Friday, April 27, 2012

Pangea in the Pool, and BAY GIRL!

Loading horses onto the AquaTread is quick and easy. It only takes a training session or two, and most horses will readily just walk right in. Pangea is no exception, and was an especially quick study, walking in completely on her own by her second swim (uncommon, as we usually need two handlers to get them in on their second try). Here is she loading up and beginning her workout:

Mare all done swimming, tied out to dry. In most circumstances I think hayracks are the ultimate evil, but in this case, they keep a wet mare in a strong wind distracted long enough to not roll and/or see all of her hay blown rapidly away.

For those of you who didn't know, I finally have made contact with Bay Girl's actual owners, and was told that all of their surrogates are up for sale for a grand each. Everyone's immediate response to this was "put up a donate button on your blog!!" I did, and within two days we already have earned over $400!! If you're interested, head over to Bay Girl's blog to check it out! Where would I be without my readers, seriously! You guys are amazing!

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Hooray more trail adventures! This time, Pangea and I headed to the Mineral Wells State Trailway (or well, the Weatherford section, that is!). The two trailheads are connected by a 20 mile stretch, which we obviously did not travel the entire length of. Pangea, I must say, was NOT on her best behavior for this journey and I was not too happy about it.

She started off with her usual "YOU'RE ON LET'S GO NOW" marching walk that is often fast enough to fall apart into a disorganized jigging prance. Jigging isn't high on my list of fun ways to spend a trail ride, so we spent quite a while arguing about what the proper speed for a trail ride actually is. At some point, we stumbled upon a beautiful meadow, and I let her trot around for awhile in order to try and vent a little steam. Mare, can't you just SLOW down for one second? You're shaking up my already very sore stomach ulcer!

The real issue on the trail began when I decided to turn back around, about an hour into it. My ulcer was really, really, really bothering me - I actually didn't know that I had an ulcer until that day, when I took some Ibuprofen for a headache and then wanted to die from pain for the rest of the afternoon. No amount of antacids or aloe juice could help me, or even remotely touch it. I even took a spoonful of slippery elm in a last ditch, extremely desperate effort (ugh, talk about the Cinnamon Challenge... don't ever do that), but to no avail. I was utterly miserable, and when Pangea turned for home, she shifted her now relatively quiet walk into a frantic, seasickness-inducing powerwalk that shook my stomach all over the place and literally made me want to rip my own esophagus out. Every time she broke into a jig, I turned her around and trotted back in the opposite direction, then halted and waited for awhile until we could quietly turn back around and walk on. She absolutely did not get the hint, and after about 20 repetitions of this, I finally managed to get something resembling a normal-ish speed walk. It wasn't going to last long, so I gave in and rewarded her momentary good behavior with a stretch of trot. Holy lord, she could have outpaced a racing Standardbred with the trot that she picked up. I just got up out of the saddle and hung the crap on let her cruise. When she broke into a bucking, plunging canter, I promptly turned her around again and made her trot back the other way. Interestingly, this was the point at which she decided to mysteriously be three-legged hopping lame, unable to do more than limp pathetically in the opposite direction, left hind leg completely unusable. I turned her back around, and trotted towards home again. Voila! Instantly sound, power-trotting her way back to the trailer. I turned her away from the trailer... dead hopping lame. Turned her towards the trailer... sound and powerhousing her way on. Ever wonder if they fake it? I'm not sure they really think like that but it was pretty interesting to see her being lame only when she was going in a direction she didn't want to go in. She has also on occasion done this immediately upon starting her work, and at first I would of course immediately stop... but shortly after figured out that a little bump in the ribs caused her to go forward and the lameness to immediately go away. Hmmmmmmmmm.

Maybe they're smarter than we give them credit for. In theory, if a horse realizes that by doing something they get to stop working, then who is to say that they won't continue to do it long after the problem ceases? A horse whose rider gets off right away after they buck is going to continue to buck every time anyone gets on, because then they get out of work, right? Who knows.

Either way, by the end of the trail ride she has considerably quieted, but had worked herself into quite a sweat. I was about to die from ulcer pain, so I think we both went home a little disappointed at the end of it all. Oh well, the next trail adventure hopefully will be a little less frantic.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Quickie Tootsie Post

I have plenty to write about, as usual, but again as usual I have been completely overwhelmingly swamped with life, working full time as well as managing an ever-growing small business AND doing schoolwork, riding Pangea, and trying to squeeze in a little time with poor neglected Future Hubs as well. Literally I am nonstop on the go from the second I wake up until the second I pass out, more than I think I ever have been. It's actually a bit of a blessing to not have a horse that I am gearing for competition right now, simply because there is absolutely no possible way I would ever be able to find enough time to do it - much less have the time on weekends (my prime trimming time) to actually ever GO to a show. Someday when I am only working ONE job... then maybe I will have time for blogging. As it is, I am pretty sure I am behind on absolutely everything that I have to do anyway.

So this post is quick, just a little update on Pangea's yecky little feet. She came to me with a history of being shod for years, feet hacked apart, bruised and sad and thin soled and weak. I was told, just as I was told with Gogo when I bought her, that her feet were terrible and would have to be therapeutically shod for all of eternity. Well, we all know how well that went over with Gogo! Pangea's feet, while still very poor, have shown remarkable rapid improvement inbetween trim times, but it wasn't until I put comparison photos side by side that I really got a good look at how much better she is doing already.

 Today's lesson in managing the barefoot horse: don't cut away good healthy frog material! The picture on the left is Pangea's left foot before her first trim done by me, clearly showing where someone took a hoof knife and pared away loads of material. The entire back of her foot looks shrunken and small. On the right you'll see the foot just a mere 4 weeks later, again before I trimmed her. LOOK at the difference in that frog! All I did was not touch it and ride her regularly on differing terrain. She's not particularly comfortable on gravel but everywhere she lands, she lands heel first on this foot. (The other front foot lands about 90% of the time heel first and the frog is taking a longer time to develop.)

Awesome. More on our most recent Mr. Toad's Wild Ride trail adventure soon!

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Chronicle of the Dapples

The dapples continue..... holy moley look at them go!

This is one of the older picture I have of Pangea from many, many summers ago... back when she was fit and looking very nice! This is the color she is in the summer:

Her father was the same way: dark bay in the winter, and reddish bay in the summer.

When I compare that picture to the pictures I took today, it looks pretty much like the same color to me.... so I guess this is just her dapple-y way of turning from winter colors to spring colors? I have no idea.

Literally from one week to the next, she has completely changed color!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Busting Bugs

Poor Pangea. Up until this point, everything had been easy smooth sailing for her and her transition from Alberta to Texas. I mean, it REALLY is a dramatic climate change, so I guess some troubles aren't unexpected... I guess we can't have it completely easy ALL the time!

The weather has been absolutely beautiful here in north central Texas for the better part of four months, and spring has been fully in bloom since February. The grasses have grown tall and mature, and all our trails are overgrow and now brushing the horses' bellies when we ride off property. Every day has been hazy, humid, and fragrantly full of bluebonnets, all of which makes me feel very drowsy and smiley all day long.

The downside to all of these awesome things? Bugs.
Lots and lots of bugs.
(Also snakes. But not relevant at the moment, thank god.)

Poor Pangea is NOT having a good time with the bugs. Coming from Canada, all the little no-see-ums and other flying Texas nuisances that make snacks out of large four legged animals are completely different than what she is used to, and her immune system is reacting accordingly. The poor thing has had the better part of two weeks off following her chiro appointment due to an itchy funk, a bout of nasty hives, a fat fly eye, and a neverending steam of welts from bug bites:

A dose of Banamine, some Clear Eyes, and a flymask took care of the fat eye fairly immediately. As for the welts and hives and generally overreactive immune system, we tried a few things and found a combination that works. The funk is under control with some diligent medicated shampooing and daily applications of Listerine, and the hives and welts are under control with a full-cover fly sheet and a shot of Kenalog. It's not my style to just reach for a steroid first thing, but in this case we decided to temper her overreactive immune system before things got out of hand. In theory, her body will adjust and become accustomed to all the different bugs and their bites here, and will not have the same reaction in the future. (Let's hope it actually happens that way.) The Kenalog nailed the problem and all her hives and welts vanished overnight, thank god. Should this problem recur, I think I'll be looking into herbalist/acupuncturist support instead, just to see if something more holistic will do just as good of a job as a steroid. I'd rather not give steroids if I can help her a little more holistically and make her feel better that way instead. For good measure, she's still been wearing her bug sheet, which she does NOT approve of:

She and Saga can be bug sheet mates until it gets too Texas hot for clothes. Trust me, when it is 110 here NOBODY wants to be wearing clothes!

The strangest development that has happened in the past week is that she has been dappling out in a completely bizarre way... I've never seen anything quite like it. It's like she's shedding into her lighter summer coat through her dapples... very weird looking. She's very dirty and dingy in these pictures so don't judge on the filth and lack of shine, she's actually very shiny when she is clean!

Weird, no? It's very pretty but... bizarre.


Now that the hives/welts/funk/fat eye stuff is all under control, she is going back to work on Monday. Can't wait to get up there and ride again after this very loooooooong two weeks of no saddle time.... assuming we don't get more tornados tonight and tomorrow like we are supposed to!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Despooking and the Chiro Man

I've been a bad blogger this week because I've been out having too much fun with my horse and not enough time sitting behind a computer! You would too if you were enjoying the magnificent Texas springtime... I'm enjoying it while I can before summer comes and we all retreat to our air-conditioned buildings!

Last weekend our facility hosted a despook clinic and subsequent playday for those people wanting to go through our obstacle course on a timed and judged basis. This is the ultimate terrifying insanely crazy hard 4-acre obstacle course:

A few of the obstacles included: flapping tarps hanging from the side of the shed that you had to walk through, a carwash made of construction tape, flapping flags, a waterbox with neon colored floating balls in it, a teeter totter, boxes you had to get up and off of, tires you had to negotiate, a squeeze chute made of upright tarps that had pieces of hose scattered on the ground as footing, things tied to ropes that you had to drag, a carwash made of pool noodles, a bump gate that your horse had to push through, another push-through made of pool noodles, pinwheels, and a whole lot more. During the clinic, they even set off firecrackers and smoke bombs as part of the despooking process! (Don't worry, everyone did great!)

I brought Pangea over to check out the course on Sunday evening, and finally as the sun was setting, we had our chance to get on the course and see what she'd make of it. I didn't bother running it with the other folks in a timed way, just in case something freaked her out and she tried to kill me. (I truthfully had NO IDEA what she was going to do when she saw everything!) She gave me a nice prelude when I walked her up to the gigantic ball that was used during the clinic, and she didn't even bother to sniff it because it was so boring:

Once on the course, she did AMAZING. AMAAAAAAZING. Flags smacking her in the face in the strong winds? No big deal. Tarps flapping on her head? Whatever. Teeter-totter bridge... at a trot? Psh, I've seen scarier. Squeeze chute made of tarps that was touching her on both sides? That's cool. Pool noodle bump gate and carwash? I'll halt and stand immobile so you can snap a picture for all your friends to see:

What is the ONE thing she WOULD NOT under ANY circumstances do?

The water. The most benign thing out there. Of course. Wade through a 4' river the weekend before? Piece of cake! Puddle of muddy water in a small box? LAKE LOCH NESS. Won't go near it.

The ONE thing I was sure she wouldn't give a dang about... and she would. Not. Do it.
We tried until it was dark, to no avail. She just said no, and I didn't have enough time or light to finish pushing the issue. Instead, we trotted through the rest of the entire course. That's right, trotted! Just ran around 4 acres over teeter-totters, boxes, bridges, squeeze chutes, and a million flapping and rustling things flying around in the air. Dang, I shoulda done the playday! We woulda beat 95% of the people there! I think she went through it better than most everyone else!

Seriously, what a gem. I can't believe how "whatev" she was about everyone. She seriously did NOT care!

Sunday evening, I left Pangea to stay over at the work farm, and on Monday morning she got her customary AquaTread session and Theraplate. She is working now for 3 minutes as a power walk, 9 minutes at a maxed out trot, and 3 more minutes at a power walk to finish, plus her warmup and cooldown. She works out strong in the pool, and is only getting stronger and better. I think I'll stick with this routine for awhile, seeing as I like how the powerwalk pushes her out of her typical speedy little walk and encourages her to really stretch out and lengthen her stride more. Gogo had a huge rolling walk, but was lazy, and Pangea is the opposite: she has a HUGE motor on her but her stride length is shorter and less rolling than Gogo's. It's a nice pure 4-beat walk, to be sure, but the more we stretch out into it and let it roll, the better she does.

Pangea spent another night over at the work farm on Monday night, and on Tuesday, the chiropractor was out to work on her and a number of other horses. I have no idea when the last time she ever saw a chiropractor was, but if it was ever, it was years ago. What kinds of horrible things was he going to find on her?

Nothing. Pretty much nothing of interest was to be found on her. She had some minor lumber issues, some small stuff freed up in her neck and withers, and her right hip was a bit out. And.... that's about it.

Every single other horse adjusted got follow-up appointments, ultrasound and pool prescriptions, and instructions for rest. As for my girl? Give her a few days of just bareback hacking, and then get back to work. Easy!

How about that huh. Simple, simple, and simple.

Oh, and then a whole crapload of tornados came.

That was the view from the pool barn where I was swimming horses. We thought it wasn't going to hit us... and mostly it didn't, it passed over us and dropped about a minute's worth of scary hail on us, and then was gone. We didn't bring the horses in because we thought it was going to pass, and from the pool barn window I saw Pangea get nailed by a rouge hailstone and rear STRAIGHT up in air.... poor baby! I felt awful, but it was over in about 30 seconds, and she was back to eating her hay.

The storm that went over us went on to produce a tornado and completely destroy a large area right in the middle of the Metroplex (the area between Dallas and Fort Worth, a hugely populated area), decimating houses and tossing tractor trailers in the air like they were toys. There were over a dozen tornados in all, and hundreds of homes in the DFW area were completely leveled. Amazingly - no, miraculously - no one was killed or seriously injured. Thankfully these storms happened in the middle of the day on a weekday, so most of the inhabitants of the homes destroyed were at work or school. It's just awful that this had to happen in one of the most populated areas in the state of Texas.... you just don't hear of this kind of damage happening in the middle of a major city very often.

But we're all safe and sound, thankfully! We survived a terrifying obstacle course, a chiro adjustment, and some crazy tornados.... go us!!