Monthly Archives: January 2014

Some new Mocha hoof pix

With added Joyce view.


Seriously, what I realized (DUH!) was that I could get a better picture of the hoof by reversing the screen on the iPhone.

So yeah.


The good news is that Mocha is still willing to be cautious with the new shoe. She’s not offering to move out of a walk, so I think she doesn’t want to put pressure on the foot. She’s been off of Bute since last Wednesday, but she’s not showing any signs of distress or pain, which means I’m not really willing to medicate her. At this point in time, she needs to be able to get the feedback to keep her from squirreling around or wanting to get more active than she should with this shoe.

That doesn’t mean she’s not active!


I’ve been ground driving her, and that baleful glare is because I’m taking pictures and not putting her to work (any time I putz around before we get started, I get the stink eye). She’s not as fond of ground driving as she is of working under a rider; she understands rider work much better. I’ve been ending our session with a short bareback ride. Last night, I extended it and I think I’ll start alternating bareback only sessions with ground driving followed by bareback sessions.

The Girl will like that. She was grinding her teeth last night during the ground driving. Granted, I was increasing the challenge for her, working closer and calling for more precision, and developing more specific whip cues. She got frustrated a couple of times, especially when I asked for lateral work in a different form from what she’s accustomed to doing on the long reins (zigzag in the middle and on/off the rail instead of straightforward two-track along the rail).

The tooth grinding lessened when I rode her, though she was still grouchy because I’m asking her to carry herself a bit more on her hind end rather than putz around on a long rein. So I think alternating ground driving and riding will be a good thing. It’s going to be pretty much daily for a while, because I have to attack that open part of her hoof with a wire brush to ensure that it stays free from any further white line incursions, followed with an antifungal.

The joys of horse management. And so, we continue onwards….

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Adventures in farriery

So Miss Mocha has been facing challenges with her hooves and her soundness of late. Today, the farrier came out and issued a verdict: white line disease. While there are several options for treatment, the best one for The Girl in my opinion was a mechanical treatment (there are chemical-based applications which people Swear By, but my experience with those has been that I prefer to save those options for a fallback).

What is white line disease? OMG, that’s something that horsepeople can and will debate endlessly to determine just when a case of hoof rot cascades into something more extreme. Essentially, it’s like getting fungus under a toenail…only the toenail is something that you are walking on. Constantly. It’s a fungal invasion of the soft tissue between the outer wall of the horse’s hoof and the central core of the hoof and sole. Farrier has his own solid opinions (as do most horsepeople), and, frankly, he trends conservative on this subject–as do I.

So. Before The Farrier visual:



That dark crevice by my thumb is the area of white line disease. Note that the material that is supposed to be there…isn’t.

After the Farrier:


The infected and diseased part of the hoof is removed and a bar shoe nailed on to provide support.



In order to keep Mocha from pulling off this special shoe, which provides heel support for the cutaway portion of her hoof, she has to wear a bell boot over the hoof.

More later, but…it’s not as painful as it looks. Mocha was relaxed and drowsing throughout the process, with only a horsey aspirin equivalent. She’s looking much more chipper tonight. I’m guessing the shoe is already providing some much-needed relief.

Yeah. Stuff happens with horses. Such is life.

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Ski Grrrl’s baaack


First day back on the slopes–latest for some years, but given the conditions, well, that’s just the way it is. Even though the snow was lower than it should be, it was still a gorgeous bluebird ski day. Crispy groomed packed Cascade concrete. Yum.

(actually, well worthy of a big grin)

I was somewhat conservative today. While I try to do a ten minute yoga practice (with video) almost every day, with Mocha being ouchy I’ve not been riding as much. I’ve also just been tired and not wanting to work out as hard. Add to that the difficult new boots, and I wanted just a plain vanilla slope to make sure the hips and knees worked, and to get myself back into it with the new boots.


I went photo-mad early on because the light was one I hadn’t caught before. There were some interesting cloud patterns over Hood, but I don’t think I caught them just right. The closest was probably one snap from the iPhone.


But it would need edits. Nonetheless, I could see it as a story illo with some edits. Or maybe a cover.

Anyway. The new boots are working wonderfully, though I may need to get the toe area stretched a little. We’ll see how they break in. I love the way they stabilize my heel. My heels tend to like to wander and most boots run too wide for my heels. Not these. The Dalbello Electra is a stiffer boot than I’ve skied before, and they are a beyotch to wrench on, but once I get settled into the sweet spot in the boots, they are a responsive and easy boot to manage. Amazing, considering all my issues last spring–but that’s usually The Way of Boots. It’s better to start out the season with the new boots.

Eight runs on Norman, all told–about six miles. Not much wind, sunny, interesting light, packed powder and not ice–made for a nice ski morning. The first hour or so was mostly us older folk, and then about ten the kids and other folks started showing up.

My weaker leg ached slightly but it stopped during each lift ride, which meant I was working it but not killing it. I never felt like I was getting tired and sore enough to have control problems, or hips not working (which was another reason to hang out on Norman–straight shot down the slope with lots of little rolling pitches).

Not too bad for a first day on the slopes.

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Cautiously optimistic about the horse

So things appear to be improving with Miss Mocha. The consensus is that she blew an abscess on the left fore, and that she messed up her right hind when she got startled while rolling. Or something. It’s hard to say.

Things really didn’t start turning around until Thursday, and by Friday, The Girl was making it pretty clear that she was beginning to feel better. She’s been on a light course of Bute and I’ve been keeping the abscess area medicated and clean with the diaper/Vetwrap/duct tape system. I’m going to keep her on that light Bute until the farrier comes, and try to get out to the barn to give her a second dose before the farrier gets to her. I think it’s helping and with the shape that heel area is in…she could use some anti-inflammatory relief.

Saturday, Sunday, and Monday have all shown big improvements. I’ve been keeping her blanket on even though temps are in the 40s; we’ve been getting nights below freezing and she’s stalled. The one night she went without a blanket, she was clearly feeling more sore. So, blanket, better to minimize stress. She walks now without much of a hitch in the arena, and just a wee bit of a bobble in the alleyway.

The clearest indication of her feeling better, though, is just small, sneaky pushy behaviors and little attempts at being naughty. Aggressive mooching for treats. Little indications that she’s getting tired of being on stall rest and she’d like to do more, please. So far we don’t have the Butemonster rearing her ugly head, but…she’s gonna start getting stir crazy soon.

Counter to that, of course, is her own self-protective behavior. She’s been in wuss mode and I can count on her being more steady in that wussy mode. She hasn’t wanted to roll, even when I turned her loose. She followed me up to the gate, instead. Saturday, I just accepted that choice and led her out. Tonight, I just walked away to see what she would do. After a few moments, she started sniffling around, and went down to roll. I watched her get up from her left side and she didn’t flinch when putting pressure on that left fore, plus she was moving okay after that.

Sometime this week, though, we have to start doing more. I don’t want to lunge her with these particular achies, so out comes the surcingle and long reins. That will let me get her started in rebuilding her conditioning–start from the very bottom with fifteen minutes walk, build up to thirty, then do twenty-five walk, five jog, and up the times until we get to fifteen/fifteen, and then start extending time in each gait by five minutes until we’re at about forty-five minutes of walk/jog in the big circle, at which point canter comes back. At some point we switch from ground driving to under saddle. No lateral work until she can do forty-five minutes. That’s just a rough plan, the hard and fast part is the early stage where I’m legging her back up. Won’t know how that will progress until we start doing it.

Nonetheless, she will go back into some kind of light work this week, just because otherwise she is going to be Too Much Fun. Dear Lord, I hope I never have to manage this horse with an extended stall rest program.

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The agonies of the hurting horse

Yay! Tonight things are much better with Miss Mocha. Last night was pretty depressing, but I’m not surprised, in retrospect. Last night, Mocha wouldn’t touch more than the toe of her left fore to the ground, was horrendously camped under herself and would not put much weight on the right hind.

I had visions of Neurological Stuff. It took Gregg supporting her on the right hind for me to be able to do the diaper/vetwrap/duct tape whamdoodle on the left fore, and even at that she had to pull back on one cross-tie with Gregg steadying her to get it wrapped. Yeah. Scary thoughts last night. With another friend having to put down her mare, I wasn’t in any mood to share. OTOH, I took a look at the cavity in the left fore and…yeah. I’m thinking abscess plus dirt packed into it.

Tonight, though, while she was low in spirits (I think she was hurting), still, she came out of the stall weighting most of her left fore and….weighting her right hind. A little wobbly, but it got better after I gave her the grain with Bute powder (OMG, handful of plain oats, molasses, bute and a wee bit of water–she slurps it right up. MUCH better than the paste!) and then took her for a short hand walk in the arena. She lined right out in the soft footing but after four rounds was ready to call it enough. Getting out really helped her mood, and thankfully she’s a sane horse, so I just let the lead rope swing and had her pick her own pace.

Afterward, she was much more cheerful (I’m sure the Bute was also kicking in by then!). Of course, she wasn’t refusing treats, either. She did her usual thing of hanging out at the open door while I swept the alley, then got her typical three cookies before I went to flip the grass hay stuck behind her salt block where she could reach it.

Did not rewrap tonight. I plan to do that every other day. I put enough duct tape on that the wrap is holding solid, and she’s not coming out of the stall unless I do it right now. The less I muck with things at this point, my sense is, the better. She just needs time to heal up. Whew. That, I can handle.

She was a wee bit stiff in that right hind when first walking out in the alleyway, but loosened up as we walked in the soft arena. That had me more worried than the left fore–the heel crack in the left fore makes that pretty obvious. The farrier can work with one bad leg, but two? Not gonna ask that of any farrier except in the direst of straits. So I was very relieved tonight when she came out of the stall bearing weight on that right hind and not being ouchy about it. She was tight walking down the alley to the arena but walked out of it, so that’s good.

Currently, the plan is to hold steady until the farrier gets by on his regular schedule. I want to get that right hind more time to heal up. K is pretty good with her stiffnesses, but still…I can stick the diaper/vetwrap/duct tape on her until he gets here in a week and a half, it gives that heel time to mend, and it gets whatever she did to that hind leg time to settle down more.

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Looking back at 2013

I’m lagging a bit behind other folks this year in looking at what’s been going on in 2013, and, well, I guess that’s just the way things are these days.

So. 2013. A lot of stuff happened in 2013.

Professionally, I continue to see what it takes to recover in a school setting after several years of poor management. It takes a long time for a school community to renew itself after these circumstances, but it can happen. I took some interesting literacy classes focusing on the work of a major theorist in the field (Regie Routman) and found further support for the integration of neuroscience and education. Primarily, such linkages don’t come from “brain-based learning” techniques but through right brain resonances between teacher-student and student-student. I’ve also come to the conclusion that a certain degree of grammar understanding is key to developing higher level comprehension skills.

I’ve also developed a passionate dislike for high-stakes assessment and what prioritizing that does to a community of learners. Make no mistake, I think a single assessment and standards are necessary. But prioritizing tests and test-taking as the highest priority to the exclusion of the acquisition of other, necessary learning crashes and burns horribly. We are losing huge chunks of kids as a result of this test-driven culture. And that’s a rant in and of itself.

On the writing front, I’ve had some mixed successes. Several anthologies I’ve been in are doing reasonably well. I sold two books, a full length novel and a novella, to a small press. I brought out two independently published books and am working on more in that series. But I’ve not had the time to more aggressively pursue writing to the degree I want to do it. Emotions around the day jobbe, the fatigue of not only the day jobbe but the commute (80+ miles round trip each day) and the inability to keep on burning the candle at both ends have all interfered.

Mocha did spectacularly well (in my opinion) at this year’s show in September. She placed well and showed that she is particularly strong in Trail classes. Right now, though, she’s sidelined with a mild lameness that is tied into neck and shoulder muscle spasms. Light work seems to be helping, along with some massage techniques.

Skiing–um, well, no snow so far this year. I’m not enthused about skiing in low snow conditions and so the snow dances continue.

Personally–well, we’re looking at some huge changes ahead. Good changes, but scary, dramatic, and they’ve involved a lot of planning and worrying and agonizing. More on that later.

At least I seem to be reasonably healthy at the moment. It took most of the year to regain my flexibility from a hip muscle strain. My gut is still cranky but it’s settling, enough to give me hope that these upcoming changes will make it even happier. It’s amazing what ten minutes of yoga a day will do. My knees are making creaky and stiff noises at me, but I’m beginning to think that’s a sign that one particular pair of shoes have reached the end of their useful life, or else that I need to do something different for urban sidewalk hikes.

And so I march slowly into 2014, cautiously hoping that good things are coming. Just not sure about that.

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