Chillin’

At some point, yes, I’m going to the barn. But yesterday, besides work, there were whiteouts on the roads. Today, they still haven’t plowed on my road, and the “high” temperature today was about 20. Since we don’t have an indoor and Lucky resembles a yak at the moment, there wouldn’t be much point in any case.

Tomorrow, however, I’m hoping to get out there, and bring Lucky an early “real” birthday present (his actual foaling date was February 12.)

Here’s a sneak preview:

And thank you for all the good thoughts for Mr. Jet! He seems to be doing much better. Here is a picture after he came home from two nights at the vet, being inspected by Mr. Marcus:

Worrisome Cat

Mr Jet, oldest of my three cats (he’s about five and a half now) is at the vet’s, getting a catheter for a urinary blockage. They will know what sort of blockage and how bad it is once they’ve cleared it (and relieved his poor bladder.) Good thoughts are appreciated.

The Kittens Have Something To Share

Nanook and the Pest would like to share the following:

Does anyone want a small puffball of a calico kitten? Free. Will ship.

The older two kittens (well, one year, and probably about a half year) are very clingy all of a sudden. I think the presence of a certain small dilute calico puffball is grating on their nerves. This is somewhat unfair, as she’s very quiet and waits her turn to eat, and is far less pesky than some kittens I have known. She IS going to get stomped on if she doesn’t learn that you can’t just wander underneath horses who cannot see tiny little you. Nanook and the Pest have decided to remind everyone around that they were here first and they’re cuter. Nanook did this by nearly taking a nose dive into Zoey and Lucky’s water tub while he tried to balance around the edge. Pest followed everyone everywhere. When she climbed up on the fence and looked like she was seriously considering a leap onto Lucky’s rear, I grabbed her and took her for a ride. (Lucky, it should be noted, is capable of executing a turn on the forehand with me riding one-handed with a cat in my lap.)

The weather’s getting colder, which may explain why Lucky was bouncy and inattentive yesterday. Well, that and the fact that everyone went in. I gave up fairly quickly, but I also hadn’t thought to grab a coat. He’s also turning nicely fuzzy. And brown. Unlike Benny, Lucky stays noticeably bay in winter, but he turns chocolate brown instead of blood bay. (Benny was a ‘dark brown or bay’ who turned seriously black in the winter.) He’s also dusty, but it’s now officially too cold for baths.

Had an interesting conversation about horses in the movies and actors who can or can’t ride. Especially with “Secretariat” coming out I think I need a horses in the movies post.

The Weather Changes But Lucky, Not So Much

As folks who’ve looked at his pictures from the last entry may have notice, Lucky is, to put it politely, svelte. A little ribby, in fact. So the B.O. has been adding a morning grain feeding to his diet (previously he got all-you-can-eat hay plus grain in the evening only). As always, more grain can equal hotter behavior. It’s also officially fall now, the trees are turning, the acorns are falling, the dried leaves are crunching, the wind is blowing and the temperature’s dropped, meaning horses without their winter coats are now cool enough to feel a bit more energetic.

But then again this is Lucky we’re talking about.

Yesterday, he seemed a bit stiff, and since he’d had almost two weeks off, I was using the AP saddle, and had switched to the kimberwicke, I wasn’t sure what to expect today. I kept the kimberwicke, and (whether my butt liked it or not) used the PDN today. No galloping, just ring work yesterday and a little hacking in the hay field, and I started with the ring again today. The ring backs up on the scary woods of doom, which Lucky has been largely ignoring, which today were waving and crackling like Halloween come early. Lucky was more concerned with the monkey on his back wanting a lot of trotting than with the woods. I was doing a sort of half-remembered version of the training level one test (or what it was when I rode it years ago; I’m pretty sure I at least had the 20m trot circles in the right place) though that pretty much ended asking for a canter as going into the right lead was something of a scramble. As such, I think the last half of the pattern was somewhat out of whack, but going around the whole ring an extra time will do that.

I tried being fancy and setting up some proper gymnastics, which Lucky promptly knocked over for the most part. Though he did jump the x, after the first go-through. He demolished the back rail of the oxer and on the second pass took out the front rail, but when I cantered him at the three poles lying on the ground he took what felt like a massive jump over them. Deciding that was good enough, I followed everyone else out to the track where the B.O. was hacking Dino, and two of the other boarders had P-nut (looking much fatter and sassier than when he arrived) and Sky out for their amble around. We walked along with Dino, and Lucky was not in any hurry, nor did he show any indication of a desire to overtake. In fact a few times I had to bop the OTTB with the bat and jog a bit to catch up with the Gypsy Vanner.

After a leisurely tour of the hay fields, the B.O. and Dino headed back to the barn. Lucky tried to follow of his own volition, so to teach him a lesson I made him walk on past the gate and along the edge of the woods. The trail runs along the pasture and arena fence, with a relatively wide (golf-cart-width) path that only has a few overhanging branches. Which Lucky at one point stopped and tried to eat. The trail ends in the yard of the house next door (which has been for sale since I moved in) and I was debating riding him up along the edge of the road, but the ditch there is fairly steep. So my choices were to ride through the backyard, back the way I’d come, or into the woods and back to the track that way. It was cloudy, and windy, so of course I decided to go into the woods. Lucky’s reaction was mostly to prick up his ears. He walked over the acorns that were over most of the trail, let branches brush him, and though I did my best to steer around them, he stepped on downed branches if they happened to be in his way. Overall, the only down side of our ride today (if one discounts Lucky’s ‘shorter is easier’ view on jumping) was how sore I was when I got off after riding in the PDN that long.

In the barn, we may have a new resident. The B.O. and J. found a kitten by the side of the highway, looking lost and contemplating an ill-advised imitation of the proverbial chicken, for equally unfathomable reasons. She is a small and fluffy dilute calico who spent much of her time in the tack room, practicing the belief that “If I scrunch up and close my eyes, they can’t see me.” If she hangs around, I will get some pictures, as she’s very cute in a fluffy way. Nanook and the Pest aren’t entirely thrilled.

Now for an update, with photos!

Hopefully, I’ll also be able to upload some video, as Dad filmed some video of the riding (and the jumping at least looks better when we’re moving.)

TBs Together: Lucky and his new roomie.

Me setting jumps. Not sure why Mom felt like taking this one, but there it is.

Dad meets Dino. Dino meets Dad.

The B.O. was riding when we got there, and asked if Dad wanted to hop on. It took some persuading, as he hasn’t ridden since my old OTTB, Benny, died. He’d taken a few lessons on him while my brother and I were both at college, but that’s it for a while. Now, Dad is not particularly short. Dino is not especially tall. But Dino is BROAD.

Lucky and Dino. I really don't feel THAT much taller.

We were just walking around, killing time while J. finished dragging the track. The day before it had rained and their friends had brought over their trotting ponies to work after the races they’d been headed to were called on account of weather. Once he’d finished grooming it, we headed out so Mom could get some good pictures.

Jogging wrong way round.

We jogged for about a quarter-mile.

WAY down...

And then we turned back.

WHEE!

I like how he cocked his right ear back to listen to me.

Believe it or not, my stirrups are on the top hole, which I punched in them. I think I need to add another.

This is actually after we stopped after the half-mile pole, jogged back, and went for a walk/trot/canter in the field to the left in the photo and spooked up a little bird that was either a woodcock or bobwhite quail. See the crazy OTTB who must never be allowed to run because that's just CRAZY.

Seriously. Lazy-butt didn't even break a sweat.

After that, we went back to the arena for some flat work and a little jumping.

Some groundwork.

Jumping, with funny facial expressions (because I'm clucking at him. A lot.)

Cat crossing.

Did I mention Nanook really wanted to help?

They will NEVER find me here.

And here is the OTTB running barrels.

Speaking of crazy. Do not try this at home (unless you have a horse as sane as Lucky.)

Seriously, don't try this. Aren't you terrified of OTTBs yet?

If anyone’s wondering, yes, I’m riding aside on the PDN, and yes, he’s listening fine with the stick on the right and my leg on the left. The bit I’m riding in for all of the above is the rubber mullen-mouth dee.

Lucky getting a nice hose down and liniment on his legs. Not that he wasn't bone dry under the saddle. Lucky doesn't break a sweat unless it's 90 out.

Mr. Biscuit has no time for your shenanegans. (And in case anyone was wondering why there's cat hair on the barn towels....)

Yes, see the terrifying OTTB, who cannot be trusted outside the ring. For the record: rubber dee bit, no tranquilizing agents (though given he probably did that 3f in something like :48, he might as well have been on them), galloping, open fields (the track and the hayfield have no fencing), jumping crossrails, trotting and cantering barrels, letting silly rider tool around side saddle. And as for me, I’m happiest that while we were doing flat work, as I argued about picking up the right lead (LOTS of circles and rebending and trying it again) I lost an iron when we finally got the correct one and decided not to fuss picking it up and risk losing the canter. I stuck it so well my mother, the one who’s watched me ride for years, despite me passing less than three feet from where she was sitting with my right ankle at her eye level, didn’t even notice I’d lost it.

Back to work!

Well, as much as we’re working. It’s hot and humid and more or less miserable out, though at least by the time I got to the barn it wasn’t raining any more. The horses were in, as there had been thunder, and I’d figured they would be. The BO prefers to put them away if the forecast is for storms, and I feel better about it. It’s a tough call, since they all have run-ins, but I read so many horror stories on COTH about lightening strikes that I feel better knowing he’s inside. He was not exactly overjoyed to see me, as that usually means work, but he did come out, and avoided stepping on Nanook, who had developed a fascination for being underfoot around big horses.

I had figured even if it was raining, I would at least be able to fit Lucky’s new tack. On the theory that racing bridles are made to fit Thoroughbred heads, not big fat warmblood heads, and being literally out of room to punch holes on his throatlatch on the other bridle while needing an extender for the flat cob-size, though the cheekpieces and cavesson fit, I ordered a racing-bridle set and yoke from Poor Man’s Equine. I also found a very reasonably-priced rubber mullen mouth racing D from an eBay store, both of which arrived while I was out of town. The first problem I encountered was that when I put the yoke on, it hung down around his knees. So, holes need to be punched.

The bridle, meanwhile, fit just fine. When I got up, I discovered just how long racing reins are and why exercise riders knot them up. I also noticed just how much rein you have to take up to get to the rubber grips: more than enough that you WILL have contact with the horse’s mouth. Lucky seemed to like the new bit, or at least he held off his usual constant chewing until the end of the ride. Since everyone else was still inside, I took full advantage and we started off in the pastures. Lucky moved out more, either the week off or the new bit, I don’t know. And he’s definitely improved at picking up the canter. We had more room in Trudy, Dom and Takota’s pasture, and even the scary woods of doom being right alongside didn’t seem to bother him much.

The BO had left some of the jumps up with maybe six-inch “verticals” (on the very bottom hole of the standards) when we went in the big outdoor, and after a complete circuit in both directions at the canter, on the appropriate leads, I put him back in a trot and pointed him at the jump. The first time through, he slowed to a walk again, but a second attempt got a sort of bouncy hop/halfway to a jump at the trot. He’s rubbing the rail a bit, but he came at both fences (at ninety degrees to each other, so going the long and short ways of the ring) and went over with much less “You WILL go straight” from my leg. I even felt brave enough to go at it from a canter. He dropped to the glacial trot and near-pause right before the fence-but he went over, and to my delight he picked up a forward-moving trot immediately on ‘landing’ without my asking. So on that note I decided he’d done enough, and we had a long walk around the place on the buckle, followed by a bath. Nanook nearly got a bath as well, trying to stick his nose in the soap bucket, but when Lucky put his head down for a sniff he decided the tack room was the place to be in a big hurry.

The storms seem to be passing, and hopefully the weather will hold, as if everything goes as planned, Lucky will have a visitor tomorrow.

And when I have a chance to sit down with wireless, hopefully there will be pictures tomorrow, and I can do my second “Horses of D.C./shameless vacation picspam” post.

Red-Headed Mare!

I cannot decide if my headache is from the weather constantly changing today, or from feminine issues–probably a bit of both. This morning was bright, clear, cold, and VERY windy, and by the end of the day we’d gone through at least two cloud fronts. So either this is my monthly migraine starting, sinus-pressure changes, or both. Huzzah.

Probably with some allergies contributing. It took more than a half-hour to groom today before a ride. Lucky wasn’t dirty, he’s just shedding out. And shedding out. And shedding out. At least one other purchaser of a Finger Lakes’ Finest has mentioned her mare having a downy-soft coat, almost like a baby coat, and that does seem to be what Lucky’s feels like. And it’s coming out in clumps. He was especially happy today to stand and let me scrub his face up between his ears.

It was, as I mentioned, extremely windy, enough that I wasn’t so much worried about spooking as my own discomfort. This was hard enough my car was getting pushed around a bit on the drive over, and it was just as bad on the horse. Every time I turned into the wind I got a facefull of hair (his and mine) and dirt blown up from the footing. Yech. We did have one butt-scooting spook, but I’m honestly not sure if that was the wind, the BO’s daughter coming up to the ring behind us, or something else. Whatever it was, he stood while I talked with her and went on after that and seemed largely disinterested in the kids running around. We stuck with W/T today, and he was back to protest-by-stopping, and I am starting to wonder if the tooth the specialist is coming for is really bothering him. The head-up and stopping don’t seem to be spookiness or related to actual attempts to run. He responds to the bit and leg when asked. There’s no heat in his legs or back and the masseuse didn’t find any hypersensitive points on his back. It’s happened with both saddles (very different shapes) and he’s generally going well in the PDN, so I don’t think it’s a matter of saddle fit. The tooth is a known issue, so possibly it bothers him more some days. If that doesn’t fix the problem then I will see about getting the vet back out to watch him go and see if they can spot anything (I say they because the practice has four and I’m not sure who’d be out.) Chiro is an option if it is alignment, but as the only one I know of locally requires you to haul to him, he’s not an option so I would have to go looking.

Two other possibilities: He’s a morning glory (as he’s gone quite well mornings and this was an afternoon ride), and his feet may have been tender as the farrier was out this week. His feet continue to improve and the front angles are looking better.

The wind was annoying to the point I had a short ride (and my lips are now chapped–it was also cold wind!) Lucky once again was happy to be curried for as long as I cared to stand there doing it. He got another candy cane (he has the most entertaining way of smacking his lips when he gets peppermints) and went back out. The BO, her daughter, and a couple of the kids were working with Trudy–“lessons” for the kids, work for Trudy! Trudy is a Tennessee Walker and a stereotypical redheaded mare. She likes to pin her ears at any horse who walks by, and she loves the fact that she is the only mare on the property and therefore (in her mind) in charge of everyone else. BO asked if I wanted to ride her, so I put my helmet back on and got up. The saddle was a synthetic western and the stirrups were just too short, especially with my dress boots on, so I sat back and went without. Trudy does not neck rein, but she will obey leg, if you can convince her of your intent. She’s also the type of TWH who does not trot, she paces, which isn’t something I’ve experienced before. It’s a weird feeling! A little like cantering, or trying for a canter and not quite getting into one. Her canter is also fast but smooth. She was not especially thrilled to have someone riding her whose legs were long enough to stay on her so she couldn’t ignore them. She also was a prima donna–I ended up having a close encounter with the pommel (though fortunately not the horn) when she abruptly decided to put on the brakes rather than step in the only pile of manure in the round pen. Since that pile was not there when I was riding Lucky in there not long before, I know for a fact she put it there! So not only a red-headed mare but a finicky one, too!

Kitten update: My other two cats, Jet and Marcus, seem to be resigning themselves to the notion of a ‘little sister’ in the house. The dogs continue to view the kitten as their responsibility and are tolerant to the point of letting her stick her nose in their dinners (though poor Tucker was highly agitated by this as she’s on a diet and every crumb is precious!) The kitten’s biggest disappointment is that she is apparently a night person (or a Jellicle Cat!) and when she is up and ready to play, everyone else is ready for bed.

And yes, she’ll get a name eventually. Nothing has really suggested itself so far.

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