Tag Archives: horsekeeping

Thoughts while driving through the desert

There’s nothing quite like a drive from Portland to Enterprise on a moody, partly cloudy but mostly dry spring day. Hubby and I both drove the cars since it’s now That Time to move both vehicles up here. Originally, our plan had been to make this trip on Wednesday, but Princess Pony was throwing a hunger strike and we can’t dig razor clams due to red tide, so we made the trip today instead. We end up with an extra unplanned car trip because we have to make a flying overnight trip back to PDX, but that just means more boxes get hauled sooner. Not bad at all. And then there’s the trip from Enterprise to Missoula for Miscon. Hello, new life. Yow.

It was a gorgeous day for a drive. Started out with two idiots crossing multiple lanes of traffic to cut off hubby while trying to reach an exit, both within a half hour of each other, but once we got east of The Dalles, then things settled down. As well as got downright pretty.

Usually when we make this drive for Miscon, there aren’t as many flowers and the grasses have started to dry. We’ll see if one week makes a difference or not. This time around, the grasses throughout the Gorge and in the Plateau regions were still green, and tall enough to look like floaty green clouds. Add to that the mixture of clouds and sun, interesting light, and it made for a pleasant drive. I latched on behind hubby and just cruised. We spotted a huge herd of bighorn rams right by the highway, but not much else in the way of wildlife. I thought about a couple of short stories for an anthology call, but they don’t match the theme and it’s not one I want to play with anyway. But I’ll write at least one of them, because Princess Pony has been bad and she needs to get written into a story.

Seriously. Princess and the Pigs is evolving into a saga worthy of the original “Primrose and the Pigs” from the old Usenet group rec.equestrian. Mocha still freaks out about the pigs. Even though she’s been moved further away from them, if she hears them fussing, she gets worried. Heck, the barn owner’s fired up a chain saw right next to her pen and she’s okay with that. She’s okay with most everything–except. Pigs.

Oh. And she pulled a hunger strike. She hasn’t been eating. That’s what brought us up sooner than planned, because the report was that she was pacing a lot and not eating, losing weight. Barn owner had put her into a smaller pen and was cycling through everything she could think of to tempt Mocha to eat. Hubby and I figure that she’s missing a familiar contact.

So we show up. Immediately horse wants to eat. Eat Equine Senior. Eat grass. Eat the feeder full of hay that she’s been scorning. She’s been starved, Mom, STARVED.

Yeah. Right. We stood by the tire feeder while she scarfed up a flake of grass hay and some alfalfa. Basically, just held the lead rope and wouldn’t let her pace away from the feeder, but stand and eat like she normally would. She ate steadily but not frantically. As she ate, I could see her facial muscles relax and her eyes soften. We also put one of her familiar blankets on her (the spring sheet) and I think that helped as well.

ARRGH.  Well, I guess the horsie wuvs me. But geez, I’d prefer it to be without all these dramatics. Oh well.

So that’s the dispatches from here. I’m flailing away at Netwalk’s Children and hope to have the dang thing done before Miscon. We’ll see.

And there is some squeeable news on the writing front, but I can’t disclose as yet.

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A quiet Christmas

In past years, I’ve spent Christmas running around doing this or that. When the son was still in school, I was also active in the church and doing Christmas Eve mass liturgies, either as reader or singer. Then, when teaching, there was always the crazy buzzing around as we counted down from Thanksgiving until Christmas. We had to do productive work, but whatever unit I brought on line had to be quick, easy to do, and fun. I did like turning the Christmas/winter picture books into one act plays (Jan Brett books are great for this) as a class writing project, but as test scores became more important and I got sucked into doing more paperwork stuff and test prep stuff, the plays went into the trash heap. Too bad, because I think the kids enjoyed doing them. Oh well.

This year was definitely a transition year. Sometime in October I suddenly switched out of Teacher Brain and into Retail Artisan Brain, otherwise known as oh crap I have NOTHING READY FOR CHRISTMAS PROMOTION. So, um, I’ve been fixing that. I know I’ve commented on this before, but between urgent rush production stuff, scrambling to meet some anthology deadlines, bringing horse back into condition, and other stuff, I’ve–uh–been busy and not being paying a lot of attention to the house and to the season. Knowing it’s a transitional year is also an issue, plus, damn it, the snow levels are such that I’ve not wanted to go up skiing yet (and, in fact, there’s not been enough snow to contemplate skiing unless I really wanted to turn my skis into rock skis).

Last week I also did something incredibly stupid and bricked my phone. Then I panicked, and went to my cell phone provider to deal with it instead of Apple. Needless to say, I’ve learned that going direct to Apple is the wiser course these days, and had many thanks for my son who helped me recover from the idiocy. But that was a day and a half or so lost due to dealing with those issues.

And then last Saturday, with a holiday book reading, was kind of the end of the promotional year. I did put Christmas Shadows out as a separate story e-book,  put it into Kindle Unlimited, set it to go free on Christmas Eve, and I’m now mulling over the results. Very interesting. I did make it into the Amazon Top 100 Free Under One Hour Romance list–well, okay, on last look I was still there. I think my highest was 45 and last look was 59. Hmmm. Food for thought.

Meanwhile, a good friend shattered her heel while setting up an artisan shop. I’m trying to pop in and see her a couple of times a week and help out when I can. There’s other local friends with issues. Plus the remodeling at Farpoint is now kicking into high gear, and we’re probably going for the home stretch big finale now. I have many things to do, and I’m scattered between all of them. Things like making curtains, buying construction materials, etc.  Shoot, the “buying curtain fabric” stuff ended up taking about three hours and two trips, in the long run.

So yeah. This year was a quiet Christmas. Yesterday, hubby, the son, and I went out for breakfast. Then hubby and I went to the barn while the son went to do tech stuff for a friend. We gathered in the early evening and had dinner, presents, and veged out. More vegging today with a nice breakfast, pizza for lunch, and then Peacock Lane and leftovers for dinner. I worked on a story I have due to an editor (rough draft almost done, yay) until I’d thrashed that thing to death, then cut out curtains before going to Peacock Lane. I worked a little bit on a show ribbon wreath this evening, and I’m now fading.

The year heads on toward its conclusion. 2015 is going to bring in a new era. Damn, I hope I can pull some of this stuff off.

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Of Writing, and Thanksgiving, and Horses

I swear I will not let the holiday season catch me unprepared again.

I swear I will not let the holiday season catch me unprepared again.

I swear I will not let the holiday season catch me unprepared again.

You’d think I would have remembered all the hard-earned lessons from selling jewelry online in the 90s and applied them to the hybrid writing life. Plan for the Christmas season. Have Christmas promotions and product ready by September. Do not be scrambling to produce work in the middle of the season. But I was locked into teacher brain, not retail artisan brain, and so instead of scrambling throughout the summer to make sure I had my seasonal book production lined up, I was decompressing. It’s really only been the past few weeks, since just before Orycon, that I’ve been scrambling to get the writing finished and either published or submitted, much less run through beta editors.

Well. This is the last year that’s gonna happen. Next year I will know what my holiday season books will be and have them ready in plenty of time, instead of just in time. I’d also been counting on a small press publication which appears to be going nowhere. Sigh.

Meanwhile, I’m getting the last piece of the book I hope to have out by mid-December wrapped up now. It was supposed to be a short story. Now it’s careening recklessly toward novelette territory, and could spin off into its own novel. Maybe I’ll premier it as a serial story, and publish subsequent installments over the course of this next year. Hmm. Could publish it separately for free as well…Hmm.

Thanksgiving is going to be low key. I get up in the morning, go ride horse, come home, get cleaned up, cook gluten-free dressing (already made blueberry crisp and spelt biscuits), then go to a friend’s house for restrained debauchery. If I’m lucky I’ll get time to wrap up the story tomorrow.

Horse is definitely in rehab mode. While most of our work is still in walk and mostly in straight lines, I’ve thrown her a sop in the form of four laps of working trot (about a half mile, two laps per direction) and four long side of the arena canters (again, two per direction). We’re also doing haunches and forehand turns, as well as backing in circles. That’s enough to keep her happy, as she does seem to get tired of doing nothing but walking. She perks right up when she gets to think about using herself, and I’m up in two-point while doing it.

But at least the writing is moving along, the horse seems to be improving, and perhaps we’re getting more movement on other things going on in the life.



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The joys of soaking hooves

So here is the promised post on the process of treating Mocha’s feet, complete with pix.

To start with, I have a set of soaking bags prepared. It’s possible to buy heavy-duty soaking bags, but they cost around $2.50-$3 a bag. That’s a lot of bags for what I’m doing now. I’ve been able to cobble together a substitute using gallon freezer bags and duct tape.


Like this.

Then the first piece of duct tape wraps around the bottom.


You want half on one side, half on another, to protect that bottom seam.

After that, you add overlapping layers, about three of them. You need to have some loose space at the top to tie it around the horse’s fetlock to trap the gas that is created and fumigate the hoof.


Next, you mix the White Lightning with vinegar, 2 oz of WL, 2 oz of vinegar.


Don’t breathe it. Insert horse hoof into bag, making sure that the heel clears the duct tape with plenty of space. Vetwrap makes a nice tie.


Soak for 40 minutes. You can see vapor from the contained gas in this picture if you embiggen.

After 40 minutes of bored horse standing around, wrap foot using diaper/Vetwrap/duct tape combo. Should keep working for a bit longer. Repeat 2 x 3 days a week.


And that, in a nutshell, is part of what is occupying my days of late.

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Yikes. Life.

I didn’t really intend to not do much writing in the past week and a half. Last week was supposed to be when I did a lot of final touches on Shadow Harvest. But then, well, life. In short, hubby and I got hit with a nasty gut bug which is only now letting go of us. We got sick at the same time and we recovered at the same time. Hmm.

Meanwhile, Mocha’s white line disease has returned, in the same area. The farrier pointed out an area to watch and treat on Thursday–basically, the very tip of the resection that had been difficult to clean. I doctored it before I put her away. Because of being sick, I didn’t make it back out to the barn until Monday. At that time, the watch area didn’t seem too bad. I cleaned and doctored it, no problem.

Then, Wednesday. Oy. The fungus/whatever decided to take off. I scraped white crumbly stuff out of her heel area and in that toe. She was sore (it wasn’t later until I put two and two together and realized she was ouchy because we were outside). I had a few drama moments of “omg, my horse is going to DIE what am I doing?”  involving crying on her neck, worrying at the trainer (who has his own worries about it; her dam had to be put down for similar problems and he loved that mare) and so on. Meanwhile I was doing the one thing I had stuff on hand at the barn to do. I soaked her foot in a slurry of Epsom salts and iodine for fifteen minutes, then slapped a disposable diaper over it, covered that with Vetwrap, and finished with duct tape. Then I went home, regrouped, did my research, and finally caught up with the farrier.

We have a plan of action. Right now she gets a daily dose of either White Lightning soaks or a soak in Epsom salts and iodine, at least for the next few days. It has to be kept clean. Back to the diapers, Vetwrap, and duct tape. I’m to check back with him next week if she needs to be resected again because that means hauling her to Salem…

My additional pieces include turning her out or light work at the walk with the wrapper off to let the foot dry. I have to clean it out and check to see if it’s progressing, anyway, and letting her out without the wrap affecting her balance is good for her mentally. I’ve gone through something like this with my other big mare, Sparkle. Mocha is generally more settled than Sparkle was, but I’m starting to see the same light of rebellion and annoyance on her part about all these restraints. Normal, and I’m glad to see it, but…it has to be managed. She has to feel good and have a good attitude, so if that means I’ve gotta clean out her feet, well so be it.

Today, I took her out of her stall, cut off the wrapping, then turned her into the sand pen while I set up for the Big Soak. I’ve got all the bottles of stuff in a tall five-gallon bucket. The diapers. The Vetwrap. The duct tape. The wire brushes. The Epsom salts. The iodine. Dang, talk about hazardous waste.

When all was ready and Mocha had been able to wander and roll, plus snitch some grass, we started on the Big Soak. White Lightning is made from the same stuff used to fumigate fruit and vegetables. It’s inactive until you mix it with vinegar.  Do this in a heavy plastic bag, insert horse hoof, watch bubbles happen as the hoof hits the liquid. Then you secure the top of the bag around the horse’s fetlock, and settle in for a 40 minute soak.

I think the bubbles must have startled Mocha, because she got pretty dancy (for her) there at first. The gas or else her hoof cracked a seam and the bags started leaking, so I had to put two more bags over it. As the gas settled down, she settled down, and I began the Next Stage. White Lightning also comes in gel form, so I decided that I was going to treat some suspicious spots on her other three hooves.

Of course, that means wrapping those hooves as well.

Mocha was pretty patient when I started in cleaning and doctoring her feet, right up to the point where I shook out the diaper and started fitting it to that hoof. We Had Discussions. However, I prevailed and managed to treat all three hooves. I eventually had a horse with three silver-wrapped hooves, a fourth in a clump of plastic bags, and a rather disgusted look on her face.

At last I freed her from Those Bags and wrapped the fourth hoof. Foot looks pretty good. There wasn’t any new stuff today, after the first iodine soak, and no new stuff worked loose after the Big Soak. Whew. Hopefully it stays this way.

I decided that the most efficient way to deal with the plastic bags was to duct tape their bottoms. I taped about seven of those bags after I’d put Mocha back in her stall and picked up. I was on about the second or third when she nickered plaintively after rustling around the door a little bit, so I opened it about a foot and let her watch the process. She seemed to find it amusing. I just taped the bottom seam, then worked my way up about three layers, leaving the top flexible enough to secure around her fetlock. After years of watching middle school boys duct tape their folders, their shoes, and their wallets, I figured that it might work for soak bags as well. Still cheaper than buying the special-made soak bags at nearly $3 each.

So yeah. Hopefully this will turn the white line disease around. What we don’t want are complications like the main bone in her hoof rotating. White line disease is threatening because it compromises the integrity of the hoof capsule which holds that bone in place. It’s also a sneaky little fungus/bacteria (there are arguments about this detail) that can hide out in the bone and come back. That’s what has happened here. So to get it all, we’ve either got to cut hoof or attempt chemical means. This is the second stage of those attacks. There’s one more treatment after this, and it involves a 90 minute soak with a special boot. Um…hoping to avoid that.

But I’m still not sure where we’re going from here.

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The tiresome sexualization of female equestrians ( a mild rant, of sorts)

It happened again. Rarely happens when I’m wearing jeans and packers to ride Western, but if I go out and about in my English riding attire, either before or after a riding session, I run into some man who starts leering at me, in different stages of politeness. This time was at a fruit stand, with my husband. I heard the guy commenting–“hey, she’s got spurs on.” Then he started ogling me, even with the husband right there. He kept talking to his female companion, but kept snatching glances even as I kept talking to my husband about what fruit we wanted to buy for the next few days.

Then he asked me if I actually was a horse person or if I was just wearing those clothes. Needless to say, I was taken aback, and weighing two possibilities. The other car at the fruit stand was a trendy Fiat Smart Car with California plates. The odds were very good that this was a very urban Southern Californian who didn’t get the idea that people really do go around in barn clothes because, after all, this is Tourist Season and all. But the look in his eye was just a little different. I know that look. He was being very polite about it, but nonetheless, I was getting The Look, and matched with it, The Fantasy, which spills on over into a general dismissive attitude toward horsewomen (in particular) and their desire to be around horses and work with horses. We can’t have a nonsexual interest in horses. You know, that assumption is really, really tiresome. Stupid. And incorrect.

(Thank you Sigmund….NOT!)

So a woman wearing dusty breeches and faded t-shirt with dirty and scuffed tall black boots with stained spurs clearly must be walking around with intent to arouse rather than using plain practical English riding attire for efficiency and comfort, if you follow that particular line of reasoning. I’ve seen normally rational males start gibbering and slathering just a little bit when I talk about riding in English gear and carrying a crop (okay, I’ve also encountered that from a non-horsey lesbian, too).

It’s stupid. It’s irrational. It’s annoying. I don’t put that stuff on to arouse. I put that stuff on because, quite frankly, when I want to school my horse in English tack, I’ve found that tall boots just plain work better with English stirrup leathers. Pinched skin on calves ain’t no fun, really (plus I’m not really fond of purple-blue spots on my legs), and on a hot day my secondhand field boots are much cooler than half-chaps. It’s much easier to change clothes at home than at the barn. Jeans tend to scuff up the leather on my saddle. Therefore, I wear breeches and boots when I ride English, with whatever layer of top works best for the season, and I run errands wearing barn gear rather than waste gas by going home to change.

Sigh. This is just a part of the whole women and horses thing, though. No one really talks about men and horses having some sort of weird relationship. But females and horses? Ooh, must be sexual. Grrr.

One of the other arguments for female attraction to equines is just as annoying and circles back to sexuality. Some proponents knowingly natter that girls like horses because they enjoy the power to direct and control a large animal like a horse with an agency they lack in the rest of their lives. Poke at that one too deeply, and it comes back to sexuality, both with what that argument says about the daily lives of women and with the manner in which the woman’s dominance of a horse is portrayed.

But neither the sexual nor the dominance arguments entirely explain how men and boys can develop the same type of deep attachments to the horse life. Heck, anyone who reads the plethora of horse fiction out there starting with the early 20th century would know better. Will James didn’t hold up dominance or sexuality as motivations for connecting with horses when he wrote his stories about the ranch horses he worked with. Walter Farley wasn’t writing about dominance and sexuality. Neither was Mary O’Hara, nor does Natalie Keller Reinert, or a number of other folks who write insightful fiction and nonfiction about the relationships between people and horses.

Certainly the ability to direct a powerful horse is an issue. But I would argue that this is just a symptom of a deeper level of something else. As any horse person will tell you, the true reward in working with a horse is the ability to develop a deep-level nonverbal ability to communicate. Smart horses learn to communicate with humans on human terms while humans learn to communicate with horses on horse terms. More than most dogs, horse-human communication spans the range of communicative senses in ways and depths that we don’t necessarily use with other animals (we’re not in control of our scent communication like other species and we don’t seem to be able to read their scent messages). However sight, sound, touch, and proprioception play huge roles in horse-human communication, both in the saddle and on the ground. A large part of schooling horses is about refining cues and communication between horse and human, until they become one being in motion, able to shift directions with a turn of the human’s head, speed up or slow down based on where the human weight goes, or (for the horse) become entirely dependent on human visual perception and signalling about the correct place to take off for a complex and difficult jumping line.

In essence, that’s a whole-body experience. Horse and human in tune with each other is about grace, beauty and communication in coordination with each other. If there’s anything sexual about that, it’s that the horse-human link at its most insightful can rival the relationship between a long-term bonded couple.

Not that this is what those who make the cracks about women and horses, or who leer at a woman turned out in English riding gear who’s clearly using it have in mind. They’re just focusing on pale shadows of a reality they don’t quite understand.

And it’s damned tiresome to deal with. So no, buddy, I’m not dressing to fulfill your fantasies. I’m dressing for practicalities, and if I seem remote, snippy, and a bit like your image of querulous locals, well, it’s because I’m kind of tired of being looked at in that manner. Making loud comments about my spurs and boots doesn’t really endear you to me. Knock it off, and grow up. Instead of commenting about my clothes and asking me if I really am an equestrian, ask me where there’s a place to ride around the area. Ask me about horses. Just leave the clothing and the sexualization out of it, okay?

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Back to training


So The Girl is now back to a regular shoe, which means regular conditioning and training…with mindfulness because she’s somehow managed to bruise the sole of the other forefoot. In spite of stall rest. In spite of limited work. Somehow she bruised it. Not badly, but enough for the farrier to comment on it.

But. She’s now in conditioning mode. Yesterday, I lunged her because I didn’t want her to take off running and hurt herself. I clucked her up to a trot, she automatically responded, and….halfway around the circle, you could suddenly see the realization strike–“Hey! I’M NOT WALKING! THAT SHOE’S GONE!” She tossed her head, launched into a big jump, landed, prepared to rocket off—

And I hollered out “Eaaasy, there, eaaasy now, girl.”

She settled back into a bigger trot, but there were several more incidents of head-tossing and leaping, and a little bit of loping along with a few strides of gallop. Fortunately, between her own good sense, the mild ouchiness of the sore foot, and her conditioned training responses, she never got crazy. Gotta love a good-minded horse. The mare of my youth would have been dancing all over the arena walls long before now. Sparkle never was one for being patient. I learned a lot from her, but damn, I sure wouldn’t want one like her back in my life now. I appreciate Mocha’s sense and good mind.

So today, we had a taste of conditioning time. She’s back in the English tack for early stage conditioning because it’s lighter weight than the Western tack and it’ll fit for now (I may borrow some shims from Gregg to see if I can address the one fit issue–OTOH, previous issues came along as we did higher level schooling and we can go back to Western by that point. It’s pretty clear by now that we do better working higher level stuff in Western, but I’ll save the English tack for conditioning and light hacking). I cleaned and conditioned the English boots and saddle yesterday, and stopped by Glisan Street Saddlery to buy a couple of inexpensive secondhand britches. I’m pretty happy with what I found, one pair for $20, the other for $10. Good enough for schooling even in summer, and in good enough shape to wear to a show. Plus the $20 pair were Ariat full seat britches, which I wore.


We didn’t have any capers today, and she went for twelve full arena circuits at the trot (mixed in with walk schooling, not all at once–essentially, six circuits in each direction). I’m planning a slow build on conditioning. For one thing, I’m mostly up in the irons in two-point at the trot, off of her back until she gets into shape, so that she doesn’t get sore in either her back or her hocks. For another, as she tires at the trot, she wants to drop her head and pound around on her forehand, and That Just Can’t Happen. And for a third, what happens when she wants to drop her head and pound around on her forehand is that her hind end starts churning and stringing out behind, and no, That Just Can’t Happen. Churning and stringing out behind is what leads to her Bad Canter, which means she needs to build strength.

Luckily, I don’t think it will take much to address that issue, especially if I’m schooling her a lot in the English saddle. We did a lot of lateral work and backing work in the bareback pad at a walk to keep things somewhat in tone, so if I insist on correct working and extended trot work at two-point, then build up to posting and then sitting, she’ll be ready to canter in a few weeks.

As it were, with just that little bit of trot work, Mocha was swaggering around happily at the end of our ride. No more of that coiled frustration underneath me. No annoyed grunts and complaints. Just a happy horse with a free-swinging, relaxed back. All’s right in Mocha’s world now.

To make things better, she got to go into turnout today. I know she’s missed being in turnout due to her shoe–the wistful whicker she’d give when I’d show up at the barn when most of the other horses were turned out, with only the injured on stall rest left inside, spoke eons about her state of mind. She didn’t go out with the mare herd, just into one of the small pens (but it wasn’t small enough for safe turnout when she had the bar shoe). So she gets to amble around the pen, roll, and crop grass. Back to working life for her–and I think she heartily approves.


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Miss Mocha wakes up

Besides skiing this Mother’s Day, I also went to the barn and did a light ride on Miss Mocha. She nickered and was eager to get out this morning. I think she’s getting tired of the stall restriction; it sure seems like she’s a bit lower in mood when I throw on the bareback pad and we just repeat the schooling exercises and walk, walk, walk. But with that bar shoe, there’s just not a lot she can do yet.

However, on the way to the barn, we spotted an estate sale just down the road. It was right next to the tree farm with a long (about 200 yard) driveway. I figured it was a good schooling opportunity and a chance to expose Mocha to something new. She has to get used to life beyond the arena at some point and it looked pretty mellow to handle.

So after the usual schooling of circles and railroad tie walkovers and two-tracks and backing, we headed out for Estate Sale Training. About halfway down the road, a diesel truck with a rather loud muffler set-up accelerated and startled Mocha. She started to bolt, but we stopped after two strides of trot. But her head was UP, and she was on her toes with a lot of energy because she’d begun to notice the cars and foot traffic.

At the corner where we turned to go down the driveway, she was unsure about the bright white signs. Reaction to white signs and other times when she’s been like this told me that yep, that’s something to work her with. She got over her nervousness about bright white stuff but it took some time. I think I see an impending future of leftover lawn signs, especially bright white ones.

Then she whirled once to refuse to go down the driveway, because she’d never gone down it before. And there were cars. And noise. And things That Just Didn’t Belong, Mom, So Can We Leave?

However, hubby (also known as Treat Boy) was on foot with us, and he walked down with us. There was a lot of the Quarter Horse Giraffe Mode but I didn’t push her. Keep in mind I’m doing this with a bareback pad and Pelham curb. I had brakes but I didn’t want to call them in. When she wanted to stop and look, the rule was she could stop and look. But she couldn’t back up, and she couldn’t spin and bolt. If she spun, we kept on going right around to face where we started. Being the well-trained reiner she is, she listened to that cue.

It was about twenty minutes worth of schooling, a little bit of drama and anxiety, but nothing scary on my part. I never felt like she was out of control, just being a Drama Queen about a lot of strange activity in a place she’s semi-familiar with. I’m sure part of the reason for some of the drama was the fact that she’s spent five months with a bar shoe on her left fore and as a result she’s had no turnout and only light exercise at a walk. There are many, many more horses out there who would have reacted much more intensely than Mocha in such circumstances. I’ve owned one of those in the past. That horse would have ripped down the barn long before now.

At the end, she felt sufficiently energetic to try to jig and trot back to the barn. Good to feel that energy again, and know it hasn’t gone away–just suppressed at the moment.

One more month left…I hope.

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At last, a sweet ski day with a horse bonus

Good ski days–heck, any ski days–have been in short supply around here. Either I’ve been hurting, or the snow’s been crap, or it’s been raining….but yesterday everything finally coalesced to make a nice day.

The boots seem to finally be broken in. They’re a stiff and responsive boot; essentially an advanced level but one of the lower advanced levels. What that means is that I’ve had to learn that any move of my foot and ankle translates into ski movement much more sensitively than it has before. Dealing with this requires the development of quiet legs, upright body, staying balanced and on top of the skis without falling into the back seat or leaning downhill. IOW, I’ve got to be on top of my game, and yesterday, I finally got myself dialled into the boots. When we stopped, only my right big toe was numb. That’s progress–seriously.

Snow conditions were nice, too. With the warmer winter, we’ve not wanted to venture down to the lower runs. Grabby snow hasn’t helped with my boot issues or my sore spots. Yesterday, though, the snow was firm, packed, and crunchy. We did one run down Kruser and then turned around to head up to the Mile–which was in perfect shape. I did some body placement/turn drills down Kruser; primarily my go-to drill, which is the poles across the palms in front of the body, facing downhill, working my turns while facing the fall line. It clicked. As a result, I started smoking my way down the Mile, only going back to being hesitant when the snow got more chopped up. Still need to develop confidence in these boots in crappy snow. But that will come.

We did seven turns in all: seven miles plus connecting tracks. 6 turns on the Mile, 1 turn on Kruser, connecting run to Kruser, a quick shot down Glade to Norman, another quick shot from the top of Norman to the Mile. A good ski day.

The high overcast and lenticular formations over the top of Hood warned of incoming weather. We’d hoped to beat it and we managed to do so, leaving Timberline just as the precip moved in. For once I was able to spot the Willamette from the Mile chairlift. We also watched the clouds move in across the north Willamette Valley during our last ride up. One moment you could see the shadowy forms of buttes and the dark brown, swollen river. The next, they were wrapped in gray shadows and no longer visible.

By the time we reached the barn, it was raining steadily. Mocha was happy to see us; husband was surprised at how quickly she can turn from the manger to the stall door to be ready to go. I found that it was easier to work my hips and sit upright after a good ski session and my upper body seemed to be much more stable. Mind you, this is all walk work. Mocha’s got at least another six weeks of restricted work and it’s probably more like twelve more weeks, until that hoof wall grows out. At least she’s making good progress.

We did go for a short outside hack after our work, even though it was misting. She didn’t mind, and stepped right out.

Afterwards, we went home, did chores, and a lot of other stuff. I had to chuckle at the memories of the times when we skied, then came home and collapsed. Guess the old farts are getting into better shape.

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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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