I’m busy trying to get the rest of my stuff packed for the show and then get on the road, so I just have a few little things today.
First, my Seaver girth sleeve came! The instruction manual is not the greatest, but I did eventually get it all figured out. Electrodes, wireless charger, and a bunch of straps be damned. Of course since we’re leaving for a show today I probably won’t have time to do all of Henry’s measurements (they want you to measure a few specific places on the horse so that the data is as accurate as possible) and actually use it until next week. But hey, it’s here! Hopefully by the end of next week I can at least give you some initial thoughts on it.
Second, if you haven’t seen Luxe EQ’s clearance sale, make sure to check it out! There are great prices on some high end stuff, especially breeches and show shirts and belts, but there are some casual summery clothes in there too.
And last but not least, more pics of Mari! Because every day is a good day for foal pictures.
It has been a weirdly dry winter/early spring in Texas. We had a couple of rain events pass through the area in the last month, but both of them managed to completely miss the barn. It’s been really dry, which means the ground has been really hard. And since I do 100% of my riding (unless I trailer out for a lesson) outside of the arena, this can be a problem. Henry has spent much of the last couple weeks wearing Magic Cushion, but he still felt a little too delicate in his steps for my taste. When I talked to the farrier about it he suggested we put a rim pad on him, to help give him a little extra clearance from the ground. He’s not a fan of going to a full pad unless absolutely necessary, and I’m totally with him on that. So yesterday he got a little rim pad under his new shoes, and last night it promptly rained 2.5″.
If I’d known that all it took to get some rain was a $10 set of rim pads, I’d have added them last cycle. Really though we need small amounts of rain on a regular basis, not a major deluge once a month. That doesn’t really help the ground, it mostly just puts it in a constant cycle of mud/concrete. But this is Texas… that’s how things work. He did feel better last night with the rim pad, so no regrets there.
We head to Texas Rose tomorrow, so I also cleaned up Henry’s weird goat hairs on his jaw, re-did his “eventer tail”, chopped off some mane, and clipped the longest of the winter straggler hairs off his legs. There’s not much I can do about the fact that he’s currently in a super disgusting phase of growing out his summer coat through his clipped winter coat. Kinda looks like a mangy mottled buckskin.
So that’s pretty. I also intended to dye his tail but completely forgot until this morning, and I won’t have time today. We’re gonna be looking kinda ghetto. I’ve honestly been so busy lately, and my mind has been pulled so many directions, I just feel kind of scattered. This show has crept up on me and I’ve not done a lot of the prep stuff that I normally do a week or so out. I did at least learn and run through the dressage test at my lesson last week, so that’s something. The test felt fine, I guess… it’s mercifully short, which is kind of nice, but it also felt like there wasn’t much flow, or like everything was just kind of crammed in there. The canters are really short, with a lengthening on a circle (my least favorite movement in the entire world) taking up half of the canter time. You canter quite early in the test, too, which is a disadvantage to my horse. Getting Mr. Tension to settle at any point during that whole thing will be a challenge. But, hey, at least it’s over with quickly? I prefer the Prelim test for him, to be honest. All the trotting and lateral work at the beginning is much better for his brain.
Even now I’m still having trouble concentrating on the show, because I’m thinking more about the logistics of getting Presto home, and everything that I need to get ready for him. We’re basically going from here to Texas Rose, then from Texas Rose to Abilene to pick him up, and then back home on Sunday. It’s a big damn triangle of driving, but still less than if I made a whole extra trip to Midland and back. Since we’re going straight from the show to pick him up, I have to remember to pack everything that I’ll need for him, too, and everything that needs to get done at home has to happen before we leave. My brain is totally sidetracked by that at the moment.
I’ve been driving so much lately that I’ve run out of high speed data for the month from listening to so many podcasts. Last night I got online and bought some audiobooks to download while I was still on WiFi… The Heart of a Woman (the last Maya Angelou book that I didn’t already have on Audible), West Cork, and The Hate U Give. Plus I still have the last of the German ones that I downloaded (Part 3 or 4? I’ve literally done like 15 hours of Car German at this point) a while back. I should be good for this road trip, unless I get really really really horribly lost and end up in Canada or something. That would be a hell of a wrong turn.
The weather forecast looks great though, both for horse showing and for hauling horses all over the state of Texas. It looks perfect, really, the temps are ideal Henry Weather. And the lows are good too, since I’ll be camping. They’re getting lots of rain up there right now, so the footing should be softened up a bit. AND I have zero complaints about my ride times – Friday is 9:18 dressage, 1:47 stadium (oh yeah hey, I won’t be posting here on Friday), and Saturday is 8:54 XC. I’ll be totally done by like 9am on Saturday, which gives me plenty of time to ice and pack and make the 4 hour trek to Abilene before dark. When both the weather forecast and the ride times look perfect, I start getting nervous wondering what the catch is. It seems too good to be true!
I still have to hit the grocery store today (this time I am determined to remember to bring food and drinks for MYSELF, since I always forget) and I need to dig the big fancy Yeti cooler out of the shed. Plus, like… pack all my shit. And decide which show shirt to wear, since I’ve managed to accrue 3 new ones in the off season.
Luckily I only have to pack one, since I dressage and SJ on the same day. I like it when packing is simplified.
I can’t tell if I’m nervous or excited or both, and if the feelings relate to the show or picking up/bringing home Presto. I’m a little all over the place, but hopefully once we actually get to the show I can take one day at a time and try to focus! Poor Henny, not only is his mom a total nut, he’s gonna have to ride home with a baby hooligan. Poor baby hooligan, he’s about to meet his match in Uncle Henny.
One of the items on my crazed list of weekend activities was a course design clinic with Eric Hasbrouck. I fully admit that I was only in attendance for about half of it… by the time we closed up the shop and got some food, we got there a bit late, and then we cut out a little early to go watch the handy round of the derby. My notes are a little light, but it was still interesting.
None of what he said was a major revelation to me, I’ve heard it before, but it’s definitely been a while since I’ve dedicated any real brain power to SJ course design, so it was a good reminder. In the beginning he spoke a lot about how it’s important to design courses appropriate for the people that are showing… like a Grand Prix the first week of WEF is going to be softer than a Grand Prix near the end of circuit. Or never put a 2 stride into a speed class or jumpoff for an under 1.10m jumper class, because without fail someone will try to leave a stride out and end up crashing. Or how, since he was new to the Texas crowd, he designed the courses a little bit friendlier the first week, like putting a more difficult question going toward the ingate, so he could feel it out a bit before ramping up the challenge.
Then he talked a bit about the jumps themselves and how the horse’s see them.
White and yellow is hardest to jump clean
Horses are more bothered by severe contrast than by lots of color (he gave an example of a black and white domino jump that caused a lot of problems)
Always pay attention to the background that the jump is going toward… poles that are the same color as the background are harder for the horse to see clearly. For example, the curtains lining the arena were blue, so the blue rails were going to be more difficult for the horse to see.
For jumps with pillar standards, a pole that is set near the front of the pillar (as opposed to the middle of the pillar), is harder to jump clear. The pillar draws the horse’s eye in past the rail.
On the same note, jumps that have a planks near the bottom draw the horses eye down.
A liverpool that is set flush with or slightly behind the front rail will also draw the horse’s eye down past the rails, and is more difficult to jump clear than a liverpool that is set so that it’s edge is slightly in front of the rail.
There was also some discussion about a movement that some riders are championing, trying to get open water jumps taken out of the sport. Eric is very against this and thinks that the open water is a staple, and should stay (I agree with him there). He said that instead, we should be working on introducing these jumps a lot sooner in a horse’s career, in smaller and easier-to-jump versions, so that they don’t end up 7yo and thrown into a class with a full size open water and be caught unprepared. He said that in Europe horses start seeing them a lot sooner in their competitive career, so by the time they get to the real GP with a real open water, it’s not a new concept to them.
He was also a big proponent of keeping variety in the courses, and bringing back some of the more old-fashioned fences. He said that this year he used a hedge oxer at WEF, something that used to be very common but isn’t seen much anymore, and included walls as much as possible. He expected riders to be a little up in arms about the hedge oxer but actually got a lot of people that loved it, and enjoyed seeing something different in the ring. He is not a fan of how most of the courses look so cookie-cutter these days, and thought it was really important to preserve the types of fences and courses that you see at places like Spruce Meadows and Aachen and Hickstead.
He also talked about the fact that time is much tighter than it used to be, and courses are wheeled on a higher speed. This is mostly due to the fact that everything is so much more competitive now, and the footing is so good that you CAN set these higher speeds without it being dangerous. BTW, he thinks it’s also very important for riders to know and understand how to think in METERS, including meters per minute for speed and what 350mpm vs 375mpm vs 400mpm feels like. Not just an eventer skill!
I wish I could have stayed for the whole thing, Eric was interesting to listen to, and if nothing else he’s definitely re-ignited my brain as far as how closely I look at our showjumping courses to understand the questions the course designer is asking. You can bet that I’ll be looking at them with a bit more of an analytical eye! Yeah sure, a lot of it isn’t applicable to me (like… don’t have to worry about jumping open water) but even just as a spectator, knowing these things makes it a little more interesting.
I know that this clinic was live-streamed but so far I haven’t been able to find a replay of it anywhere. If I do, I’ll come back and add the link.
Over the course of 48 hours I managed to drive to Houston, work two full days at the Luxe EQ trailer, take two lessons on my horse, watch a hunter derby, catch snippets of the Carolina live feed on my phone, and attend a course design clinic. Now it’s 6:30am on Monday and I’d like a nap, please, instead of a regular work day.
After work on Friday I stopped at home to load up the corgi (aka tack shop dog extraordinaire) then swung by the barn to get Henry. Originally I was not planning on bringing Henry with me for the weekend, but my at-home jump schools have been a jumbo sized shit sandwich, deep fried on a shit stick. I was starting to panic about Texas Rose this upcoming weekend. Megan, the owner of Luxe EQ, is married to Mark, who I used to ride with when they lived in the Austin area. He has this way of simplifying things that has always worked really well for me, so I thought if anyone could quickly fix my situation, it was probably him.
I dropped Henry at his barn, did a quick 10 minute hack, and then jetted into Katy to get to the show. I pretty much just made it in time to help close up for the day, then take advantage of the free catering out by the hunter derby ring. I will give h/j shows some credit in that regard… they have some great food. I wanted to sit in on a course design clinic with Eric Hasbrouck so we went up to the clubhouse for a while before coming back down to watch the handy round of the hunter derby.
Then I passed out, because I’m an old lady and it was way past my bedtime.
On Saturday I was up early (well… late for me…) to go set up everything at the shop.
We stayed pretty busy all day, then had a wine and cheese party plus a raffle in the afternoon. There was some nice stuff in the raffle, and some good cheese. Winning combination. Word on the street is that it’s happening again this week, so if you’re at Pin Oak, don’t miss it.
I tried to catch snippets of the Carolina live feed throughout the day on my phone, but it had a hard time streaming. I don’t know if it was the wifi at the show grounds or a problem on their end, but it would play for a few minutes at a time and then freeze or drop and I’d have to reload and log in again. I gave up after a while, so I mostly just saw a few horses in the 2* and parts of a couple in the 3*. Not worth the $5 I paid for live stream access.
I ducked out of the wine and cheese party a little early to head out to Mark’s barn for a lesson. He pretty much nailed my problem right off the bat and gave me a simple solution, which worked 100% of the time when I actually executed it. Sometimes I reverted to Floundering Moron mode, but things definitely improved a whole lot overall. Less is more. Simpler is better. Stop trying to over-ride the horse, it doesn’t work.
By the time I got back to the RV it was almost 9, and I took a shower and pretty much immediately passed out. I was gonna head up to the Grand Prix ring to catch the jumpoff, but I was pretty spent by that point. I fell asleep so hard that I don’t think I even moved a muscle until I woke up the next morning.
Sunday was pretty much a repeat – up early, open shop, set up, work, then cut out in the late afternoon for another lesson. This one was shorter, no point in drilling the horse, and we did some gymnasticy (that’s a word) courses to drive home the points from the day before and work on technique. Basically my instructions are leg-maintain-jump-breathe-repeat. Let’s see if I can actually execute that on my own. I feel a lot better now than I did last week though. I knew I was overcomplicating things, I just couldn’t figure out how to stop it.
After my lesson I loaded everything up and we were on the road back home. By the time I dropped Henry off and unpacked, I was driving home in the dark, so it turned into yet another shower-and-flop-into-bed type of evening. Today it’s back to the grind.
Luckily it’s a short work week, we leave for Texas Rose on Thursday. And THEN, on our way home, we get to stop and pick up Presto! I think both horses will be considerably less thrilled about this than I am.
The first 2018 foal was born this past Monday, a big gorgeous bay filly named Mari. This is the first of two Diarado foals expected this season, this one out of Laken, who is by Torino out of a Pikadero mare. Mari had a bit of elbow lock during the delivery but mom and filly recovered well and are doing great. Mari is bred to JUMP (Diarado – 1.50m GP horse, Torino – 1.50m GP horse, Pikadero – 1.60m GP horse) and loves to canter.
Of course, this means that the Baby Bets contest is now officially in full swing. There are only 2 foals this year, so it might end up being a neck and neck race that goes all the way down to the wire. Remarkably enough, one person managed to guess the correct foaling date AND time AND gender of Mari! Dang Amelia… that’s some crystal ball you’ve got there.
So far she’s got a 15 point lead on anyone else in the field. All of that could change dramatically with the next foal, though. Since we’re only halfway done, it’s still anybody’s game. Sadie is at 310 days today, “due” somewhere around 4/22 if you calculate to the average 340 day gestation. Her first two foals were born slightly before the 340 mark, so we’ll see what happens!
When I did the “New Year, New Giveaway” contest back in January, I asked everyone to leave a comment telling me a subject that they wanted me to write about this year. One of the most popular responses was people asking me to write about evaluating young horses, mostly by way of conformation or potential. I have a lot of opinions on that, and I’ve spent a long time honing my eye and reading books and studying pedigrees and going to clinics and looking at horses. I’ve made a hobby of it, and I absolutely LOVE to talk to people about it. Seriously, it’s my favorite subject.
But at the same time, I don’t really feel comfortable writing about it. I think mostly because a lot of that stuff comes down to personal opinion. And mostly because I never ever want this blog to take on an “instructional” feel. I just really hate that. I’m a low level amateur rider that just so happens to have a major information in conformation, breeding, and young horses. Anyone could learn what I have, if they wanted to. I’m not a professional. I don’t feel comfortable acting like I am. I am not qualified to write about things like that.
A couple months ago the local Pony Club asked me to come do a lecture on sporthorse conformation, and I have to admit that my initial reaction was 100% total discomfort at the idea. Like I said, I just don’t feel qualified to do anything even remotely “instructional”. But I thought about it and a) I can’t say no to Pony Club, that seems like 1000 bad karma points, b) I kinda thought it might be fun to have a discussion like this with these smart, educated kids. I very hesitantly said yes, and spent some time really thinking about what I wanted to talk about and why.
When it came down to it, I thought to myself – how do you make a bunch of teenagers interested in something as boring as conformation? So I took the “functional conformation” approach, very much along the lines of what Judy Wardope teaches, where we’d really focus on certain aspects of the conformation and how they directly translate to performance. I picked a couple areas of confo that are really important for eventing that a lot of general texts rarely touch on – specifically the LS gap, the pillar of support, and the length/angle of the humerus. I got a lot of glazed eyes, as expected, but I also got a few kids that were as excited about learning a new approach as I originally had been. Honestly… it was kind of fun to share my MegaNerd enthusiasm on the subject. We had some great discussions. I hope a couple kids walked away with a new tool in their toolbox, or at least a re-kindled interest.
I was kind of energized by that experience, and thought about sharing the notes and printouts here. But that situation was a lot different from me sitting here and writing some kind of “here is how it should look” instructional. Writing a blog post just doesn’t have the same effect as an in-person group discussion. I won’t do that with conformation and breeding, I won’t do that with training, I won’t do that with riding… hell, I even feel uncomfortable doing basic DIY’s, or sharing my conditioning/care routine. There are a lot of different ways to do things, and a lot of them are correct. Plus, like I said.. I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL. I’m happy to tell you what I personally do or think, but I’ll be the first to admit that my way isn’t the only way, and maybe not even the right way.
So really, it’s important to me that the tone of this blog remains conversational. If anyone ever wants to have private discussions about stuff, I’m totally on board with that. My blog’s facebook messenger is always open, as is the contact form here, for peer-to-peer conversations. I just don’t want to sit here on my silly internet platform and pretend like the fact that I have an audience means that I’m qualified to preach. Opinions on other, minor things, or current events? You’ll get those all day long. But a teaching situation on a grandiose subject… nah.
Since I’m not qualified to write about things like this, I’m more than happy to point you toward someone who is. To the people who asked me to discuss conformation or evaluating a young horse, I highly recommend investing in Judy Wardrope’s ebook, Equine Conformation for the Olympic Disciplines. It’s a little pricey, yes, but it’s 400+ pages of photos, diagrams, and new ways of looking at conformation that you probably haven’t seen before. To me, this is the sporthorse bible. In my experience, much of what she writes about holds true in practical application. If you’re at all interested in the subject, this is a must-own item.
If you’re not ready to invest in that, you can get an idea of her approach/concepts by reading through some of the free articles posted on this page.
I have a weird confession to make: I really really really like grooming a hairy horse during shedding season. I don’t know why, but there’s something extra satisfying about losing yourself in the simplicity of it, and seeing that big billowing pile of hair on the floor when you’re done. It’s satisfying work, with easily-seen results. I love body clipping for the same reasons. Okay, maybe I’m just really into hair removal. Either way, Henry doesn’t get a full body clip – lower maintenance when it comes to blanketing – so right now his super fuzzy back half (or as I like to call it, The Mullet) is in serious shed mode. I already own a SleekEZ, and someone else at the barn has a StripHair, so I decided it was time for a Shedder Showdown.
Before we start, I should say that StripHair has recently come out with a newer model of their tool, one that is more ergonomic and a bit… fancier looking (if it’s possible for a chunk of rubber to look fancier). From what I’ve seen of it, the material is the same, so I’m betting the performance is similar, but just a heads-up on that – to be totally fair, I tested their older model.
Neither of these tools is particularly ground-breaking as far as materials or design. The SleekEz is like a dulled mini saw blade set into a carved wooden block. The StripHair looks like a chunk of 1″ stall mat, it’s literally just a rectangle of rubber. But hey, simple tools often get the job done well. I have the large SleekEZ, which retails at $18.50. The StripHair retails at $39.00. So, how do they work?
I’ve been using both of them together, for the sake of comparison, for two weeks now. For “control” purposes I’ve also used a currycomb, a grooming stone, a Shed Flower, and the most basic of tools – my hands. When it comes to just the sheer amount of hair that each tool is able to remove, the SleekEZ is the winner. I can definitely get more hair off with it than with anything else. I also like that it sort of has a combing action to the coat, which helps it lift some of the dirt and dander to the surface. There’s definitely some cleaning action to it. The little teeth of the shedding blade itself seem to be good at getting down into the coat and picking up the hair from down there, too, not just the top layer.
The StripHair mostly just seems to gather that top-most layer of loose hair, which makes sense given the design. The rubber grips the loose hairs and pulls them away. If your horse has already fully blown it’s coat, then it’s great, but if it’s still in the process, the StripHair isn’t really going to get down in there and expedite things. I DO think that when it comes to legs or delicate areas, the Strip Hair is more useful. It bends and flexes around the contours pretty well, and obviously it’s a softer material.
That said, I think that I can get just as much hair off the legs simply by using my hands as I do from using the StripHair. Maybe even more. Those big long double jointed fingers of mine are finally useful for something.
If you really want a complete shedding arsenal, both tools are useful in their own way. But when it comes to sheer performance, the SleekEZ is the winner, hands down. If you have an extremely delicate flower of a horse then maaaaybe the StripHair could edge it’s way to the forefront, but honestly Henry is one of the most delicate flowers I know and he has no objections to the SleekEZ. You can’t really beat the bang for your buck, either… at less than half the price it outperforms the basic shedding capabilities of the StripHair, for sure. My favorite combination is currycomb + SleekEz.
As for the other grooming tools, get outta here with those Shed Flowers and grooming stones. Garbage. Yeah I said it. GARBAGE. Well, ok, Sadie really loves the Shed Flower to scratch her perpetually itchy elephant stomach. Other than that, though…
Like any self-respecting nerd, I’m am really really into metrics. I also have a huge interest in equestrian-related technology. So when Seaver had a Kickstarter for their smart girths and girth sleeves in summer 2016, I was all aboard that train. Equisense was pretty much already complete and on the market by that point, but it didn’t have heart rate monitor capabilities, whereas Seaver did. Being an eventer, heart rate data is pretty huge to me, so I opted to invest in the Seaver, knowing that it could be a year or so before it came. Yeah well… it’s been almost 2. They did recently confirm my shipping address though, so maybe I’ll get it before summer. Who knows. Honestly as long as all the functionality works correctly and it’s well-made, I’m cool with the wait. That’s my official stance anyway.
Lots of other bloggers have the Equisense, and I always stare a little too intently at their data. It’s really interesting to me. Eventers… we love times and speed and symmetry and all that stuff. And then last week Leah posted about a free app called Equilab, which boasts some of the same features. I downloaded it pretty much immediately. Because toys.
Basically the app uses the sensors on your phone to calculate and track your ride, so you have to either wear it on your arm or put it in a pocket. My phone is usually shoved in my pocket when I ride anyway (since I ride out, and I ride alone), so it’s just a matter of turning the app on and hitting “start riding” when I mount. The app has metrics for total ride time, time in each gait, turn direction, beats per minute, total distance, speed, elevation, energy consumption, and stride. It also paints a fun little GPS map for you that looks pretty damn artistic. Over time it gathers and accumulates the ride data to show “trends” or comparative metrics.
Naturally my first thought was that there’s no way it’s capturing all of that data accurately just from using the phone’s sensors and GPS. And from my observations so far (I’ve used it for 4 rides, of varying type), that’s true. I’ve kinda just tossed out the beats per minute and stride data. It’s definitely not accurate. I’ve also noticed that it has a really hard time picking up on quick transitions. For instance, my dressage ride yesterday included a whole bunch of quick-succession trot/walk/trot transitions and it picked up none of them. I think when it’s less than 15 to 20 seconds, it’s not capable of catching it. Or maybe it just thinks my transitions are shit. That’s possible too.
So the gait graphic in general also isn’t super useful to me for rides like that. For conditioning rides, however, where I’m not swapping back and forth between gaits a lot, it seems to do a respectable job of measuring the big chunks.
What it struggles with in those rides, though, is the “turn direction” data. I think because I ride in such a huge space, it’s just not registering the turns. When I ride in a smaller space it picks them up fine (although it also measures the turn data by way of cumulative time, which I don’t like and find kinda useless). I pretty much have to throw that data out, too. It’s interesting, but I definitely wouldn’t hang my hat on it. I always do the exact same thing both directions for conditioning rides anyway, so I don’t really need it.
What I DO really like Equilab for is total time, and time spent in each gait, especially for those conditioning rides. I mean… I do those rides with a specific plan in mind for how long my sets are, but it’s nice to have the metrics to back it up, and to be able to store them over time and look back on exactly what you’ve done. For logging purposes, especially tracking the length of rides for the purposes of fitness, the app is great (should also say, I’m in an area that has excellent GPS coverage – your experience may vary if you are not in such an area). I like that you can also input things at the end of the ride like how the ground was, how you and the horse performed, and what type of ride it was.
I did notice that the Android version looks different than my iPhone version. How different, I’m not really sure, but Leah had a few different things on her version than I do on mine. I kinda like hers better.
So is this thing a good replacement for something like an Equisense or Seaver? Definitely not. It’s capabilities are pretty limited. Then again, it’s totally free. It’s definitely at least worth the download to play with it or to use as a data logging system for your rides.
Now that I’ve settled on a date for bringing Presto home, things are kicking into high gear. Mostly because that date is less than 2 weeks away and I have a lot of other things going on in that time period. Time is even shorter than it seems.
I needed to go ahead and do my “it’s spring, omg the bugs” order from Riding Warehouse (since it’s in the 80’s here now… no turning back) so I perused the website and tossed in a few more things for Presto along with my gallon of Pyranha. When I was in Midland last weekend I learned that he is a bucket stomper/flinger/terrorist at feeding time and lives to scatter his food all over the ground. The stall that he’s going in doesn’t have a feed bucket up in it yet so I tossed this one in my cart:
Hoping that maybe two thick sturdy clips will be a bit more secure than an over the fence feeder or a single snap option? I dunno, maybe I’m dreaming here. I do know this thing will have to hang high enough to where he can’t get his feet in it, because I’ve seen him at work with those crazy giraffe limbs and it’s kind of impressive. In a really really naughty way.
Either way, it was only $10, so if he murders it then it’s not the end of the world.
And because of that habit of flinging his food on the ground, I picked up a tub of Sand Clear. We have a lot more ground cover here than where Presto lives now (and our horses eat their grain meals in stalls), so horses ingesting sand isn’t as much of a problem, but I definitely want to run a round of this stuff through Presto when he gets here. He’s already had some there in the past, but let’s start off a new place with a clean slate.
He also got a fly mask, arab/cob size, which will hopefully fit. It was cheap, so when he inevitably destroys it or removes it and stomps it to death, I won’t be that sad. Do we see a theme here with the things I’m buying for the baby horse? I got a fairly unattractive tan one though, working off of the well-known rule that the uglier a “barn supplies” item is, the longer it will last. We’ll see if that holds true against the whirling dervish of destruction that is Presto.
I also realized that I will need a lot of things in sets of two now. Like… I need two hay nets for the trailer. I need double the amount of salt blocks and fly spray and fungus stuff. Somehow this hadn’t occurred to me yet until I tossed that $3.88 clearance hay net into my cart. Then I had to sit here for a while and think about what all else I would suddenly need two of. I’m 100% certain I haven’t thought of it all yet. I definitely need more fungus spray.
We also sat down and looked at the feed options and what made the most sense. Due to supply issues and the barn’s bulk pricing, it’s easiest and cheapest to get Triple Crown Growth. So we’ll do that and see how it goes. I’m planning on supplementing with Equipride, alfalfa pellets, and a little oil, at least for a while until he’s filled out a bit. I don’t want him fat, he’s a baby, but he’s super growthy right now and looks like he could use the calories. We’ll start there and see how it works out. I’ll let the barn guys feed him the TC/Equipride and I’ll do the alfalfa pellets/oil when I’m there so that I can soak them, easily tailor the amount, and bribe him into loving me.
The barn owner and I also plotted out a good area for a high tie. There aren’t really any trees that are in a good spot for a Patience Tree, but we sure can sling up a high tie with an inner tube in the arena. She has a horse in for training that would benefit from it, and Presto certainly needs to spend time on it, so it’s in process. The main barn worker also said I could borrow his roping saddle to put on Henry for those first few ponying experiences for Presto. Muahahahaha on so many levels.
The alfalfa pellets are already purchased and sitting in my garage, the Equipride is in my guest room, and the TC is on order. The box of barn stuff is already in it’s spot in the tack room (oh hey, other boarders, sorry that I take up literally 1/5 of the tack room on my own). I hesitate to say that we’re definitely prepared, because I’m sure that there are approximately a hundred other things I’m forgetting. But… at least maybe we’re off to a good start?
In some ways it’s like WOW time flies, how he is a year old already? And in other ways I’m looking at all the gray hairs I’m sporting these days and wondering if it’s just my imagination that 90% of them have popped up in the past year. Only a year? THREE more til we’re even thinking about eventing? Sigh. Baby horses really are the long, hard road.
I can’t say that I’m not thrilled with him so far though. Sure, he looks a little bit like a mangey brown flamingo right now, but if your eyes can see past the yearling uglies, I think he’s going to be a nice horse. His gaits are good, he’s leggy, he’s athletic, and he’s smart. I can already see that we will definitely butt heads on a regular basis – that little turd is stubborn and calculating – but those qualities could really come in handy later in his career, so ya know… fair trade.
I see a lot of his sire in him, and also a lot of his dam too. It’s fun to sit there and watch him and be able to pick out which qualities he got from which parent.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget his birth. His sneaky mom laying down out in the pasture in the middle of the afternoon and squirting him out in 10 minutes. The way I felt when I saw that little white foot for the first time. The fact that he was neighing before he was even all the way out. Him thinking that we were his mom before he realized she was right behind him. Those first few steps right through the big pile of hay, because why do anything the easy way?
I loved him immediately.
It’s also hard not to think back on those dark few weeks at the beginning of his life, too. I’m not sure that I’m ready for all the facebook memories that are going to start popping up in my feed. It just breaks my heart all over again. He still has a little hairless scar from where his IV catheter sat taped to his neck, covered in elastikon, for 3 weeks. In some ways that scar is a point of pride. He’s a survivor, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
His story could so easily have had a different ending, and this would be a very different post that I’d have been writing today. But instead I’m wearing one of my Presto Warrior shirts, feeling extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to buy him a goofy hat and make him a silly cake. Maybe I’m that horse owner now. Maybe I’m okay with that.
Happy Birthday little man. You don’t even know how loved you are.