Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Broken Saddle!

As I reported in the last blog post, I broke my saddle last week.  I wasn't doing anything exciting, we just hopped over a log (we being Galen and me).  I heard a crack and realized what had happened back at the trailer.

Yesterday, I took everything off my saddle - stirrups, seat savers, shims, etc (boy, it's light without all that stuff!) to box it up and ship back to the manufacturer.  They are being great - the tree is guaranteed, so all I need to pay is shipping and labor.  Way cheaper than a new saddle.  Anyway, after I took everything off, I realized the tree was broken in 3 places, not just one!

The underside of my saddle - you can see the dimples in the leather in the middle of the pommel.  Also, if you look below the stirrup leathers on both sides, you can see breaks at the narrowest point of the tree.

Close up of one of the breaks below the stirrup leather.

Close up of the pommel break. 
So, they will replace the tree and send it back asap, as of course, ride season has started!  It will be interesting to see what is different with the new tree.  I was told that this break (pommel, at least) has been known to happen on these models.  No idea about the other breaks.
I guess I would rather have my saddle break than my horse!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April Fools Ride

Yesterday, it was gorgeous.  So gorgeous that I couldn't stay home and do the usual (clean sheds and stalls, work with the young horses).  I loaded up Galen and off we went.  As I had a limited amount of time, we went to Lord Hill Park, which is only about a 20 minute drive away.  Lord Hill can give a really good workout in a short time, because, as the name says, it's all hills.  Even walking can leg up your horse pretty quickly.  My yardstick of his fitness is how far up a hill he will trot before he drops back to a walk.  When we trot all the way to the top, we're ready to do an LD.

When I got to the parking lot, there were two other ladies in the parking lot, both on QHs, with one extra being ponied.  Nice ladies, we all exchanged good mornings and off Galen and I went. 

The light was very beautiful and it made me think of cathedrals of trees.  I'm sure there is a poem somewhere with that, but as I'm not much of a poetry buff, none came to mind.

We continued along, greeting the occasional dog walker.  This time, none of the dogs had ever seen a horse and you could almost read their minds:  "That is the BIGGEST dog I've ever seen".  Galen ignored them.

We went down the Quarry trail to the river and were trotting through the trees down by the river when a dog rushed up behind us, either nipped Galen's legs or just crashed into him and then took off at a dead run.  We were both a bit startled, although I think I was more than Galen.  As I had no idea where the dog was, I headed back to the road.  I met the person who had the dog - now, Lord Hill is pet friendly, but all dogs are supposed to be on lease.  Not everyone does this, although most people catch their dogs and at least hold them when they see a horse.  I told him (I did say please) to keep his dog contained and what the dog had just done.  He didn't believe me, saying "THIS dog did that?".  Like, the dog is gone for 5 minutes and he couldn't imagine it was doing anything remotely naughty.  I told him "Yes, YOUR dog did that".  Then, I continued on.  We went up the first loop of the Competitive Trail ride we did back in January - no idea what the trail is called.  It has some very steep climbs, some rather iffy trail (sides are falling away), but it's sure challenging.  There was a log down across the trail, no biggie.  Galen went to step over it, saw that it was much too wide and so hopped it.  I heard a crack, but figured it was him hitting the log with a hoof.  We continued on, meeting some more well behaved dogs and their excellent owners, until we got back to the parking lot, where there was...a flock of sheep.  Galen was looking at them, indicating to me that this was NOT where sheep belonged.  I agreed, but couldn't do anything about it.  I untacked him and put him in the trailer and then went to see if I could find the break in the fence to shoo them back.  Didn't find the break and I'm obviously not a sheep whisperer, as they all headed away from me.  I also looked at my saddle as I was taking it off Galen - the pommel was cracked in two!  That crack I heard on the trail was my saddle tree breaking!  Now we'll see how to fix THAT!  I gave up on the sheep and headed home.

The big thing (besides all the adventures) is that I rode for over 2 hours and had forgotten to take any pain meds.  I finished reasonably sound, although I walked in the last 1/4 mile.  Met a very concerned dog walker who asked me if I was ok, as I was walking my horse.  I assured her I was just walking in for my benefit and all was well.  Good people!  My ankle was sore, but not screaming, so maybe, just maybe, there is a possibility that I'll be able to ride longer and longer.

So I got home and posted a short version of this on Facebook and had someone ask "This is an April Fool's joke, isn't it?".  I reread it and could see why they though that, but nope, all true.  Wish the saddle tree breaking wasn't!  Galen took everything in stride, I assume he just figures that humans are weird and whatever I say, goes.  Yeah!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bridle Trails Dressage Schooling Show, March 16, 2014

Sunday dawned wet and rainy.  VERY wet and rainy.  I kept thinking that it must slow down soon!  Ha!  The horses didn't really want to go outside and I couldn't blame them.  But, Monica and Keiko were riding in the afternoon, so I kept hoping it would clear up for them.  But, it kept raining and raining and raining.

Being tough Wetsiders (and having already paid their entry fees), neither Monica nor Keiko bailed.  They had been hoping to take a nice, relaxing ride through the Bridle Trails park before their tests, but decided that wouldn't be very relaxing in the pouring rain.  I was 'crewing' for both of them, offering to read the tests and hang on to things.  I had briefly toyed with the idea of riding some tests, but seeing the weather, I'm glad I didn't.  I got there around 2:30 and their rides were scheduled at 3:30 and beyond.  Still raining.

Both Cady (Keiko's mare) and Danny had developed an instant herd on the trailer ride there, and it took a bit of coaxing and some tactful riding to get them to concentrate on their riders.  But, Keiko and Monica did a great job, keeping their horses focused.  Danny was a bit tense, but did a respectable job, with some very nice marks especially in his second test.  Cady was obviously getting tired towards the last test, but also did very nicely.  Both Monica and Keiko ended with big smiles and first and second place ribbons in Training Test 3.  Angela Davenport showed up just in time and took photos and video of the tests while I read for them. 

Keiko and her Shagya mare Cady at the show.  Angela Davenport photo

Monica and Danny (Magdan) at the show, showing some nice moves.  Angela Davenport photo.

Here are big grins (although a bit wet) from Keiko and Monica with their ribbons. 

Congratulations to both of them!

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Is a very scary word!  I've been thinking a lot about biosecurity lately, as we've had several horses with fevers in the past week.

Here is what happened:  Sunday morning, my husband came in from feeding breakfast to the horses (bless him) and he said "Goshen doesn't look good".  Now, when the husband notices that a horse is ADR (ain't doing right), you have to think the worst.  My hubby is a great guy, helps out tons, humors me and shoves me out riding, but a horseperson he is not.  So, out to the barn I go, hoping it's nothing.  Ha!  As advertised, Goshen, who is a 4 year old colt, is not feeling well.  He's not eating, is standing in the corner and isn't interested in much of anything.  So, I listen for gut sounds (next to none), take his heartrate (around 80) and his temp (101.5).  Immediately, I suspect colic.  There is plenty of poop in his paddock, but the lack of gut sounds points directly that way.  So, I give him a dose of Banamine and call the vet.  Of course, it's Sunday, so emergency fees apply!

The vet calls me back, gets the info and asks if I want to wait and see.  By now it's around 10ish and Larry and I have tickets for a hockey game that evening.  So no, I want to get him looked at and know what we're dealing with, so I can go enjoy my evening.  Vet comes out, does a rectal, listens, pokes and prods and decides it's not really a colic.  There's been this bug going around...turns out that there has been something (no one is really sure what it is) going through local barns.  The vets don't know exactly what it is, except horses spike a fever (often quite high) for around 48 hours and show some minor colic symptoms.  So far, the diagnosis is to treat the symptoms, so Banamine to bring down the fever and get them eating and drinking.  So, good news is that it's not colic, bad news is that this has proven to be VERY contagious.  Great.  Into a quarantine stall he goes and I head to Pilchuck Vet Hospital to pick up more Banamine, gowns, gloves and booties.  I worked at Pilchuck for about a year, so I know how an Iso (Isolation) stall is set up.  They also gave me a nice laminated poster that I put on the tack room door.
I'm taking Goshen's temp twice a day and giving Banamine twice a day.  He's eating and drinking reasonably well - not great, but enough.  Then, Reggie starts looking unhappy.  Ack!  I take his temp and even though he looks fairly bright and alert and is eating and drinking, it's 105.5.  I don't believe it, so I take it again.  106!  I call the vet, who says this is what they've been seeing (Goshen only got to 103.5 that I know of).  Banamine and out to retake that temp 2 hours later.  At that point, it's down to 102.5, so that is a huge relief.  So, now I have 2 in quarantine.  Both have been doing well and their temps are normal after 48 hours, but this morning (Thursday), Ari is looking off.  104.5.  Now there are 3 in quarantine.  Ari seems to think it's kind of a vacation.  Free choice hay, lots of bedding, some alfalfa, small grain meals every few hours, what's not to like?  So far, no one else has been droopy and fingers crossed, we isolated them early enough.  The big question is the pregnant mares and my stallion.  High fevers can cause abortion and kill sperm.  So, I'm not going near the girls or Salam, just in case.  We don't know how it spreads, but I'm trying to take zero chances.  We had planned on going out on the trails this week, but until everyone is clear I don't want to potentially infect anyone else's horses.  We're pretty much on lockdown.  And, to make matters just a little more fun, I ended up with a fever this week too!  I KNOW where that one came from though (thanks kids).  The worst part of the whole thing (besides the expense) is that the weather has been fantastic! 
I suspect by tomorrow both Goshen and Reggie are going to be wondering why they're in a stall 24 hours a day.  Neither are used to this, as everyone gets lots of turnout.  But, better that they're on the road to recovery.  Fingers crossed that Ari is the last one and no one else comes down with it.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The 'Magic Number'

That old song, "One" by Three Dog Night, was going through my head yesterday.  I was riding Galen at Lord Hill by myself, so I needed something to keep myself amused.  I've been trying all sorts of different strategies to stay in the saddle longer (my ankle is still not where I think it should be).  I'm trying various riding strategies; doing more sitting trot (less ankle motion, but a slower overall speed), more leg contact during posting so there is less ankle flexion (thin thighs in 30 days!), more walking (slow speed again) and probably once I start doing over 2 hours, I'll have to get off and walk several times to give my ankle a break (have to get back on though, lol).

So, these are all helping some, but I'm still quite lame when I get back to the trailer.  It does work out reasonably soon, so I'm hopeful.

So, I decided that strategies aren't enough.  I've started experimenting with different drug regimes.  (cue the sinister music).  I've tried preloading my usual 3 Advil.  Not enough.  So, I tried 4.  I've never taken that many Advil at once, but I decided to try.  Not bad.  Hence the song.

Of course, I changed the lyrics a bit:

The original:
One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
Two can be as bad as one
It's the loneliest number since the number one

No is the saddest experience you'll ever know
Yes, it's the saddest experience you'll ever know
`Cause one is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
One is the loneliest number, worse than two

I couldn't remember more than a line or two, so I made up a much happier song.

Four is the magical number that lets me ride.
Four is the magical number that keeps my smile wide.
Four is the magical number, Could Five be a magical number?

And on and on.  Galen provided the drumbeat with his hooves and seemed to enjoy my singing.  Good thing he's not very critical.

Of course, being a person that tends to think that if 4 is good, wouldn't 5 be better, I am going to have to be careful.  Then, I think, wait a minute, don't I still have some oxycodone left over from the surgery?  Ack.  Slippery slope.  I guess I'll keep trying different strategies and try to restrain myself from over medication.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I'm Going to Turkmenistan!

Yes, that is correct, Turkmenistan!  I bought my tickets yesterday with my friend Jas. 

This is for the 'IV International Akhalteke horses Association meeting and celebrations devoted to the Holiday of the Turkmen racer which we will host in Ashgabat 24-27 April, 2014'

This has been something I've wanted to go to from the start, but it looks like this year I'll finally get there.

Jas and I will meet Amrita Ibold and Jenny Rice in Frankfurt and continue on to Ashgabat with them.

I've read the reports from other people that have gone, but this year I will finally be able to write my own report.  Woo hoo!

Now, back to work...

Thursday, January 30, 2014

PNER Convention, January 24, 25, 36, 2014

Ride season is off to a great start!  Monica and I headed down to the Portland Airport Sheraton last weekend, where the 2014 PNER Convention was being held.  We knew there was a good line-up of speakers, lots of vendors, the used tack sale and of course, the Awards Banquet on Saturday night.

We went down early Friday morning because Monica and Aarene Storms were sharing a vendor table and Monica wanted to get set up and start selling.  I think we were there and pretty much set up by noon.  Once I had helped her get most of her stuff in, I trotted off to check out the vendors and the used tack sale and to buy my raffle tickets.  Last year I made out like a bandit at the raffle and I was hoping to repeat my feat.  I brought a bunch of stuff for the used tack sale, both mine and my friend Cindy's.  I do have to applaud the people that organize and run the tack sale - it was overflowing with great stuff in a very small space.  I found a few 'must have and can afford' items and immediately bought them.  No waiting around or someone else will get the great deals!

I headed over to the raffle booth and bought lots of tickets, including 4 for the portable corral raffle (those were $5 each, the regular raffle being a $1 per ticket).  We had also brought a bunch of books to the Junior's Used Book Sale (along with every other person at the convention, it appeared), so I put them out too.  I did a quick look at the great stuff in the vendor area - everything from saddles to clothes to skin care products.  I then gave Monica a break so she could go check out the tack sale and vendors and sold a few Endurance 101 books and some of Monica's helmet charms.
Monica Bretherton photo
I learned a bit about Ride and Tie for a student.
Monica Bretherton photo
I'm not sure I could do Ride and Tie, although the nice people in the booth were very encouraging.  My running skills are very outdated (although they said some people power walk), but who knows.  I did go  from 'NEVER' to 'hmmm'.  All you can ask!
I got to chat with several people I hadn't seen in a while and got to meet a bunch of the 'Green Beans' as some of the newbies have taken to calling themselves.  In fact, something I really enjoyed about this Convention was the fact that there was so much aimed at newcomers to the sport.  I went to several of the presentations meant for newbies and even though I've been competing (lightly) for 10 years, I learned something new in each one.  There were some excellent questions.  It also made me think about the newbies that I'm helping along and gave me some good ideas.  We'll see if they agree later on...
Monica and I ended our Friday at dinner with a bunch of friends, both old and new and headed to bed early.
Saturday began with a good breakfast and then we went to the Endurance 101 talk, given by Aarene Storms.  There was a very good turnout of newbies and also non-newbies.  I really enjoyed her talk (and she asked ME to introduce her!).  We had to break before we really wanted to (tons of great questions, just not enough time) because next up was the General Meeting.  It seemed to be well attended and there was quite a bit of discussion, mostly polite, on quite a few issues.  The big one was the whole 'Should AERC be part of FEI endurance or not' discussion, that has been getting lots of attention.  What I found very interesting was that the whole debate started with the idea of distancing the AERC from FEI, up to the point of no longer participating.  After much discussion, much of it very, very good and well thought out, we voted for a motion to continue being part of FEI endurance.  It really was fascinating to see people change their minds, after they had heard all sides of the story.  Our FEI riders really had some excellent points and were able to get them across. 
After that meeting, I went to the talk given by Dr. Jen on lameness.  It was great, especially the videos she showed.  I think we all had a new appreciation for the hard work our endurance vets do at every ride.  Then I stayed for most of Dr. Vanwhal's (I think I have that right) talk on the hoof.  There were some really great slides.  Then I had to go get whatever hadn't sold from the used tack sale and check out the raffle table again.  I had a modest haul this year, I guess I used up my luck last year.  But wait...
We then all went and got prettied up, which only took Monica and I about 10 minutes.  We all headed down to the cocktail hour and then to dinner and the awards.
The Fish Creek Gang has a tradition of wearing prom dresses (often from a thrift store) to this, so as you might imagine, we were pretty, um, obvious?  There was a range of clothing from jeans to our finery, with every gradation in between.  Here is a photo from Friday night when we were figuring out our finery.
A few of the Fish Creek Gang/Pirates getting ready for our big party on Saturday.  Monica Bretherton photo.
We looked pretty much the same on Saturday, with perhaps a few dress changes.  We had our dinner and then the awards started.  In between awards, they gave out ride entries (with unwon raffle tickets).  I won an entry to Seneca Stampede.  I've never been there, so it sounds like a great time to go try it out.  There was a nice slideshow to go along with the awards and then towards the end, they did the drawing for the Hold My Horses portable corral.  We have two of them, but I had bought 4 tickets total, cause you can ALWAYS use more, especially as I'll be taking along some newbies this year.  And guess what?  My luck changed and I WON IT!  Whoo hoo!  I know Carlene took a photo of me fondling it, but I can't find it right now.  So, just imagine a big grin and me holding the corral rather possessively. 
After that, we partied for a while, got our dancing shoes on (or off in my case) and had a great time.  Monica and I didn't stay up terribly late and Sky Evans was sharing our room that night.  So, we had a 'girl's slumber party' and got to know Sky a bit better.  Monica knew her, but I had never met her.  We had a nice chat. 
Next day, Monica and I went to the New Board meeting and then headed home around 11 or so, after loading my corral into Monica's van (good planning there!).  All in all, a very good weekend!