Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Unofficial Blog Hop: Dating App Rules for a Horse Girl

Following Bay With Chrome's lead, I wanted to chime in my experiences. Let's be real, I used to be an avid internet dater. I worked nights, and now go to school 40+ hours a week. I own a resting bitch face. I wasn't going to meet any guys on my own, especially not any guys I was interested in. So I used OKCupid, and later Tinder to meet guys.

It should also be mentioned my boyfriend of almost 2 years was a Tinder date at first (and he catfished me with a 2 year old picture).
Boo-thang circa like 2010. Now you know my taste in men: tall, brunette, modified. He's still perfect 5 years later.

I have "no maybe yes", even though I Tindered without mercy; if you were a maybe, it was a usually swipe left. Mostly because I didn't have a ton of free time to waste on men I wasn't interested in; if men can pick and choose who they want on Tinder, I can too.

Automatic Swipe Left (NO)
Shirtless photos. Surprise me. I'm not interested, I don't care.
The standard player pose- sunglasses, smirk, +/- bathroom mirror selfie.
Hardstyling in front of your car- I don't care that you drive a souped up Honda Civic. I really don't.
Harem photo- if you're doing the player pose surrounded by women, move along buddy.
Tiger photos- WHY ARE THESE A THING??
If you mention you're short- Mama is 5'8, and I like heels. I do not like the Napoleon complex. Move along, lil doggie.
If you hate feminists- we are not going to be friends.
I just don't find you attractive.

Possible Swipe Left (Maybe... No.)
Your first photo is cute, but following photos include the automatic above no.
Frat bro- popped collars, polos, and/or letter shirts will make me hesitate unless the rest of your profile is promising.
Hunting/fishing photo- if that's all your photos, no. If it's one, I can tolerate it.
Photos with pets- if you're cute, I will swipe right... if not, well, see above.
Ironic mask photos- I don't know. These intrigue me, but they're also super weird. Why are you hiding your face? Do you want to wear my skin as a suit?

Automatic Swipe Right (Hell yes)
Body modifications- I am all about tattoos and plugs. All. About. It. (See catfishing boyfriend and his sewn up ears)
Tall- preferably over 6', but at least taller than me in heels.
Animal lover- vegans, vegetarians, or even just an omnivore who loves animals. Holla at me.

Overall- I roll with superficial at first, but usually make my decision after talking to you. I ended up going on a date with my now-boyfriend despite him saying "I like your dog", when, in fact, it was a guinea pig in one of my profile pictures.

One of the weirdest Tinder matches I ever had was a vegan who got arrested for breaking out animals in a lab. Tolerable, but you know what I'm studying right? And he blew up my phone with unwanted d*** pics, which I am not about.

Overall my rules for online dating: add me on Facebook so I can investigate, meet in a public place on the first date, tell someone where you're going, and check in with that person. Every guy I've met up with has been very respectful of these rules, which is definitely a good sign. And as with everything, trust your gut. If you're nervous, there's a reason why.

-K & C & L

Monday, January 25, 2016

Changing a Tree: My Experience With Prestige Trees

I am the very proud owner of a Prestige Nona Garson Elite.

I bought it used about 3 years ago with the idea in mind that I wouldn't be riding Candy forever, while continuing my education, so I needed a saddle that would adjust to fit a new horse while falling inside a student's budget. Removeable gullet systems like Bates, and the Genesis system on M. Toulouse saddles didn't appeal to me, and I adored my old trainer's circa 1980s (or older) Prestige close contact saddle, so a Prestige was the obvious choice to me.

My saddle originally had a 34 cm tree, which correlates roughly to a wide tree. With a Thinline pad, it fit Candy very well. However, it was a snug fit for Lexie. Since Candy is retired from work, I decided to get the tree widened to fit Lexie because she will be the one wearing it (using it?) regularly, and I can pad it up for Candy for trail rides.

Ain't she a beaut?
Prestige trees aren't made of wood, so they can be adjusted in 2 cm increments to be narrower or wider. Prestige recommends that you use a certified dealer/adjuster to maintain their warranty for your saddle. In my research and personal experience, I've found that both Dover Saddlery and VTO Saddlery  are certified to do tree adjustments. I decided to contact VTO based on recommendations from COTH. For Lexie, I wanted to the tree to be adjusted 2 cm wider to be a 36 cm (or extra wide) tree.

Now to the (mildly) painful portion: VTO Saddlery charges $150 (including return shipping) to adjust the saddle. I chose UPS to ship my saddle, which, including insurance for the price of the saddle and packaging, cost roughly $60. Still significantly less than a new saddle, but a little ouchy for my tender student budget.

For my experience: the whole process took roughly 2 weeks between shipping the saddle to Virginia from Kentucky (during the holiday season), and then return shipping from Virginia to Alabama. VTO Saddlery did contact me once during the process; my saddle was stamped as a 34 cm tree, but actually measured 35 cm. I told them to go ahead and do the full 2 cm widening, since Lexie is a big girl. I'm super pleased with how it turned out; it's still not a perfect fit, but Lexie seems much happier. She's reaching up through her back a little more, and seems to be more comfortable.

The verdict? If you plan on riding a variety of extremely different shaped horses in a short time- this is probably not the greatest option. If you're like me, and ride 1-2 horses at a time, and may not stick with one specific build throughout the lifetime of your saddle, I highly recommend Prestige saddles for their trees.

- K & C & L

Monday, January 18, 2016

Back On Track Review: Standing Wraps

Riding two older creaky horses, I've acquired a handful of Back On Track (BoT) items over the years. I was skeptical at first, but my experience with the BoT no bows converted me to the point that I bought my dad (who is a surgeon) a BoT wrist brace for his hand, and recommend their dog line to classmates for their pets.

I purchased the BoT Therapeutic No Bow Wraps in May while Candy was on stall rest for his annular ligament injury. I wanted to try something to decrease stocking up in his good leg, and help the inflammation in his bad leg, and these were a "last ditch effort" to see if I could get him sound when my trusty Wilker's quilts just weren't quite doing it. The Back on Track ceramic technology radiates heat, allowing heat to be applied to areas of inflammation/pain to increase blood circulation.
My trusty Wilker's. He also has Ice Pops standing wrapped to his leg so ignore his lumpy left leg.
Note the BoT hock boot on the right hind leg.
"I'm spoiled!"

Unfortunately, I have no photos of Candy modeling the no bows, but let the above photo assure you, he was quite handsome in them (he's woolly mammoth status right now, so no current modelling photos!).

They are a little stiff and thick initially, but like all no bow wraps, they get softer with use. I was very pleased with the smoother texture of the BoT wraps; I really like Wilker's quilts, but find that the flannel lining always attracted a lot of dirt and hay. The BoT wraps got a good shake, brushed, and, because they are black on both sides, I could flip the wrap and get a second use out of them before washing.

What really amazed me was how tight Candy's legs were, even after one use. I am a skeptic and a woman of science, but I was absolutely floored by how good his injured leg looked the next day. I used these religiously 12 hours a day during Candy's 3 month stall rest, and then overnight during his limited turnout period. My vet could not get over how good his legs looked; even though I stuck to his treatment plan rigidly, I believe these no bows played a role in how well Candy healed from his soft tissue injury. He has had no swelling or heat in his injured fetlock since, despite 24/7 turnout in a herd.

While these seem like a miracle product, they do have their cons. The biggest con for me was price; one set was a like a kick in the stomach, and I don't know that I could justify a second set. These are "special occasion" wraps for injuries, at least for me personally. I also wish they came in more color choices. While I love anything black, I own black and navy standing wraps, so I love the crisp look of a white or, in my case, baby blue, quilt peeking out from the top of the wraps. These did begin to pill after several washes, but hasn't affected their efficacy for me.

Overall, I love love these wraps; they are absolutely worth the money if your horse has a soft tissue injury or anything involving inflammation and pain. While they don't replace the input of a good veterinarian and a good treatment plan, they're a wonderful addition to help your partner's recovery.

- K & C & L

Friday, January 15, 2016

Candy's Annual Colic Update

He came home today!

It turned out to be a true cecal impaction. Apparently the fecolith they felt was in fact a very desiccated, very dry fecal ball that slowly dissolved with fluids. So after several nasogastric tubes, 4 ultrasounds, and countless rectal palpations, my big fluffy man is home!

"Scuse me... I have been trapped here for way too long."
"Let's blow this joint."
We're continuing to monitor his water intake and comfort at home. Forever grateful for his team that worked with him (and his distraught owner) through the last few days.

And in exciting news, I am so excited to call myself a part of the large animal hospital- I just got the position of student resident and start in the end of February.

- K & C & L

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Life Update: Candy's Annual Colic

Yesterday, I got the call I had been waiting for since our weird freezing-60s-freezing temperatures began. "Candy's laying down and he's not acting right- you should probably come out."

I got there, and he was doing his standard, "I'm ouchy, but you're my favorite treat lady!" routine. Heart rate on the high side of normal, tacky gums. You see, Candy does not like ice cold water, but he also sweats like a pig. Every winter since I've moved to Alabama, he gets a colic, and it's usually an impaction. I assumed the usual cecal impaction, and called the vet out thinking some tubed fluids and mineral oil would get him out of his funk.

10 cc's of Banamine, some sedation, and a rectal palpation later, the vet decided this wasn't a standard cecal impaction. There was a "mass" on the right side- either the spleen, the kidney, or a lymph node in his opinion. Of course, I panicked, I cried, thinking it was the big "C". We loaded him on a trailer to take him to the vet school to get him ultrasounded and really nail down what was happening.

At the vet school, they agreed the mass was weird, but thankfully, ultrasound confirmed it was just a very hard impaction in the very tip of the cecum. The cecum is comma shaped, and the "round part" of the comma was empty, while the tip of the comma was full of manure. It was a stressful 6 hours to go from cecal impaction to unknown mass to cecal impaction.

I left him overnight at the vet school; he's passing manure, bright and happy, but still dehydrated, and still has a bit of an impaction.

So I'll keep you posted.

- K & C & L

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Noble Outfitters Review: Lauren Quarter Zip

Thanks to Breeches and Boat Shoes's giveaway, I was able to try the new Lauren Quarter Zip by Noble Outfitters.

I asked the rep from Noble Outfitters to surprise me and select either the merlot or navy color; I couldn't choose! I ended up receiving the lovely heathered merlot. 

I wore this under a light puffer vest with normal breeches to groom two horses and ride in sunny 50 degree weather with a chilly wind. The fabric is your typical winter weight sport fabric; relatively soft on the inside and a smooth soft outside, comparable to Nike's Dri-Fit quarter zips. I didn't notice any issues with dirt or hay sticking to me. While grooming and riding, I noticed that while I wasn't chilly, I wasn't warm either; I was a "neutral" temperature, if that makes sense. The shirt kept me very comfortable until the sun set. Then I tossed on a jacket and was back to comfortable.

Unfortunately, I am squarely between a small and a medium, and usually, for long sleeve clothes, I go with mediums for length; I could have made do with a small. (To put it in perspective, I wear a small in show shirts, and a medium in most sunshirts). The brand seems to run true to size width-wise and on the longer side lengthwise. I'm debating selling my current one and repurchasing in a small; I really love it, just not crazy about the medium on me!
Sleeves are a great length! Sorry for the terrible lighting- poor student with an iPhone and a dark apartment.

I plan on running in it next week and see how it holds up for high impact activity vs. low/medium impact.

Overall, I'm happy with this shirt; I had never tried any of Noble Outfitters products before, and was pleasantly surprised. This would be a great layering piece in colder climates, and kept me comfortable in chilly Alabama weather! If I had to change anything, maybe more color choices; I love solid colors, but didn't need any more dark tops.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015: A Full Year of Blogging in Review

My first full year of blogging has drawn to a close! This year has certainly had more lows than I would like, but it definitely ended on a higher note.

It was pretty cold for Alabama. I adopted a female guinea pig (Lila Bear), Candy was a drama queen and colicked, and Sawyer started to show his soundness issues. I started riding with my current trainer, H.

I'm so happy Sawyer is still at my barn- I still love his cranky butt.

Candy's ulcers finally resolved! Sawyer and I did a Hunter/Jumper clinic with Jason Costick and jumped a 2'9" vertical (it was a big deal!).

I finally remembered to blog and did FIVE(!) entries. I had my first show on Sawyer, and competed in the Schooling Hunters (2'3"); we didn't place, but I saw major holes in my riding that I managed to fix for our next show.  Sawyer and I placed 3rd in a Schooling Hunter (2'3") O/F and 4th in a flat class out of about 7-10 people in our second show.

The month of the lameness. It started off nice enough- I did another Jason Costick clinic with Sawyer and jumped a 3'6" vertical. But from there... April was... interesting. I was knocked out of the saddle for 2 weeks with a stomach bug, Candy came in from the field with a left hind fetlock the size of a softball, and then one week later, Sawyer developed an on-and-off lameness. Candy went on stall rest, Sawyer went on stall rest, and I got bucked off a potential lease horse (literally got one foot in a stirrup and got thrown). I took a break from riding. I started running. April was a mess.
He loved April. I did not.

I ended my lease on Sawyer, and Candy was a boss during the rehab process. Lots of exciting handwalking adventures. I finished the dreaded second year and started my research position for the summer.

I started lessoning again, and went back to the Jumper ring! Candy come off stall rest, and was back in turnout. He returned to "work" walking bareback. Wilbur "celebrated" one year with me (I'm happy-he remains indifferent).

A couple women I grew up riding with lost their horses to old age; it was a bit of a reminder to snuggle Candy a little harder every day. After almost a month of bareback rides, Candy finally bucked me off, I got the vet's permission to ride in a saddle, and a humble reminder to stop taking myself so seriously.

Candy got an A for effort in the rehab process; he rehabbed back sound from his soft tissue injury, and flunked out when his hocks had failed to fuse. I made the very difficult decision to retire him to pasture, and hung up his bridle. I had my first ride on Lexie, the fat, sassy Westphalian who has stolen my heart. I started my third year of vet school.

I started hacking Silver, Lexie, and Charlie on weekends and continued my lessons with H in the Jumper ring. Candy adjusts to retirement, and seems okay, but not entirely pleased, with "Peppermints, Grooming, Peppermints, Turn Out".

School really slammed me hard. I promise I did continue to lesson and ride, but during October, tests and surgeries really took over. I took a 6 year old OTTB on trial, but he ended up not meeting my standards.

Lexie and I did our first show together in the 0.70 and 0.80 jumpers. I managed to swing a 3rd place in the 0.70s, and nearly fall off in the 0.80s; I learn all I had was steering and no breaks when I rode Lexie. I show Lexie again at the barn year end show, and we enter the 0.75 and 0.85 jumpers; we got 1st out of 2 both rounds. I try to show again the next day, but my body just says, "Enough", and I scratched. Candy continues to be the sweetest retiree, and gets his annual chaser clip.

I finish the hardest semester of my life, and am only 6 weeks of lectures away from being in the clinic! Lexie and I clinic with Doug Payne, and really start to come together as a team; I'm comfortable over 2'9-3' fences in the clinic. Steering remains questionable, but the brakes have finally arrived, even in a loose ring snaffle! Candy continues to get snuggles and mints; I contemplate riding him or doing groundwork.... something. I decide to lease Lexie!

- K & C & L(!)