“He Was Something Like a Racehorse Undersized”

He was hard and tough and wiry – just the sort that won’t say die –
There was courage in his quick impatient tread;
And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,
And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.

Or not, precisely. But at the BO’s suggestion we tried her Australian saddle on Lucky today. This is the first saddle I’ve ever put on him where he genuinely looked a little bug-eyed at the bulk of the saddle. That, or the size of the flaps, which go very far back over his flank compared to the PDN or the McClellan. I was surprised by how heavy it was-it’s been a long time since I’ve hefted anything bigger than a synthetic western onto a 15hh horse (Lucky never feels so much taller than Dino and Takota to me, but then I had to get the saddle UP.)

He walked out okay, so I figured I might as well try it. I think, ultimately, Lucky was more comfortable with the saddle than I was. I’ve sat in it before on Trudy (the resident red-headed mare) and didn’t really like the feel of having those “fenders” for lack of a better word almost over my thighs–it had the unnerving feeling of being strapped in. Actually riding out in it, I had the strangest sense of being in a saddle midway between a dressage saddle and stock seat. My butt thought it needed to be back on my pockets, but my legs couldn’t quite line up with that. I wound up in a sort of half-forward seat, never quite adjusted comfortably. I also forgot my crop, and with that much leather between my leg and his side I could barely get my heels on. Of course, this was pretty much fine by Lucky! For all it was cold and windy he was generally all right, though he had a very looky moment at a flyaway sheet of newspaper. He also definitely remembers turning around barrels, and considers an upended bucket and acceptable substitute (tomorrow I might get the barrels off the cart where they were moved for winter storage.)

I didn’t ride for too long. I don’t think the saddle was heavy enough to be dangerous for him, but it just wasn’t comfortable for me! Lucky did his best falling-asleep-underneath-you impression while I stopped to talk to P-Nut, Vandy and Sky’s owners as they were going out to the pasture. Of course, that might have been a hangover, as the dentist was out yesterday and everyone (except poor old P-Nut, who’d been done by the vet the day before along with that ‘delicate’ cleaning some geldings need sedating for) had their teeth done with the help of a few ccs of Xylazine. Lucky’s teeth, by the way, are quite nice, and at the floater’s request I passed along the name of the dentist who did the major work on him for future referrals (as this dentist doesn’t do serious power-tool fixes as Lucky required last year and was happy to have someone to call.) The day before that, the vet was out for spring shots and Coggins, so if we want to go anywhere he’ll be legal! All we need is a trailer and somewhere to go. I’m starting to think it might be good to find a schooling show and simply go for the experience, even if I end up not riding, just so he gets the idea of traveling being something routine.

We did take a walk in the hayfield after I unsaddled him (and found the Aussie saddle is almost as tricky to get OUT of as it is to get on him, and lifting it off his back, rather than dragging it over, was another reminder of how tall he is!) I thought about a walk in the woods, but he preferred someplace he could snack as he went along. And anyway, with the wind, I wouldn’t be surprised if a tree came down on us. Lucky had the pasture all to himself when I left, as his three buddies were all getting their turn being ridden (or tagging along after his girlfriend, in P-nut’s case–he’s touchingly devoted).) When I got home I found one of my sheds with the doors banging open and my plastic watering can I’d left on the bench by my door halfway across the yard. The trash bin was also on its side, but then for all it weighs when I’m having to drag it to the road it seems to blow over if there’s just a stiff breeze! The dogs got an extra-long walk, wind or no wind, as the rain passed us by and the rumored s-n-o-w seems to have also given us a miss (lucky us). I think I have succeeded in wearing them out (as I got up for a bowl of cereal while writing this and Tucker, who is firmly in the ’round is a shape’ camp and never misses a chance at food barely even looked up.) I just wish wearing them out didn’t involve wearing me out!



So, this post may contain typos. And will likely be short.

First, the horse is fine. I may, in fact, try swapping bits again. Possibly the kimberwicke (jointed), and see if a jointed bit is a little kinder now his own teeth aren’t gouging him. Lucky got an iodine bath, and at the vet’s suggestion he’s getting an extra dose of ivermectin. I knew that the hair loss and dandruff wasn’t sarcoids. I’m not 100% that it’s parasites and not fungus, but that’s what the vet suggests. So I picked up an extra dose at TSC after the barn. The BO, by the way, said that he did seem to be eating a little funny Friday night, but is fine now. His mouth looks good, and he seemed less reluctant about the bit (but still vague on steering.)

Now, the reason for typos/brevity: while walking the dogs after I got home from the barn I stumbled, and when I put down my hand to break the fall and broke my finger. A man stopped driving by, and the lady who lives in the house nearest was out with her dog saw and came over after he drove off. Her name is Kathy, and she’s seen us walking by before. She drove me and the dogs back to my house (a little over a mile–without the dogs I could probably have walked, but my hand was very sore) and I decided to drive myself in to the ER. (If I had a manual, that probably would have been a lot harder.) Our local ER has a thirty-minute guarantee to be seen by a doctor, and I’ll give them that, it only took a little over two hours total. Upshot is, I have an intracapsular break on the middle finger of my right hand-basically, I broke the middle joint. I heard something crack as it hit the pavement and it was pretty swollen and I couldn’t move it, so I was pretty sure it was a break. I have a splint, and a scrip for the 600mg ibuprofen they gave me to bring down the swelling.

So, we’ll see how the barn goes. Lucky may have to learn how to neck-rein fast.

Kitten update

Kitten went to the vet today along with the dogs. (It’s mosquito, flea and tick season; do you know where your Heartgard and Frontline are? The good news: she is FIV and Fe-leuk negative, and got her first kitten shots. She needs a booster in a month, so she can go back with the big boys who are due for rabies and other shots.

Unbelievable news: they looked at her teeth. She is AT LEAST six months old. The vet says she undoubtedly got a ‘rough start’ and will probably never get very big. This doesn’t seem to bother her. Hopefully she’ll be able to hold her own with the boys. I put her back in the mud room and will introduce her this evening when I’m home to supervise. At the vet, the techs said she was so concerned with clinging to the table when they took her back to draw blood that she never even noticed the needle! When the vet looked her over, she did the same thing, clinging to the table and hanging over the side watching Puff. The vet asked her if her ‘big protector’ was down there. Puff as usual was very concerned.

Tucker spent her time in the waiting room sitting with other people. She wants to meet EVERYONE. Except other dogs. Though once they went nose to nose she seemed okay with a very exciteable West Highland White.


New tack! Oh, new tack. The nice leather smell, the fitting it to the horse, the first ride . . . .

Okay, so they’re not NEW. In fact God knows how old the bridle is–it came with a nickle full cheek that doesn’t look or feel like anything I’ve seen in bits in a while, and it IS a flat hunter-style English leather bridle. It’s also in a cob size. He’s now wearing it with the caveson on the second hole, the cheek pieces on the second hole, and the throatlatch just barely reaches, while in the raised (yuck) horse-size everything is on the very shortest hole possible and the cheek pieces are still too long. You can only punch so many extra holes before you run out of leather. I may take it down to this man in Shipsie who does leather work and have him make the throatlatch longer, but the rest fits pretty well. He just has this very teacup muzzle, dished short face, and then a regular old horse-style throatlatch. (Also, anyone know where to get a set of Havana brown snaffle and curb reins? Because my reins do not match.)

The saddle, meanwhile, is a Crosby Prix des Nations that has obviously been VERY well cared for. The flaps are like butter and the seat is beautiful. The tree, obviously, is fine and he does seem to take a medium comfortably. Even with a 17.5″ seat it’s still not GREAT for me. Still like sitting on a board. But he seemed to like it better, and it’s definitely lighter than the Stubben. He was okay with that, but lightening the load a bit can’t hurt.

He is still suffering from horsey ADHD. Anything a half-mile away is more interesting than what is going on, sometimes enough to get bouncey. And Trudy being ridden in the woods was downright mystifying and scary. (Apparently Trudy wasn’t thrilled to pieces with the idea, either.) We also had serious issues with standing still while dismounted and NOT using owner as a scratching post. We had a good amount of trotting in the round pen, and I realized very quickly why I have to shorten the stirrups about two holes from where I had them on the AP. Ow. Hi, knees. Sorry about that. Between this and the dance shoes this was not a good week for you. Something in the woods got scary and we had a minor spook, and finally a stop with complete ignoring of the bit. I got off and we walked over to the big ring and had a couple walks around to the far end where the scary things live. I got back up and again we had the inverting and the horsey ADHD. The BO’s daughter (mother of T., who rode Lucky a few weeks ago) hopped up and decided to take him around the ring, spooks or no. (I meanwhile was starting to consider the virtues of acepromazine as horsie Ritalin.)

It was VERY nice to not only stand back and watch him go under saddle but to have someone on him who had ridden an OTTB a lot. The BO didn’t quite get why I was not entirely thrilled with his brain, saying that he doesn’t have a vicious bone in his body, which of course he doesn’t. Her daughter got what I meant about ADD. He’s a looker. He is paying attention to everything everywhere all the time. She also agreed that there’s something just a bit funky with his right back leg. I watched her trot him, and she watched me trot him (and then we stopped as he had been ridden for almost forty-five minutes, the longest yet!) and while he’s not in any pain that we can see, he’s just kind of unbalanced. Not in a wobbly way, just in the sense that his right side is not as developed as his left and it shows particularly in his right stifle. When the ground’s uneven (there’s a bit of a slope to the big ring) it seems to work him harder. So nice to know I was not imagining that! We both agreed that the saddle is also a great ride. He seems to like it, too.

Back at the barn, we talked about our respective OTTBs, her old one and mine. Both were much more ‘hot’ than Lucky (who is not so much hot as very easily distracted) and yet both seemed to have a knack for knowing when their rider was not someone who knew how to deal. You could put a little kid on either of them (and I suspect Lucky, too) and they became the blandest lead-line pony imaginable. They were just smart like that.

Lucky, by the way, saw the vet and equine dentist while I was away (I had a ballroom competition on the east side of the state, which was a ton of fun and went extremely well for my not having danced in six months.) The vet gave him his vaccines and checked out the two hairless patched on his left shoulder. In her opinion, they are a benign sarcoid (yay, not mange, fungus or fleas) and I can treat it with an iodine wash and/or bag balm, and they will not bother him. They don’t seem to, certainly, not the way Old OTTB went mildly nuts with a fungal infection that made him itch. The equine dentist, meanwhile, was yet another ho-hum moment for Lucky (he was the only horse who did NOT need sedating) but his teeth are worse than mine. His funky double tooth in front is a baby tooth that never fell out. And there is one tooth in back the dentist could not reach and he is recommending having someone who uses power tools get it. Rather than call the vet back out, I’m first going to check with my friend B., who had mentioned having someone who uses drill grinders do her two Arabs and she was quite pleased with the result. She is an older lady whose family bred Arabs and she’s quite picky about caring for her two, so I would trust her recommendation.

And I came home from the barn with a, hopefully temporary, souvenir. While I was putting the iodine and Bigeloil away (iodine for the hairless patch, Bigeloil for his legs) I heard a loud kitten meow behind me. I turned around and saw a black and white kitten prowling the tack room. Now, the BO does not have a black and white kitten. However, her daughter is the source of Pest and Pest’s brother (who went home with another boarder) so I thought, okay, maybe she brought another one. I scooped the kitten up and called BO and daughter back to the barn. By then I’d seen the goopy eyes and figured that this was probably not a new resident-at least not a planned one. I held on to her while I gave Lucky his treats and put him away (he was very tolerant of the strange snuffly thing in my other arm, probably because everyone else was getting dinner and he just wanted to get to his stall) and the BO’s daughter (vet tech) took a look. Kitten is dehydrated, lungs sound clear but the eyes and nose as goopy, and kitten obviously is cold and tired.

Long story short, the BO’s dog would eat it if they took it in, daughter has a pregnant cat at home and can’t take a cat with an infection in, while I have a mud room where I can keep her isolated. BO had some leftover pink liquid (tetracycline–they make the same nasty pink stuff for animals as humans) from one of the other cats, loaned me a carrier and a big towel, and off she went with me. Right now, she’s curled in the cubby beneath my deacon’s bench, and has had her first dose of tetra, eaten a bit, and has a full water bowl, rugs and towels, and a small litter box. Hopefully she can get some rest and get in shape to be a barn cat. She’s probably eight or so weeks old-barely enough to be on her own. She did eat the little bit of food I gave her, and I think she drank some, so now I’m leaving her alone for the night. Pictures tomorrow, when hopefully she’ll be feeling more social. Tucker sniffed, Puff kind of glanced at her, and I don’t think that my cats (who don’t go in the mud room) even realize she’s here.

Nothing Much To See Here

Except insanely busy weeks at work, plus what I hope is just a cold (body aches, cough, and the sensation of having been run over by a truck.)

Tucker did get her stitches out Tuesday, though, and is doing fine–she is down 2.2 pounds from when I got her, so we are making slow progress. Lucky could probably use that weight moved over onto him! We’re thinking of slowly upping his grain while the weather is this cold. He gets all the hay he wants, but a few more calories can’t hurt in this weather.

And, apropos of nothing, I thought I would share a picture my mother sent me of Thursday, the amazing turkey-herding cat. Story behind the picture: the turkeys (there are about seventy) are Eastern wild turkeys that view my mom’s birdfeeders as their personal stash. Apparently Thursday (one of their five, possibly six, barn cats–Creamsicle hasn’t decided whether he’s staying) wanted a drink out of the sump pump runoff. The turkeys were between him and the water. Th e turkeys are apparently poor judges of relative size, and unable to count or comprehend that 1 cat < 70 turkeys.

It’s always something…

The trouble with horses is they have an uncanny sense of timing. I’m away this weekend with the dogs, visiting my parents’ for the weekend. So of course I open my e-mail to find notes from my B.O. Lucky was apparently feeling lethargic when she fed yesterday morning, and behaved as if his sides were tender. (She did try to call, but my notoriously unreliable cell phone strikes again.) He wasn’t, however, showing any serious distress–no striking at himself, no rolling, no sweats or biting at his sides. The vet tech who came out didn’t think it was colic, and it didn’t sound like it. More e-mails back and forth and he is eating his hay, drinking, and passing waste normally, but still acting as if his belly was tender. No more updates since this morning, and the BO was going to be home all day.

We were theorizing, and ulcers did come up. First we’re going to try withdrawing the biotin supplement that I added this week and see if that changes anything (though I don’t know what in it would be bothering him, unless he’s sensitive to rice bran.) If he continues to act like he’s got something bothering him, we’ll have the vet out. Yes, ulcers were the first thing that occurred to me–I’m sure he’s had bute at some point, even if he didn’t habitually run on it, and he’s undergone some major lifestyle changes (shipping up from Florida this spring and being claimed in New York, moving again to Michigan) while also having had an injury (quarter grab, nothing major but still painful). So he is probably a prime candidate for them.

And in other, happier news, for those who have been reading, meet Tucker, the corgi:

She’s just recovering from her visit to the vet. Itchy stitches, and itchy shaved hair. Better than heat cycles and puppies, but right now she doesn’t get that.