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We Are Flying Solo

Showing posts with label horse care products. Show all posts
Showing posts with label horse care products. Show all posts

September 30, 2013

Back In The...Show Ring!

Fitness, thbpitness.  Eh, I think it's naptime anyway.
It was really sort of a ridiculous decision.

Encore came sound last Friday, bruises healed and body restored, a little over a week before the CT we completed yesterday.  In some form of horse-show-withdrawal frenzy, I scribbled his name onto entry forms and shoved them through the mail slot without much consideration of details.

Just little things, like, oh, test preparation (we haven't taken a dressage lesson since the beginning of July), or the fact that Encore hadn't seen coloured jump poles in three months, or the teeny issue that his rider was just as winded and out of shape as he was.

Lucky for us, his TB magic meant that with a concerted effort to ride/long line/hot walk him every day until the show, he regained more than adequate condition to perform two phases on a lovely fall day.  His rider had a generous crew who kept a bottle of gatorade and a granola bar close at hand so there were no dramatic fainting episodes and only a little gasping for breath.

Suzpension iz hard.
Leading up to the competition, Sunday-Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday-Friday-Saturday became long line-dressage-jump-hot walker-long line-dressage-hack.  I was baffled to discover that Thursday and Friday's trot/canter transitions had become flying bucks akin to a Lippizaner's greatest triumph.  Until it occurred to me that after what amounted to six weeks off for foot healing, Junior Pony was probably a bit sore after being thrown back into schooling every day.  They weren't long or particularly demanding sessions, but certainly awoke slumbering muscles in his hiney!  Hence Friday and Saturday's liberal application of Sore No More and a slow walking hack through woods and fields on Saturday to stretch and relax mind and body.  Hey, it worked.  Sorry, dressage judge, no entertainment for you!

Tip:  Sore No More contains witch hazel (which you can also buy on its own by the jug at the drug store).  Wait until the horse's body cools down completely and then begin rubbing it into the muscles.  Any areas where there are knots, tension, or heat will cause the liquid to foam up a little as you gently rub it in, indicating a sore spot.  You can then massage that spot some more or identify stretches or alternative techniques to relax and rest those a
Enter Working Cute.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little stunned that this all paid off.  We've not exactly had a run of amazing luck over the past two years and I'd just spent way more time and money getting my horse sound once again than I would have liked.  BUT IT WORKED.

In warmup, I focused on riding correctly and accurately and made sure to leave enough time before my test to do a little trot work next to the actual show arena so he could relax there (I've always rushed that part too  much in the past).  While he did sometimes get looky and tight in his neck and jaw in the arena, especially his corners, he was pretty obedient, there was NO acrobatic bucking, and that entering centerline felt really damn good (and nailed us an 8!!!!).  All of the judge's comments were spot on and helpful, encouraging us to work on creating more jump and straightness in the canter (oh lady, if only you knew how awesome it was that we HAVE a sound canter on both leads), and better bend where it is called for (definitely agreed!).

But he is finding that suspension!!!
He earned himself a SECOND 8 on his first medium walk and 7's on both impulsion and submission (o.m.g. we finally have some submission) in his collective marks.  I could not be prouder and I admit to squeaking with startled glee when the leaderboard whispered that Encore had nailed a 34.8.  With only one week of schooling, my earnest kiddo was only one point away from Solo's best score of all time.

Sure, I be dressage poneh, whatevs.
We've got the step, just need the jump!

We then had somewhere around 2.5 minutes to change tack and be ready to jump.  I confess, I wasn't thrilled about the horses not getting much of a break between the two, but it did mean that your jumping warmup merely required hopping over something a few times to get them thinking forward and over and you were good to go.  And that he was -- as soon as we entered the competition ring, a firecracker lit up underneath me.  Encore hadn't tackled a course in three months either and he fairly vibrated with excitement.  The whistle blew and we were off.

I sendz telepathik Cuna-thankz youz!
The detail-oriented among you might notice something different in our jumping outfit.  In a gesture of amazing generosity, the wonderful SprinklerBandit we all know and love from her adventures with the mighty Cuna and the new protege, Courage, sent us an incredible gift while she was sorting out her tack collection.  I found it on my porch after work last week, definitely one of the best ways to end my day in recent memory!

So in honour of the badass-ness of the Cuna/SB mastery of mad skillz, Encore very proudly wore (and I had long coveted) the gorgeous chocolate and powder blue Five Star Tack breastplate (which is just as exquisite in real life as I imagined) originally sported by Cuna during his reign of glory.  Encore must have absorbed some magic from the Cuna-dust in the elastic because we put in the first double-clear stadium round I can remember in a long time.  He was bold, he was rock-steady, and he galloped through the finish flags begging for more.  Oh, and his mom tried really hard to ride properly and WAIT for him.  It helps, really.

Thank you, Aimee and Cuna, we will strive to live up its legacy!!!

2'11"??  Heck, I'll take 3'11", mom, bring it!!!

The elegant beadwork of his Topline Leather browband just sets off that classy TB profile!
We went home a tired bunch, but oh-so-pleasantly-surprised with our fluttering white reward. My spirits are buoyed indeed for next week's cross country lesson with David and then...HORSE TRIAL.

Good pony.  Cute pony.  Honest pony.  At the moment, sound pony!  Who could ask for more?

July 20, 2013

Lusting After Your Own Absorbine TryPak???

That title ought to get me some Google hits, ha!  But you know you are.

Well, now you can win one.  And I'm going to tell you how.

Get ugly.

That's right.  And now I'm going to explain (apparently, I'm in the mood for announcing intent).

We all know us working class horse people are broke.  Some of us more than others.  As a result, I do not buy a replacement item until its predecessor has well and truly collapsed into a panting corpse at my feet and gasped its final effort.

Example.  My VERY favourite gloves, a pair of mesh-backed Moxie gloves, never too slippery, never too sticky, always comfortable, inexpensive, and with a lifespan of TWO YEARS, as opposed to 6-10 months for my traditional SSG All-Weathers.

As an aside, I do now own a pair of SSG Digitals and another of SSG 10 Belows (sale on both) and they are worlds above the All-Weathers and so far excellent after their first year. 

When I finally had to give up on my dear Moxies, my skin was getting peeled off because they looked like...well, just look left.

It was a real shame -- had it been any other finger but my rein finger, they would have lived on, because the top still looked like...yep, look down.

2 yrs, perfectly fine!
I happened to be in a tack shop and replaced them with a pair of leather and mesh Heritage pull-ons...which got the first hole in the finger (I apparently have devil monkey claw fingers and toes, you should see my socks!) in ONE WEEK.  BooHiss.  This is what I longed in today (below).  The rest of the summer fall will be spent in a pair of sale SSG crochet-backs.

What they look like today.  I just cut off the fingers when they fell apart.
OMG, woman, this is the longest contest description ever!  Yes, you're right.  But here's what you do:

-Click the email link in my sidebar and send me an email titled "My Awesomest Gear." 
-Attach a photo to that email of your most persistent piece of equipment (dang, I should have taken a picture of my half chaps that are legally old enough to drive!). 
-If I don't get some photos of duct tape and hay string, I'm going to cry.
-Make sure all photos are submitted by Thursday, August 1st.

I want to see ugly, I want to see determined, I want to see creative!  However, said piece of equipment must still be in regular use.  I'm going to count on your honour for that!  I will post the top ten photos and the FIVE most talented salvagers (that's right, say thank you to Absorbine generosity) will be chosen by my mere whimsy careful scientific rankings to receive your very own Limited Edition TryPak Of Shiny Goodness to rock out in travel-size convenience at your next show or just to wave around the barn to the envy of everyone else.

Get out there and start collecting photos!!  May the most desperate poverty-warrior win!!

July 16, 2013

Absorbine Shine!

I owe the good folks at Absorbine a massive apology, but the climate has just NOT been cooperative.  I think we had something like 30+ straight days of rain, which is unreal for Carolina spring/summer.  

Getting the horses in from the pasture.
But ages ago, Absorbine sent TFS a nifty new product called the TryPak.  In this handy, dandy travel-sized kit is an equine body shampoo/conditioner, a green spot remover, and, naturally, their classic detangler/shine product, Showsheen. 

So I set to work (once it finally took a rain break for about an hour) giving it a go with the ambassador of shine himself.

Mr. Shiny is doing his best to impersonate Mr. Muddy.
Maybe the world's shiniest horse isn't the best demo, but Encore is always clean!
Solo was more than happy to be lavished with the attention as I soaked and scrubbed.  Shampoo first, then the stain remover on his white socks, and I finished by brushing the showsheen over his body and through his tail.

Here, mom, let me adopt my most awkward pose for you!
Now he has serious shine and immaculate white legs!!!
How is that for a clean orange horse?!  All three products worked really well and I was especially impressed with the stain remover, which got his legs amazingly white.  I absolutely recommend you give it a try!  We may even have a contest for you to win some of your own coming up shortly -- I just have to check with Absorbine, who may have disowned me by now for taking so long!

Hopefully, the sun is shining where you are today, we finally have a few moments respite from the clouds peeing on us here!  So I'm heading out to enjoy the blue skies while I can --

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.

April 25, 2010

I Heart Technology

Now that we are at Novice, I wanted to start bringing a little extra care & management to my horse's legs after jumping, as those extra 3" translated into a lot more work for Solo's body, especially post-XC what with the addition of these drops & banks & such.

I pondered ice boots--too annoying what with having to have ice on hand & inability to provide even pressure to the legs--and then poultices--just too messy--and then just cold spongeing--too short term to have much effect--and was left without a solution I liked. I wanted something easy to pack, easy to use by myself, easy to maintain, & I didn't want to pay $1,000,000.00 for it.

I decided to try ColdFlex, which I picked up from SmartPak (I love you SmaaaartPak, oh yes I doooo...oh wait, I digress...). I gave it a go after our XC run at Longleaf last Saturday. In short, I FREAKING LOVE THESE THINGS! Best. Invention. Ever.  You can see Solo sporting them in high style there on the left.

Basically, it's a polo wrap that feels like it's made of silicone.  It has gelled water imbedded in it.  All you do is wrap it around your body part of choice.  I could only talk myself into buying two to start out, so after much anguished deliberation, I decided to wrap front legs as they take the brunt of jumping impacts. 

Once you wrap, you put a turn of vetwrap around the loose end -- the gel wrap sticks to itself sort of, but it's not very secure, the vetwrap holds it better (You can't see the vetwrap in the pic on the right, but it's at the top.  It's just the exact same shade of blue as the gel wrap.  Of course.).  Then sponge some water over the wrap & stand back.  Evaporation magic begins.

The directions say you can leave them on for as long as eight hours as long as you reapply water roughly every two hours. I left them on for about 45 minutes to an hour -- you cannot cover them up, as that would block the evaporative cooling & I did not want him to wear them on the trailer & tear them up. They appear to be about as durable to impact as jello.

I sponged them once after about 20 minutes just because I am paranoid like that. I rolled them back up and repackaged them (key fact: you can NEVER let them dry out, EVER EVER), they come in these handy plastic tubs for storing.

And those tendons were cold & tight & beautiful!! No mess, no ice, no hoses, no goop! Even compression & efficient cooling all in one with practically zero effort.  I think mum was a little perplexed as to why I was whooping around excited, but it was so EASY!

According to the manufacturer you can reuse them about 25 times before they are worn out & need to be replaced. I feel like I got my money's worth out of one time, so if I can use them for 25 more horse trials, I am totally beyond satisfied! Once again, chemistry improves life & technology rocks my world!

Two hooves up from Solo!!