Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Update 2: I Don’t Love Horse Shopping But I Do Love Canada

Alright, so this is going to be a bit out of order because I did go to CA for a Mary Wanless Instructor Training at the end of January/beginning of February, but I just went to Canada last weekend and wanted to write about that first while everything is still fresh (everything for Mary is written down and still simmering, lol).

I’ve been horse shopping since the start of January. As of now: I’ve seen 5 horses, vetted one unseen, vetted one of seen horses, fallen off once, been to Canada to shop, and have countless videos and pictures etc. I’ve had several be sold before I could get to see them.

Since I can't share sale horse pictures, this post will have a ton of pictures of Niagara Falls!

I don’t want to go into too much detail on any of the horses because as far as I know, they’re all still for sale. Of the seen and unseen:

  • Horse 1 (seen): Coming 4 year old that’s a unique, interesting, and nice cross that should have been a moderately expensive cross. I found out why he was inexpensive- the colt starter that did his base training did a really poor job and his owners aren’t equipped to deal with him. This one jumped out from under me while I was swinging a leg over mounting, therefore I ate dirt. Eating dirt wasn’t what made me pass on him- I got back on, or rather made it completely on. He must have been ridden in draw reins, because he tucks his chin into his chest and doesn’t go forward. He tucked it harder when I put leg on. He is a reactive and unconfident horse that tends to be spooky then bolty, but not forward thinking and needs a complete restart. That is what made me pass. I know I could do it, but I worried what would happen when I made a mistake, because I know I will as a rider. I am sad for him, but his owner is a lovely person who will make sure he’s taken care of.
  • Horse 2 (seen): I LOVED him. 8 Year old OTTB, built uphill, his back and hips were even and not dropped on one side, good brain, nice personality, pretty and a unique color, pleasant to ride, should be super fun to bring along. And lame. He was slightly foot sore when I saw him (he’d had significant time off from an owner without time for him, and he’d had 3 rides back in work). No shoes, and it didn’t seem like there was a plan to put shoes on. I suspected front hoof issues because his feet are very underrun and flat, and he was foot sore after 3 rides. I couldn’t see how he could possibly have a positive or even neutral palmer angle. Passing on this one made me very sad.
  • Horse 3 (seen): 6 Year old Dutch Harness Horse. We didn’t even ask his owner to ride him after seeing him free lunge. He was way too much horse for me. The owner seemed relieved she wouldn’t have to ride him.
I have to say, I don't understand anyone who feels the desire to get anywhere near the falls in a boat or barrel. Standing next to this railing had my survival instincts on red alert and I felt a strong need to get away from the falls.
  • Horse 4 (unseen): 4 Year old warmblood/draft cross that looked well put together. He was far enough away that I wanted to vet first, then go see him with the trailer. I don’t think I’ll do that again! Long story short, he has eye issues that could lead to uveitis, if he hasn’t had a flare already, in addition to some possible foot issues. Not sure about the feet because we didn’t get far enough to look at those.
  • Horse 5 (seen): Also a horse I loved. A very nice horse, slightly out of budget but I think underpriced to right on target. Flashy 3.5 yr old that moved well, was very sound, wonderful brain, snuggle bug, not started but ready to be sat on. He checked all the boxes and looked like he’d be a super fun partner for dressage and non-dressage. He was a super resale prospect that would have provided a really healthy budget for my Silver/Gold horse if it turned out he wasn’t talented enough to go 3rd or above. He failed his vet check in spectacular fashion. Grade 4/5 sidebone on both sides of both fronts, with one of the sides being 5/5. He also had loose stifles and one had already developed a hook. The vet even confirmed he was sound at the moment, but most likely wouldn’t stay sound with the work I wanted to do. He also wouldn’t be a good resale horse.
  • Horse 6 (seen): We went to Canada to see an 8 year old American Warmblood. His videos looked great, and he was well represented by his owner and the videos (she properly lowered my expectations before I arrived by saying he can be spooky and naughty when he’s not in work, so she wasn’t sure how he’d act after 2 months of no work, but we’d find out together!). He has solid training, solid show experience, and a fun personality… and I just didn’t like riding him. We didn’t click. I didn’t even care about the small spooks he gave me, or the tiny porpoise moves he did into the canter. He just needs a confident leader who can sit up tall to keep him focused and it’s not even that hard to do. It was a long way to go for a simple “I didn’t click with him”. Maybe it’s me being mostly unfit while trying to change my bio-mechanics as a rider, and him being unfit too, but I struggled to ride him. Sure, I could tap into majority of his skills and get them done. Doesn’t change the fact I simply didn’t enjoy riding him.

I have one in some weird limbo where his owner is trying to get him handled again so he’s not feral for when I visit, and to make sure he remembers he’s a riding horse so I can actually try him out. There are some other beasties in the early stages of fishing for information and media. For the most part, I’m basically numb to the horse search and to the “I’ll never find a horse” feeling. Something I learned after trying to vet a horse unseen: don’t be so eager about any horse you do something stupid. There will ALWAYS be another horse, even if you don’t see him right now.

So much ice on EVERYTHING!

After seeing Horse 6, I asked a friend if I was being too picky because I felt like I had no real good reason to not like Horse 6. She said “No! You’re basically shopping for a spouse. It has to be the right fit.” I agree with that… I’m speed dating for a spouse who isn’t going to financially support himself. I better really like him!

I reflected on Penn and the trip I took to see him. I liked riding him, I liked his personality, and I just liked everything about him except he felt small. Feeling small was not a good enough reason to skip out on him, so we went forward with that and you all know how that worked out. For better or worse, Penn was a GREAT find and while I don’t regret giving him away, it has been made abundantly clear how difficult he will be to replace.

Panorama of the Horseshoe Falls

Despite my mixed feelings about the horse I saw in Canada, I loved Canada! Well, I can only speak to the 5 hours or so of Ontario that I drove through, but still.

Everyone is exceedingly nice. That goes for everywhere, by the way. Apparently when roads have a speed limit of 100 km/hr, they’re just suggestions. I was going 120 km/hr around the “Golden Horseshoe” (the half circle around the west most edge of Lake Ontario from the USA at Buffalo to Toronto). Despite being LAPPED at 20 km/hr over the speed limit, every driver was exceedingly polite. I was never cut off or run off the road or pushed around. When we came back into the USA into New York, I was being pushed around and cut off again. Everyone we talked to (hotel, restaurants, and the horse’s owner) were helpful, polite, and easy going.

I finally got to try poutine!

Around the western end of Lake Ontario seems to be one giant continuous city. We saw numerous groups of skyscraper-esk buildings grouped together... only to find out that they were not office buildings, but apartments and condos. It seems like the cities are trying to cram most of Ontario's population in right next to the lake. We were set to take the 407 around Toronto, but from what we could figure, it was around 0.25 USD per km, and we were supposed to be on there for 61 miles... so I figured out we could take 403 and 401 instead. Wee, new country? No problem, I'll make my own directions!

I also have a new love for Tim Hortons! It's probably sad I've developed a love for it, but I don't care. It’s a good thing there are no Tim Hortons near me though!

Turkey BLT with wedge fries.
Totally didn't know the side dishes for Tim Hortons are different from location to location. I had a wonderful blueberry muffin from the Tim Hortons at Niagara Falls!
Timbits are right up there with donut holes from Dunkin Donuts! AND I even liked the coffee (I'm not a huge coffee drinker). Mom said it was really strong... maybe that's why I liked it? No idea, but it was good!

We stopped by Niagara Falls, Ontario on the way home. We decided even though it was a 9 hour drive home with stops, we'd stop to see the falls because we were so close and the horse was a no go. We were also hungry for lunch by that point, so we thought we'd try to have lunch overlooking the falls. It ended up taking us 11 hours to get home with our side trip, but we didn't care. The falls were worth it!

The Canada side of the falls are definitely the side to see the falls from.

The horse shopping continues...

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Update 1: Penn's New Home

Alright, it's time for some updates. Because I've actually been super busy, which is why I haven't posted updates.

First up, Penn is no longer mine.

PC: Austen
She took AMAZING pictures of Penn and me, on short notice, in 5 degree weather. They'll get their own blog post!

I had a bunch of health issues at the start of the year, and I felt completely drained/wound up/fried from monitoring Penn's care. Does he have enough ace, is he out of supplements, oh wait I need to drop off more needles, did he get to go out today because if not I need to make sure I go walk him, is he trying to bounce around too much, etc. My blood pressure was in "needs to be hospitalized" range (it was discussed with me by my doctors). I needed to make a life change for my benefit.

Then on top of all that, he started being disruptive to ride... which is the only exercise he was allowed to have. I had to ask people to hold off on trotting/cantering around the ring because he was threatening to buck and play. He almost dumped me in early January from leaping in the air and playing before I could get his head back up. I NEVER ask people to stop doing what they're doing because my horse is having an issue... I work it out with the horse. The only problem was, I couldn't send him forward to put him back to work. I had to leave him as a ticking bomb or get off. Letting him play in the indoor or lunge or in turnout wasn't an option- he wasn't supposed to and he wasn't going to be mine in a few months. Letting him play was not my decision to make when it could permanently lame him or set back his healing.

So I made the best decision I could for him, and for me. I called his new owners and asked if I could bring him the last weekend of January instead of June.

PC: Austen

They were thrilled and said yes.

So I took Penn to his new home on January 26, 2019. There were tears (mine) but immense relief too. He is out of my hands. Not mine to worry about anymore.

Chicken friends!

He has settled in beautifully. He isn't being drugged anymore, and he's living out 24/7. There's a round pen for when it's icky outside and the ground is super soft, and there's a fairly level field that he goes out in by himself when the footing is nice. He hasn't raced around the field or round pen, he mostly travels in straight lines when he trots, if he bothers to trot at all. He isn't stalled anymore; he just won't tolerate it. Their horses come and go as they please 24/7, so he'd find himself left alone in the barn overnight and he'd stall walk badly. His new owners bundled him up in all of the blankets they have, and ear bonnets (lol), and sent him outside. They send me updates with how he's doing, and pictures too.

He loves it. He's happy.

While my heart is broken that he's not with me, I am thrilled that he's so happy... and that's really all that matters.

PC: Austen

Friday, January 25, 2019

Quick, Help Needed!

Bloggers are a spectacular group of people. Knowledgeable and willing to help out. I need some help!

Incredible bloggers are why I have incredible pictures like this.
PC: Austen

Is anyone near Chattanooga TN? Or would enjoy visiting near there on a weekday and would like to be my eyes? And possibly live text me constant updates? I promise to be super chatty and needy. 😛

Email me, codexdressage at

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

2018 in a Nutshell, 2019 Plans

Meme of the year

A lot of shit happened this year. I have trouble finding the good to be honest. You all know Penn's falling apart story from April onward.

But there were things I didn't share that all happened concurrently: Husband lost his job (luckily he found a new one quickly). I was in a car accident (not at fault, I got T boned by someone not paying attention when they turned left). Work took a major downturn and the stress there doubled. My truck had thousands of dollars in repairs done in December.

More recently, we found a large tumor on  Felix's paw and it had to be removed on 12/26. Luckily, it popped cleanly out and the vet was able to save the toe next to it. The biopsy said it was a benign round cell tumor, which the vet said was like saying its a car in a parking lot... no real specifics as to what kind of car. She's hopeful it won't come back, but in cases like this they often remove a centimeter of tissue around it to be sure. The problem is, a tiny cat paw doesn't have that much tissue. It may or may not come back, if it does, they'll remove the toe. If it comes back after that, they remove the leg. Please 2019, we don't need this to happen.

I finished the year by going to the ER on Christmas. I tried to hold out for med express, but I was panting at Christmas dinner and opted to go to the ER at around 9pm Tuesday because I couldn't breathe. I have pneumonia and my asthma is acting up. I ended up having an EKG and blood clot tests because my blood pressure was astronomical and I should have been admitted on that alone. The docs let it be my choice, I could be admitted to have a couple days of breathing treatments and IV antibiotics and steroids and they could also watch my blood pressure, or they'd write me RXs for more inhalers and pill antibiotics and steroids, and I could come back to have my lungs and blood pressure checked. I opted to go home at 4am.

After having my IV in for 6 hours, my arm had a dull ache and I couldn't sleep anymore. 
12/28. They uh, did a good job... The 5"+ bruise is finally gone as of today.

I am feeling better and I rested appropriately. Work bent all of their working remotely rules and I was home for the rest of 2018 and didn't go back to the office until 1/3. Husband was also home at the end of the year, so he kept an eye on me... and Felix (who is doing well!).

Highlight of 2018: dressage cow horse. Such a shame that his collateral ligament damage will prevent him from chasing cows again (the quick side to side action to move them).

Let me list some good things: I lost 25 pounds from May to September, and have managed to keep it off. Husband and I built a garden. I re-found my love for biking. I did get to chase cows with Penn and I've ridden a few different horses this year. And I'm afraid to say it lest I jinx it, but all of my direct family members are still with us, animal and human. I am grateful for that.

Ok 2019. We've started and you've already graced one of my girl cats with a UTI with a ton of blood. Please, please don't decide you need someone to hold your beer so you can make everything even worse.

Goals for 2019 are simple:
  • Get Penn settled in his new home.
  • Find a new horse.
  • Stay on top of my own health (treat asthma appropriately, de-stress to lower my blood pressure, continue to lose weight or at a minimum don't gain back what I've lost).
  • Bike from Pittsburgh to DC.
January and February are suddenly very full- the next 5 weekends suddenly have a ton of plans! More to come!