Friday, January 30, 2015

Surgery = Scheduled

Mikey's surgery is scheduled for Monday Feb 2 at Ohio State University's Equine Hospital. We're going to be hauling out tomorrow instead of Sunday because of the impending doom snowstorm that is going to smother us all beginning Sunday morning and continuing through Monday. Rather than risk an accident in a snow storm, my mom and I are going to drive out Saturday. It had best storm like crazy. The hotel cost of Saturday night in Columbus/OSU is more than the cost of Sunday and Monday nights combined! We'll be coming home Tuesday unless there's a complication.

My husband and I dug out my new truck, got all the gadgets in the truck (EZPass, phone chargers, GPS, 3 port converter for a single power outlet), and he was nice enough to run an Ethernet cable from the back of the truck, under the tailgate and through the back door so my trailer cams will work. He's going to run the cable under the truck and up into the dash in the spring, but he thought I would want it for this trip so I could check on Mikey after surgery on our way home. He also gave me a shovel, additional ice scraper, and the spray on de-icer stuff. Mom is bringing another shovel, so we'll be prepared!

After that we went out and got new batteries for the truck clickers because they needed to be replaced but we were putting it off. The clickers dying led us to get key hole de-icer because when he tried the key in the driver's door after the clicker failed, it wouldn't turn because it was still frozen from all the icy rain we got last night.

Basically, I am all ready to tackle Snowmageddon while my horse is comfy in a heated stall at OSU.

Now I'm making Nickels chicken for the four days I'll be gone so husband can just scoop and go. Yes, Nickels is a spoiled cat. He's so sickly, enjoys chicken more than his dry food (and wet food), and only weighs 6 lbs when he should weigh 7 or 8. That and once he realized a hunger strike would make me feed him chicken, it was all over. By the way, plain chicken breast is unacceptable. It must be seasoned. Preferably with Mrs Dash's Grilling Chicken Seasoning. Everything says to feed him plain food, but he gobbles it right up and then begs for more. I had to add salt and pepper to the plain chicken I made the last time so he would eat it! It probably has something to do with his chronic sinus infection- he needs food with a strong odor to be convinced to eat it.

His Highness, Nickels, making his "Why in the hell did you wake me up?" face.
Spoiled creature. But we love him anyway :-)
Anyway, I probably won't write until Tuesday or Wednesday because I can't get the Blogger phone app to work right. I can comment but not post, sigh. Talk to you all later!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mikey's X-Rays

Trochlea hock fracture. The upper arrow is the chip, the lower points to where the chip came from.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mikey Needs Surgery

The vet was out today and took x-rays, as I said in my last post.

When he got kicked or what have you back in December, it caused a small fracture or something. Long story is there is a new bone chip on the outside of his right hock. It isn't causing him any pain (he's not lame), but it is irritating the soft tissues around the joint (hence the swelling that just won't go away). Eventually his body will start to lay bone around it to "protect" him from a foreign object, which will cause the joint to fuse and Mikey to be permanently lame.

To me, that's not an option for him. He's a hard working horse that genuinely likes to work. He's also only 16. He has another 10-15 years left, and I refuse to let that be as a lame pasture pet. Aside from the fact I can't afford to keep a second horse, he's my buddy. I've had him for 10 years. I set money aside for a rainy day when I was in college, well it's finally raining.

I only have that minimum information, the vet will call me later today to discuss where and when for surgery, go over risks and recovery, etc.

Has anyone had bone chips removed?

Busy busy busy!

A lot has been going on, life is back to busy, busy, busy!

Since I live in the east, here is an obligatory snow photo from our master bedroom over this past weekend. We ended up with 6 inches at my house and 8-10 inches at the barn by the end of Tuesday.
The snow was pretty, but my drive to the barn was not.
I had a lesson each weekend for the past two weekends. So two weekends ago first:

I'd been having trouble with my canter halfpass and a general unwillingness to connect in canter, and a lack of "jump" in the canter. Something that's drilled into us is to use the outside rein, outside rein, outside rein, and ride the horse from the back. We forget we have an inside rein that can still direct the horse, and remember to ride the whole horse, not just the back. Also I shorten the right side of my body. Badly.

We worked the canter on a circle in the middle around X to start. Medium canter on the circle: make sure I'm using my seat to ask for forward and with quiet shoulders (bam, the canter was up and forward as soon as I quieted my shoulders. Ask for collection, softening the seat to give his back somewhere to go. We repeated this until it was comfortable. Each direction we started adding in shifting the hindquarters in and out on the circle while we switched from medium-collected-medium-collected. That got a whole different response from Mikey- he blew up at the pressure to move his haunches and stay round and through. So we kept going until he didn't respond badly. We moved off the circle into collected canter, around the short side, and then set to the half pass, just for a few steps to the left since that's all Mikey is comfortable doing correctly, and the length of the arena to the right.

All the while, using the inside rein to complete the bend in the body. He was bent through his back but he never bent through the neck (we're not talking see the inside of his face, we're talking being able to see a quarter of his eyeball). As soon as I softened the outside a smidge and worked the inside rein along with the supporting inside leg, he softened and came through wonderfully.

Tracking left was tough, tracking right was incredible. Something we paid extra attention to was being very picky about the transition from walk to canter. No ignoring my outside leg, not bouncing around. I ask, he canters promptly and through. If not, back to walk, reconnect, half halt, ask with whip on the outside hip.

I tend to smother Mikey with my left rein, something that would become painfully obvious in my next lesson... long lining!

I had wanted to teach Mikey to long line because I am an overweight rider. I wanted to be able to work him through all of our movements without me sitting on him, but I wanted something more active than lunging. Long lining is also excellent exercise for me. I think straight lunging has it's place in early training and if your horse is so full of himself, it's safer for him to play on the line for a few minutes than buck you off. I don't like doing that, I got dependent on lunging my horse when I got him and was nervous about him bucking me off (in my defense, he managed it 3 times in 3 months). I make a point now to just go sit on Mikey no matter what and then ride him forward forward forward in walk/trot/canter until I've worked off whatever head of steam he has. But I also understand that some people can't afford to take a fall, so I think it has it's place. But that's not the point here. The point is I'd like to work him from the ground doing something more effective than lunging in side reins.

Enter long lining. I asked my trainer to teach us how in my next lesson. I had gotten a nice set of cotton lines from Schneider's Saddlery and hadn't used them yet. She got him started since he was a newbie too. He had a little bit of a fuss, but got the idea and soon she had him doing haunches in, shoulder in, and leg yielding like a champ. She ran him through walk, trot and canter, then said, "Your turn!"

Something that happens when you change your reins from 3' long to 20' long is that when you make a mistake, it is painfully obvious. I realized just how heavy I am with my left rein, both directions. I realized just how much Mikey doesn't like to bend his body tracking right, he bulges the haunches in without moving off the two tracks. I also realized how much I don't utilize my inside rein. Like I don't touch it, ever.

I was like a drunk driver and poor Mikey was my car. I was that little kid that pulls the right rein as hard as they can, yet the horse still doesn't turn right. I ran him into a wall. I was doing half turns in walk to change directions, and during the one, doing some excessive fumbling with my lines. So excessive that I blocked him from being able to turn left or right, and kept urging him forward. At the last minute I realized I was about to run him into the wall and pulled him the new direction. Sorry Mikey, your mother is learning :-(

By the end of the lesson I could turn, (for every ounce of pressure I put in the inside line, I had to let an ounce go from the outside line... so the horse had somewhere to go... so he could turn. Durrrrrr it took me some trial and error to figure that out sadly), change directions in walk and trot, circle in canter (I was not feeling the running in knee high Muck Boots chasing my horse in canter), and shoulder in to the right in walk and trot. My left rein failings come into light most when I try to shoulder in left because it simply doesn't happen. His shoulder in right is to die for though. I'm going to wear my helmet and helmet cam sometime to show you all. It's beautiful- 3 track, light in the front, beautiful bend through the body.

The nice thing about long lining him is that I can't help him like I do when I'm sitting on him. I get a true through horse who must carry himself because I can't carry him from the ground. All of my failings are out there, but that's fine. I'll figure it out and get better. I'll also get quicker.

So Tuesday night I long lined him again. My plan is going to be to long line him in the evenings during the week when I'm usually riding alone. I get more exercise, he doesn't have to carry me around, and I don't end up being that guy who can't steer in the arena.

Dressed up to long line! Ignore his pile of blankets in the background... I'm a bit messy when I'm alone in the barn.
 Today my steering was better, but I had trouble walking down centerline or the quarterlines. Who knew straight was hard? I did some poor leg yielding as well. I'm learning! I also was reminded that a shouted "Good boy!" makes this horse try a million times harder. It stopped a pending temper tantrum. He was all fussy as I asked him to yield left, he took a step in the right direction, I shouted "Good boy!" and all his fussiness disappeared and he became a hard worker.

His future includes flying changes, piaffe and passage on the long lines. My trainer will probably be working that as I don't think I'll be competent enough fast enough. But I can work a video camera!

This is my new treadmill. It's one hell of a treadmill. I need to find an old pair of sneakers.
By the way, look at those butt muscles! I hope by the end of this mine look like that.
Also compare his hocks, you can see his right one is a bit thicker than the left.

Other things going on in my life:

  • The vet will be out to see Mikey Wednesday. His hock is still swollen. He's not lame or unhappy to work but we can't get the swelling to go away (sweating with furazone, wrapping with poultice, banamine, bute, laser treatment, work, rest). We wanted to try surpass, but the vet stopped stocking it and didn't want to order it for me, which pissed my trainer off because she liked it because it works. Anyway, from what I understand, they are going to do x-rays, drain the fluid and do a steroid shot tomorrow.
  • We are refinancing our house. I hated getting our mortgage the first time around. I repressed the memory. It's back now. We can save some absurd amount of money in interest by refinancing to a lower interest rate (and therefore payment), but still pay the payment we've been paying since we bought the house. Yay for doing the adult thing and prepaying on the house.
  • We have been getting calls nonstop to buy my old truck. Yet no one actually makes it out to see the thing.
  • I am making bracelets now as I have some design problems with my browbands.
Sparkles for sale!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Long Time No Post...

So I haven't posted in a while... sorry! I've been busy and it's been freezing here so I haven't even been out to see Mikey really.

Mikey got back into work after New Years (like two days of work) and then the temps dropped to highs of 12 and lows of zero. I love him, but he's an hour from my house now and I'm not driving that far in the dark after work when it's barely double digits, just to say hi. He's checked on every day by my trainer, and I trust her more than anyone anyway.

Mikey's flying changes are coming along again. He offers me something every time- the full change, sometimes through sometimes not, a swap in the front and a skip step behind, or a swap in the front and I have to really work at the hind change. I've started making the same lines as I would when I'm going to ask for a flying change, and then either halt or simple change through walk or flying change. Doing it that way, he's no longer anticipating (as hard) and I have a better shot at keeping him together.

It's nice being back boarding with my trainer and all her students. She has jump clinics every Sunday, late in the morning. I usually go out and be ring crew for that, then I ride after. The clinics are fun- I almost want to jump again.

Mikey started on Chia seeds on 1/11/2015. I didn't get a picture of him that day, but I did take a pic of him last night when I was out.

I'm not very talented at getting pics from the side. But this'll do as long as I'm just as bad at it for the after picture.
Mikey has filled out a good bit since he's arrived back in my trainer's winter barn. (More on the barn in a second). He's happy with her routine. Sorry for pulling you out Mikey! He's so shiny, I love it.

The barn my trainer was leasing for the winter was for sale (our farrier owns it). I say 'was' because she has decided to stay and keep her show operations from there, and is doing a lease to own on the farm! Mikey will stay there, and I'll always have an indoor arena again! Yay! Now I have to find where the extra $100 a month is coming from to pay the board- as a temporary thing I could find the  extra money, but now it's permanent, so I gotta find a more permanent solution.

The farm has 2 barns that total around 36 stalls (I think 26 and 10?), an indoor arena (60x120m), a bathroom (her old farm did not, so this is a major upgrade, along with the indoor), and 2 outdoor arenas (both oval, one fits a small dressage arena and the other fits a standard arena). The farm also hosts 3 hunter/jumper shows, a clinic at the end of summer with Stephan Bradley, and this year they're going to host 3 dressage schooling shows. Also, Mikey's shoeing price just went down since the farrier doesn't have to travel to him, yay!

The beading business is waiting for my leather and rivets to arrive. I decided to make bracelets as well, so I've been experimenting with those too. Buy a matching set, browband and bracelet!

First attempt at a bracelet. I ran out of the 4mm blue beads, so I had to make the attachment to the clasp too long.
I did find a neat heart toggle clasp though!
Penny has gotten in on the beading. I ordered a variety of 4mm beads (the browbands use 6mm) and I was working on things, left the living room, and came back to see this.

"If I fits, I sits."
Gotta love cats and their love for sitting in boxes (aka cat traps). Husband said he came in later that evening after I had gone to the barn, and out of the various package boxes we received that day (large, medium and this tiny box), she had opted to sit in the tiny one. He tried to get a picture but she moved!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Officially (Almost) Open for Business!

All I'm waiting on are my rivets and black and brown leather, and then Beaded Brows will be in business and on Etsy!

I finished a third browband yesterday, USA theme. It is for sale!