Friday, June 30, 2017

What we do



After rides if the arena is quiet, we do some at liberty work, just in case we want to run away and join the circus someday...




(Didn't give her any verbal cues this time ;)







Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Two Horse Tack: Reflective Halter Review


After a little longer than a year in the elements, the Showman breakaway crown halter has finally given up the ghost: all the hardware rusted (boo, would not buy again) and the latch is finally rusted frozen.

Tesla's halter lives a rough life - exposed 24-7 outside her stall: I love leather, but know it would just get trashed - so I wanted to get something a bit more durable, and I've been looking for an excuse to add a bit of reflective to our gear as well since I tend to be an evening kind of rider....

Enter Two Horse Tack!

The colour choices are lovely - especially the wine (which I had seen in person at a blogger meet-up!)  but I decided to go with DQ understated (hey, reflective is as bling as I'm ever gonna get, LOL)







I sent in custom measurements from a leather halter I had that fit Tess well, and the online guide was a bit vague.




I got Brass hardware, and went for black stitching (after reading online that the stitching could look a bit clumsy)





The base is 1inch matte black and the reflective overlay is shiny.




Perfect Fit right out of the bag!
I like the nice weight to it, and I gotta say, the reflective is VERY reflective!

Glowing even in the afternoon!





The crown also has a reflective strip: nice touch! But it isn't breakaway - so I'll need to watch that the cross-ties are on safety ties. (or do my hemi-tie thing, lol)

Two thumbs up! I definitely will get one for Porsche & the Trail Boss - and I think a pair of reflective reins would be a great safety addition for Tess and I when the days get shorter!




Monday, June 26, 2017

Not Elementary, My Dear Watson



Googling equine diseases online is just as bad as webMD.
So after I pulled myself out of that downward spiral of sialoliths and tooth extractions...


"I'm ready for my close-up, the lighting is magical"

My vet consulted with a surgeon colleague and they didn't see anything abnormal or suspicious in Tesla's teeth/jaw x-ray (Yay!). They did notice her lymph nodes were slightly swollen, and prescribed a round of antibiotics.  In the last few days the tenderness has disappeared (as well as the head-shying) whether it was the antibiotics, or it was resolving on it's own, either way I'm relieved! 


Thanks to everyone for all the well wishes, mystery ailments are the WORST.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Inspired by Fraidy Cat Eventing: Why Tesla?



Emma had a great post the other day - A "Why Charlie?" examination that blossomed into "Whose journey is it anyway?" 

And she got me thinking.....

As I rider I do have ambitions: I want to be a better, more effective rider: I want to have quiet hands and an independent seat, I want to move in harmony with my horse, give soft and effective aids, even if it takes a lifetime. If no-one notes my progress but me, my trainer, and my horses, that's OK by me.  I enjoy the process with the horse, of making my own unicorn and then enjoying it! 



My immediate goals are defined by my horse, but those basics will serve us well for any discipline, now or in the future...and whatever Tesla wants to do, I'm game to try and learn as well. 

Tesla was purchased with the intent of being a trail horse for my Dad, the Trail Boss. I happen to have an eye for athletic types, LOL - but what really sold me on Tess was the fact that on farm she was in a completely chaotic situation and she was cool as a cucumber. We got her home, she filled out and shot up several inches, went to 90 day bootcamp, and it became clear that her sensitive side was more suited to me than the Trail Boss. So we swapped: A Porsche for a Tesla. 

Only recently has it crossed my mind about marketability. If, God forbid, something should happen, I would want my horses to be good solid citizens who would find happy loving homes. Tess would be easy to re-home in a heartbeat, cause she 16.1-16.2ish, black, and has that Wow factor. Porsche is just as sporty and super fun to ride: but her 15.2 hands make her more of a jr. rider's size, and her OTTB makes most Western/Endurance riders run away (even tho' that girl is FEARLESS on trails!) Something I will definitely put more thought on when the next race-car comes around...







Thanks for igniting all the introspection, Emma!


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Curiouser and Curiouser





"This is not how I was expecting my photo shoot to go..."

Tess got X-rayed on Wednesday afternoon. 

No swelling, no fever but definitely still tender on the right jaw.

Nothing screamed obvious tooth problem on the x-rays, but Dr. K is gonna consult with her colleagues.

Next most likely on the list would be foreign body waaaay in the back of her throat...







Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Suspicions....



When I went out to the Barn Monday night, Tesla seemed a little touchy - especially with her face. Hmmm....odd....

Then when I went to groom her right jaw, she panicked and broke her halter...and was acting totally head shy. 
Not her normal gig.

The no touchy zone - but only slight swelling

I offered her an apple....nope, not unless I took a bite, and then gave it to her in small pieces...

OK, Sherlock: head shy, facial swelling, mincing or refusing to eat her favourite snacks, maybe a tooth issue??

So, I gave her prescribed 500mg of banamine to make her comfortable for the night (since it wasn't life threatening, and gave the vet a call Tuesday morning....


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Game is Afoot....


I came out on Friday and Tess was looking and feeling like her normal self. Zero swelling, zero sensitivity in her throat-latch, and chomping away at her hay. Dr K checked in, and no x-rays were necessary, since she looked great (yay!) and left me with banamine paste - in case Tess needed it.

It's still a bit of a mystery, the blood test came back normal, no elevated WBCs (YAY no Strangles!).

I'm so thankful that this turned out OK - Tesla gave me quite a scare!

While keeping an eye on her, all my tack got a thorough clean/conditioning (stress cleaner, yup), and Tess got a weekend full of pampering with a bath, lots of grooming, and MOAR Masterson Method. I incorporated the poll release into our routine...





and afterwards Tesla was putty in my hands - I can definitely see how this method builds trust and am looking forward to see how her movement under saddle will be improved as well once we can get back to riding :D


Monday, June 19, 2017

Mystery Detective




I got a call from my BM on Thursday that Tesla hadn't touched her lunch (not even her favourite alfalfa flake, what?!) If this girl stops eating something is definitely wrong.

I found her standing head down in her box - she wasn't even swishing her tail to scare the flies and was just miserable and wanted cuddles. There was an itty bitty fresh poop (so I wasn't thinking colic just yet)

Dr K met me up at the barn. She took Tess' temp: 105, and gave her injections of banamine to bring down the fever and relieve pain. Tess didn't have any nasal discharge...so she also thought it might be a lower tooth problem - perhaps she had something foreign caught/abscessed in her mouth/back of her throat.

Tess was still tender on the right throat latch - no touchy! but there wasn't dramatic swelling.

So out came the speculum - and Tess was SO good - Dr K put it on without any sedation (I told Tess it was just a big western bit, hehe). The vet said there were very few horses she would do that with (awwwhhhhhh, proud Momma moment - but also someone was feeling so rotten)

Google "Speculum".....yup.

Dr K dug her arm up to her elbow in Tesla's mouth - but didn't find anything obvious by feel/looking.  She drew some blood for testing, waited for her temp to come back into the normal range, and then scheduled to come back in the morning with the portable x-ray machine to rule out that she hadn't swallowed something if she still looked poorly/had swelling and/or tenderness.

I knew Tess was feeling better when she kept shuffling over to the hay. Banamine, man that stuff works :) and planned to head out first thing in the morning and see how she was...





Friday, June 16, 2017

What the what?



When I brought Tesla up to the barn on Tuesday evening I saw this:



my fwace fweels fwunny


The right side of her face was completely swollen.

Some of the barn girls freaked out a bit - the S-word was bounced around.

I took her temp and it was normal (but I was warned that S-word doesn't always cause a fever.)  I searched all over but couldn't find any sign of trauma, bite or stinger...

So I ran to the store and picked up a bottle of Benadryl and dosed her (thats 12 little pink pills) with an apple. Then I cold-hosed it (one thing I love about this horse - she will let you do anything to her on the ground)

Wednesday morning she was off her feed (worrisome) and the swelling was still present, so she got more antihistamines, and I hung out at the barn, watched a few lessons, and after a few hours or so, she was happily eating. I had made up my mind to call the vet if she wasn't looking near 100% normal by Wednesday evening, but when I came back out, she looked like herself again, was eating & still normal temp :)










Thursday, June 15, 2017

My Consultation with Jen the Saddle Geek



When Tess & I just started back into regular work, I booked an online session with Jen the Saddle Geek. And she told me, "get a refund and come back in ~6 months".  So I took her advice and did. 
I picked up the Sommer, and it was a decent fit until it wasn't. Since I know the the saddle has an expiration date after the latest adjustment, and eventually it won't be an awesome fit for Tess, I went ahead and sent Jen some new pics, and asked for her advice.



Nov. 2016
May 2017

What Tess needs:

Curvy Tree
Upswept panels
Wool Flocking
Adjustable Tree (WIDE)


2015

What I need:

Smaller/triangle knee rolls
Larger than 17in. Kieffer seat :)
Close Contact (my preference)



What Jen suggested:


A Sommer Diplomat

The trick will be finding one in my budget! and gotta watch cause each one can be customized and might be different!



An Albion


for something the the "neighborhood" of a Sommer





Stubben Genesis XW tree

I could demo this on a free trial thru Smartpak...





Prestige 2000D



One of the few Italian brands wide enough....



and cause I have a soft spot for brown tack, A Southern Stars Dressage Saddle


my "wild-card"...drool


I can't recommend Jen enough - she gave me links to some killer deals and options, and her video was crazy informative. 


She discussed all that was wrong saddle-wise in this photo


And I could see her recommended improvements in the newly adjusted Sommer.


Now, when Tesla starts to grow out of this one again, I feel that I have the tools now to hunt down my unicorn saddle. 

Thanks, Jen!!!


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Masterson Method, Renegade Boots



I got the chance to catch part of the Horse Expo this weekend - the Trail Boss and I went on a mission: to scope out some hoof boots for Porsche:




We headed to the Renegade Boot booth to check them out in person. I asked the gal a TON of questions, about fit, etc. I haven't had the best of luck getting EZ-boots that fit well - they tend to slip off on circles and at a gallop....no bueno. She's also kinda in-between sizes...


hi vis orange? yes!

We actually got to see the boot in action in the cowboy dressage competition - the horse wearing them was moving well - so pretty sure we'll give these a try!



I also wanted to go to the Masterson Method demo - mostly skeptical, but kinda curious to see if it might be helpful for either of the girls. Jim went over the basics - there are some great videos he has online if you wanna see too:





and I gotta say, if seeing is believing, the tense, nervous OTTB he used as the demo horse totally relaxed by the end of the 1hr. session.  (and I know that ain't easy LOL) So I thought I'd give it a go on Tesla....





She totally LOVED it. she relaxed and then cocked her hip as I brushed my fingers over her back and hips. Her ears were on me the whole time, and her lower lip went droopy.


So, I'll give it a go, and see how she does - she definitely is enjoying the attention/bonding time, and it will be fun to see if it helps with relaxation/performance as well.

Has anyone tried the Renegade Boots or the Masterson Method?
Did they work for you??





Tuesday, June 13, 2017

What's in a name?



It's fun to see how names change throughout a horses' history.


The sportiest OTTB ever was originally More Secrets on the track:






Then she was "Beauty" when she transitioned to a second career with CANTER







This video makes her back look sooooo long LOL!



Then she was "Secrets" for a year with the loveliest owner ever!





and then she became our Porsche, packer of beginners, trail ride extraordinaire, and game for anything, especially belly-rubs. (turns out the previous owner had an on-going joke about riding a Porsche - so she was thrilled when she heard her "new" name ;)






Tesla has had much fewer names: She originally started out as a Tyra:


already workin' the camera at 3 hrs. old





(yes, even supermodels have awkward teenage years)



and then became my Tesla (from red-hot supermodel to hot-rod LOL)






How many names has your horse had?
Did he or she end up being called similar things?










Monday, June 12, 2017

Rocking E Cowgirl: June 10 Questions



1. What is your earliest, clearest horse memory?

We had horses when I was very small - and I remember just being in awe and always watching and loving them.

Pretty much still the same now (but with a helmet): big sloppy grin on a big black horse

2. Describe the perfect summer day.

Sleeping in, avocado toast, trail ride/lesson, lemonade and hammocks, long lingering twilight filled with music & conversation,  and star-gazing into the wee hours.

3. Are you reading anything right now? Tell me about it!

Dune (book 3). So good. and Riding in the Moment by Michael Schaffer - some great insight  on how to teach the basics! 

4. Do you follow a celebrity (horsey or non) that you’re embarrassed to say fascinates you? Tell me. NOW.

Nope. Don't follow anyone famous in particular.

5. What is your single most biggest horsey dream or goal?

 I read this article 
(http://www.horsemagazine.com/thm/2017/06/guarding-the-classical-principles/) and I feel like it echoes my sentiments: I want Tesla to get better and more beautiful as she ages, I want to be a better and more effective rider, have a proper seat, spend a "lifetime of building horses". 

6. If you were at Starbucks right now, what would you order?

A Grande Chestnut Praline Latte, but I usually make my own at home on the stove.

7. What is your biggest equine pet peeve?

Pushing a horse too hard, too fast in training. LoL - but maybe because my own has taken longer that the average :)

8. With everything going on politically and in the media, tell me, do you follow it religiously? Tune it out? Or something in between?

To keep my sanity, I'm mostly tuning out the circus at the moment.

9. If you had to show your horse to a song, what would you choose?

This one from Yann Tiersen's Amelie Soundtrack:

https://play.spotify.com/track/4O2N861eOnF9q8EtpH8IJu

10. What are you most looking forward to this summer?

The long quiet evenings at the barn :) 






Friday, June 9, 2017

300th Post Giveaway: My Equestrian Motto




I can't believe it's been 300 posts on this blog already!!


So, to celebrate, I'm hosting a little Giveaway! 

The Winner will receive a digital bespoke, original equestrian motto design.


To enter:


Write a Blog post describing your equestrian motto in one to four words, and why it is meaningful to you  - and link to it here in the comments.


I love Shakespeare, and free-handed fonts, so I would probably go with "but soft" - which is 1500s slang for "quiet" and would remind me to always quiet my mind, quiet my aids, and let Tesla shout her response (as Jane Savoie likes to say :)




Maybe you'd like your initials and team colours:




Or something classical: "Await the things which will excite you" (although that is pushing the word limit...lol)




or something historically inspired:



Be as creative as you like!


Winner will be chosen from comments at random by Tesla on June 23rd (last time it was numbered carrots.......)


Good Luck!




Thursday, June 8, 2017

A QH



The thrush continues to be awful this year - Tess is ouchy again and everytime I go digging in her hooves, I find a new pocket hiding out.  It has just been so damp at the barn - and I let my guard down for a few weeks, sigh. At least I never have to guess how she is feeling :)

But, I got to take the re-flocked and adjusted Sommer for an actual spin, and it felt amazing. Sitting correctly was effortless and natural. We did a lot of walk work: I worked on sitting up and back and using my bellybutton to steer all around the arena and in between the jumps. So fun!

Tess is really settling down, a fellow barn-mate remarked that she was turning into a Quarter Horse in the best possible way, and we both laughed.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The 5 Commandments of Saddle Fit



A few weeks ago, Tesla told me her saddle wasn't fitting too well, so I did some homework, and found a local fitter who also happened to be a distributor for the Sommer brand (win, win!)

I took a half-day off work, and met Kristen from Saddlery Solutions up at the barn. She was super right on time, and I already had Tess out, groomed and ready to roll. She gave me a ton of info about what she would be doing and why: I tried my best to remember it all!!

First, she took some basic measurements on Tesla, asked age, level of work, etc. Everything looked pretty normal - no glaring red flags.

Then she took a look at my saddle - a 1994 model that sure doesn't show it's age! She said she could see how this was a good fit for Tesla 6 months ago - but how the changes in Tess' topline now made it a pretty poor fit.

She began by walking me through the 5 Commandments of saddle fit. 

1) The Trapezus : any pressure here will cause the horse to lower its back and throw its head up - Tesla had a bit of a reaction here, telling her the saddle wasn't fitting great in this area (I also knew this from running my hands under the saddle and feeling the points - ouch!) 80% of saddle fit problems are in this area.

2) The Shoulder: Tesla has big shoulders, and Kristen found her shoulder line by lifting and flexing her front leg. She needs to be able to rotate them and for them to be able to slide under the saddle.

3) The Lower Back - the saddle needs to not put pressure here - there are none of the muscles (like over the ribs) to carry the weight here: it all goes directly on the spine.

4) The Spine: Tesla needs a wide channel as her spine width is quite large.

5) The billet points : Tesla is WIDE - but narrows down towards her girth groove - a shaped girth will help keep the saddle from slipping forward. She is in a 28 now, but I should look forward to bumping up to a 30 in the not so distant future....

 All five of these outline the Real Estate - where the panels need to contact: Tesla has a curvy short back which makes bridging a concern.


Who you calling hefty?

Tesla was perfect for her fitting - Kristen squared her up and she didn't move a muscle "She could be a model horse!"  She brought out a demo Sommer (brown, drool) and showed me what features were well suited to Tesla's conformation: wide channel, more shoulder room, forward billets. 

Kristen brought all her gear with her and like 20 minutes later she put the saddle on Tesla and it fit like a GLOVE. She had me sit in it too - to make sure it was level and balanced to my bum - it felt 100% better, like I'd gotten a brand-spankin' new saddle.


Level seat and better fit <3


The nitty gritty:  I can prolly milk this saddle along for a year or two before her back changes so completely the panel shape and width isn't a good match (read: start squirreling away pennies!) I'll probably need a re-adjustment in 6 months or so, especially if we up her work load. 


I would highly recommend Kristen - she was great about answering all my questions, and educating me as she went along, and super good with Tess.  I could see and feel a vast improvement in the saddle fit - and she even went the extra mile to fasten down one of the name plates under the flap that had come loose and had a little raggedy edge that was only a matter of time before I caught my finger on it.

Can't wait to take it on a ride this week :D





Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Peppermint Horse Cookies



Catie at Thoughful Equestrian had a post on Theo approved treats - and I gotta say, that Olivia's DIY Peppermint Horse Cookies also get 5 stars in my book (and Tesla's too!)






Tesla knows that if she gets pushy, she gets zero treats, so she keeps looking away (to prove she isn't being pushy) and then looking back to see if she earned another one - LOL - then she thought the cube might be a second cookie.....


The whole barn aisle wanted in on the cookies

I'm totally gonna have to try making some!

You can find the recipe on DIY Horse Ownership HERE.








Monday, June 5, 2017

How to throw a Pony Party


When Olivia at DIY Horse Ownership put together a Blogger Meet Up and promised trail-rides, picnics, Mustangs, and Nilla the Mule, I was all in!

It was wonderful to meet everyone in person: Kate from Incidents of Guidance , Megan from A Enter Spooking, M from Topaz Dreams, Nicole from Zen and the Art of Baby Horse Management , and the guest of honor, Jen from Cob Jockey

I arrived a bit early (to leave time for getting lost and then found again - but Olivia's directions were spot.on. which meant I got to pick out Nilla's feet (which are the cutest little things EVAH!) and tack her up in her stall - all except the crupper, cause wait, how? The colour theme that Olivia has for each horse is genius - cause you can tell right away what tack belongs to who.

Everyone mounted up in the little arena, then headed to the big arena to get familiar with our rides and test their buttons.  I got to ride Kate's new 4yr old pony, Flounder, who is a happy little fella! (Seriously, I could've wrapped my legs completely around his barrel - he's still that baby narrow shape - so cute! ;D Cars and Bicycles zipping by, no problem! Low branches? He charged right through! I'm used to talking up babies, so he got plenty of "Good Boy"s from me for being such a brave trail horse!

Flounder was as excited to meet Nilla as everyone else was!
Getting to know you

The views were lovely, the weather was nice and warm, and the winery we rode to was beautiful! We tied the horses up, and they were champs about waiting while we nabbed a shady bench nearby.  Olivia and David had put together a delicious spread: bread & cheese & fruit & truffles - and a unicorn tablecloth - it truly was magical :D

A horde of little kids gathered as we prepared to ride home - I was bringing up the rear, so I turned and waved - and the little cuties were waving and grinning from ear to ear. 
Future equestrians maybe? That's how the bug starts :)

We got back to the barn, and everyone got a chance to ride Nilla and Levi the Mustang who is like riding a giant palomino pillow. 

Levi the most comfortable couch ever!

I didn't have my cube with me, so I didn't get my between the ears shot with Nilla (epic fail!!) but that girl is super-charged! She loves to go, and was sad that we were just trotting around the ring next to the jumps (instead of over the jumps :D - sorry Nilla!

And as if the day couldn't have got any better, Olivia made us bags of home-made horse treats to take home - so sweet!!!

Thanks to everyone more making it such a blast - I felt like I was 10 again - and especially to Olivia and David for being great hosts who sure know how to throw a pony party!