Wednesday, May 23, 2012

UNH TSAS Combined Test 2012

Dreamy and I kicked off the 2012 show season down at my alma mater, the University of New Hampshire!  On April 15 we went to the TSAS Combined Test.  We brought along our good buddies, Tania and Otis, and we all had a great day!

Fuzzy mare hanging at the trailer
We had a pretty decent dressage test, but for some reason, Dreamy is not a fan of the footing at UNH or something.  She does a weird hoppy thing in the trot down there and it often makes the judge think she is sore or stiff.  She has not been like that at all at home, at lessons, or at other places this year, so I am going to have to chalk it up to the footing.  It is sort of heavy sandy type footing that almost feels "sticky".  Oh well.  We scored a 33 in dressage, which I was happy with.  That is like a 67% in regular dressage.

The funny thing is that the judge is someone who has judged us many times over the last five years.  I really like her as a judge, and I think she is fair.  She was diplomatic enough at the end to say that our canter looked OK, but that she realized that this was "probably the best it was going to be" and she felt I was riding it as best as I could.  She did make a comment at the end of the test about Dreamy's age; she basically said that while she looks great for her age (21), that she would "love to see me on a younger horse".  She admitted she meant no disrespect to me or my horse and thought we looked good, but you could tell she wanted to be like, "This is not a dressage horse!!"  LOL!  I felt a little defeated at first, wondering if I should just retire Dreamy for good.  I mean, I fully realize we have hit our limit in dressage, and I had planned to spend the year playing around at Beginner Novice eventing and trying some new, fun things (team penning, foxhunting, etc).  The BN A test is pretty much a Training 2 test, so after spending last year at First level, I knew the dressage would be fine.  Dreamy will probably never do a regular dressage show again.  I will keep doing what we are doing as long as she is happy and sound.

Anyway, I was bummed, but I also realized that the judge only echoed what I already knew.  She really was not being mean or disrespectful at all.  In fact, after dwelling on it for about a half hour, I realized I actually MUCH rather have her say what she did and give us a sort of backhanded compliment that to go on and on about how I should be fixing her canter, doing this, doing that, yadda yadda.  When dressage judges do that, I feel like rolling my eyes and saying, "Yeah, OK, thanks, I know her canter is not "normal", it is what it is, she is a freaking old broodmare, chill out, I am just an adult amateur having FUN!"  HA HA HA HA!  Obviously, I don't and just smile and say thank you.  I recognize it is their job to "judge" us on what they see and our backstory really doesn't matter.  

Then of course, when I went up to the scoreboard, I realized that our score was better than everyone else in our division, both junior and senior, as well as those in the other divisions too.  (Not that you can really compare tests, but still, we had one of the best scores of the day!!)  So, I left feeling that we are "just fine".

Dreamy "Starlit".....ahhhh, gotta love how one of our names is always spelled incorrectly.  ;-p
We went clear in stadium to go on to win our division of four!  Yay mare!  She was so good and happy to be out and about.  She even "put up with" Otis without any mean mare shenanigans.  LOL!  He and Tania did well and finished second in their division of four!  This CT made me confident to enter Beginner Novice at Green Acres Horse Trial in May!  :-D

Showin' 'em how to get it done with a Standardbred.  Good mare!  I love that saddle pad!!
View the professional pics here!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Happy 4th Anniversary, Standardbred Excellence!

I began this blog exactly four years ago today!  That seems crazy!  So much has changed over four years and I love being able to go back and see my mares' progress.  I wish I had the money to turn my blog into a book.  That would be pretty neat!

Right now, I have 96 followers and many more readers who do not officially "follow" me on Blogger.  I would love to hit 100!!  Thank you, loyal readers, for reading and commenting and supporting Standardbred Excellence!

Total pageviews in the last four years: 32,664!  I know that is not huge compared to some blogs, but I think it is pretty neat!  I never thought people would want to read what I write!

My most popular posts seem to be about chastetree berry, saddle fitting, ethmoid hematomas, our WEG 2010 adventure, and my COPD/Cushings post.

Jul 14, 2009, 1 comment
792 Pageviews
Jul 15, 2010, 4 comments
491 Pageviews
Feb 11, 2010, 3 comments
474 Pageviews
Oct 14, 2010, 6 comments
349 Pageviews
Nov 23, 2009, 1 comment
318 Pageviews

My biggest audience is by far here in the USA, with Canada, Australia, Russia, and the UK trailing a bit evenly behind.  About every day I get a reader from a country I have never heard of, which is neat.  I did a 30 Day Challenge back in March 2011 and NaBloPoMo in November 2011.

There are times when I blog nearly every single day and other times I will go a month without writing anything.  I try to be more consistent, but there are times when blogging just has to take a back seat to life.

Thank you to all my readers and commenters!  I love sharing my journey with you.  Here's to another great year of blogging!!  :-)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Easter Day Ride

For quite a few years, I have enjoyed cooking various holiday dinners for family.  This year, I was secretly hoping someone else would cook Easter dinner.  LOL!  My brother and his wife came to my "rescue" by inviting us over to their new house!  It was awesome to just show up and enjoy someone else's cooking.  Without any food prep, it freed me up to enjoy a leisurely early morning trail ride with friends Tania and Lydia (see beach ride!) and Angie and Craig (Tania's stepmom and dad!)!  It was a bit chilly, but it was fun and a great way to spend a couple hours in between the Easter Bunny's visit with my boys and a yummy afternoon dinner with family.

Dreamy enjoyed her morning too!  We are following Lydia and Rey.

Tania and Otis, with Angie (and Smoke) and Craig (and Quincy)!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dreamy jumping!

Here are a few fun videos (made by my almost eight year old son!) of Dreamy jumping this spring.  She is 21 years old now and my plan is to do what makes her happy until she tells me she is done.  The goal this year is to have fun, try some new things, and to do a couple horse trials.  So far, she is in great shape and happy to be in work.  As long as she is happy, we will keep doing what we are doing!!  :-)

This is from late March 2012:

And this is from April 2012:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Beach Ride Fun!

Dreamy and I went to Pine Point beach in Scarborough, ME again this year on April 1.  We went last year with my friend Tania and had a blast.  This year we again went with Tania and Otis, but also brought along another friend Lydia and her horse Rey.  My friend Shelly met us there with her gelding McKeever and the eight of us had a fabulous ride!!

I wish I had written this earlier, because at this point I really cannot remember as many details.  Ah well.  ;-)  I do remember when we were first entering the beach, a random woman saw us with our beach permits (we have to wear a number on our backs) and asked if we had come from a competition.  This was so absurd to me that I had to hold back my laughter.  I told her no, the numbers were our beach permits.  As soon as we were by her, my friend Lydia and I started to giggle.  Lydia said, "Yes, we are at a show and I'M WINNING!"  It struck me as so silly and set a great tone for the ride. 

We started out by walking along the edge of the water, just letting the horses (re)acclimate themselves to the sounds and sights of the beach.  We did a little trotting and they were all pretty well behaved.  We rode all the way down through the pier at Old Orchard Beach, which was cool.  We had to walk the horses underneath the pier and around the posts.  It was really neat!  We played in the waves and Dreamy was very willing to splash around.  At one point she was so far out I was worried she was about to swim (not really, but the water was about at the bottom of my boot!)

We rode just a short ways onto Old Orchard Beach before decided to turn around.  We had been out for an hour already, and seeing as it was only the first of April, we did not want to overtax our semi-in-shape horses.  Granted, much of our ride was at the walk, but still there was no need to push them.

On the ride back we did more trotting.  At one point, we decided to try cantering, which was awesome.  Dreamy actually cantered through the surf!  It was such an exhilarating feeling to canter along through the ocean water, with the waves coming in and her hooves spraying the saltwater.  I think the smell of horse and sea air is the absolute best smell ever.

Overall, it was such a great day!  We ended up bringing lunch with us, so after we took care of the horses and loaded them back into the trailer, we sat in my truck and ate lunch.  I wish I had more time to go on beach rides, but once a year is better than nothing!  :-)

Lydia and Rey, then Tania and Otis, then Shelly and McKeever, and then Dreamy's fuzzy ears!

Dreamy is on the left, Tania and Otis on the right

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Reva's Hoof Abscess

While I have been an equestrian for almost thirty years, I have never once had to deal with a hoof abscess...until this spring!  Reva had been back into spring conditioning almost three weeks when she came up DEAD LAME on March 23.  Of course, I was upset and figured she had done something horrible to one of her front tendons.  She was literally unable to put any weight on her left front.  Her forelegs were like tree stumps.  My farrier came out the following day and couldn't get a reaction with the hoof testers (this was a Saturday at the end March), and told me he didn't think it could be an abscess.  This made me pretty worried, and I tried wrapping her overnight and give her a bit of stall rest until Monday when I called the vet.  I hoped maybe she would come out of it and I tried not to panic.  She just pulled the wraps off, though they did make her tendons look normal again (Back on Track wraps are awesome!)  I figured if the BoT wraps made her legs look "normal", it couldn't be a torn tendon or something horrible like that.  She was still pretty darn lame so I knew something was wrong and she did not just "tweak" herself in the pasture.

On the phone, my vet felt pretty sure it was an abscess though.  I figured it couldn't hurt to start soaking her and see what we got.  He couldn't make it out until later in the week, but assured me Reva would most likely be just fine.  I knew I could just wait and soak her and it would probably heal up with no need for a vet, but having never EVER dealt with an abscess, I felt better knowing a vet would look at her.  Of course, within a day, I was all out of the Betadine and Vetwrap in my first aid kit.  I ended up spending nearly a hundred bucks on Betadine, Vetwrap (I think we used over 10 rolls!!), Animalintex poultice, baby diapers, and duct tape!!  LOL!

Mac and Lucy waiting patiently with me as we soak Reva's hoof for 20 minutes!

Reva was so good about having her hoof soaked!

Waiting for the hoof to soak...

The cheap diapers I bought...after using a few I realized what they said.  Reva is a monkey all right!
My vet's partner came out that Thursday, almost a week from the day I discovered Reva all hobbled up lame.  I had been diligently soaking her hoof in Betadine and warm water, then wrapping an entire poultice around the bottom of her hoof as well as up around the back of her heels, then wrapping it with Vetwrap and then duct tape.  The vet was surprised I used such a big piece, but it ended up being perfect.  As soon as she lifted Reva's left front, she went to touch the bulb of her heel.  She was saying, "This looks a little soft here..." and SPLOOOOSH!!!!  The slight pressure from her thumb made the entire abscess burst everywhere.  It was actually pretty gross and awesome all at the same time.  Immediately Reva was able to bear weight on that leg and walked off sound!!!!  It was amazing how much pressure had been building in that hoof.  Reva's relief was so obvious.

She was put on SMZs for 10 days, which was actually fairly easy with her.  I just made her grain meals into a mash and the pills dissolved easily in the warm water.  Reva was pretty sure she was the luckiest horse ever to have so many grain mashes!  I continued soaking her hoof through the following Monday, doing the poultice for a few more days but then moving on to just a diaper.  By the following Tuesday, she seemed pretty comfortable and ready to go without a wrap.  That day my other vet, who I just use for chiro work, was already scheduled to come out to and work on Reva anyway.  I was happy for another vet to take a look at her abscess and give me the all clear!  

The chiro vet not only worked on her body, but also did acupuncture on her left front pastern area to help speed the healing in that hoof.  He found her SI joint out of whack as well as some tension in her poll and left jaw.  She really was not in as bad of shape as I had anticipated.  She trotted sound and I knew it was time to put her back to work.  I gave her a few days off because of the chiro adjustment, and we finally went back to work on April 7.  All told, she had 15 days off which seemed like an eternity!  I was so bummed out, but in the end it all worked out.  I guess I rather see us miss two weeks of spring conditioning than have this happen in the middle of the summer!  Our first show was not until May 6, so I knew I still had plenty of time to restart our conditioning program.

I really hope I don't have to deal with another abscess any time soon.  It was a pain in the butt!  LOL!  The interesting part was when the farrier came out to trim her in mid April, he was able to find the tract of the abscess in the bottom of her hoof.  It showed the very obvious path that "something" travelled up through her sole and out the back of her coronet band above her heel.  It thought that was pretty cool.  

Friday, May 4, 2012

What a spring!

Whew!  What a spring!  Obviously I lost interest in blogging for a bit...whoops!  It got warm and I started spending alllllll my free time in the barn!!  So much has been going on and I wish I had just kept up with writing, but oh well!

I put the mares back into spring conditioning work the first weekend in March.  I followed a pretty typical legging up program...two weeks at the walk for 20 minutes a day at the walk, building up to 30.  Then three weeks of walk and trot for 30 minutes, building up to an hour.  And then three weeks at walk, trot, canter, building up to an hour+.

Of course, I meant to blog all about it, but can see how that turned out.  Basically I rode both mares each day for 5-6 days a week and they gained back muscle and fitness quite well!  Dreamy was in great shape for her first show of the year, a combined test on April 15.  (More on that later, promise!)  Reva had some unexpected time off (more on that later too!!), but she is looking great now and we are gearing up for her first show of the year this weekend.

To make up for the lack of posts, here is some photo spam from my iPhone!  LOL!

The start of conditioning, Dreamy, March 2012
Reva, March 2012
An early spring trail ride, Dreamy and the best dog ever (Lucy)
The snow finally melts!
Beach Ride!!!  April 2012 
Reva is sidelined for a bit...more on that later :-(
Early morning April ride with Reva!