Saturday, July 22, 2017

Tack Review: If The Bonnet Fits

After seeing all the fuss about these fly bonnets from If The Bonnet Fits, I decided I had to try a few for showing, one for dressage and one for XC/stadium.  You can do any type of customization and they are a great price point.

These fly bonnets are well made and Sierra is super easy to work with.  I am not a huge bling fan, and seeing as my show browbands are already pretty snazzy, I did not want to overdo it with more bling on the bonnets.   But you can choose crystals and such.

And even more fun, she offers embroidery on the ears, so I had to do my favorite saying:

Overall, I am super happy with these bonnets.  The teal cording that I first asked for was no longer available, so Sierra ordered from a different supplier.  It took a little longer than maybe her regular turn-around time, but she kept me informed and I really wasn't in a huge rush anyway.  I ordered cob sized, as Snappy wears a cob sized bridle and a yearling sized fly mask (no joke), but when I order again, I think I will go with horse size.  At our last event, she shook her head because of a bug right before we went into stadium and the green bonnet half fell off.  :-(  It fits her, but just barely tucks under her crown piece on the sides, so I need more bonnet behind her poll.  My horse has a weird shaped head LOL!

You can see that while there is plenty of bonnet directly under the crown, the sides are too short.

I would highly recommend checking out If The Bonnet Fits if you are looking for a great fly bonnet for riding!  :-)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Snappy's Weird Skin Problem

My horse is strange.  She has always been prone to small scaly spots on her body, but generally they go away with a bath, good grooming, and maybe a dab of Vit E capsule or Derma Gel.  However, since last fall, she has had THIS crap on her elbow.

And how fun!  And she now has the same spots on her hip and thigh.  Even the hair is dark in these areas.  :-(

close up of hip - I don't know why it looks yellow/green but it is not in person

close up of thigh
I have tried a million OTC products and nothing works.  I have tried both triamcinolone acetonide cream and dermalone ointment (corticosteriod) prescribed from my vet and those did not work either.  And I tried them for days/weeks each, trying to see if it would just take time to work. 

Nothing works.  
Not pictured is Bag Balm, Vit E capsules, and Lotrimin which all did not work
I know she lies down on this side at night, so the best I can figure is that these are essentially bed sores or pressure sores.  She is bedded well with sawdust on stall mats, so it is not as though I am skimping on bedding.  It is not like I can wrap her elbow, her hip, or her thigh.  I am completely at a loss and my horse looks hell.  :-(

Thoughts?  Anyone dealt with this crud before?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Green Acres Stables Horse Trials - July 16, 2017

Snappy and I were back at Green Acres in mid July for another horse trials.  We were last there in May and had a great day.  It was MUCH hotter in July than in May though!  ;-)  There is no shade and we all sweltered in the heat, but it was a successful outing nonetheless!

Snappy has pretty much figured out this entire showing thing and is perfectly easy to unload, tack up, and warm up.  She doesn't have any anxiety any longer and will mostly eat/drink during the day (though I wish she would eat more!) without any issue.  It makes it much less stressful and way more fun to compete with a horse that is calm and willing.  I swear she is calmer in a crazy warm up ring with horses going every which way than she is when I ride alone at home!  Her many years on the track must be the reason why she is comfortable and unfazed by horses bolting and riders who cannot steer.  

Generally I am alone when I compete (or sometimes can drag my 13 year old along for pics), but this time around I have an entire tribe of support!  It was slightly overwhelming to have so many people and questions after being used to going solo, but I did enjoy it!  My horse friend Rachel met us there, along with her two young girls, and two 4-H kiddos and their parents.  At the last moment before I left the house, my husband decided to come along, which meant we had both children.  The only tough part of having a bunch of people is that there wasn't a lot of time for me to socialize, as I had to warm up for dressage, ride dressage, take care of horse, walk the XC and stadium, sit for about twenty minutes, and then retack and dress for jumping!  LOL!  And with dressage running late I did not have as much time between.  I like when things are pretty close together to eliminate wait time when I am by myself, yet with the heat is was nice to be done within about five hours of arriving.

Snappy warmed up fine for dressage but was definitely showing some stiffness.  Time to change the game plan with her IV injections and in speaking to my vet afterwards, I think it is time to change to or alternate with Adequan.  We put in a decent test for a 33.13, just four tenths of a point above the second place rider.  There were four of us in the pre-elementary senior division and all of our scores were within a few points.  We had a bobble in the first halt where she halted and then stepped forward her front right hoof when I put my reins in my left hand to salute.  It was not very graceful and was our lowest score at a 6.  The judge remarked that the halt was achieved but not sustained LOL!   Collectives were all 7s and 7.5s and overall I thought her rhythm and connection were good.  I cannot WAIT until we iron out the canter enough to move up though.  I am bored with Intro B and I know she needs to move up.

Cross country was an inviting course of 12 jumps, with much less packed into the front field than back in May.  It was a similar course to the one we jumped in May, but with a big serpentine in the middle which rode sort of awkwardly.  Snappy didn't look at a thing and jumped everything without sucking back or hesitating, but she wasn't willing to try a canter, which bummed me out a bit.   It is a much shorter course than we did at Hilltop, it was hot, and she was definitely a bit stiff, so I cannot complain.  There were two new 2' coops that I wondered what she would with, especially because they were bright new wood, but she didn't care at all.

We were able to walk around for about ten minute before we did our stadium course, which was full of good lines and flowing turns.  She hit a cross rail fairly hard in the beginning with her hind hoof, and I am surprised it didn't fall, but everything else was fine.  Plus, it woke her up enough to remember that even small crossrails need to be taken seriously!  We went clear in both XC and stadium to finish on our dressage score for the win!

Sorry about the video, especially my child with his thumbs-up thing in the XC section LOL!  I have no idea what he was doing.  I tried to cut out some of boring trotting around in XC.  The dressage test is only the second part since he forgot to start taping until just after the free walk.  Let's face it, the entire video is pretty boring, but the point of keeping/posting the media is for me to have it to look back on, not to entertain the masses haha!  ;-)

Green Acres HT 07.16.17 from Elizabeth Sanborn on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What's in YOUR tack room? First Aid Kit edition

I have always kept a well-stocked first aid kit for my horses.  It is a no-brainer and it has always amazed me when I hear about/talk to horse owner's who have never taken the time to understand how to administer basic first aid.  Even if you board your horse, I firmly believe it is a horse owner's responsibility to understand how to treat the horse before the vet arrives (or even in place of vet care for minor problems).

When I moved into the new barn here at our new house, I had my dad build me a wooden cabinet to store all the first-aid supplies.  I do have a large assortment of wraps and towels as well, but I keep them in a separate trunk.  ;-)

I keep the items I use most often on the bottom shelf.  I have a variety of gauze pads in various sizes, rolled gauze, and surgical pads.  Obviously, these are for underneath vetwrap and a standing wrap for cuts.  I also have two large cotton rolls, but I have honestly had these forever (think 20 years) because I really have never needed them.  I have found a gauze pad, gauze roll (if needed), vetwrap, and a quilt/standing wrap works the best.  

I have bacitracin ointment, which is usually my got-to after Derma Gel (not pictured because I think it made its way into my show trunk) for any nicks, cuts, or scrapes.  I have a thermometer, which has a long string and clothespin attached because trust me, you do not want to lose a thermometer in a horse's rectum.  I use the petroleum jelly to insert said thermometer.  I have a couple of empty syringes of various sizes for administering meds as needed.  The mineral oil and Gas-X are always on hand just in case of a colic episode (I actually used up my mineral oil on a calf this spring, so this is a brand new bottle I hope to never need!).  I have small samples of Bannix, which is a decent product, but I do prefer the Derma Gel.  Scissors of course are always handy and I have a stethoscope to listen to gut sounds or heart/lungs as needed.  The metal bowl is handy for washing out small cuts (I usually use Betadine, but my bottle's top broke so it is currently stored in a safe spot in the feed room with a makeshift cover.  I don't want it to spill!  And I always have a tube of Banamine, electrolytes, and Ulcergard on hand (though I just used up the last dose of Ulcergard for our last show - always one dose the morning of - and I am waiting for the new tube with my next Smartpak order.  For some reason, I have a random tube of HA paste from Smartpak here which probably was a free sample somewhere and I ought to chuck it LOL!)

Middle shelf has items that are a bit less common.  There is a big tub of Bute and I always have TriHist and Dexamethasone on hand because of Dreamy's COPD.  I have a variety of prescription eye ointments from the past few years between Sparky having a scratch on her lens to Snappy having blocked tear ducts when I first got her.  I use Aluspray a lot for cuts after they have healed to the point where they don't need a wrap or for a cut where you just cannot wrap it.  I have Wonder Dust, because I have not had to deal with proud flesh in a long time, it is perfect for that.  I don't use Corona ointment much, but I have some.  The Bigeoil is a leftover though I generally prefer Absorbine liniment.  The MTG, rubbing alcohol, witch hazel, arnica, Clear Eyes, and iodine are on an as-needed basis.  The Skin So Soft from Avon is perfect for taking off pine pitch (I live in Maine and the mares will rub against a pine tree every so often!)  The Dermafas and Krudzapper were bought in hopes that it would clear up weird bed sores on Snappy's off side (it hasn't - stay tuned for a post on that...).  I really like the Effol hoof oil, especially for showing, because while I am not a huge fan of painting hooves with Hoof Black (though I have done it for in-hand), it is nice to have the hooves look oiled for showing.  I haven't had to use the Tuff Stuff or Thrush Buster in years, but both are handy when needed. 

And on the very top shelf are the items that I really don't want to ever have to use haha!  Thankfully, the only horse who liked to develop hoof abscesses was Reva and she is living up north doing low level pony club and distance rides now!  Hoof abscess must haves include diapers, Animalintex poultice pads, ichthammol, Epsom salts, vetwrap, and duct tape!  I have size 3 diapers here, which must have been the right size.  I tend to stay with black or blue vetwrap but you can see I won a bunch of "fun" prints at a show last fall haha.  I have never really needed to use the hoof packing much, so that is another item that has been in my first aid kit since the beginning of time with the rolled cotton LOL!  I have Dial soap which is great for washing everything, cloth tape (I prefer duct tape with horses but this has been kicking around the barn for a while), and cotton balls.  Bag Balm is a staple in the barn, right?  But again, it is not usually my ointment of choice.  And I have two balling guns that are really not my favorite to use, and one must be incredibly careful not to puncture the esophagus, but they do help when there is really no choice but to get several pills into a horse (aka Dreamy's episode with Lyme!).  

So, that is my version of a well stocked first aid kit.  Remember to always consult with your vet about learning to use any/all of the products I have shown here.  Is there anything you use or have in your first aid kit that I should have?  

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Canter Progress

Like any Standardbred, it has taken time and patience with Snappy to develop her canter.  She is physically able to canter but what is holding her back is her mental block about the gait.  She raced until she was twelve years old, and I even trained and raced her under saddle (at a trot), so it was quite ingrained in her mind to never canter, just trot as fast as possible, even under saddle. She is honestly scared of the canter, as she was trained as a young horse that any time she moved into that gait, she was hit in the mouth hard with the reins/bit.  

Last summer I wrote about her current canter, which wasn't much as I wasn't really pushing the issue.  Back then, her left lead was stronger, her upwards transitions were horrid, and she could barely hold her right lead to go an almost full 2o m. circle.  After the canter, she forgot how to trot, bend, or relax and I had to go directly from a canter to a walk for her brain to settle down.

Thankfully, much has changed so far this year.  While her left lead is still stronger, she can canter 3-5 times around a 20 m. circle now in both directions without issue.  I would say her transitions are still pretty explosive, but she can now come back to a trot without losing her shit.  And her trot afterwards is pretty decent.  I just need to clean up the transitions and the first 2-3 strides and I think we could handle an Intro C test for sure, maybe a Training 1.  

The following three photos are an accurate representation of our current trot-canter transitions.  She throws her head, leaps into the gait, and then relaxes.

Current upwards explosion, errr, transition

 Then she decides to trust me and to trust herself, and she settles down into this.
Ohhhh, I CAN canter like a normal horse!

Her trot work after the canter is improving in quality as well.  Hopefully, it will only be a matter of more time, more patience, and more confidence before her canter comes together into a dressage worthy gait!  I'd like to think we could try an Intro C test this fall, but maybe I will wait until next spring.  It all depends on Snappy.  We shall see!  :-)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Ossipee Valley Fair - July 6-9, 2017

My husband and I decided to bring our young calves, Red and Rusty, to the local fair, Ossipee Valley.  It is probably the smallest fair in the state and is only a fifteen minute drive to our house, so it was the perfect place to get the babies out for their first ever fair.  The idea behind purchasing these two was to have a pair to play around with for the year and then sell them at the end of the fair season in October.  We already have someone who wants to buy them after seeing them at Ossipee, so I suppose our plan will work out (and I made my husband PROMISE not to sell them out from me beforehand)!

Of course, all self respecting horse girls have to plan for a matching stall valance, name signs, and farm sign.  I mean, c'mon!  ;-)  I had all spring to brainstorm and I think it looked cute!  I also repainted an old wooden trunk of mine (green, of course) and added a brass nameplate to the top engraved with our farm name.

The fair lasted from Thursday to Sunday, which meant we brought them calves over on Wednesday night to get them settled in.  They were surprisingly easy going about the entire thing.  My husband had to work Thursday and Friday, so I knew it would be slightly crazy for me to do chores at home and get over to the fair for the day with two children in tow!  But we all managed and the baby did a great job taking afternoon naps at the fair in his reclining stroller and sleeping well at night!

There was nothing for us to show in until the weekend as well, so Thursday and Friday were a lot of cleaning them out and walking around the fair a bit.  My husband wanted to do the scooting contest, which means we also had to show them in the best pair, best matched, and working classes.  But of course, he doesn't like to show any longer, so that would be up to me.  I have only ever shown his cattle once back in 2014, so I was pretty nervous LOL!

The baby LOVED watching the 4-H kids get ready to show on Friday!

We had to sit on nearly ever single one of the tractors on display (this was Wednesday night, so my husband is right there holding him)

A good farmer always keeps his cattle cleaned out!

The little red wagon came in handy for carting him around!
My husband did the scooting contest on Saturday afternoon, which is basically like a cones course for driving horses.  The cattle are hitched to a wooden scoot and you have to do the course in the right order, going through each of the "gates" between the cones in the right order.  You get penalty points if you hit a cone or make certain mistakes (for example, my husband missed a "gate" when weaving through the cones, which added 40 penalty points and he hit two cones, adding 10 points for each cone).  Then at the end, when you halt on the line, they measure how close you stop the runners to the line and add inches to your penalty score.  My husband halted it right on the line, so he ended up with 60 penalty points.  You are timed as well, but they only use the time to break a tie as needed.

He had to go first, as they go by weight, so we had to wait over two hours for the class to finish before we knew the results.  He ended up fifth out of nineteen pairs, which was great!  Had he not missed the gate, he may have won, as the first place finisher had 24 penalty points.  Oh well!  Great work for the first time the babies ever did something like this at a fair.

Then it was my turn to show on Sunday morning.  I was super nervous because they were definitely a bit bright eyed when walking around the fairgrounds, and I just wanted them to have a good experience (aka not run away from me hahaha).  It is so strange to me that you show them with just a stick, voice, and body cues, because I am just so used to being attached to a horse with reins or a lead rope.  

Honestly, they were both perfect for their first time.  Yes, they almost exited the ring in the first class when we were asked to line up right in front of the open end (both ends of the small covered ring were wide open!) but thankfully they listened to me.  I had a hard time getting them to back perfectly straight between two cones in the working class, because it is just an unnatural thing to ask cattle to back up plus I haven't put enough time into them just yet.  They are young and it will just take more time.

We placed second in both best pair and best matched (out of five teams in our weight category) behind two different pairs of much more mature cattle.  I was super impressed!  For these two classes, you just stand there in the line up, like a halter class for horses.  I think the judge did ask us to back in the second class, but it was in the line up and only a few steps.

The working class was a super simple pattern of doing a figure eight around two cones (to show "haw" and "gee" turns) and then backing through two cones.  The figure eight was easu but I did have to do a little correction in backing up.  Red (the nigh calf) likes to step out sideways when backing, so I had to stop and have him straighten out a few times.  I was ok with that since it was more important to give them a good experience and school them in the pattern as needed.  Out of five teams, with everyone else a much more experienced driver than me, I had no problem not placing.  But to my utter amazement, we placed third!  Yay!

You stay right in the ring for all three classes back-to-back, so I had to stick my ribbons on my back pocket haha!

While the fair paid out to fifth place, they only gave out 1st and 2nd place ribbons in the show classes (but a full 1-6 ribbons in the scoot), so we were not given a third place ribbon.  Ah well!

I think this is my favorite pic of the fair!
Overall, it was a good experience despite being exhausted!  We were not allowed to leave until 6:00 on Sunday night, so we rolled out of there around 6:04.  We picked up take out on the way home, got all the farm chores done, bathed and put the baby to bed, unloaded and cleaned out the trailer, and I was in the shower by 8PM, with bedtime soon thereafter.  We probably won't do another overnight fair until fall, with most fairs have all the showing on one day, so it will just be a day trip.  Definitely a different experience than showing horses, but hey, there was no entry fee and we actually got paid premiums!  (Well, the fair will eventually send a check haha, but still much cheaper than showing horses!)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Hilltop Equestrian Center Horse Trials - July 2, 2017

For our third event of the year, we were back at Hilltop just two weeks after the last event there.  I was happy to see the XC course was pretty much exactly the same, with one log moved slightly, so we could have another go on a course she tackled fairly well the first time.  I was hoping to eliminate the slight hesitations and the outright stop/pony kick over the 2' black drainage pipe fence.  And I really hoped we could canter parts of the course to improve her confidence in the gait.  I took her out to canter hills and a little downed tree at home the week between the two events and she was super game and willing to canter, so I had high hopes.

No help this time around as my thirteen year old son bailed on me, hahaha.  No surprise there.  ;-)  So there is a complete lack of media.  :-(  Ahh well, there are worse things in life.

Dressage went well, with an easy warmup and decent test for a 30.9.  That put us in second place, just .9 points behind the leader.  Snappy has figured out exactly what I expect of her for dressage, so the warmup is done within 20 minutes and she easily transitions from the warmup ring to the show ring without fuss.  

I was pretty excited to go XC and she was like an old pro warming up with horses everywhere and calmly entering the start box.  She trotted out boldly onto the course and was the most forward and in front of my leg she has ever been on course.  She didn't even blink this time at the black drainage pipe!  YAY MARE!  She even agreed to canter twice on course, which was excellent.  I wish she trusted herself (and me!) more, but this was a good effort all the same.  This horse is going to do things on her own time!  The rider in first place told me she had a run-out at the black drainage pipe, so because I had gone clean, I knew I had moved up to first.  No pressure or anything!

Stadium was a different course than two weeks prior, with more turns and a bending line, which all rode well.  Again, she was a star, even cantering twice on course, landing on the correct lead and cantering all the way to the next fence.  That was super exciting to me, because this was the very first time she has been willing to canter in both jumping phases.  

We might be slow as turtles, but I am determined to get this mare's canter to a place where she is confident and willing to do it anytime and over/between fences!  I know she can do it, as her canter itself is quite good.  We have to work on the upwards transition and her own anxiety about the gait itself.  It will happen!  :-)

We ended on our dressage score and held on to first place.  Good mare!  

Monday, July 3, 2017

Tack Review: Dark Jewel Designs browbands

It is no secret I like things to be matchy-matchy when I compete.  When I ride at home, I am usually a mismatched slob, realizing too late how much my shirt clashes with my saddle pad.

Case in point.

I have mentioned my custom browbands here a few times, so I felt as though it was time for a review post!  Amelia at Dark Jewel Designs does a fabulous job with her Etsy shop.  I met her years ago at UNH when we were riding at the horse barn, so when I stumbled across her gorgeous and affordable designs I knew I had to order one!  

So far, I have six of her designs (holy cow) and both the black and the brown browbands.  The coolest thing about Amy's design is that you can mix and match the strands however you want on either color browband.  I like the flexibility!  And Amy is super easy to work with, has great customer service and an eye for design.  She is an eventer, so she uses her products on her own horse, which matters to me!  I like knowing the products I purchase are approved by the owner herself!

The current rotation: Tiffany blue for dressage and dark green for XC!

This was made for Snappy, since her racing colors were maroon and gold!

This is dark blue (bad pic but the only one I have!)
I also have a dark grey and silver strand, but I cannot find a pic.  

If you are looking for an affordable and beautiful custom browband, I highly recommend Dark Jewel Designs!  

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Three Years

It would be remiss of me to let July 2 go by without a tribute to my first horse, who passed away three years to the day.  Sparky was the best first horse a girl could have.  I wrote about her here and her last photo shoot (the night before she was put down, though I did not realize it at the time) is here.

Fly high, sweet mare.  You are missed every day.  

Joydale Sparklerslas
June 5 ,1982 ~ July 2, 2014
My senior photo (1997)
Last photo of us together (2014)
~ same spot ~