Thursday, March 15, 2018

Learn As You Go

Slowly but surely, Sailor and I are having little breakthroughs each day...

1. He does, in fact, know how to be a gentleman at the walk, trot, canter.

2. Trying to ride a green OTTB in the outdoor for the first time in months on a brisk windy day when they've just introduced a new horse to the herd in the field behind the outdoor ring after he's had 5 days off is not a good idea. Lunging your horse and doing a victory lap at the walk around the outdoor? Better idea.

3. Don't look where you want your green OTTB to spook. Look where you want to go.

4. You will never EVER spook at the same things your horse spooks at.

5. You better start doing Pilates. Sailor is doing horse Pilates, you are a sack of potatoes.

6. Invest in bell boots.

7. You will never be financially stable between student loans and having horses. Hopefully, eventually, you will be "ok" until Sailor is able to leave the property. This will only happen when he manages to keep both shoes on and stops destroying Italian bell boots.

8. Those dreams of doing ROOTDs? See above.

9. He is stinkin' cute, and almost makes you not regret your life choices.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

New Year, New Me

New saddle, new hocks, new turnout, new... horse?

To start from the beginning-

October- Sailor began rearing and bucking with me and acting rank.

November- Sailor was spooky, and jittery; he bucked so hard after a lesson over fences I had lower back pain for a week, and I refused to keep jumping him. Called the chiro out and gave him 3 weeks off. Had a saddle fitter out, tried a few saddles, and saw some improvement. He was rude with the pro; bucking and kicking out under saddle.

December- bought a new saddle, but was literally too afraid to sit on him for more than 15 minutes to try it. We started doing carrot stretches and I massaged him myself 3 times a week. Sailor discovers soft peppermints are his *favorite* thing in the world.

January-He started bucking and striking on the lunge, so I finally called out a lameness vet and injected his hocks. Added Cosequin and magnesium to his SmartPaks.

3 pro rides- "He's been the most boring horse to ride. He's so quiet."

1 lesson, and 1 flat ride later... He's been "himself", floppy ears, putzing around, and just... playful.

The new saddle

A snowy boy!

On the other pets- Candy is cruising along- happy as can be with the cold temperatures! Wilbur had a relapse of pneumonia, and Lila may have ovarian cysts we need to deal with.

Now to pick what Sailor will do as a big boy.

- K & C & S

Thursday, November 16, 2017

1 Step Forward, 500 Steps Backward

So owning Sailor has been a saga. I have gone from sitting a few bucks and laughing to ugly crying the second he flicks his tail and snorts in disagreement.

About 1 month after I got him, Sailor reared and bucked with me. We had a few training rides, a few lessons, and all seemed to be well-tense and guarded, but well.

Then we had a jump lesson over crossrails, and he BRONC'd after every fence. We stopped the lesson early, and I called the vet, and the chiropractor, and my mom, and my boyfriend.

Saddle went off to be adjusted. Sailor got adjusted. And I emptied my wallet.

Sailor got 3 weeks off because my work schedule made it convenient, and I thought it was a great rest for his back and a good way to spend his time while the saddle was adjusted.

We started back on the lunge over poles, then in the Pessoa, then on the lunge in the saddle over poles, and he looked so comfortable. So I sat on him, trotted him for 10 minutes, and scheduled a flat lesson.

The flat lesson, he was distracted and anxious. I was anxious. He was willing until we asked for the canter, and he gave me a frantic flat trot. We tried again, and he dove through my outside leg and snorted. The aggressive rider I used to be on Candy and Lexie wasn't there. And I just bawled. So my trainer hopped on, rode through a few micro-bucks and got the canter both directions.

I made the decision to call out a professional saddle fitter, and decided I would not ride him until we addressed the saddle. If the saddle fits, then his back gets X-rayed, and he starts ulcer treatment.

And, as much as it breaks my heart, if we can't figure out our working relationship by the end of the winter, or at least improve it, well. I really hope it's not the case. Riding isn't fun right now. It isn't relaxing. But I like him- I like his canter when he is proud of clearing a fence, I like his big scopey jump when he is nervous.

Here's hoping we can fix him, and start to develop a partnership.

- K & C & S

Friday, October 20, 2017

Adventures in Owning a New Pony

What I thought it would be like:

What it's actually been like:

One chiropractor appointment, one vet appointment (for cellulitis), a new SmartPak, and saddle refitting later...

I think I can ride my *new* horse in exactly 2 weeks from now.

- K & C & S

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Horse of a Different Color

When I moved back to Kentucky, I chose not to take Lexie with me, and I was devastated- the amount of crying, wine-drinking, and chocolate eating I did made it look like a bad breakup and it felt like I was losing a loved one. I decided I would wait until the fall (at the earliest) to start a horse hunt or bring her up. I took lessons here and there after I left Lexington, and fell into a small depression when work ramped up. I was on call constantly and didn't have a day off for weeks. Standard intern life, conducive to riding Candy but not to lessoning on a going horse consistently.

During this time, I got a phone call that a horse I was interested in had dropped in price... conveniently into my budget. I had lessoned on him weekly for two and a half months during my preceptor in Lexington, and really loved his personality.

After a week or two of negotiating, an almost spotless PPE, I accidentally bought a horse a good 3 months ahead of my timeline!

Meet Sailor! He's a 16.1h, 7 year old OTTB with a puppy dog personality and a (nervous) heart of gold. I think he'll make a cute derby/3'-3'3 hunter, but for now (mostly because of location), we are going to dabble in eventing.

Can't wait until he moves here in September!

- K & C & S!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Not Quite a Student, Not Yet a Doctor

I'm 2 days away from wrapping up week 3 (of 52) as a veterinary intern. So far, I've been learning a lot, but struggling to find my place.

I used to be an unlicensed vet tech, and I tech'ed for 5 years. It's been hard to undo my habits of cleaning, tidying, restraining animals, and doing everything in between. I'm struggling to find my way as a doctor, which is exactly what this program is for. Hours have been long, but not as long as they could be, and I'm grateful for that. I spend the day working with patients and clients, sometimes on my own, sometimes not- depending on the service.

Overall, I can't say too much about the experience yet. I am sure the knowledge I'll gain will be indispensable.

- K & C

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Finding a Fit

I've been a little quiet on the horse front, mostly because... well, there is nothing. Since moving, I've been struggling to find a lesson program that fits my needs. I found one that was seemingly perfect- if only they would call me back.

The area I moved to has a handful of eventing barns and even less hunter jumper facilities. It's been a frustrating two weeks for me- I took one lesson, but ultimately decided the program didn't offer what I needed as a rider, and have been cold-calling facilities ever since. I can't decide if I'm being impatient or if our fast-paced culture is making expect a returned call within 24-48 hours. It's been depressing, and has been making me really nervous about my upcoming internship year- I miss the lesson program I joined in Lexington (1.5 hours away) and miss the lesson horse I had bonded with there (also 1.5 hours away). If I worked a standard 40 hour a week job, I could justify a 1 hour drive to a hunter jumper facility. If I worked a job with a good salary, I could justify the weekly $70 riding lesson, but unfortunately, I don't work either of those jobs, and never will. Being realistic, I'm not sure when I'll actually lesson regularly again, not sure when I'll have a *sound* horse of my own, or when I'll compete again, if ever.

The only positive is that Candy is safe and sound in Kentucky with me- his retirement facility seems like a perfect fit and the care seems phenomenal. Any farm with 5 horses over 30, all with mirror-shiny coats, has to be good, right?

Trying to find the good in this situation. I feared it for a long time, and it's here, and it's just as I was afraid. I just hope that although the immediate future is cloudy and rainy, I hope that my long term career with horses and in veterinary medicine is bright and sunny because of these sacrifices.

-K & C