Sunday, September 23, 2012

Saga wins ex-racehorse award; Oberon kicks butt in dressage (but gets eliminated by a culvert)

Today was the LOPE benefit show, which was rained out last weekend and rescheduled for today. Fuzzypony took Taran, MC took Cash (his first show in 5 years!!!), and I took Oberon and Saga. I had entered Oberon in an in-hand trail course, Intro B and C, and the 18 inch hunter class. Saga was entered in Intro B and C, the 2' hunter class, and an under-saddle trail course. In hindsight, riding two horses in four classes each, with only about 30 minutes in between each class, was probably a really bad idea, especially since I had to change tack between every class. BUT... we had a fantastic day, all four of the boys were great, and we brought home some really nice ribbons!

I started out with Oberon in the in-hand trail course. It involved walking through an L, a zig-zag, over a bridge, and a few other things. I thought he would stop at the bridge, but after a slight hesitation, he walked right over it. I got a few points off because I told him "good boy!", but whatever. We ended up 4th out of a very big class... I think there were 15 or so people in it. Considering he'd never done anything like that, I was very pleased with him.

Next up was Saga on Intro B. I had let him get some yucks out in the round pen several hours earlier, so I kept our warmup short and sweet. He was not as through his back as I would like (an ongoing issue), and I failed to set him up for good bend through some of the corners. All in all, I felt like I rode a really solid test, and we scored a 67.19%. This tied us for second place...

... with Oberon. Yep, somehow I managed to ALSO get a 67.19% on Oberon. I wasn't as happy with this test to be honest - we had almost no warmup time (the show was running 15 minutes ahead) and he took a really hard look at the judge's stand. He was also really sluggish and behind my leg for most of the test - I got "Needs ERG" like 5 times on my test. Oh well, we managed to muddle our way through.

After a quick tack change and even quicker warm-up, Oberon and I were off to the hunter class. The hunt classes at this venue are always fun, because it's over undulating terrain out in a big field, and in addition to jumping stuff you also have to some trail-type things. At this show we had to go into a "pen" with fake Canadian geese. I was really worried about the geese, but I SHOULD have worried about the culvert and bridge to the right of fence 4. He had a tantrum right in front of the jump - which in of itself didn't phase him, but the culvert, OMG THE CULVERT. After three refusals (the last of which involved me smacking him, HARD, and kicking the tar out if him) it became apparent that we were not going to get over that jump, so I went around it and finished the course. It's funny - the actual jumps were not the problem, but all the other stuff around them was. He spooked at the pond. He looked at some rocks. He looked at wreaths hanging on the fences. He spooked at the flowers in the finish box. ARGH! I could not keep his little walnut brain on the task at hand. Since we skipped the one fence, we were eliminated, but dammit, we made it around, more or less. Brat.

Another speedy tack change and it was Saga up for the 2' hunter. He didn't look at a single thing, but was a bit full of himself. He tossed in a buck coming off the second fence, then would not come back to a trot for the third element (the Canadian geese). We managed the geese without a problem, then got a good rhythm going for fences 4, 5, 6, and 7. I remembered to stay steady before the jump, but I am making huge movements for such tiny fences and it's really throwing him off. Oops. I again had a hard time getting him back for the 8th obstacle (walking over some logs on the ground), but our last fence was tidy enough. We're fine if we have a rhythm, but if anything interrupts it I just can't get our shit together fast enough. We managed a 3rd place on that one, behind two girls who ride at a hunter barn.

Next Saga and I had to go put in our ride for Intro C. Saga was hot from the jumping and had suddenly forgotten how to canter on the right lead, so going into the test I was concerned about getting the canters AT ALL. As it turned out, the canters were fine (well, for him. We scored poorly because we were unbalanced, but I expected that). However, he kept doing his "hopping" thing at the trot, where he throws his head up and tries to do a little mincing canter transition. My fault entirely, I didn't give him a real chance to come back to dressage mode and relax into forward contact. Still, we landed a very generous 62.5% for 6th place.

Finally, I had Oberon for Intro C. In the warmup I focused on forward. I got really lucky in that we rode right after the judge took a break, so I while she was gone I took the opportunity to show Oberon the judge's stand, and go down center line a few times. The result was that, if our turn off centerline wasn't perfect, at least we didn't spook and careen off centerline! I was very pleased with our test - it was much more forward, our canters were decent (for us, they still aren't super), and he had a lot more energy. I still can't really get him to bend a the poll - like at all - so we got marked down on submission. But I'll still take our 67.5% and second place!

By then, I was pretty beat. Today's high was about 95, no breeze, no shade. Oberon takes a lot of energy to ride, and his Intro C test was my 7th go of the day. I was supposed to ride Saga in a trail class, but I scratched. I knew that he was done, and I was toast for sure.

When we went over to collect our scores and such, and the show organizer told me that the judges had nominated Saga for their special "ex-racehorse" award! He got a giant purple neck ribbon, a tub full of sooper speshul horse cookies (I may eat one or two), and his photo taken with the organizer. *I* got a $75 gift card to a local saddlery. Woot! It's possible that I also got reserve champion for the show, but they were having some issues tallying scores. I should know in a couple of days.

I only have a few pics that we took when we got home, but I'm hoping that I'll get some nicer ones from other photographers later in the week. 

 Doesn't Saga look handsome with that big purple ribbon around his neck?

 Oberon required carrot bribery to stand for pictures.

MC did a lovely job with Cash in Intro B and C. I believe she scored above a 60% in both! Not bad for a rider who hasn't shown in 15 years and a horse that hasn't shown in 5. She also took him in the advanced in-hand trail class, where she got 2nd. She would have won if she hadn't used her voice to tell him "good boy" a few times, but oh well. He was a super star and he knows it!

I'm off to bed now - hopefully more pics soon. I hope everyone else had a really great weekend too!

Friday, September 21, 2012

The $1300 bute tablet

Wednesday morning, I was dishing out feed for the evening. This included a tablet of bute for Cash, who managed to twist something out in the pasture the other night. (I explained that he's 24 and shouldn't gallop around like he's two, but he didn't listen. Sigh.) As usual, Maddy was in the feed room, nibbling dropped feed off the floor and twining herself around my legs. When I dropped the tab of Bute into Cash's feed dish, Maddy came over to investigate. That in of itself wasn't unusual - she occasionally licks the probiotics off his feed, but what she did next was completely unexpected. SHE ATE THE ENTIRE BUTE TABLET OUT OF THE FEED TUB.

It happened so quickly - she just licked it up and it was gone. I immediately reached down and scruffed her, then tried to fish the tablet out of her mouth. In just an instant, she had already swallowed it. She then took offense at being scruffed, scratched me with a front paw, and when I let go, dashed off.

I finished up in the feed room, then looked for Maddy. I called and called, looked in all her favorite spots, but couldn't find her anywhere. I went inside and did some research on cats and Bute, and found almost nothing. Well, except for the part where cats are extremely sensitive to NSAIDs. Even a single aspirin, or a dog's dose of Rimidyl (100 mg), can kill them. Maddy ate a full GRAM of bute - or about 10 times the lethal dose. Awesome.

I eventually left for work without finding her. I spent the day worrying about her, and started looking for her again when I got home. I took care of the horses, and about 8 p.m. I was sitting on the couch when she staggered down the hallway. She was drooling profusely and could barely walk. I have no idea how she even got into the house, but I am so glad she did, or I never would have found her. I snagged her, put her in a crate, and immediately drove her to the emergency animal clinic. On the way, she had a seizure. It was terrifying.

Once at the clinic, they rushed to put her on IV fluids and start some Pepcid and carafate to try to ease the trauma to the GI tract. Amazingly, all her blood tests came back normal, despite the fact that she was ataxic and in pretty bad shape. She spent the night at the emergency clinic, but I had to move her to my regular vet in the morning. She had improved some during the night, but the 30 minute drive to the regular vet's office really set her back.

Fortunately, additional IV fluids, carafate, and Pepcid, along with a quiet environment, seem to have done the trick. The vet is fairly convinced that she vomited up most of the pill shortly after she ate it, since the full dose almost certainly would have killed her. After 48 hours of the best care (and $1300 in vet bills), Maddy came home tonight. She's still wobbly and is spending most of her time resting, but she's purring whenever I pet her and she's started eating again. She's not entirely out of the woods yet, and the vet warned me that she may never quite be her old self, but she's definitely on her way to a solid recovery.

The strangest thing about this whole experience is that a cat WILLINGLY ate an entire Bute tablet on her own. If you've ever tried to pill a cat before, you'll know that the concept of one actually voluntarily eating a pill is completely foreign, much less something the size of a Bute tab. I ended up having to explain to four different vets that yes, she did actually eat it, and yes, it really was that big. And yes, I was ABSOLUTELY SURE she'd eaten the Bute and not gotten into something else.

The hubby is due home next Wednesday. I guess Maddy was our "broken" thing for this trip. Poor little Mooster.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Show postponed due to rain? Go foxhunting instead!

The LOPE benefit show was postponed until next Sunday, due to all the rain we've gotten in the last few days. While I was a bit bummed that the show was postponed, we really needed the rain. It's been almost 6 weeks since it last rained, and the ground was starting to crack pretty badly.

Besides, despite the wet conditions, the first real foxhunt of the year was ON! Well, OK, it's only cubbing season, which means polo shirts and a much more relaxed atmosphere. BUT STILL! We got to take the hounds out to my favorite fixture, and  it was FANTASTIC!

I took Oberon instead of Saga, since he's never actually been on a real hunt before. We started second flight, but first wasn't going too fast so we moved up after about 10 minutes. OMG, Oberon is a natural-born hunt horse. He just keeps up with the group, no matter what they're doing. He also totally "gets" the hunt thing.

Hey mom? The hounds are over there in the trees. 

Fuzzypony went too on Taran.

We only had one silly/spooky moment. Those dots you see in the pond are hounds swimming (they were cooling off and getting a drink). Oberon was fine with hounds on land, but hounds in the water were a bit much. He had to stop and stare a bit.

The hunstmistress goes by with the hounds.

The only bad thing about this fixture is the mesquite. The grey spines you see in this picture are thorns - they are each about an inch long. There were small shrubs like this EVERYWHERE. Oberon for the most part went around it or hopped over it.

We were out for a good two hours, which is pretty great for the first of the season. First flight saw FOUR Talley-hos! Well, OK, it was probably the same two coyotes twice, but still. The hounds kept catching the scent and losing it, and then we'd see one of the coyotes go sauntering off from one copse to the next. We actually had one where the coyote went perhaps 20 feet directly behind the huntsmistress as she was cantering along! The hounds were nowhere to be seen, and the coyote was headed downwind so of course they did not catch the scent at all. Coyotes are very, very crafty creatures!  Good thing too - it means there's always something for us to chase next time. :)

The hunstmistress and hounds on the left, and second field on the right, headed home.

Oberon was an absolute blast to ride. He trotted when the lead horse trotted, stopped when he stopped, and cantered when he did too. I never had to haul on him to slow down, and the one time when I felt him accelerate into a flat-out gallop, I stood up a bit and half-halted, and he came right back to me. He was very balanced, even cantering down hills (Saga tends to sort of roll down them). He was happy to stand when the others stood, but caught on quickly that he was to move off with the group. I was worried that he'd have a problem keeping up with first flight, but I shouldn't have - he had no trouble at all. What a star pony!

 Yes, I'm all that and a bag of chips. Feed me now?

The hubby might not be getting his horse back. ;)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

In desperate need of a fashion consultant

When I signed up for the LOPE benefit show this weekend, I figured I'd do a couple of classes on each of the Big Bay Boys. I mean, how hard is it to throw together Intro B and C, a tiny hunter round, and a little trail class?

And then today the schedule came out.
10:40  Oberon    In-hand Trail I
12:23  Saga        Intro B
1:12    Oberon    Intro B
2:00    Oberon    Hunter I
2:58    Saga        Intro C
3:38    Oberon    Intro C
4:20    Saga        Hunter II
5:10    Saga        Trail II

So... yeah. I had this fantasy of riding Oberon in dressage, then Saga, then having a leisurely lunch, changing clothes to hunt-appropriate attire, then riding a few tidy hunter rounds (and laughing at Oberon when he stops to eat the fake flowers). Instead, it looks like I'll be wearing my white breeches till 4pm, at which point they should be a sad shade of dirty smudge.

Did I mention it's supposed to rain? Like, ALL DAY? And we all know how awesome white breeches are when wet.

So, what should I wear? First off, the in-hand trail class. Oberon has a brown leather halter, but it's not fancy. I have an exceptionally boring black cotton lead rope. Do I wear my breeches and boots? I can barely walk in my tall boots, and if it's muddy, I really don't want to slog around in them. I don't have any boot-cut jods, but I could wear jeans and paddock boots and a polo shirt. Or maybe a white flowy shirt (bad if it's pouring)? Or... a white long-sleeved shirt and an autumnal plaid wool vest? Halp?

Dressage is easy. Coats are waived, so it's white breeches and a white shirt. Or do I say screw the white breeches and go with tan breeches and a white shirt? Or maybe a different colored polo (I have navy, light blue, and brown, as well as a black dry-fit shirt). I'm using a white saddle pad, and black tack for dressage.

Same for the hunter classes. I have a grey hunt coat (for FOXHUNTING, duh, not hunters) that I could wear, but as I said, coats are waived and I don't want to be out of place. My tack is brown and I have white fuzzy fitted pads. Do I just go with the tan breeches and white shirt? Or go for a different colored polo?

Please, someone help me dress! I need a fashion consultant! Possibly also someone to manage my wardrobe at this rate...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

And then suddenly...

... I started blogging again.

You know how sometimes there's plenty going on, but you're just not inspired to blog? Yeah, that's been me. I've been riding - although with highs last week of 105, I admit not as much as I'd like, especially given that we've got a show this Saturday. I've made it through the entire four seasons of White Collar (yes, in two weeks. Don't ask.), and am now bummed that I will only get to see Matt Bomer (swooooon) weekly, or on re-runs. The husband is out of town, but nothing has broken (yet) - still waiting for that axe to fall. And the current scorpion body count stands somewhere north of 15 (UPDATE: Make that 16. I just squished another one on the wall. Ugh). I have no idea why there are so many all at once when I haven't seen any for months, but at least the little bastards are showing up dead or nearly so.

Let's see, what to catch up on. Oh, Saga's got a new farrier. This one also works for a (different) vet, but actually calls back and responds to text messages. He makes house calls too, so I might not have to haul any more to get Saga shod. That would be super-awesome-nice. The first shoeing job was a little scary, but Saga is sound and comfortable, so... I guess it's all good.

 LF. That damn bulge is STILL there, after two years of trying so many ways to let it grow out. The new farrier is trying to rasp down the hoof wall, which makes me cringe. HOWEVER, when I pointed out that what really needs to happen is that the wall needs to be at the same angle all the way down WITHOUT rasping, he said, "You're right, and that's where we're going to be in six months or so." At least we both have the same end goal in mind!

 When he pulled the previous set of shoes, a huge chunk of toe came off. Awesome. Saga was at 5 weeks exactly... he looked more like 9 weeks.

 LF. Better, although the hairline is still pushed up at the quarters.

At least he's sound.

I've been doing regular jumping lessons, and seem to be mostly improving. I'll work on one thing and then something else (that I thought I'd already fixed) will break. Also, after seeing me school some of the Training XC fences (3'3 ish), Paige has jacked the fences up. We're jumping mostly 2'6-3'. It's going pretty well - my big challenges continue to be keeping the elbows in, and not letting him get rolling up to the fence. Saga is naturally downhill and has a big chest and shoulder, so it's hard for him to balance back. We're getting better, but we've got a long ways to go before I'll really feel like the power is coming from behind.

Paige also snuck up a nice 3'3-ish oxer on a line we were doing. I came around and said something like "HOLY CARP THAT'S HUGE". She reminded me not to look at it, and Saga jumped through like a pro. Is he awesome or what?!?! (Please ignore my 'flying chicken' elbows).

This coming Saturday is the LOPE benefit horse show. I'm riding Saga and Oberon in two dressage classes each (Intro B and C), a hunter over fences class each (Saga at 2'6 and Oberon is jumping Xs and will likely spook at the flowers), and a trail versatility class each (Saga ridden and Oberon in-hand). One of the likely obstacles on the trail versatility course will be walking over a tarp on the ground. Oberon will walk over one, but every time I move it to a new place, it's a whole new game. Most recently, he licked the tarp and then picked it up in his teeth, managing to scare the crap out of himself when the whole thing moved. Yep, he's speshul. I just hope he doesn't do something that classy at the show. I'm also on to him about eating fake flowers (he tried that at our jumping lesson last week). With his penchant for sampling anything and everything, I'm starting to wonder if perhaps he's part goat.

Intro B I'm not worried about. Intro C, with the canter, is going to be ... bad. Oberon has a canter departure that sort of resembles a Lazy Boy sofa trying to throw itself across the room, or maybe a hippo trying to heave itself to its feet. You can almost hear him go "UH!" on the departure. It's not exactly the most graceful thing ever, and I can't wait to hear what the judge has to say about it. Saga's canter departs, especially to the right, usually involve falling in on his shoulder, pinning his ears, and running. They're awesome and make me feel like SUCH a good rider (NOT). I decided to take him out and longe him the other night to see how he did on the longe line, and the answer is... he can't do a canter depart to save his life. He's so unbalanced he just can't do one cleanly, even on his own. It was really eye-opening watching him struggle so much - it's not just me, although I am obviously not helping any. We're not going to fix anything in time for Saturday, but I'll be longing him more regularly to help him figure it out on his own. In the meantime, we'll just muddle through the test and hope for a miracle.

Did I mention that MC, Cash's beloved Auntie (and Chief Bringer of Carrots) is taking him to the show as well? And that Cash's canter departs are nothing short of perfect? I'm going to get my ass kicked by my friend riding my "retired" schoolmaster. But hey, the ribbon she's going to come home with will look great just the same! ;)