started making grand plans. Ares was cycling through a whole variety of gaits, many of them quite unidentifiable. But they seemed comfortable enough for Ana. He didn’t pace more than a few steps though.

I have to admit to my own disorganization at this point. I forgot to bring Dressy’s Guinness. And her One-AC. Both supplements are for her anhidrosis (failure to sweat). So on the first loop, she was sweating, but not a lot. I used up my water bottles sponging her off through the loop. At the mid-check, Ares cooled down very quickly. Dressy was still pretty hot and needed a few minutes to come down. But both horses vetted through fine. Ares had a CRI of 13/13 (which translates to a heart rate of 52, so he was still rather excited)

For the second loop, I stuffed my pack with extra water bottles. Sponged Dressy off completely before we went out, and stopped at the water stop to do the same halfway through. So she did stay cool enough. But it was definitely artificial sweat all the way. I don’t think she sweated a drop on the second 7.5 mile loop. I just sponged her as soon as she started drying off.

It was just Ares and Dressy for that loop. We lost Jess and Sandy (they quite rightly preferred to travel at a bit steadier pace – green horse/rider in the lead makes for some surging in the pace). Ares did much more cantering on the second loop. I’ve never seen a Standardbred who canters as much as this guy. It’s not really fast, Dressy was still trotting to it. He just likes to canter. So does Ana as it turns out. She had a huge grin on her face by the end.

Ares came in at the finish with his ears up. Very perky and happy. He led for nearly the entire 15 miles. His final heart rate was 45. Dressy was also fine, and had a final heart rate of 37. She vetted through perfectly. But still no sweating.

Both horses ended up with an average speed of 5.1 mph and Grade 3 finishes (best is Grade 1, worst is Grade 5). So that was very respectable for Ares in his first set speed ride. Ana was bubbling with excitement. She’s normally very shy and quiet, so it was quite entertaining to see her so happy and talkative.

And she’s officially decided to lease Ares. So I’ve stopped looking for a home for him for the time being. They are a very good match. He quite obviously loves her and looks to her when he’s worried about anything. She’s planning to take him to Oktoberfest in a couple of months, and maybe do the 25 there.

Battered and Abused

Feeling a little sorry for myself this evening. This morning at work, one of the yearlings, Esmerelda, ambled out of her stall after the mares all had breakfast, and as usual stopped to visit me. She’s a darling, and it can be difficult to get rid of her. She snuffles my shoes, licks my shins, and leans against me for scratches. Since she’s lost her halter somewhere, I can’t get a hold of her to drag her out bodily and am usually reduced to pushing her reluctant little butt out the back door. This morning though, as she was inspecting my knees, I looked down just as something spooked her. She flung her head right up into my face. Hard. Really REALLY hard. Smashed my lower lip up into an upper front tooth. The pain was blinding, and I staggered around, doubled over as my mouth filled up with blood.

Then, of course, Soupy wandered around, confused as I tried to chase her out as well. You’d think she’d never even seen that barn in her life before and had no idea where that back door was. In my writhing agony, I finally lost my patience and roared, rather incoherently “OOOOUUUUUUTTTT!!!” I am fairly sure that Soupy thought I’d just morphed into a horse-eating lion (I may have even had blood dripping from my mouth just to complete the picture of ferocity). She almost did a complete four-legged splat on the concrete in her rush to escape. Nearly running over Esmerelda in the process (Esmerelda was disconsolately hanging around hoping to have her ears scratched… apparently having no idea that she’d nearly knocked me unconscious).

I went home for a cold pack, some pain killers and a cup of tea (the tea was a BIG mistake – no hot stuff when you have a gaping hole on the inside of your lip!) before going back. Jen offered to come and help me finish up the stalls, bless her soul.

My face has been numb all day, lip is all swollen, and there is a big gash on the inside of it that is making food less tempting than normal.

Last week, Dressy stomped on my foot. Not stepped… stomped. My feet were in crocs (bright lime green crocs -very stylish. Hmmm… maybe the colour offended her?), and I was standing in front of her. She picked her foot way up, reached well forward, and slammed it down toe first right in the middle of my foot. Perfect aim. I still have a bruise from that one. And yes, I know. Totally unsuitable footwear. That’s what happens when your horses live in your backyard. You visit them in crocs, sandals, nightgowns, bathrobes, etc.

The week before THAT, Dressy dropped me in the neighbour’s field when she spooked at a deer. One of those 180 degree prop and wheel spooks that feel like a bad cartoon. I had the reins in my left hand, she spun hard right, and I was left kind of horizontally in mid-air. I hit the end of the reins before I hit the ground and it flipped me upside down so I was driven head first into the muddy field. Ended up with mud in the vents of my helmet. Undignified, but probably a good thing it was soft anyway. As it was, I ended up in the emergency room because I thought my left arm was broken. Turned out that it was just pulled muscles and soft tissue damage of some kind in the elbow joint. And shoulder. And hand. I didn’t speak to her for three days I was so mad.

I’m going to run out of body parts.

Why do I love horses again????

Ares is Going to His First Ride

This weekend, there is a training clinic and ride being held over in the Ganaraska Forest. Ana and Ares are now signed up for it. Saturday is the clinic. There will be a number of speakers (me among them) and demonstrations to teach beginners about the sport. Then Sunday there will be a short ride n tie in the morning, a lunch break, then a 15 mile ride in the afternoon.

Ana will be doing the ride n tie with Emily and Duke. Then will do as much of the 15 mile ride as she is comfortable with on Ares. It’s set up in five mile loops, and riders can stop at the end of any loop they want. Which makes it a good deal less intimidating. Ana isn’t sure she’ll be able to do the whole thing. However, she had no problem with a 9+ mile ride last week, and another today that was over 7 miles and a bit faster too.

This time we went over to the north tract of the Vivian Forest. The parking lot is north of the Vivian Rd on Hwy 48. We picked up Misha and Diego on our way over. Ares was, again, a star. He was calm and steady. He likes to go out in front and is remarkably un-spooky. He did spook once at something, but that was the first spook I’ve ever seen from him, and it was quite mild. Especially when compared to the two highly experienced trail horses with him who both made asses of themselves spooking at logs, rocks, weeds, and stumps. Sigh. It’s sad when the green, ex-racehorse has to be sent out in front to get everyone past a stump.

I think he’s ready for his debut. He seems to have fitted up pretty easily. He certainly hasn’t shown the slightest sign of being tired so far. Just bebops along on trail. The only complaint that Ana has about him is that he does still break to pace sometimes. But she found today that a bit of a half halt sometimes put him back in a trot. We’ll put a red ribbon in his tail too. Just for safety. He doesn’t like horses to pass him (he really does LIKE to be in front). And Ana is going to have to manage him carefully if any horses rush up behind him. Having Dressy with him should help.

Ana has been practicing trotting him out in hand. And we’ve done some practice vet checks with him. So hopefully he won’t be too terrified of the vets. It’s really my biggest concern… he’s often afraid of people he doesn’t know. We are going to keep Dressy beside him right through the vet checks, which I hope will give him confidence.

Training rides are a great place to start green horses. Most of the other horses are going slow, and everyone is willing to take time to deal with any issues that come up.

Ana is, of course, very excited about this ride 🙂

Chrystal and Grace Won the Fifty

Saturday at Coates Creek was only Grace’s second 50. But she was a horse on a mission. Despite her rider’s chronic lateness. They went out after the others at the start. And after all the holds too… except the last one, when Chrystal’s husband took it upon himself to hustle them along.

At one point, Chrystal asked her husband in some puzzlement where the other horses were. She had passed one horse on that loop and couldn’t figure out why she hadn’t seen anyone else at all. “Umm… well that’s because you’re in first place” he told her with some amusement.

Grace is tiny. 14.2hh and very lightly built. But she sure can move. She just went out and trotted all day. No walking. But that is a trot to contend with 🙂 They won, and they won Best Condition too.

There was also a 75 miler on Saturday, which Bob and Vagas won. Emma and Zillary came in second. Emma is a very tough girl. She broke her thumb in a fall, and finished the ride before getting it set. There were only two entries unfortunately. The turnout was not terrific at this ride.

On Sunday, Bob won on his exceptional horse, Galaxy. Michelle and Klein were second. Bob won Best Condition, and Michelle won High Vet Score. Which left Michelle with a very big glowing smile.

In the set speed, the big winner on Saturday was Jolanda and her Spotted Saddlebred, Ace’s Night Hawk. On Sunday it was Cathy, who rode Ruth’s horse Raffles (Ruth brought Sport out of retirement for the day). Solstice rode her new horse Desi on Sunday in the 15 mile set speed and had a final pulse of… 29. Cute kid. I told her to go join another club 😉