Wednesday, January 2, 2019

One Step, Two Steps, Breathe

"One Step, Two Steps, Breathe." That's the mantra I repeated as I slowly hand walked Cupid around the farm.

"One Step, Two Steps, Breathe." Don't focus on the fact that my partner is in pain, don't obsess about the horrible outcome that could arise if this didn't resolve itself. Just focus on walking, breathing, and talking to Cupid.

Sunday started like any other Sunday for me. I woke up, made some tea and a bagel, and left for the barn. I arrived at the barn around 8:30 and took a minute to watch a pair of woodpeckers on a light post. Their little feet quickly moved them around the post as they investigated it for potential food sources. Eventually they fluttered away towards a tree in search of a better meal than the light post provided. Watching those woodpeckers in a memory seared into my mind. Just the peace and simplicity of seeing the joy they took in climbing that post.

I got the girls fed quickly and set about doing basic chores while they ate. After about 10 minutes I walked over to their feeding stalls to find Cupid performing a Flehmen response and pawing at the ground. Instantly, I knew something was wrong and let her out of the stall. She walked over near the paddock gate and laid down. As I saw her go down I felt my heart stop.

The droopy ears and flared nose killed me
Thankfully, she just laid down and did not try to roll immediately. I quickly grabbed her halter and by the time I returned to her side she had begun to roll. All the hours we had spent training together came in handy as I quickly got her haltered and asked her to stand. From the look on her face I knew she did not want to rise but she did so because I asked.

We walked for what felt like hours waiting for the Banamine to kick in, waiting for her stomach to start rumbling, waiting and hoping and praying that I would not have to make the call that every owner dreads. I had called the vet and we decided to try a dose of Banamine with hand walking and seeing how she was in a few hours. The vet was confident from my description of Cupid's behavior that we would be successful with that treatment but her confidence did little to resolve my worry.

With each step I had to keep reminding myself that as long as she was standing, as long as she remained aware of our surroundings then things were alright. I spoke to her as we walked, talking to her about everything and anything I could think of. How stressed I was about the way things had fallen apart with a boy, how I wanted to succeed at my job and become a valuable team player, how excited I was to have her as my trail riding partner at my parents home, anything and everything that crossed my mind as we walked.
Investigating the stall for any food remnants while we took a walk break. 
After around an hour of walking I began to hear her stomach rumble lightly. I could have cried from relief because things were finally turning around. After 90 minutes of walking she began to bump my hip with her nose, directly at the spot where I always carried my training pouch. We did not make it to 2 hours of walking. Cupid decided, just after discovering that I had taken off the treat pouch, that she was done with this walking crap and instead decided she wanted to investigate what the chickens were doing.

Seeing that my friend was going to be fine I placed her in a stall to wait for her to pass manure. This was the longest 2 hours I could have imagined. Cupid was downright furious that she was being cheated out of a hay ration, and spent those hours flinging anything she could grab at me. Salt lick pan - flung all over the stall and scraped against the bars. Jolly Ball - stomped on until it resembled a pancake then thrown out of the stall. Water bucket - dumped several times and would have been thrown if I wasn't monitoring her. I think we were both relieved when she finally pooped and could go out on grass for a few minutes.
"Mom, please let me out of the stall."
The plan for the rest of the day was to leave her in a stall with her jolly ball and a bran mash. The vet agreed that, while the experience had been traumatic for me, it was an extremely mild case of colic. Everyone reassured me that she would be fine and that it was the best colic situation I could have asked for. I tend to disagree.
Pissed off because she realized she's stuck in the barn for the night
Walking Cue around the property because I needed to keep her moving was the worst part of the experience. I feared her giving up and just falling to her knees unable to rise, unable to join me on our long awaited adventure. Her eyes never lost their spark, and she kept tapping me with her nose, as if to say "I'll be alright, I'll be here with you". But my mind kept screaming "one step, two steps, breathe", because the primal act of breathing automatically did not seem like something I was capable of during those moments.
Watching me walk up the next day. The spark back in her eyes.
I don't know why Cupid coliced. The vet speculates that the sudden temperature changes and dryness might have contributed to it. No matter the reason, this is something I would never wish upon anyone. Currently, Cupid is back to her usual routine. She shows no indication that she was ever unwell and hopefully this is something we never have to experience again for a long time. I'll give her a bit of a break to ensure that she is fully recovered, but as I looked into her eyes yesterday I knew that every moment I have with her is a blessing. This little grey mare with the split ear has truly stolen my heart.

Grooming the Grey - What's In My Grooming Box?

If there's one thing I've learned from owning a grey horse it's that no horse is ever 100% clean. Every brush stroke adds dirt and removes it at the same time. Because of this I try to clean my brushes regularly. This not only allows my horse to stay cleaner but also gives me the chance to organize my grooming tools, or which I have far too many. While cleaning my brushes I decided it might be fun to share with you what's in my grooming box!

The following are some of my favorite grooming products that I keep in my everyday grooming box.

To start with, my grooming tote is a pink Little Giant Duratote I bought from Jeffers Equine. The plastic makes it easy to clean and it has held up very well through several drops and kicks. Both sides of the tote are the same size which allows me to stuff all my various grooming products in without having anything fall out.
The next critical products in my grooming box are my everyday sprays. The first is Endure Sweat Resistant Fly Spray. Because Florida is extremely hot and buggy I need something that will not sweat off my horses and will not wash off in the rain. So far I have been very impressed with Endure. The roller ball contains fly spray for face applications and around the occasional cut. The pink bottle contains Healthy HairCare Hair Moisturizer. This product has been a life saver for Cupid's mane and tail, and I can't wait to see how it helps Foxy's skimpy tail and thin mane.
The next image is some of my everyday hoof products. Because Cupid has a bit of a reoccurring thrush problem I always have a bottle or two of Thrush Buster handy. While most people might use Hooflex for hooves I find it works amazing to keep chestnuts moisturized and clean looking. It does cause a bit of a greasy look to the hair around the chestnuts but my mares look less feral since I started applying this every few days.
The next product pictured is Life Data Farrier's Finish. I love using this as a disinfectant and conditioner on hooves. It helps keep thrush at bay and makes hooves look amazing. While this is expensive the bottle seems to last a long time. The final product is Iodine. I keep this on hand at all times for cuts, scrapes, or other funny ailments that might pop up from time to time on legs.
The first curry, and a personal favorite of my horses, is the Oster Fine Curry Comb. Both mares love this curry on their faces and it is amazing at pulling up dandruff on thick winter coats. The second curry is also by Oster, their Coarse Curry Comb, which is great for breaking up dirt and on winter coats. I also enjoy using this curry during baths around shedding season. The third curry is by far my favorite, the Epona Shed Flower. Shedding season with Cupid never seemed to end. She was a furry, shedding beast for far too long and the shed flower was greatly appreciated. The teeth pulled all the loose hair out gently, and the flower shape is comfortable to hold. The fourth and final curry comb is a standard rubber curry comb. I do have a smaller size to fit my smaller hands.
My hoof pick collection might seem small but don't worry, I have plenty of backups in my tack trunk at home. With how often I lose these things I make sure to buy them in bulk. My favorite hoof pick is the SmartPak Hoof Pick Brush with Grip. This hoof pick feels right in my hand and sturdy enough to pick out packed dirt with ease. The brush has held up through several years of use and cleans up nicely. The second hoof pick that I always keep in my box is the Tail Tamer's Coated Steel Hoof Pick, this is a smaller hoof pick that I use when it has been dry out and there is not a lot of debris packed in the hoof. Another item that I keep with my hoof pick collection is a hoof cleaning brush, when applying thrush products I always make sure to brush out the hoof with this brush to ensure all the sand and dirt is removed. This also works great as a water brush to truly clean the hoof.
The next two items are pretty self explanatory, a pair of hair cutting scissors and a wide tooth comb from the dollar store. The scissors work well when I need to cut length off a mane or bang tails, and because they were cheap I don't need to worry about them getting wet.
As every horseman knows, good brushes are worth their weight in gold. I keep four brushes in my grooming box. The first is the Wahl Stiff Body Brush, this is a nice hard brush with medium bristles that I use for everyday grooming. The next is the Wahl Soft Body Brush, which is a soft brush that brings out a nice shine. The third brush is Foxy's favorite, the Wahl Face Brush. Fox will stand completely still and drop her head to her knees so I can brush her blaze with this brush. The fourth brush is my favorite during extremely dirty days or for a dusty winter coat, it's the Epona Fancy Dandy Flower Flick Brush. This is very comfortable in my hand and has longer bristles than the stiff body brush above.
The final items I keep in my grooming box are the Wahl Sweat Scraper, the Epona Tiger Tongue, and pet grooming gloves that I bought off Amazon for shedding season. The horses love the gloves and the tiger tongue and will lean into both of them for a deeper scratching.
So there you have it! My grooming items in my long running fight to keep that grey mare clean! What's in your grooming box?

Monday, December 31, 2018

2019 Repeat (Music) Goals

My final set of goals for 2019! My repeat, or music, goals!

1) Push myself out of my comfort zone.
This involves pushing myself to learn solos, work on the piccolo parts, and at least learn the 1st flute parts for all the songs in orchestra this year. I typically learn my part to the best of my ability but tend to sit back and ignore the solos or other "tough" parts that might appear which is not helping me grow as a musician.

2) Take advantage of all CFCArts opportunities.
This means attending all sectionals, signing up for all secondary opportunities, and potentially volunteering to assist with CFCArts events outside of the orchestra.

3) Work on my higher register.
I can pull off the first half of the 3rd register with very little difficulty but the second half requires some focus. A huge "reach" goal I have for 2019 is to master the entire 3rd register so I can perform it with very little focus.

If you're a musician or an artist what are your goals for 2019?

Sunday, December 30, 2018

2019 Reading Challenge

Question, what do Leo Tolstoy, William Faulkner, Stephen King, and Amy Tan all have in common?

They're all authors who have books on the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge! Every year I set a reading goal for number of books read, typically 100. This year I decided to be different and go for a specific set of books.

A few years ago I had attempted to start the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge but got distracted by life and quit. While thinking about what to set for this years challenge I decided to give the RGRC another go. I have located this list from Betty Vintage that I like the format of and plan to follow along and mark up the list as I go.

My goal for this year is to get through at least a third of the books on it. Ideally, I would like to take the books in order as found on the list. But, depending on availability at my library and other resources I may need to skip books and get back to them.

What's your reading goal for 2019?

Saturday, December 29, 2018

2019 Riding Goals

My 2019 riding goals are fairly basic and not very detailed. As always, I just want to focus on where life takes us and what the mares tell me they want to do.

1) Get them successfully settled into their new home!
The mares will be moving out to my parents place after the shed is extended to accommodate them. I hope to help them through this transition so they can settle down comfortably and enjoy their new home. I expect there will be large learning curve going from boarding to self care so I look forward to conquering this with them!

2) Take both mares out on the trails.
The new home will have trails and a shared riding arena. I can't wait to take the girls out on the trails and go exploring with them! We already have a few friends to go riding with so I anticipate this being fairly easy to achieve once they settle in.

3) Work on the Intro and Training Dressage movements
I would love to continue my dressage education, but because of the pending move I am not sure if  we will have the resources available to work with a trainer but I do plan on working on bending and transitions with my girls.

Overall, these are not overly ambitious goals but I wanted to set the bar low since I will be asking the girls to completely adjust to their new home and living schedule.

Friday, December 28, 2018

2019 Running Goals

It's that time of year again! Time to set goals that I probably will forget about and time to try and achieve the "New Year, New Me" mentality that everyone seems to focus on for the first few days. I've separated these into a four different posts, each post focusing on a different aspect of this blog. The first post is my running goals for 2019!

1) Actually maintain a consistent running schedule, ideally 2 times a week.
Every year I try to focus on adding more mileage, bu this year I've decided I need to step back and focus on maintaining the consistency and quality of my running. In a perfect world I would manage 3-4 running sessions a week, but in my world I've decided to focus on twice a week with one run on the weekend.

2) Incorporate more hill work.
I hate hill work. I hate walking hills, I hate running hills, I just hate hills. So for 2019 I've decided to try and master the hill work which will hopefully help me achieve a better pace during races.

3) Take advantage of the dog stroller.
Yes, I am one of those people. My dogs have a stroller and with 70 lbs of dog in that stroller it is extremely difficult to push. The stroller is designed to be run with so I really should take advantage of that and run with the dogs. Hopefully their extra weight will work to improve my pace and muscle growth to make pushing myself during races easier.

What are your running goals for 2019?

Oh For Fox Sake

I apologize for the lack of posts this year, but I have a fun announcement for my readers!

In early November, Cupid and I have welcomed a new horse to our little herd! Welcome to the family Foxy, or For Fox Sake!
Foxy is a 2004 American Saddlebred mare, who I adopted from Grune Heidi Farm Rescue in Lakeland, FL. I had initially gone to the rescue to look at a different horse, but when I looked at Foxy for my trainer I was impressed with what I saw.
Foxy has been found in New Holland back in 2003 and was rescued by another kind hearted horse lover. She spent several years with her savior, but unfortunately, her savior needed to downsize so she enlisted the assistance of Grune Heidi to find Foxy a forever home.
Foxy is a total love bug of a mare, who loves to work on groundwork and has a strong drive to please. She is a bit more sensitive than Cupid but has the same "in your pocket" personality that I'm attracted to. Under saddle she is an extremely fun ride and seems to have a nice movement for lower level dressage.
I'm still working on getting to know Foxy and earn her trust but it has been such a rewarding process so far. She has been getting along great with Cupid and has quickly learned that she is expected to dress up for the holidays.
One big project that we've been working on is desensitizing her to various "scary" things. When she first arrived at the barn, Fox would spook at me touching her on the center of her face. With time and lots of treats, she has come to learn that face scratches are amazing.
I can't wait to see how our partnership develops. The only goal I have for us at the moment is to have her trust me and to get her back under saddle with a solid foundation.
Welcome to the family Foxy!

One Step, Two Steps, Breathe

"One Step, Two Steps, Breathe." That's the mantra I repeated as I slowly hand walked Cupid around the farm. "One Step, ...