2017 USEA Convention

I’m at one of Area VI’s last HTs of the year today, Fresno Park, helping boot mom a bunch of my friends (many at their first rated show!).  Hopefully my boot shining, mint providing, water-bottle holding, picture-taking, and cheerleading services will be up to snuff for all the favors they have done me.


❤ friends!

But what I really want to ask about is the 2017 USEA Convention!  This year it’s being held in beautiful Long Beach (I will for sure be sneaking away to the aquarium for a little while!) and features a ton of awesome speakers including Boyd Martin as keynote, Equiratings (be still my beating heart!), and tons of interesting sessions for riders and organizers.

 

If you’re going, I’d love to meet up and take a crappy selfie and laugh about our ponies together!

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lemonade

When Murray’s leg hole turned into a more significant situation than originally thought, I was like “dammit, I’m not going to become one of those people who can only talk about her horse’s injury.”  And here I am.  Talking about his injury again.

But this week, we made some lemonade of this whole stall-bound situation. I pulled all of Murray’s shoes!!

back in the day of pony playtimes

You might not think that shoe-pulling is something to get excited about, but for me it really is. I have been obsessed with the idea of functionally barefoot horses ever since I started care-leasing Murray.  It coincided with finding the Rockley Rehab Blog, the proprietor of which firmly asserts that all horses can become comfortably barefoot with the right care.  And I really liked that idea.  I lived in Kenya and saw zebra on the daily, and never did I see a lame zebra.  I saw zebra running away from things (cars, lions, cheetahs) pretty damn quickly, over some pretty interesting (rocky, shale, slick, muddy, rainy, watery) surfaces, and very few of them ever slipped.  This was pretty good evidence in my mind.

Over time, I came to realize that without being willing to undertake certain lifestyle changes for the horse, it may very well not be possible for Murray to have a competitive career barefoot.  That is clearly not for everyone.

However, I can’t shake the inclination to believe those farriers and veterinarians and yahoos that say that barefoot really is good for the foot overall.  Human podiatrists acknowledge that the types of shoes that many people prefer are not actually all that good for our overall foot health and strength.

okay so this guy probably slipped at least a little

So knowing that Murray only has to be sound in his stall, in arena footing, or hand walking around in the gravel, I really, really, really wanted to give his feet a break from shoes and see if we couldn’t strengthen up his heels and re-angle his upright RF.  Farrier approves of this plan and hopes that it will help his particularly contracted RF heel spread out a bit.

Right now, we hand walk for 20-40 minutes 3-6 times a week.  I’ll try to start doing that on a whole variety of different surfaces so Murray isn’t just standing in the cushy padding of his stall an paddock.  I forsee another six weeks of this routine, which should give both of us plenty of time to harden up our feet and get into a rhythm!  It’s certainly not the same as the Rockley horses being out 12 hours a day on tons of different surfaces, but perhaps we’ll be able to get there a few weeks after that with night turnout.  Once we get back into real non-walk-work, the shoes will probably go back on.  Fronts first, and we’ll see if we can make it through the winter without hinds.

camelot bonus reel: blogger meetup

One of the funnest things about Camelot has always been showing there with my friends.  We’ve been going to Camelot for years and years and years — seriously, I think my trainer first took students to a one day schooling HT there back in 2011.  My first show there was 2013 — from which I was summarily eliminated, but I had a ton of fun riding Quincy around bareback at night with my friends despite that.

This year, I knew pretty early on that Kate was bringing students, and Olivia would be coming, so it was for sure going to be a mini blogger meetup.  I tried to rustle up a few other locals, but alas none more were to be had.  No fear, both Kate and Olivia brought many incredibly adorable horses, which more than made up for it.

Sorry, Olivia. I suck at selfies.

But the highlight of meeting other bloggers was meeting Keith W. Matapouri of Post the Trot.  (Also sorry Olivia and Kate that meeting up with you guys wasn’t the best part of the weekend. I mean blogger meetup.)  In the time-honored tradition of the close blogging community, though, I’m going to refer to Keith by a made-up blogger name.  Let’s go with Kathy.  Kathy seems like a good, strong, blogger name.

I actually knew I was in the presence of Kathy even before we had been properly introduced.  It was just one of those things.  I don’t want to imply that I’m a stalker or anything.  But you know when you see something you’ve never actually seen before in person, you’ve only heard/read about it, but the second you lay eyes on it you know that this is that thing you’ve read about? It was like the first time I ever saw a gerenuk.  I’d never seen a picture of a gerenuk, I’d just heard of them, and then there was a gerenuk standing there in the scrub and I shouted KATHY GERENUK!!

Image result for gerenukthis is what it was like to spy Kathy

Alternately, you know when your dog jumps off the couch and makes that kinda subtle smile at you, and you know that you need to rush her outside right away because she’s about to start puking on the carpet (even though she hasn’t started heaving or gurgling yet)?

It was kinda like that.

Anyway, Kathyand I spent a little bit of time chatting after I introduced myself.  We had a fascinating and in-depth conversation about the appearance, function, role, and genetics of dapples.  Interestingly, did you know that nobody really understands dapples?  I mean the dapples that show up seasonally, not dapples that stick year-round on gray horses.  We think it’s genetic, it seems to be associated with nutrition in some cases, and some horses get to have dapples even when their nutrition is total shit.  So what regulates whether a horse gets the ability to get dapples (like, what gene even controls dapples REALLY?), if a horse gets dapples within its lifetime, and how big/bright/patterned/obvious those dapples are?

NOBODY KNOWS. It’s interminably frustrating.  Kathy understood.

Kathy also promised to take me horse boating sometime, so that’s pretty cool.

Image result for gerenuk(I did, actually, see gerenuk a few times living in Kenya. This picture is from MF Kinnard at Mpala, which was essentially right nextdoor to where I lived in Kenya. Like, as nextdoor as you get when you live on a 200 square kilometer conservancy.)

 

teamwork makes the dream work

Camelot’s August event was everything I hoped it would be, and then some.  I don’t quite have the energy for a full recap (I’m still catching up thanks to a sleepless Friday night and minor flesh wounds to both knees), but there are too many good pictures not to share some of them.  The short story is that we were successful.  But in reality, I’d categorize this as more of a wildly successful outing for us.

c/o Kate’s friend, Kathy. Thanks Kathy!

Thanks to my own stupidity and inability to ride down banks, I tweaked both of my knees on Friday afternoon while schooling the utterly enormous and incredibly inappropriate for the level 3′-ish bank that was flagged for the Novice course.  I suck at banks and we haven’t practiced them in a year, so we worked our way up to the big one.  Murray was fine going down the littler ones, but could clearly sense my hesitation and lack of desire to go down the biggest bank, so he stopped a few times.  I finally approached it with some commitment, then promptly lost my left stirrup. Murray turned a hard right upon landing, and physics was not in my favor.  I kept going straight.  As I slid over the saddle my right foot must have become caught up somehow, because my knee twisted on the way over.  I initially landed on my left foot, but promptly fell to my knee.

I lay there in the dirt, both of my knees stinging, while Murray stood next to me and judged me for my silly actions.  Eventually I gathered up the gumption to stand (stung knees hurt, yo!), got back on, and we schooled the bank and a few other fences with great success.


I love the Camelot standards. Thanks Kathy!

The whole weekend was really an exercise in teamwork, though!  First, Kate kindly hauled Murray to the show as we were short one trailer spot from my barn.  To my great pleasure, Murray happily walked right into Kate’s trailer, and then unloaded quietly once at Camelot.  Kate even had a pin of just the right dimensions to fix our own trailer woes, when the 3-horse we were borrowing was short a pin to keep the back divider closed.  I mean, if that isn’t a beautiful coincidence, I just don’t know what is.


a couple of fences at Camelot have glow in the dark paint!

After spraining said knees, one friend loaned me her horse’s Back on Track wraps, another drove to get me ibuprofen at a nearby gas station, and everyone pitched in to help fetch, carry, and lift while I limped around the facility like a pirate.  The good news that is NSAIDs and BOT helped my knee to feel pretty much normal by cross country time.  I don’t really know how I feel about Back on Track gear… part of me thinks it’s juju voodoo horsey pseudoscience.  The other part of my knows that the BOT treated knee was way warmer than the untreated knee, and it felt WAY WAY BETTER after putting the wraps on.  So… we’ll need to play with evidence based medicine for that one.

Kate’s Kathy and Olivia’s husband kindly got pictures of me during my stadium ride, which were so appreciated when I realized after stadium that in the course of bumping my camera around on my hip I had deleted every single picture from the entire weekend.  I felt sick when I realized that I had done that through carelessness and bad habits (of not turning off my camera or protecting my images).

picture credit to David on this one!

There was even some pretty solid team work getting my outfit together.  I’ve been admiring the Winston coats for a while, but they are solidly outside of my budget in even an off-the-rack scenario.  A couple of months ago L alerted me to a tack sale for an Oregon tack store that was going out of business, and they had a Winston in just my size for an amount that I could, somewhat drunkenly (and only if I don’t look up the email to see what the actual price is) justify paying for.  I hemmed and hawed over it, and Peony told me to do it (and buy a Samshield alongside to boot, but they had none in my size).  And Megan concurred. So I bought it.  It didn’t quite have the shiny buttons I wanted, so I headed to Etsy and found the brushed stainless buttons I needed, easily replaced the old ones on the front of the coat and voila!

 I adore everything about the damn thing, and having a really, really well-fitting coat is just so nice for me.

It was such a wonderful weekend to spend with friends from all different avenues of my life.  I can’t wait to do it again — maybe in April, guys?!

the best weekend

I had the best freaking weekend at Camelot.

I got to meet some super cool animals and their even cooler humans. (Stupidly forgot to take a pic with Skully or Meaty!  I am a fool.)

My horse was as brave as he knew how, never stopped being himself, and was  handsome AF to boot.

I rode my little heart out and made all new mistakes!  And I learned from them!

We went really, really, really fast.  Like, speed faults if we hadn’t circled for the refusal fast.

The jumps all looked tiny!!

Losing never felt so good!!!

adventureful weekend

I had a weekend filled with the most awesome pony adventures!  Full recaps to come later in the week, but suffice to say that I am planning to eke out a little sleep in on Monday morning (till a luscious 7 am, ha!).

We started with a dressage outing that can be described as nothing less than “epic”.


good pony gets all the sweet nothing whispers

For real, we knocked so many accomplishments off the list on Saturday: got in the trailer, went to a place, kept our heads, did the dancing queen thing with zero (ZERO!!!!) theatrics, got recognized for the fucking superstars we are. Even better, we got good feedback from the judge (verbal and written), and a flow chart in the comments.


we knocked out a 65% at T3 and 67.7% at 1-1

Truly, the best part is that I went into the ring with a game plan, actually rode (instead of just kinda steering and sitting like a passenger), and Murray took my suggestions and responded in a way that I could manage and work with, instead of with interpretive dance.  If we can pull that off this week at Camelot, it will be money in the bank.

On Sunday I took a ridiculously large number of selfies with strangers’ horses.  And by “strangers” I mean Olivia, David, and Kate.  Olivia arranged a really fun wine tasting trail ride for us out of her barn to honor the visit of Jen, and it was so insanely fun!  Literally every horse on the planet Earth is better at selfies than my horse is, so I am obligated to take them with any that I can get my hands on.

Olivia even let me ride THE MULE!!  Literally the first thing I did after I got on was take a between the ears pic, but I later got much better ones on the beautiful, winding, and sometimes terrifying trail that is, evidently, a part of Olivia’s and David’s daily riding routine.  I had played around in my head with the idea of bringing Murray down for a future trail ride, but I honestly have no idea what he would do with a trail that is only 4 feet wide in places with a fairly steep, hilly drop off on one side and the correspondingly steep hill going up on the other.  At least there would be plenty of grass for him to eat while he walked (which Nilla is a professional at)?

The two of us have a fairly light week of riding planned before we go to Camelot on Thursday (with potentially more blogger meetups!!).  I’ll squeeze in a jump lesson and a dressage ride, and hope not to break any of our newfound talent in the process.  And there is potentially RAIN in the forecast for dressage day?  Inconceivable!

cruising

It’s Spring in Davis, and that always means one thing: WIND.  The Spring winds are awful and persistent and awful.  Last week it was gray and windy, and this week it is hot as balls and windy, but sandwiched in the middle there were a couple of days of beautiful, 72* weather and no wind.  So friends and I took advantage and hauled out for a hack.

Our journey wasn’t without drama.  Murray decided that post-Twin he was never getting in a horse trailer again, or something like that.  The trailer we used for that 5 hour haul was on the small side, and Murray and his big ego don’t do small-horse trailers, I guess.  On the way home he flat out wouldn’t get into the second spot (which is actually bigger, but appears smaller and harder to get in to), and only got in to the first spot after my trainer took a hold of him.  I was a little worried about it on Thursday, but since we were using a different trailer that Murray likes (normally), I tried to play it off like I was super cool.  Alas, Murray wasn’t buying it, and would get two front feet on and then pause and wildly back up when I asked him to come forward.  I’m not really willing to let him slam his head on the top of the trailer, so I’d let him.  He was so not on board with the trailering game that he wouldn’t even eat a carrot out of my hand, which is pretty clearly not a happy Murray state to be in.

Eventually my barn manager got him on, but not after standing for about five minutes with his hind feet out of the trailer, stretching his neck as far forward as possible to be with her, little toes pointed.  I can’t remember exactly what precipitated it, but eventually he bunny-hopped his little feetsies into the trailer and off we went.

We joined a friend at WSS, and the three of us cruised all over the property.  Murray is always pretty good in groups on trail, as long as nothing too exciting is happening.  Too exciting is defined as a gait above a sedate walk, or doing anything other than eating grass when other horses are achieving said gaits.  That was awesome for my friends, as their ponies needed a little mellowing out away from “home” (though she boards there, my friend’s horse is not totally comfortable in the wide open spaces just yet).  In his own way, Murray was a great teacher for this.  Want to trot? Eat some grass.  Worried? Eat some grass.  Don’t know where you’re going? Eat some grass. Feeling a little queasy by the vast expanse of the unknown and your sudden realization of your own miniscule existence in the universe? Eat some grass.


solution focused, this one

We walked all over the cross country course, and would have gone through the water were there any.  We even cruised over toward a many-mile (I think like 12 miles?) perimeter trail that goes around several neighboring properties and is part of an easement agreement between all the owners.  I would be totally game for that trail some time, just maybe not on a weekday when I have work to get to at home.

We cruised for nearly two hours, and were probably past due to head home, really.  Though we did nothing but walk, I felt like it was a good notch in Murray’s fitness belt, since the terrain undulated gently, in addition to a couple of nice hills.  Plus, how often do I walk my horse around for more than ten minutes, even?

I would like to do more hacking out this year, and add in some trot and canter sets.  I think I can find a mile long track on the perimeter to canter, which would be a fantastic fitness exercise.  But we will see – real life and real jobs have a habit of getting in the way of these things.