Monday, March 12, 2018

Blog friends are the best friends

I've been doing this whole blog thing for a long time now. And meeting my blog friends in real life and forming long lasting relationships is a wonderful side effect of blogging. I've been able to share my highs and lows, laugh and cry and reach out for comfort during the darkest of times with people who I've done the same for. The solidarity is strong.

So before I moved Scout back to PA, I took advantage of Megan K being close by so she could take Scout for a spin! After all, she's read about him plenty, and I knew she was eager to see what he was all about and I LOVE watching other people ride my horse (especially when they are as talented as Megan)!

Plus I really wanted to get an idea of how sound he was following his NYE shenanigans. So win-win for me:)

I think she liked him a little <3
And there's nothing like having a great rider tell you what a nice job you've done with your horse... I think her words were something along the lines of, "you've under sold him." Since he had been out of regular work and was still getting used to the low port Myler, he was a bit fussier in the contact than I would have liked, but she rode him really well and her strong right side helped keep him straight (he likes taking advantage of my weak side).

But damn did he look sound and fancy! My favorite part was the huge ear to ear smile on Megan's face as she circled around me.

He's got his thinking cap on:)

Maybe he wants to be a hunter?

I was concerned he'd give her a little bit of grief cantering as he's been a bit sassy about his canter transitions lately, but I needn't have worried because she spent a great amount of time getting him tuned into her at the trot. She was quick to reward him when he complied but also held him accountable for what she knows he can do. I was quite proud watching him and I could see glimmers of the kind of horse he's going to be.

Even his sticky right lead was no issue

My favorite part was when Megan picked up the canter for the first time and says, "omg, this canter xc!!!!" Talk about giving me all the warm and fuzzies. 

I wish she'd been able to jump him a little but the weather was not our side that day. And even though we moved back to PA, I'm hoping she'll come ride him more regularly in the future. I know it's always a risk when you let someone else pilot your horse... what if they don't get along, or what if they ride your precious horse poorly, and what if they fall off!? 

But I think there's great value in allowing your horse to be ridden by someone else, whether it's a trainer or a trusted friend. I believe that they (the horse) need some variety, and to understand different cues and pressure. And man, the view from the ground watching your lovely horse go around with someone else in the tack is something really special.

These two!!!!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

I'm SO behind on posts, but just real quick:

Hi guys,

I'm here, I'm alive. Scout is doing well! To say things have been busy would be a massive understatement! Scout moved to new (hopefully permanent) farm. We bought a house. And I've been swamped with freelance photo work. I'm not complaining about all of that because it's all great news, but I've hardly had time to take a deep breath!

But I wanted to share with you Scout's remarkable progress over the last 9 months. Keep in mind he's been in very light work (or on periods of stall rest) for the last few months).

I think we've finally figured out a feeding program and work schedule that he can thrive on. The results:

Scout as a just turned 4 year old at the end on last May
You can see that all the right parts are there for a nice event type horse, but he's all sharp angles and legs. Zero topline and underweight from crashing post-track. Add a dull coat and he's not much to look at (no wonder no one bought him).

Looking like a real event horse just turning 5
Here with Megan K up, you can start to see the outline of a nice event horse. His coat is shiny, his body is filling out and his topline is much improved. He's still growing (much to my chagrin) but I think he'll truly come into his own in his 6th year. To me, it's a remarkable transformation and it gives me a lot of hope for the future.

Plenty of updates to come (including a recap of Megan's ride on Scout) but for now, just bear with me while I get through our move!!!!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

On being proactive


This is the face of a horse who would never worry his owner.

Which would be true if he were a cartoon character, or a stuffed animal, but he is not. He's a living, breathing, money eating machine that seems to thrive on giving me grey hairs and high blood pressure. But I love him all the same, mostly.

But this is the curse of horse ownership right? That constant balance between the high you feel after a great ride or the feeling you get when your horse nickers at you and the lowest of lows when your horse is so desperately trying to tell you something hurts and you can't figure out where or why.

If only you could talk!
But the thing is... owning a horse is more about the grey area. The days of mediocre rides and small break throughs, pulled shoes and mystery lamenesses that leave us scratching our heads. And our role in all of that is to be the very best advocate we can for them.

I realize that this varies, WILDLY amongst horse people. There are the "wait and see" types, the "bubble wrap the horse" types, the "let's call the vet every-single-time" types, the "I'm going to post this on OTTB connect and get advice" types, and everything in between. If I had to describe myself I'd say that I'm a bit old school about some things but I'm also very cautious.

I take what I know about my horse and try to apply my knowledge base around that horse's particular issues. Some horses are stoic (mine is not), some are prone to certain types of issues (cough, cellulitis, cough), some never tell you anything but you have a gut feeling that they are not quite right (I find those the most frustrating).

And when I say I'm cautious I mean that I probably build more recovery time into my treatment protocol than some. For example, after Scout got cast and developed a nasty vasculitis I kept him on stall rest judiciously, and turned him out slowly. And while he seemed sound, I did not push his training schedule because he was not completely 100%. I gave him a little more time (an additional week of turnout and no riding) and it was worth it to see him moving like this:

Strong and stepping evenly (and happy!)
And so when he came in from turnout with a big fat leg two days after these photos, my proactive protocol kicked in once again. Vet worthy? No. Needs immediate treatment and care? Yes.

Who me?

What I thought was just mud is actually a gross scab + fat leg
Once I got under all the mud and scrubbed the leg I saw what appeared to be a gross scrape. No biggie, BUT since I didn't know how long it had been there (I had been away from the farm for two days) and given the mud, I opted the best course of treatment was a 5 day cycle of smzs, a day of stall rest, and overnight wrapping. The antibiotics are to keep any sort of cellulitis from developing hopefully. He did have a slightly elevated temp (but like a half a degree), and given his history it's better to treat this judiciously. And while he was sound on it, there was no reason for me to push him to work on it.

Cleaned up but gross
And he'll be fine. The cut will heal, he will hopefully not develop a cellulitis, and he'll be sound and happy again. And that's the end goal for me... keeping him happy (first) and sound (second). But they go hand in hand I think.

I think at the end of the day it's hard to trust that we are always doing the best by our horses. What happens when you don't trust yourself to make a decision? Do you have a good support system to bounce your ideas/worries off of? What happens when you don't agree with or worse, you don't trust your vet? How do you know where to start or stop with treatment? How closely do you listen to what your horses needs?

Maybe I listen a bit too much (to my horse, to others), but that's my prerogative. Your protocol is yours. While some might find me too cautious, I might find others too cavalier. But it's all a learning experience in the end. 

And God he's worth the worry. <3

Monday, January 29, 2018


People that know me closely understand that I have a pretty sarcastic wit about me, I'm much more serious than my online persona may reveal, and that I am unabashedly optimistic and idealist.  I don't know how the last part developed because I've had enough strife and heartache in my life to turn me into a hateful, negative person... but what remains is someone who is constantly looking for silver linings even in the face of defeat. I try very hard to keep a positive attitude about things (and yes, I struggle and fall apart sometimes too) and I try to lift people up around me. I've spent the last several years culling the fat of toxic, negative people out of my life because to me, it's just not worth having people in your life that don't want to see you happy, or that try to bring you down into their negativity.

So, maybe it's just a result of getting older (hell, I'm pushing 40 this year YIKES) or wiser (doubtful) but lately, I've been feeling less stressed and more certain about the future.


This feeling relates directly to Scout because since I've owned him, I think my whole outlook towards riding and horse ownership has changed. I have goals yes, but they are small... all I truly care about is having FUN. Hence the hashtag #NOBADDAYS. He makes me smile and laugh and is constantly worming his way closer into my heart. He's easy on the eyes and kind. He's a good mover, has a nice jump and good work ethic. What more could I want?

So this weekend even though I had ridden him ONCE since he got cast (if you're counting it was a solid month) the day before being invited, I jumped at the chance to take him on a fun hack with blog friends on Saturday.

And he was a perfect gentleman. It was the first really nice day we've had in weeks and it seemed foolish to stay at home. The two horses we were meeting up with are also rehabbing/coming back into work, so it was going to be a quiet ride (perfect!).

I went into the ride thinking we were going to have a great time and lo and behold, we did. The ponies were terrific, the sun was shining and everyone left with smiles. #nobaddays

Love these perfectly manicured trails

Love that my horse doesn't care where he is in the group

Love that he doesn't care about riding next to the road
They were all looking around quite a bit when we first arrived, but since it was a nice day the park had lots of families rolling in to enjoy the weather too which the horses found very interesting. Scout responded with his telltale teeth-grinding (that's primarily how he communicates tension) but was flat footed once I got on (really need to get that ironed out).

The loop around the park takes about an hour, so it was plenty of time for all of them to settle in and cruise along at a nice pace. We chatted about horses and life and everything in between. Laughed at our horse's individual personalities. I made a new friend and Scout fell in love.


Mocha's side eye is REAL

Just a couple of handsome fellows

Sebastian slobbered all over Scout's neck and was whispering sweet nothings into his ear!
Something as simple as an hour long trail ride on my wonderful horse was enough to remind me that sometimes the best days are spent in the sun, with a couple of horse crazy women and their horses just walking around a park. And I was reminded again just why I love my horse SO much.


I'm looking forward to continuing this trend of #nobaddays and I hope I'll see some of you out there in the bright future that lies ahead.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Status Report

Sass Wagon

Are you guys tired of Scout progress posts? Because I am.

But here I am typing up more boring notes on how he's progressing. He's been turned out for a little over a week and the leg swelling is staying down. There's still some residual heat which I'm hoping dissipates over time (it took his fetlock quite a while to finally stay cool and tight). So I stuck him on the lunge with some keep-your-shit-together parameters (Ahem, Pessoa rig).

And thank god he's got a good education on the lunge. He was feeling very good about life and tried pretty hard to keep a lid on things, but he was enthusiastic and spicy to be sure. Luckily, I'm well adept at lunging a wild horse, video-taping and holding a whip (#skillz).

That trot, I'm not mad atcha

Moving pretty nicely at the trot
At the trot he was moving out beautifully. Even in both directions with nice over tracking. At the canter he was still noticeably stiff on his RH. In fact, tracking left he was not subtle about his annoyance of having to put lateral pressure on it.

Tracking right, which is normally his tough direction he was quiet and balanced. Ultimately, I just wanted to get a sense of WTC in a controlled setting. The footing was slick and deep, so I didn't want to do too much with him but I was pretty pleased with how he looked overall.

Going forward, I'll start legging him up like I did in September with some long and low walk-trot until the strength in his right hind improves. I was admittedly a little bummed when I saw how stiff he was, but he'd only been turned out for a few days at that point. So maybe I need to recalibrate my expectations and just be patient.

And, if there's a bit of a silver lining about this whole experience it's that his condition is looking REALLY good! Let's give a big shout out to alfalfa for helping him get there:)

Closest thing I've got to a conformation shot for now
Here's to keep on keepin' on.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Ice, Ice, Baby

Good answer, good answer!!!
Hooray, my horse got turned out and he's behaving himself. After helicopter parenting everyday for 15 straight days (twice a day) I decided to take a day off to give us both a break. He's not longer on meds or needing any hand-holding so he such be fine right? Word from the farm was that he behaved himself without my supervision and all is well. So imagine my surprise when I showed up Monday to access his soundness post illness and he came head-bobbing across his 12 acre field.

I immediately assumed the leg was hot and swollen again, I mean it's not like mud helps with horses that are cellulitis prone right? But to my surprise (and secret delight), he was ONLY missing a front shoe. And because I'm turning into a total maniac, I was furious. I turned him out Saturday myself and now it's Monday afternoon and HOWLONGHASHEBEENWITHOUTASHOE. So he got to spend another day in detention while he waited for the farrier to come out. It was far to muddy and icy to even try to wrap up the foot. I couldn't be there to talk to my new farrier about Scout's feet but I did mention that he's never lost shoes before and my old farrier always hot fit him. New farrier did not hot fit him, so we'll see how long these stay on.

The next day I planned to let him trot around a little so I could finally see how he was moving since he got cast. We had gotten a few inches of snow and slightly warmer temps so the ground was at least a little cushioned, but unfortunately I had to test out his free movement in a ring where one 1/5th of it hasn't thawed since temps first dropped below freezing.

You're going to let him loose where?

He was super quiet and he generally stays away from that end of the ring anyway (it's where the puddle of doom is) so I figured he'd just trot around me and come back looking for cookies.
Wrong answer

This dumb dumb trotted off squealing, and trotted right over to the snow-covered ice rink. FUCK.


See those arrows? ICE, ICE, BABY...
But, in the end he adjusted his footwork while cracking through the ice and stayed upright. Maybe he'll make a good fox hunter after all? And guys, outside of a few sketchy steps that I'll chalk up to the world's worst footing, he looked damn good.

Looking confident on that right hind

Don't mind me, I'll just be over here practicing my extended trot on ice:/

All four, off the floor!


Uphill much? Damn, son!

My favorite of all... "I did a good job Mommy?"

Watching the videos I can see a little residual stickiness in the hock, but it could just be a little leftover soreness or stiffness from being stall rested for 2 weeks, or from the footing or trotting around in his blanket. Hopefully the warmer temps this week will help get rid of the rest of the ice and snow and I can start him back under tack this week. Hopefully he can keep a lid on his enthusiasm:)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Sweet Freedom!!!

After 13 days of stall rest both Scout and I were desperate to get him out and moving around. Hand-walking was occasionally quite scary (think, horse-shaped kite), or he'd be foot perfect. His leg continued to stay cold and tight, though his fetlock was still carrying some residual fill most likely as a result of being stalled. He's definitely prone to stocking up when he's not moving around too much, so I'm not super concerned about it. My vet and I spoke about a turnout schedule and given the weather, she highly recommended some drug-assistance.

We went from highs in the teens and everything covered in a sheet of ice to driving rain, wind gusts over 40 mph and highs in the 60s. I figured Friday was the best day to try to put him out even with the rain as I thought the warmer temps would keep everyone a bit quieter. 

So, armed with Ace and Xylazine I got him doped up and prayed he'd keep a lid on it. The ground was still completely frozen, just now covered in greasy mud and all I could think about was him running around and wiping out like a fool. 
So high

So sleepy
Turns out my giant baby is a bit of a lightweight. And apparently, completely attached to me now since he's been stall bound for such a long time. I literally had to White Fang him to get him to go with his friends.

And his herd mates were pretty cute about the whole thing. At first no one noticed him, and he went off and grazed alone. Then, they all realized he was out there and came up to investigate.

SOOOO happy the boss is back
He's the unanimous herd leader and they were all very happy to see him. Scout? Not so much. There was lots of sass, lots of derpy running around. He kept trotting back over to me which kinda made my heart burst a little.

So sassy
Much derp
The temps dropped quite a bit overnight, but I followed suit with the same protocol for day two. He was a perfect gentleman and the whole thing was super low key. 

Best buds

On the third day I instructed the morning person just to turn him out last with a quiet buddy and she said he was super chill. Phew! My plan for this week is to get him moving a little on the ground and assess how he's moving and then leg him back up at the end of the week.

He really gave me a heart attack with this one I have to admit. He was SO lame the first day that I was certain his leg was broken. But if there's any silver lining to him being on stall rest it's two fold. One, he and I have REALLY bonded. Despite the weather being horrifically cold, he tried really hard to be a good boy about everything. I never once heard a negative word from any of the barn workers and he tolerated all the wrapping, medicating and hand-walking like a champ. He looks to me for guidance and boundaries and it's really helped our relationship blossom. The other positive takeaway from stall rest is his condition!

He's filling out

And dapple-y!

I actually cut his feed a little so he wasn't bouncing off the walls and added alfalfa twice a day to his hay. I think we've found a magical combination of hay and feed finally! 

Thanks again to everyone who has reached out to support us, we've definitely appreciated all the love and good vibes! I absolutely adore this horse but man, but the reality of how freaking fragile they are is so real sometimes. I think though, despite the heartache and worry that seeing his face hanging over his stall door is enough to remind me how much it's all worth it in the end.