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Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened.

Ride with your heart and soul ~ your horse can feel it


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Pony-free Weekend

At first I was feeling guilty about this weekends planned road trip, after all I have to start getting into a riding routine now that its supposed to be spring. Not feeling quite so guilty after hearing the weather forecast yesterday... snow, cold and wet. :(
The road trip is much needed, Kimfer just finished working 20+ days straight (I think it was 24) and I am suffering work-related burnout. We've planned to leave for Edmonton tonight after I'm done work (soooo glad we're closing early!). We'll get to Edmonton approx. 4 a.m. and crash at the hotel. Sunday we'll spend visiting my sis and her hubby and Monday we'll shop.
Edmonton has one of my two fav tack stores... Lammle's (the other would be Frontier Western Shop in Claresholm AB, you can check them out online at http://www.westernshop.com/ they ship to US and Canada) Sadly the tack stores here in Saskatoon are very limited. We'll also check out a neat little tack store we discovered last time Kimfer & I were in Edmonton (Welsh's). Then of course we have to hit up Ikea and "the great Mall" also known as West Edmonton Mall.
So although my weekend will have no direct horse contact I will have my best bud (who is also my best horse-related friend) Kimfer with me so there will be lots of horse talk, I'll have horse mags to read during any alone time (new "Horse & Rider" came the other day!) and best of all there will be horse related shopping! (please, please, please... I have to try to NOT buy any more reins!!!) LOL

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Day in the Life

Finally got out to the barn today. The weather's been very unfriendly lately (an example, my 10 minute drive home from work took 30 minutes Friday night!) Auntie Kim (aka Kimfer) has been taking good care of Cessa for me. When she went to re-bandage her horse Baron she put Cessa's blanket back on. We had taken them off, silly us the weather was acting like spring. Baron and Cessa are in the "hospital pen" and its decided to be winter for awhile longer so they needed their blankies.
Was pleasantly surprised to see the snow is almost gone (again) and their pen is not too muddy! While I was preparing feed buckets Pete brought the horses in. Of course Cessa was right outside the door nickering to let us know she was there! She's so cute that way. When I get to the barn she comes and stands at the door and does her low, throaty mare nicker. :)
Pete opens the door and Cessa very nicely went and stood in her stall to wait (almost patiently) for her pail of goodies (beet pulp, rolled oats, joint combo, oil, senior feed and ground flax). Since she has quite a bit more to eat, and also can't eat quite as fast as she used to, I give her her pail and Pete goes to get the boys.
While Cessa is eating and Pete's catching horses I finish preparing the boys' goodie buckets. They both get a small (very small) amount of sweet feed and ground flax. Quinn also gets joint combo and they each get Smooth Run. They really only get the little bit of sweet feed they do so that I can feed them their Smooth Run and so Quinn can get his joint combo (pellets).
The boys come in, nicely go to their stalls and start to eat. I get the fun job of fishing ice out of the hospital pen water tank (told you it is cold lately!) and topping up the water. The boys finish eating and we put them back outside. Finish filling the water and Cessa pops her head over the stall... she is (finally) done eating.
Put her back with Baron and quickly put buckets away and tidy up the poo. Now its back home, lunch and get ready for work. This is all pretty typical. Home - barn - home - work - home, and repeat. Some days I get to squeeze in a ride when I'm out with the ponies, sometimes I only have time to feed their goodies and check on them.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Usual Suspects

Not much going on lately due to the absolutely crappy weather so I thought I'd take this time to introduce you to the other regulars...
Kimfer - my best friend (for 20+ years), owner of Baron (AQHA palomino gelding and Cessa's "boyfriend") and Isis (AQHA grey filly). My most frequent riding partner/hauling buddy/go to person for horse help (she's great at bandaging legs, she's been doing the wrapping of Cessa's cut leg for about 2 months). Our horses live at her parent's place with her dad's horses.
Henry & Linda - Kimfer's parents, owner's of Rainy (TWH black gelding) and Ty (TWH chestnut gelding) and two dogs, Cookie (female shitzuh, doesn't cause trouble) and Bear (female Rottie, major pain in the a$$ around the horses).
Julie - barrel buddy, the usual crew she hauls (in any combination of 1 -3) is Ginger (Welsh buckskin mare, slightly psycho), Maverick (buckskin QH gelding) Sully (roany buckskin QH gelding... 2nd year competing) and Red (bay roan QH filly, just starting barrels).

Friday, April 18, 2008

Something on my Mind

"You're only as good as your competition." That statement, made by a barrel racing acquaintance ("B"), has been on my mind lately. Might need a little bit of info before I get into that.
I'm a member of a group known as SBRA (Saskatchewan Barrel Racing Association). It's set up similar to NBHA. We run on a 3D system: 1D is the fast time, 2D is fast time + 1 second and 3D is fast time +2 seconds and slower. This is supposed to make it "fair and competitive" for all levels of horse and rider; from rookies to rodeo competitors, green horses to finished barrel racers.
My question is how fair is it when some of those finished barrel horses are Pro level horses? I have no problems with people competing on a KCRA or CCA level horse. The 3D system is still able to make it fun and competitive for everyone. But when you get a Pro horse in there the 3D system goes out the window.
The Pro horse is now the 1D horse, former 1D horses are now 2D and sometimes 3D. Which leaves most 2D horses out of it, unless they were really good in which case they are now 3D. The rest of the 2D horses and the 3D horses are completely out of it.
I don't have a problem with someone competing on a Pro horse that is just coming out of time off due to illness or injury (they need somewhere to get re-tuned up) or if it is a new horse for the rider and they're figuring out their groove. However I just think it is plain greedy for a horse competing on the pro-level to be involved in something like this. SBRA was developed to give ALL riders a chance. It has always been aimed at those of us who would like to barrel race but don't have the time/money/skill/horse to rodeo.
This subject came up last year at finals when four of us "non-rodeo" girls were sitting around having a few beverages in the evening after chores. While I agree with the statement made by B I have to wonder if she'd have the same viewpoint now. This winter one of the girls in our district bought a new Pro horse. This new horse was over $130,000. (yes that's the correct amount of zero's!)
Now, I honestly think that "pro-rodeo girl" and I are about evenly matched in the riding abilities department. But really, there is no way I can afford to buy a horse that could compete with a horse of that level. (his price does reflect his abilities)
Then there's the risk to the Pro horse. We all know hauling a horse has a risk no matter how careful we are. We know that every time we run our horse something can happen. With how little there is to earn in SBRA why would you risk ending a pro horse's career? Trust me I worry about my own horses too, it just seems stupid to risk a horse worth that much money when its capable of so much more.
It's just my opinion but I think there needs to be a limit to the level of horse entering SBRA competitions.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Vet Visit - Part Two

Today Dr K was out to check on Baron's leg... which I'm glad to report is coming along nicely, and to ultrasound Cessa's tendons.
The ultrasound showed nothing spectacular and she tests sound on it so I have officially been given the green light to start riding her again! So the mystery swelling in her left hind remains a mystery. Instructions to start with light work were given. I told Dr K about how I was hoping to take Cessa to a few jackpots this season and then "retire" her at our district finals in September. The green light was given to that plan as well, as long as she remains sound and has no issues with that leg.
All in all it has been a good day (although an early one!)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pics of the Eq-kids

Not much to say today so I thought I'd share a few pics of my equine kids.


Applejack, being a good lesson horse, with my husband Peter (a total beginner, this pic is from one of their first lessons together) It was cold outside! (Appaloosa gelding):



Quinn waiting patiently for our lesson, that stuff behind him is not as close as it looks. (SPB APHA gelding):



Cessa after a nap in the sun. This was last summer so she is 26 in this pic. If my memory is correct she woke up when we hooked up the trailer and pulled up by the barn ("are we going barrel racing?! just let me wake up!" lol) (TB mare):









Monday, April 14, 2008

Finally, an Outdoor Ride!

Well everything finally fell into place... I was at the acreage to give "the kid's" their "extras", I had the day off so time wasn't a factor, and it was nice enough & dry enough to go for a ride outside! I took advantage of the situation and grabbed Applejack from the corral.
The poor guy was a bit surprised when after being brushed he was saddled up; after all there was no truck outside to take him somewhere, what was going on?! As I grabbed his bridle I reminded him that he wouldn't have gone in the trailer saddled up anyway. And that no, there were no barrels to run today or training session planned. We were just going to go and enjoy ourselves.
Now this is the sad reality of my boarding situation, there really is not a lot of options when it comes to riding. Henry's place is located right off a highway and surrounded by a lot of small acreages. So there are ditches and back roads but no real fields anywhere close that aren't fenced off for pasture. So today Applejack and I crossed the highway and headed down the driest ditch. I was a bit apprehensive as I haven't ridden him out that much.
We rode about 2 miles before things got too mushy underfoot. I want to get him into a 4 - 6 mile exercise program but I think that's going to have to wait about a month or so until the "good" ditches have dried enough. Once they are I think we'll have a perfect spot to do our conditioning. I mostly walked but we got in some trotting and loping. Found out that he's got some decent speed... when he feels like it! (have to get him to bring that speed to the barrel arena) On our way back home I noticed that all the snow has melted from the arena! Now, to wait for the mud to dry.
Once Applejack was unsaddled I put him in a stall and brought in Cessa & Quinn. Then I prepared their goodies and filled the water in the hospital pen. Baron looked a perkier than he has since he cut his leg. He even tried to escape the hospital pen when I put the boys back out. I gave him a pat when I brought Cessa out and told them Dr K would be there on Thursday to see them. Then it was back to the city for me.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Day With the Dentist

I got a phone call last night at work... the horse dentist was in town, did any of mine need their teeth done? This was a relief, I'd tried to e-mail his wife a few weeks ago wondering when he'd be in town but had not heard back. The large animal clinic at the university is under quarantine, and I don't really like the "power float" method they insist on.
A quick conversation had our arrangements made and what do you know? Yup, another early morning for me!
Arrived at "the ranch" just before 9:30 and Mr Dentist was already there, hanging out at the corral visiting the horses while he waited for me to show up.
After a quick exchange of pleasantries we got to work (there were 6 head at our place and then we were heading to a friend's) Started with Kimfer's gelding (Baron, the injured one) and I was glad we did as he needed some sedation. As Mr Dentist said "he has definite ideas about what should and should not be going into his mouth". Baron didn't need a lot of work done but he had some sharp edges. While waiting for Baron to come out of the sedative I got Cessa and we had a look at her teeth. Mr Dentist decided that her teeth were doing much better this time around, and because of her age there isn't a lot of tooth left for him to float so he just evened out a few rough spots and gave her front teeth a better fit.
Next up was the Appy, now he was a bit of a handful! He was very well behaved for most of the float but when the time came to put the speculum on he became a bit less cooperative. No sedation was needed, just some patience and convincing. Then Kimfer's dad's two TWH gelding were next. One was just examined and needed no work, the other had just a few sharp spots to take off. Last of all was my dun gelding, and once again just a few rough spots. Mr Dentist wasn't making too much money here! He charged me $75 for the Appy, $20 for my dun and nothing for the old mare. Kimfer owed $100 for Baron and her dad owed nothing.
After watering the horses I showed Mr Dentist where my friend's place was and he was off to work again (hopefully making a bit more money there!)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Vet Visit (part 1)

Dr. K and her students were out today. For Baron it will be the first of several visits, they think he will need to be seen by a vet every 2 weeks or so for the time being. Dr. K thinks that he should be able to be ridden by this time next year (obviously how fast he heals will depends on if there are complications) She thinks he will heal sound but will have a "slightly bigger" leg. The wound looked MUCH better today than it did when I last saw it on Monday.
When I told Dr. K about how the call-out vet (who shall remain nameless) "cleaned" Baron's leg she looked a bit shocked. I assured her that I wasn't exaggerating. She didn't really say anything but she definitely didn't seem to impressed.
Cessa's "mystery cut" is healing very well, Dr. K was quite impressed. Unfortunately she didn't have the ultrasound machine with her today so we're still not sure what's going on with the swelling in the other hind leg. When she comes next week she'll bring the ultrasound machine, for now Cessa stays in the hospital pen with Baron... which she & I both like because then the other horses can't pick on her so much.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Sleepless in Saskatoon

Early day tomorrow (for me at least... usually I'm not in bed until 4 a.m. so I don't get up until 11 a.m-ish). Dr. K is coming from the vet college. Cessa has had a slight swelling on her left hind leg, farrier thought it may be the start of a bowed tendon. Also want her mystery cut on the right hind checked. Seems to be healing well but might as well get Dr. K to look at it while she's there.
Also need to have Dr. K check on Baron (my friend Kimfer's horse). Take a look at his leg and get her opinion on how to proceed. Want a second opinion on what Kimfer and I think was a kinda craptastic job the emergency call-out vet did on Sunday night. The "cleaning" he did was basically splashing water on the wound... hmmm. The only thing I can think of is that maybe the tissue would have been irritated if he'd done a more thorough job of cleaning as it was pretty bruised and swollen.
So, not only do I have to try to get to sleep much earlier than normal, I'm also having to do so while worrying about Baron's prognosis and whether or not Cessa is now permanently retired or if I'll be able to ride her again. (although if she does get the "all clear" for riding this is to be her retirement year from competition, unless possibly there is a youth who wants to use her)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Let me introduce myself

Before I begin I'd like to say that I'm still learning, so I hope you'll be patient. I'm learning about a lot of things, we all are. Some of the things I'm learning: how to blog, how to take better care of my horses, I'm even learning Greek!
My hope for this blog is to share my life with my horses (and knowing me I will sometimes stray from that, part of being a "Gemini" I guess! lol). I hope to find others out there to share the experiences, hopes, dreams, and yes heartaches, that come with these amazing animals.
So to start off, my husband & I live in Saskatchewan (Canada). We own three horses, also 2 dogs and 2 cats (no children). We currently live "in the city" and board our horses at a private acreage. It's a pretty good deal for us, the place I board is my best friend's parent's place (best friends for over 20 years now!) There are my 3 horses, my friend's 2 horses and her dad's 2 horses on the property. The horses live turned out 24/7 with natural and man-made shelters. There is a barn for grooming, feeding, saddling, farrier and vet visits, and of course the occasional stall rest (injured/sick). There is also a round pen, although it's a bit small, and an outdoor arena. Probably the two best perks are: 1-having my friend around to help (I've somehow lost the ability to give needles! Also, not so great at wrapping legs for wound care) and 2- because it's a private home there are no other boarders to share the tack room with. This is awesome as over the last 15 years or so of owning horses I've collected a lot of stuff! The barn has a large attached tack room and I've probably got 1/2 of that space.
Now the best part... let me introduce you to the horses. I'll start in the order we got them:

#1 "Cessa" is a OTTB mare. She is 27 this year, and although having some of the problems older horses have (ie keeping on weight) she is healthy. I still ride her regularly, although she had most of this winter off for various reasons (more on that another time) Cessa is about 15.2, bay with an almost perfectly shaped white diamond on her forehead, and although most of my western riding friends probably don't think much of my little TB I think she's a beauty. She has a special spot in my heart and this is definitely her "forever home"

#2 "Quinn" is a SPB gelding. He is 12, a dun (some say buckskin) with two hind white socks and a big white snip, built big, 15.3 and is quite the looker (or so I've been told). He is very well broke but a little "over-sensitive" (I've been told its his Sir Quincy Dan breeding), because of this he needs a confident rider, intermediate or more experienced. I, unfortunately, tend to be a bit fearful and would in all honesty call myself "an experienced beginner"... even though I've been riding for more than 20 years.

#3 "Applejack" aka "Raincloud" is my husband's horse (although I do most of the care and riding! lol) He is 13, an Appaloosa (c'mon, you had to know it with that name!) and is quite handsome. He is 15.1, and was registered as a bay with white blanket but now he's almost white, with dark legs, and his mane and tail (he actually has one!) are mixed white and dark. He actually is an awesome little horse, although he and I didn't really like each other too much at the start. He is very patient (my husband is a beginner) but still has some spice (he and I have done some barrel racing and pole bending this winter).

Well that's my horse family! To anyone who stumbles across this, I'd love to hear about your equine kids. Now... I really need to go study for my Greek lesson :)