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We Are Flying Solo

Showing posts with label grooming. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grooming. Show all posts

February 19, 2011

Omeprazole Is Omepre-great!

I just wanted to post a very excited update:  upon monitoring (i.e. poking and prodding and staring with furrowed brow) last night, Solo has about a 90% reduction in pain in his back and hindquarters and no longer flinches when I touch his sides!  Yes, this is after only two tubes of Ulcerguard (which I just discovered can be had at almost half the price I paid for it.  I hate you, overchargers.).  I gave him his third tube with a smile; I am so relieved to have my boy feeling better.  It is a horrible, helpless feeling knowing your horse is hurting.

In the warm sun of early evening, we also said goodbye to Solo's winter tail and unfurled it to freedom (right). He now resembles that girl in 1988 who spent way too much time with her crimping iron.

June 27, 2010

Back To Work

HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, IT'S HOTTTTTTT.  Weather Underground tells me the heat index is a sticky 93 degrees, but I think they lie.  It's at least 304.   Haha, you can tell that picture is old, Solo has a mane!

Solo has had three luxurious weeks off to let any stress injuries or sore spots heal and to just chill out. He feels good, despite losing a little condition. I got back on him this morning to just trot a few hills and such. We nearly melted into little puddles of humidity-stricken goo, but he moved out n-i-c-e. Breaks are good.  But it's time to go back in training.  As best we can without cooking ourselves.

Just a few summer reminders: keep an eye on respiration, a hot horse can start puffing and descend into heat stress faster than you think. Don't be shy about throwing cool water onto and into your horse immediately; horses coming off Rolex cross country get ice water thrown on them before they even stop moving. The important thing is to SCRAPE SCRAPE SCRAPE. Water just sitting on a horse's skin traps heat and raises the body temperature. And don't forget to hydrate YOU.

Remember to check those little spots you don't normally brush for ticks or fungus: under the jaw, between the front and hind legs, up under the flanks. I found some itchy funk under Solo's jaw the other day, he nearly moaned with pleasure when I scratched all the bits off.

We're trying out some new gear that we'll have reviews for, including a sample of one of our lovely readers' new product, an electrolyte treat. Will it pass the Solo-Food-Snob taste test???

May 27, 2010

Boot Basics

So, as a lot of folks have observed in our forays into the wild, wonderful world of horse boots, the choices are nearly endless. How DO you go about choosing a set for your charge?

A few points to remember:
(1) Boots DO NOT offer support. They are for strike protection only. Neoprene and velcro cannot abate the loading forces on a horse's leg bones, tendons, and ligaments.

(2) Restricting range of motion is BAD (caveat: unless your vet tells you otherwise). The tendons in the lower leg need to stretch to their full extent in order to absorb the shock of the leg hitting the ground. Any reduction of that joint's motion means that shock is transferred directly up the leg (not good) instead of being absorbed farther down (good). This is why I do not like boots with a pastern/fetlock wraparound strap. I want the suspensory ligaments to be able to go to their full extent, unhindered, doing the job they were designed to do.

(3) You do NOT have to spend $150 to have a good, effective boot. Marketing is nothing but marketing -- try to ignore the fluff and pay attention to the hard facts.

(4) Eventers, we all love our colours. But, as one commenter noted, they can be hard to find or can restrict your options unnecessarily. Especially if you have a colour other than royal blue, hunter green, or red, buy black and accent with coloured tape if you want a professional, yet personalized look.

With those points in mind, let's make a list which will help us to choose the best match for our horse.

(a) Does the horse interfere with himself while working? This includes brushing at the fetlock or pastern, overreaching, or forging. If not, then I would not use boots or wraps on the flat -- you are trapping heat for no purpose.

(b) If the horse DOES interfere, where does it happen? For example, Solo is prone to forging and he also can brush behind. A friend has a horse who only nicks his hind pasterns with his hooves.

(c) Take your interference locations and aim to protect those. For Solo, this means bell boots up front all the time (special shoes up front too, so more to grab). Usually nothing else for flatwork or trail riding. For above friend's horse, this means only pastern wraps behind.

What boots protect what leg parts?
In my humble opinion, less is more and I only want to put on as much boot as I absolutely need for the type of ride that day. I especially don't like to use boots while trail riding; it is too easy for dirt/sand/whatever to work its way inside a boot and quickly create a raw spot.

Coronary band, heel, shoe: bell boots, quarter bells, or grab boots

Pastern: pastern wraps

Fetlock: ankle boots (and for you reining people, skid boots protect the bottom of the fetlock against road rash during slides)

Cannon bone and tendon: galloping boots, splint boots (these two are essentially the same in function), polo wraps, brushing boots (generally a little lighter weight/duty than a galloping boot); in this category, choice is mostly personal preference

Tendon only: open front boots

Materials do vary -- neoprene is generally not super breathable, but is easy to clean. Some companies are now making "breathable" (generally perforated) neoprene. Effectiveness may vary widely. A few horses do have neoprene allergies, so just pay attention. I don't like fluffy, fuzzy linings for the cleaning issue. Some companies trumpet that their boots are super tough because they are made of Kevlar -- well, Kevlar was designed to stop an impact from a bullet, so it is good for direct strikes, but holds up poorly to friction, like brushing from a hoof. So unless you plan on shooting your horse in the legs, I fail to see the benefit of paying extra for this.

Beyond that, it is up to you to know the demands and risks of your discipline. For dressage, unless your horse is interfering, you should not need anything (step away from the white polos with your hands up!). For arena jumping, I like to protect the front foot and cannon bone and the fetlocks from brushing on all four. I like that open front boots let the horse feel a pole knock. For XC, I want cannon bones, tendons, ankles and hooves protected so will use the appropriate boots to do so.

The important thing is to be realistic about what you are going to do. If you are only doing dressage, your horse probably doesn't need his legs sheathed in layers from the knee down. If he interferes that badly, there may be other issues that need to be addressed. If you are only working in an arena with collapsable jumps, the hind tendons can probably be left bare to breathe as he certainly can't kick those.

Also, stick to your budget. Sure, you can blow $150 on those Eskadrons because all the other kids have them and you will look oh so trendy like everyone else, but you know what? The $35 Romas perform just as well, last just as long, and you can laugh all the way to the concession stand at your next show that you will actually be able to visit because you were smart so you still have some cash in hand to spend. Shop around and look closely at materials and design, always asking what you are actually paying for and how much of a pain in the butt will it be to clean (ok, the latter is a HUGE one for me because I don't want to waste time scrubbing silly things).  There really is an option out there for almost every price point, the tedious part is just sorting through them.

More questions? Post them in the comments and we can take a stab at it!

May 24, 2010

We Have Finally Achieved Normalcy!!

It only took four years.

You can read about our struggles to conquer Solo's abusive longeing past here. If you are not familiar with the story, it will help you understand why I led my horse back to the barn with a huge grin on my face today.

We have received an ungodly amount of thunderstorms over the past few days, everything is wet and I have two long days at work ahead of me, so I decided to just put Solo in the vienna reins and give him a longe workout. There was a ground pole up in the arena, so I just incorporated that into our circle to let Solo work out how to fit it into his stride on his own at the trot and canter, which he did.

And why is this so exciting? Because MY HORSE CANTERED CALMLY IN MULTIPLE CIRCLES IN BOTH DIRECTIONS. This is a BIG BIG BIG deal. Even when he was thrown off balance the first few times cantering over the pole -- he didn't get the distance right and ended up in a lopsided cross canter -- he broke to trot, I gave a quiet kiss and he stepped right back up into a rhythmic canter.

No bug eyes. No flinging self about. He had one nervous moment where he stopped, but I put him back in a trot and he calmly picked up the canter shortly thereafter.

And after cantering, no racing about in crazy trot, anticipating the terror of yet more canter! We calmly resumed a metronome of a trot, spiraling in and out from 5-20 m circles and I'll be damned if he didn't keep a perfect rhythm the entire time.

I try to be a good horsey, mom!

Modeled here (besides, of course, Mr. Shiny Pants' big fat cute nose) are also Solo's brand new fly boots! I had an old pair, the cheapie four pack that I think I got from or somewhere, they were HORRIBLE and I threw them away. They sagged down around his ankles like worthless slouch socks (ah, 1986, how I remember your glory). I picked these up from Dover, they are "The Original Fly Wraps" and they are so far (ok, days used = 0, but we'll go with initial impression) soo much better! They do have plastic stays so they do not sag, nice velcro with stretchy bits for give, lovely fleece binding, and you can pick lots of fun colours! The set of four is still only around $40. These will go along way to reducing summer hoof cracking!

I am going to confess a little secret, I was, ahem, almost irresistibly tempted to buy purple ones (or blue, OMG, how am I supposed to resist our official colour!), but I had to give in to sensibility and stick with the nice, heat dispersing white.

May 16, 2010

Things That Make You Go Ew

Very few things gross me out. I'm a biologist -- my job is sex and poop. But I have weak spots. What can induce a gag reflex in someone who regularly gets spermed on by fish??

Because it's your lucky day, I will tell you!

(1) Having to touch dog poo. Even through a paper towel. Possibly the grossest substance on the planet.

(2) One day, my vet stuck her bare finger in my dog's ear, pulled it out coated with this black, yeasty substance, then sniffed it. I about lost my lunch on the exam table.

(3) Any kind of fabric in my mouth. Even thinking about it. Gack. Don't ask. It's a weird OCD thing.

(4) Working on a National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, we had collected a clutch of endangered prairie chicken eggs. I went to open one to examine it and it exploded. Grey-green liquified chick soup sprayed all over my shirt. Yeah, that'll do it.

And number five got me today. Because it's Weenie Cleaning Weekend for Solo. I broke out the KY Jelly (which won't burn like Excalibur can if you accidentally leave some on there) and lubed him up before the ride. And pulled out half a big white bean, knowing I'd have to get the other half out. That got the old heave muscles warmed up. Just be grateful I didn't succumb to the sudden urge to take a picture of it to post on the blog.

Ah, the things we do for our companions.

April 16, 2010

The Night Before Rears Its Ugly Head

It's always a comedy of errors with me.  But I guess if it wasn't this would be a really boring blog.

I have cleaned enough tack for five horses. See, as I was cleaning my bridles for tomorrow, I thought, hey, while I have the cleaning stuff out, why not clean up and oil the old bridles hanging in the trailer and put them in a bridle bag so they will store better? About halfway through, it became clear this was a bad idea. So much leather...the only good part is when one old cavesson broke in my hand so I didn't have to clean it anymore!

The trailer is packed with a full water jug and hay bag; the first aid kit is stowed next to saddles and bridles and girths and spare girths and spare reins; the galloping boots and splint boots and bell boots and open front boots and spare bell boots and spare spare bell boots are hung.

Since I realized that despite my somewhat exhaustive supply of horse accessories, I was a bit short on apparel for a recognized dressage arena, sigh. All the buttons had been snapped off my coat at the last horse trial during an exhausted dismount. In my own true redneck fashion, I was just going to safety pin it shut. Well, BO would have none of that and insisted I borrow her jacket and stock tie.

So now I have a $600 jacket and a stock tie I don't know how to tie hanging in my closet. I am horrified to put the jacket on in fear that I will somehow ruin it merely by coexisting near it.

Oh and because smooth sailing would be too easy, as I was bathing Solo, I discovered he had a very inflamed muscle in his back. OF COURSE he does. He got a Sore-No-More massage and a dose of bute and a stern admonishment that he better have himself fixed up by 1 pm tomorrow!

Dear god, why does every adventure have to be so...typically me??!

April 5, 2010

Ooooor Maybe Not

I should have known it seemed too easy!  My great and infallible plan to use Jeff as a fill-in for Solo's rest days has gone awry already!  Turns out the fellow who is supposed to start leasing Jeff in August (which is a good thing, as those two looove each other and go well together) is going to start riding him more this summer.  Dangit for my grand scheme though!  Although no one is riding Jeff right now, as he is lame yet again, having tweaked something during one of him many episodes of gallopingaboutpasturefornoapparentreason.

We have officially entered Solo's Season Of Enormous Sweating here, so the last few days we've just been taking it easy with lots of hosing and (EWEWEWEWEWEWEWEW!) picking off of ticks, to which Solo is of course allergic and gets big, crusty, disgusting lumps from.  Which let me just mention how much I HATE ticks.  And I hate touching them.  And seeing them.  And generally co-existing on the planet with them.  I know, I know, I'm supposed to be all Biology Girl and crap, but ya know, no one's a saint.  I'll just own up to it right now:  if ticks went extinct, I would gladly throw a huge party and toast their arachnid demise.  There, it's out in the open.  So tell the next tick you see to STAY THE HELL OFF MY HORSE or else face the rather pointed wrath of my hoofpick (pointed, HAHA, get it??!).

March 19, 2010

How To Blanket A Horse

I bet you thought you knew how to perform this simple skill, didn't you? Well, around our place, some technique modification is required.

1. Enter pasture with blanket wadded under one arm so you can open the gate with the other.
2. Unwind blanket straps from around legs as horses trot up to investigate whether mysterious bundle under your arm is stuffed with carrots.
3. Place blanket on Jeff's (Solo's pasture mate who is body clipped, hence the blanket) back.
4. Remove Solo's nose from Jeff's back so you can smooth out blanket before beginning to attach straps.
5. Buckle chest straps.
6. Remove Solo's nose from your back pocket so you can walk around to do leg straps.
7. Fasten Jeff's leg strap on near side.
8. Remove Solo's nose from underneath Jeff's blanket on off side so you can also fasten that leg strap.
9. Remove Solo's nose from your shoulder so you can walk back around to Jeff's near side to fasten belly straps.
10. Fasten front belly strap.
11. Remove Solo's nose from your side pocket so you can fasten rear belly strap.
12. Pat Jeff on the bum so he knows he is free to go.
13. Extricate Solo from your lap so you can open pasture gate and exit.

February 4, 2010

It's Just Around The Corner!

Spring, that is!


And Solo never tells a lie...

January 11, 2010

In Which Solo Is A Guinea Pig

So we have this electromagnetic blanket sitting around the farm. It's on loan (or in storage?) for a friend of the BO. Now, scientifically, there is little data to suggest that magnetic pulse therapy is significantly effective and anecdotal reports show ceramic heat reflection technology to posses greater efficacy. But what the hell, the thing is sitting there and we've got nothing to lose, so we decided to try it out.

The book promised the horse would immediately take on a "calm, relaxed" demeanor. It did not indicate how you would recognize this if your guinea pig horse is generally calm and relaxed anyway.

It also had a useful Q&A section, covering important issues like: "Will this blanket make my horse a champion?" and offering the answer I hope no one paid money for: "No. Of course not. That would be impossible." Yes, those are direct quotes.

This helpful little manual also suggests you might get better results using the thing twice a day. Again, it did not indicate how one would do this without having an infinite amount of time to sit around and stare at a horse wearing a blanket. So, not so helpful really.

Supposedly, you have to use it at the lowest setting for three days, then you can begin to bump it up. I can't imagine anything more anticlimactic. You unroll all these cords and pieces and plug them into this giant silver box that looks like a 1980-model PC (see photo). There are junction boxes and switches and frequency settings galore. Then, with bated breath, you hit the "start" button. At which point precisely nothing happens. There are no lights. There is no sound. There is no heat from the pads. Your horse stands there staring at you contemplating the possiblity of carrots in your pocket. I was only able to figure out the thing was actually working by holding a magnet under each pad and as the machine pulses, the magnet vibrates in your hand. Thrilling.

So after day 1, I can report that my horse is calm and relaxed. Pretty much just like he was 30 minutes earlier, but it's a fun experiment.

November 19, 2009

Hairy Adventures

If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm ALL about low-maintenance.  I don't want to have to get up three hours early before a show to spend bleary-eyed time detangling hair or somesuch nonsense.  I want to take the horse off the trailer, slap my tack on & be ready to go.

I am also not one of the Hair Nazis.   You know, the ones who swoon every time you bang a tail or, horrors, brush it out.  Yeah, I know you can hear me, Hunter Princesses.  ;P 

I have startling news for you, Hair Nazis, you may want to sit down for the revelation -- IT'S HAIR. IT GROWS BACK.  In fact, if your horse is on a good hoof supplement, it grows back rather quickly.

So.  I will colour you not surprised when I tell you that I decided to try giving Solo a true eventer tail.

I've always liked the look -- a clean line down the tail bone, defining the hindquarters and giving a neat, braided look without actually braiding (which I recently learned from a dressage judge was a no-no in eventing; a tail braid makes your horse's back look stiff & can cost you points both in the dressage ring & in stadium, where stiffly braided tails have been observed to cost rails pulled by trailing back feet). I recruited our lovely BO as I saw that her TB had a grown out version.

Before (the ends just touch the ground, but the top is always shaggy with 500 different lengths due to Mr. I Love To Scratch My Butt):

And after, BO's handiwork (you have to take off a LOT of hair):

So far, I rather like it.   Standing right next to it looks a bit weird as I am not used to it.  But when I take three steps back, it looks really nice & provides instant finesse back there.  If Solo hadn't decided to be a bum & cock his hip, you could see the nice banged end just above the fetlock.

I should get video of our dressage test on Sunday, so I am excited to see how it looks under saddle!

In riding news, we've not been able to do much the past fews days due to my busy schedule.  We did get some nice jump work in on Sunday -- I finally successfully built a gymnastic line & we worked through that, then did a few of the regular jumps.

I tried out the great tip P gave us in our lesson on Sat: being taught to jump from a two-point position makes one prone to jumping up the neck.  I think all of us who have ridden in the hunters can attest to this fact!  It's something I've really been struggling with a lot lately too, grrr. 

When approaching the jump, just before take off, just think of shoving your butt towards the cantle & feet out in front of you like landing gear.

I gave it a whirl.  On each approach, my thoughts went, Lift the poll, wrap your legs, shoulders back, soften, LANDING GEAR DOWN, as we counted down the strides.   It totally freaking worked!!  I stayed back in the air, my legs stayed underneath & on my horse & I landed with my foot beneath me. Yahoo!!!

October 26, 2009

Keeping Memory Lane Rolling

Whew, got back from Waredaca, my mind is overflowing...will have to sort it all out at some later date.

Back to our previously scheduled programming...

We had finished the dressage show from hell.  We returned home & went back to work (attempt #3,006).

What the what?  Up & butt power??  It CAN be done!
In the meantime, we had also started jumping lessons with David O'Brien.  Who is incredibly awesome, positive, supportive, talented, & did I mention awesome?  He can bring out the best in your horse & you don't even realize how he is doing it.

Instead of simply allowing Solo to bury his forehand at the base of the jump & then hurl himself over, David had me lifting his poll & asking Solo to jump up into my hand. 

So simple, so subtle, yet it changed the whole feel of the ride and suddenly my horse was jumping rounder & smoother & more adjustably than ever before!

We did a couple horse trials.  The first was a spring event & I believe it may have been the debut of the Chestnut Mohawk.  I hate braiding.   I REALLY REALLY REALLY HATE HATE HATE braiding.  Not so much the act of braiding, but the fact that you have get up early & spend all this time fussing with it, it seemed such a fiddly & unnecessary step. 

I learned that through a simple turnout rule that braids are not required-EVER-so I whipped those clippers out & solved that little problem!   So now, we have an instant show-ring ready mane with no maintenance other than occasionally trimming the ends. I love it.

Halt and Salute
The all-important salute.  Which took me a while to adjust to, due to the fact in eventing, you only salute at the END of the test.

Stadium Jumping

Log on a Mound to a Drop
This was a great little log with a sloping drop behind it, very fun to ride.

In Motion
In motion.

Splish Splash

We Made It!
I love my sport because THIS is the expression you always end up with after your run!