Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WW: Practicing Polo!

Well, this is going to be a Wordy Wednesday because I've never been very good at wordless-ness. 

Spider and I are going to a clinic to learn how to play polo on Saturday with a couple of our friends! It's going to be so awesome! 

My one friend is bringing her 3rd Level Swedish Warmblood who is the same size as Spider (16.2), so I won't be the only n00b on a giant dressage horse. My other friend is bringing her retired polo pony (she played in college), hopefully that will give us some credibility so we don't look like silly DQs. 

My friend with the polo pony brought over a mallet so I could gauge whether or not Spider was going to dump me as soon as I started swinging a giant club around his head and legs. He didn't, which isn't really surprising. In the grand scheme of crazy stuff I've exposed him to, this isn't even a blip on his radar. 

There will be plenty of pictures and maybe even video of the shenanigans, stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My Anaconda Don't Want None Unless You Got Buns, Hon

"You can do side bends or sit-ups, but please don't lose that butt"

It's Twopointober (I think that's how you spell it), hosted by L. Williams at Viva Carlos and Hillary at Equestrian At Hart. I'd love to link their blogs, but I'm still on my phone and too inept to link. Anyway, the point of Twopointober is to track your ability to stay in two point over the course of the month. 

A lot of dressage riders don't use two point, or think they can't or shouldn't use it. I think it's quite under-utilized myself. I two point when I let my horse stretch during and after the ride. I also use two point on young horses when they're just starting to canter under saddle, as I find it helps them find their balance more easily. 

That being said, I don't ride in two point for long stretches of time. I use it for a minute or so at a time just to get out of my horse's way while he's stretching or relaxing or finding his balance. I found the idea of seeing how long you can stay in two point rather intriguing. 

So, I decided to try it out, to see exactly how long I could go in two point. Unfortunately, I didn't have my phone on me at the time and I don't wear a watch. But, I did have the radio on! So, I decided that I would two point through the next song that came on the radio. I figured that was a realistic goal, a song is usually only a couple minutes long....

The next song that came on was that awful new Nicki Minaj song "Anaconda", but, considering the subject matter of the song and video, I found it hilariously appropriate. I already had Spider in a long and low canter to loosen him up after our ride, so I popped up into two point and twerked my way around the ring. 

Turns out, that awful Nicki Minaj song is really, really long. About halfway through my thighs were burning and I was fervently wishing for Nicki to just shut up. Never have I been so glad for a song to end. Afterwards, I looked it up and the song is 4:13. Not bad for a dressage rider, I think. 

The next week I tried again, but this time I had my phone on me. I set the timer and off we went. Except, this time, Spider broke from canter and I couldn't get him started again in two point. (I'm a dressage rider, we use our butts for a lot of the cues) So, I had to ride in two point at trot, which is much harder than two point at canter. I made it 3:19 before collapsing back into the saddle. 

I was annoyed at my backward progress, so I resolved to fix it. I added some more squats to my off-horse workout routine. I started doing some more conditioning work in the saddle. Dressage focuses heavily on transitions, which is great for building strength and agility, but not so much for building stamina. So, I focused a bit more on trotting and cantering for extended periods of time. I also worked on keeping Spider going and transitioning between trot and canter while I was in two point. By the time the next week rolled around, I was ready to try again. 

And I had forgotten my phone, so I had to rely on the radio again. The next song to come up was Lorde's "Team" (I had to look it up based on the chorus, I didn't know what the hell it was.) I barely made it through that song, but then the next song was Meghan Trainor's "All about That Base". I friggen' love that song! 

I proceeded to shake it, shake it, like I'm supposed to do. Spider and I went around with renewed vigor, even transitioning between trot and canter and throwing a few flying changes in while we shook it. Between Lorde (3:13) and Meghan Trainor (3:08), I managed to stay in two point for a grand total of 6 minutes and 21 seconds. Hot damn! That ain't bad!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Jack Has A Boo-Boo.

Being an exuberant, and kind of dumb, 4 year old, Jack nearly always has a boo-boo of some sort, but this time he's got a boo-boo that's left him lame.

Picture not related, surprisingly.

Jack had pretty bad feet when he came off the track. The combination of frequent trimming and re-shoeing and some of the medications horses are given on the track can take a toll on their hooves. It's not uncommon, and it usually resolves with time and proper care. It doesn't mean that OTTBs have bad feet, just that some need a little more time to adjust to their new lives. 

In Jack's case, his feet were so bad that the only solution was to pull his shoes and just start over. That's what my farrier recommended and that's what I did. It's not like I'm in any hurry to get him to Devon, I have plenty of time to let his feet heal themselves.  

Pulling shoes on a horse with bad feet does two things: it means you aren't putting any more holes in an already compromised hoof wall, and the concussion of the bare hoof against the ground encourages new, stronger growth and re-shaping. It's especially helpful for horses with long toes and low heels, like OTTB's, as it encourages heel growth and breaks up the toe. 

Jack has been barefoot for over a year now, and his feet are improving by leaps and bounds. But, there are always hiccups along the way. Last week Jack was a little tender on his right fore. That tenderness gradually progressed to all-out lameness and it became pretty clear that an abscess was brewing. 

I have always believed that it is very important to know what you don't know, and I don't know Jack about the science of farrier-ing, so I called the farrier. (Nice pun, huh?)

Through a series of mis-adventures, the farrier was not able to get out for a few days. It ended up being a good thing, because when he did get here the abscess was ready to go and he was able to release it. Jack is much more comfortable now. 

However, while I was waiting for the farrier I got to hear absolutely everyone's two cents on what I needed to do. Their two cents basically amounted to, "zOMG! He needs shoes, stat!"  And then the conversation would go like this:

Me: "His farrier wants to keep him barefoot for now."

Them: *sniff, eyeroll* "Who is your farrier?"

Me: "Farrier McFarrierson." (Not his real name, although that would be awesome)

Them: "Oh. He's really good." 

Me: "Yup, that's why I'm paying him and not you."

Jack does not need shoes right now. He is not barefoot because I am cheap, he is not barefoot because I am anti-shoe.  He is barefoot because his farrier recommends he stay barefoot to help his hooves grow and heal. And, seriously, do these people really think shod horses never go lame or get abscesses?

Shoes wouldn't have prevented this abscess, anyway. It's too far back on the sole, and likely came from a stone bruise that a shoe wouldn't have blocked. (That bit of info came directly from Farrier McFarrierson)

Will Jack always be barefoot? I don't know. I pay my farrier to decide these things. I have a great farrier that I trust and communicate openly with. If the horse needs shoes, he will get shoes. For now, the shoes stay off because putting shoes on will just set him back. He's still growing out and re-shaping his hooves. It takes time. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Life Hack For Whinos

So, as I was perusing Facebook today, I found an article entitled "15 fashion life hacks only the stylists know" or something like that. Normally, I wouldn't click on a fashion article, but George Takei shared it and he's usually hilarious, so I clicked.

Most of the hacks were things I'd never need, seeing as how I'm not exactly a fashionista, but one caught my eye: "keep your tall boots in shape by putting empty wine bottles in them". That is brilliant!!!

I have loads of wine bottles!

Ironically, I had just taken the recycling to the dump and I didn't have an empty wine bottle to try this with. I had to open a bottle and empty it myself. It was a real hardship, and I apologize for any grammar and spelling errors. 

But, it totally works! And I think it does a better job than the actual boot shapers I bought!

Wine bottle boot is on the left (right foot boot), boot shaper is on the right.

It keeps the ankles in a more natural shape, I think, and rounds them out better than the boot shaper. 

As an added bonus, the bottles come filled with wine!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

TBT: No Internet, Again.

My foray into the 21st century of internet use is already over, the stupid thing is out again and I'm back to using the Blogger app on my phone. It's not a terrible app, but I like the full web version better. 

This time Verizon says it's their servers and they're going to send me a new modem. How sending me a new modem will fix their servers is something of a mystery, but whatever.... Moving on...

Yesterday I was able to get in contact with Spots' breeder through the magic of Facebook! Is there anything FB can't do?

The breeder was very excited to hear from me, since she had lost track of Spots a few years ago as he changed owners. She still owns his mother and was able to send me pictures of him as a foal:

How stinkin' cute is that!?

I really liked this one, because he still uses this same expression with the side-eye and the ear: 

So, there you have it, Throw-Back Thursday to the days before internet with a bonus of Baby Spots!


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