December 28, 2012

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things: Grooming

Might include random tips at the end. Most of us have our favorite tools to use and grooming is pretty standard so this is going to be more for the oddities I've found in grooming that I love and work for me.

Brushes & Tools
  • Slick n Easy - I've used these things ever since I got Dakota. I recently learned a lot of my horse friends have never used one. Great for getting that extra bit of rain rot out or getting out difficult loose hair and dirt.
  • Hoof Brush - I have two of these per horse. I have one I've designated for hoof use and a second I've designated for leg use. They're great on winter muddy legs. I've found regular hard brushes to be a pain. This is small enough you can be more thorough on the legs.
  • Horze Softgrip Brushes - If you're a fan on synthetic / non wooden backed brushes these are great. Especially if you can find yourself a 50% code for the website, you can't beat the price.
  • Roma Tote - Lots of pockets and room to hold all tools.
  • Clipper Bag - Love mine - I feel need for more clippers so I can buy more bags.
There are a few other brands that can't be found with online stores. There is one in particular I plan to try in 2013 at least for pre show use.
 Coat Care
Mane & Tail
Hoof Care
  • Riders Rasp
  • Hoof Polish - If you're going to use a polish... use this one, the other ones are more likely to dry out hooves.
  •  Corn Starch - use on white legs for showing.
  • Don't use spray on conditioner and shine products on a chestnut coat before a show. Use natural oils from your hands and rub down coat. Looks much more natural.
  • Coconut oil - My new number 1 way to condition mane and tails. Leaves hair super soft and easy to work with.
Part of my new brushes I bought for Echo.

Next I'll be reviewing "Apparel" - From show to schooling.

December 20, 2012

Quick Updates - 12/20

So I'm currently waiting for my connecting flight to North Carolina. Looks like I will be one of the lucky ones to get out before our snow storm starts. They're already canceling and adjusting evening flight times here in Chicago.

I saw the ponies Tuesday and last night. Still not feeling well but wanted to see them before I took off.

Here are a few pics of Echo to hold everyone (including me) off until I return next year. Also had to include one of my cat protesting my packing.

December 17, 2012

Quick Updates - 12/17

No I haven't forgotten about you blog world but it sure feels like it.

Friday night was overall uneventful. I lunged Dakota since field was muddy. He was having a good time so instead of making him stop to give Echo some time to run around, I had the brilliant idea to put them in arena together. Considering the last time I did this Dakota kicked the crap out of Echo I was a little afraid but things couldn't have gone smoother.

They took turns playing leader and I think Echo found it comical to make Dakota canter to keep up with her trot. Since both are now pro's at my que to halt while lunging, I signaled them and both came up to me and nuzzled on me at the same time. It felt good to have them both getting along and not fight over me. I started walking around and both followed me with their head over my shoulder. If only it wasn't super dark out or I had someone with me to of taken pics on my good camera - next time though!

Saturday - Monday = sick me. I haven't seen the ponies since Friday. Since I'm leaving Thursday morning, there's no way I'll be able to get enough 'pony time' in before then. Sadface. I plan to go out tomorrow evening after work with one of my friends from high school though who wants to meet Echo. I hope to have enough energy to groom both horses and play with Echo a little.

December 14, 2012

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things: Supplements

  • Finish Line Thia-Cal
  • Calm and Cool - Great product but it test positive for showing.
  • Mare Magic - The miracle supplement. Love. Love. Love. Dakota had to be taken off of it because it worked too well. Plus it doesn't test!
  • SmartCalm - I've used the Regular and the Ultra version of this. They now make it in pellet form too which is nice. Worked really well when I used it.
  • Calm and Cool Paste - Favorite one time use calmer.
  • Finish Line Quia-Cal - Favorite non testing one time use calmer.
  • SmartHoof - The only hoof supplement I've ever personally seen results from. I've used all forms of Regular or Ultra, Powder or Pellet. Improved hoof quality, growth, basically everything!
Joint / Tendon
  • SmartTLC - If you couldn't tell yet, I love SmartPak supplements. I'm sure all of the products in the SmartFlex line are great but the TLC is what I've tried out on Dakota as a prevenative mostly and to help keep existing problems from getting worse.
  • AniMed MSM - My favorite MSM to use.
  • AniFlex Complete - Dakota didn't really like eating this one. Smells strong of yeast, but still have to include it because 1) I tried it for nearly a year 2) I noticed -some- improvement and it would be great as a prevenative for the price.
  • Liquid Motion - Switched to this when Dakota stopped eating the AniFlex Complete. I noticed better results with this one.
  • Cosequin ASU - If you have th emoney to spend, go for a Cosequin product. I've never personally used it, but I've seen it work miracles on horses.
  • SmartTendon - I'm pretty sure this is one of those supplements that is controversial. Surely no supplement could really help tendons. Well I know one horse that always bows a tendon if he's not on this one. When Dakota bowed his tendon and was off over a year, I gave this to him starting 3 months after the injury and fed it for 6 months. I noticed significant tendon improvement in that time.
Multi-Vitamin / Multi-Mineral
Ulcer / Digestion
  • ProCMC - Used this a long time ago on a whacked out thoroughbred. He was definitely improved when he was on this.
  • U-7 - By far my favorite!! One of my previous horses was on this and her coat improved, behavior, etc. We tried taking her off and she deteriorated almost immediately. Worth every single penny.
  • SmartGut - Haven't tried it but would be willing to give it a go based on reviews and the fact I trust SmartPak supplements.
Skin / Coat
  • SmartDark & Hansom - SmartPak version of Dark as Knight, which I prefer. Keeps dark coats dark! But sadly it test in drug testing.
  • SmartShine
  • The oils listed below always help too!
Energy / Blood Builders
  • Red Cell - Can add energy to a horse, but I've noticed a good difference at same time every time I've used it.
My supplement chaos that I have previously gone into detail about.

Next I'll be reviewing "Grooming" - perfect timing for winter mud!

December 12, 2012

2 Down 1 To Go

AHHHHHH Finals... I hate you finals, and love you at the same time. You make my brain feel like an over fried piece of... something. At the same time, semester is nearly OVER. Tomorrow by 4:00pm I will be DONE. Finite Mathematics exam is done today.. Finished my bogus Intro to Excel class last night that I took for the lousy 1 credit so I was considered 'full time' student. Tomorrow is Accounting exam which should be a piece of cake. The fact I'm comparing my Accounting class to cake is a miracle in itself since I failed my online attempt the first try and had a horrid instructor the second. I guess third time really is the charm and equals a 4.0 (YAY).

Monday night I got everything done and had both horses in. I started with Dakota first... It was super muddy and gross so I let him in the arena to let him run mud free for a few minutes and he was super happy about the opportunity. I think I saw 10-15 bucks and he had to of jumped 5-10 times over the non existing pole between the cavalletti stands. Typical Dakota dorky fashion basically. Cooled him out and returned him to his dinner.

Echo I decided to take her in the arena and have grooming time in the arena so she doesn't associate the arena with being bad. She loves being groomed so I figured it was a good chance to take since she was caked in mud. I bribed her into the arena with 'cookies' - yea probably not the best way, but it worked. She was a bit antsy at first but calmed down and let me groom her and she started to stand really well toward the end.

Last night I got to the barn earlier than normal so K and I decided to go for a ride. Worst part? It snowed the night before and was only a high of 35 yesterday. Second worse part? We rode outside. Yep, we're smart. I lunged the feisty 12yr old Dakota before I tacked up. It's been years since I've had to do this with him but he just all of a sudden seems to have this... fire in him and he's ready to go. If I don't lunge, it takes him way longer than normal to settle in and get to the point he's willing to work. We warmed up in the arena and after a good 10-15 minutes headed outside. Ground was a little firm from being so cold but it was soft / giving enough still we weren't worried about it being TOO hard. K jumped the log and big scary blue barrels a few times. I tried cantering again on Dakota, got a few good strides in but we were not connecting with each other last night at all. He was hungry and I was frozen. Over all it was a fun ride, but nothing overly productive.

Dakota's lessons have been cancelled for the coming weeks since his student broke a couple of fingers. Gives me an extra night to ride the brat and work Echo so it will work in the long run. However tonight the plan is give Dakota the evening off and work with miss Echo on some ground manners.

December 10, 2012

Cold Cold Go Away

I hate this time of year. The limbo between fall and winter fully starting. By 5:00pm it's usually mid to high 30's and if it wasn't for moving around and doing chores I'd be frozen. At least when it's snowing it's a little better and doesn't feel as cold. Speaking of snow, it was actually snowing today when I came into work... Only the second snow fall of the season so far which I think is a Michigan record.

After Friday's Echo training antics I've decided it's time to take a step back in her training. I knew the time would come. A horse can only handle a system overload of new training for so long. Great to know she's accepting of some things like saddle, bridle, etc but I still have no intention of trying to ride her until spring so those things can go away for awhile. Plus with her 10 day UTI break from training and 2 weeks off coming up over the holiday's she will have to mentally restart after the first of the year anyway. There's zero need to rush her and I'd rather take my time and get the horse I want under saddle. We've already come this far in 9 weeks and I'm not about to make training a frustrating, evil experience.

So we're going to go back to ground manners. Leading, taking walks around together and a bit of desensitization. She's gotten a lot better about being lead - walk when I walk, stop when I stop - still gets anxious and tries to keep walking but world of difference than she was 9 weeks ago. She doesn't rush in and out of her stall like she did, and she doesn't freak out coming out of the pasture at night. We still need to work on things like standing when we're stopped while leading, being tied to be groomed (and not breaking ropes and halters), more work on picking and holding all 4 hooves up so she's even better the next time the farrier visits. I have a load of things to still introduce to her to try and desensitize so we'll have plenty to do for the coming weeks! 

December 9, 2012

Dressage Work & Unicorns

Friday night I really had no interest in going home so I spent a solid 5 hours at the barn. K had to go play in band at a high school basketball game so I was in charge of feeding all the horses. I decided to be super productive and I cleaned some tack, raked the loose hay up (and tossed it to the beast in the fields), cleaned stalls, scrubbed feed pans and buckets and just did some general tidying up of my things. Brought both Dakota and Echo in. My intention was to lunge both... Dakota in saddle and side reins and Echo on the lunge line.

I made the mistake of starting with Echo. Lets just say by the time I was done with her, there was zero chance of Dakota entering the arena that night. Echo and I had discussion after discussion to the point we were both physically and emotionally tired and frustrated. I feel like I 'won' a few of the battles. I walked her in and out of the arena making a big deal out of how good of a girl she was each time. I know we were both pushed beyond our breaking point but she kept pulling little stunts I felt like I couldn't let her get away with and end the night on a bad note. Each time I was ready to call it a night she did something completely idiotic and we had to work through it.

Dear Echo:
  • The arena is not, I repeat - NOT, a scary place that should be avoided. The arena is a place to get down to training business and not to sleep but this does not mean it's bad. You need to remember the times we go in the arena and just walk with me feeding you cookies and bonding. Yes I ask you to lunge and work few times a week, but you're a horse and you will be ridden one day so you better get over it.
  • Once you're IN the arena, it is not necessary to hover by the gate. The gate is a horse eating scary thing. It is unwise to hunker by it and try rearing over it. Beware, it will eat you one day.
  • When you're on a lunge line, it is not advised to stop and become a reining horse spinning the opposite direction and wrapping the line around your neck. I am trying to get you to see that when on the line, it's much better for you to move in a bigger circle. It's more benificial for your muscles and joints. If I have to keep you in a small circle to prevent spinning I will but its not THE goal or point of lunging.
I finally got Echo cooled out and fed both horses and went home for a long, well deserved bubble bath.

Saturday was a much better day. Megan, my non-horse friend / neighbor was going to the barn with me. I once again was in charge of feeding all horses so I knew we'd be there for a little while. We both had goals for our time at the barn. Mine were 1) Give Echo the day off and let her know I still love her despite her previous night antics 2) Ride Dakota and work on our walk/trot trot/walk transitions. Megan had alternative ideas in mind. Her plans included the grey near 'white' mustang gelding at the barn and a foam sparkle unicorn horn she had bought.

She had a different friend of hers that lives in Washington DC proclaim to her that she wanted a unicorn for her birthday. These were the resulting photos to be sent to her friend.

Megan and the unicorn
Megan also proved quite 'helpful' with barn chores.
After our unicorn encounters I got things ready for the night and brought Dakota in to get ready for our ride. Considering he was feisty getting ready, he was incredibly well behaved under saddle. I think we made some great progress and were productive in our walk to trot transitions (usually sloppy and in need of refinement) and he was actually listening to my ques to go from trot to walk (very unusual and usually requires excess queing). Also was able to keep him in a decent circle through a few transitions AND without him swinging his head out or dropping his shoulder. I was also able to get him to maintain a circle while changing the size of circle without loosing his headset. We need more of these kinds of nights!! Last night really got me pumped and even more motivated for our hopeful 2013 show season.

I'm off to the barn shortly and giving both horses the evening off. Mostly because I'm sore, tired and need to study / finish homework for my math course tomorrow. Tomorrow night I'll work with Echo some more and hopefully have a productive evening with her!

December 7, 2012

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things: Blankets

We kick off my new Friday mini series with a popular topic for this time of year, blankets! I've had some awful experiences with horse apparel and some equally great. Here are the great ones, most I've had personal experience with or have seen them in action among my closest horse friends.

Turnouts - Sheet, Mid and Heavy Weight
  • StormShield NEW BRITION - SOOO excited that Schneiders came out with a new line of this blanket. I was bummed when the others went on closeout and crossed my fingers it meant a new one was coming. Cannot wait to get my hands on this one. 
  • DuraTech Viking II - Haven't tried this one yet myself but at that price and at 1200D it's worth a shot.
  • StormShield EXTREME - Horse Journal's pick of 2012 and at 1680D it's an unbeatable price. Plus a 2 year guarantee! 
  • StormShield CLASSIC EURO - I can't tell you how many of these I have bought. I love them. Great color choices and holds up will at 1200D.
  • SmartPak Ultimate Ballistic Nylon Turnout Blanket - A 10 YEAR guarantee on a blanket?! I'm thinking whoever came up with this idea is both brilliant and insane. There are some horses I'd love to put this blanket on and let them give it a true test run. I'm thinking this is going to be my blanket of choice for Echo once I know I'll be able to consistently blanket her.
  • Riders International - I know many people that like these blankets. I have yet to try them myself. For their price and at 1200D, I always end up on a Schneiders blanket.
Stable Sheets
  • Centaur Basics Stable Sheet - Love this sheet. Dakota has had one for 3+ years with very little wear and tear on it. They also make same sheet in solid colors for your plaid haters.
  • Baker - Of course you have to include a Baker. Who doesn't love Baker?
Stable Blankets
  • Masta Stable Rugs - Hard to find in the United States but I managed to snatch one when I worked for State Line Tack and it's held up amazing, I can't tell you how many times I've washed the thing either! Dakota stays nice and warm with it.
  • Riders International - Good all round Stable Blanket.
  • Schneiders Stable Blankets
Fly Sheets & Accessories
Dakota sporting his Schneider's New Briton blanket!

Next Friday I'll be reviewing "Supplements" - one of my favorite topics!

December 6, 2012

Quick Updates - 12/06

K had a band concert so she wasn't able to feed last night so I went ahead and fed everyone. By the time I was done I was way too tired and wanted to get home to finish homework for today, so I didn't ride Dakota. Finals are next week so I'm hoping to get a few good rides in before I leave for the Christmas holiday.

I gave Echo one final night off from work. Tonight I plan to free lunge her 10 - 15 minutes just to let her know her mini break is over. Tomorrow I'll see how she's feeling after tonight and hopefully work her some more. If K's up to it, might go for a ride - I really dislike riding alone for simple reason of 1) if something happens there's no one there 2) Dakota hates being in the arena alone.

On a happy note, it's Thursday which means its my 'short' day of work and I'm done with work / class by 4:00 this afternoon and to the barn by 4:20. I like Thursday because it is proceeded by Friday, plus my favorite TV shows are on Thursday nights.

Tomorrow morning before work I have to go back to dentist to get fitted for some mouth thingy to try and improve my jaw pain / discomfort caused by my 'TMJ' - which started years ago after getting kicked in the head by Dakota (yes I still own and love that horse). So not sure when I'll get off work tomorrow and be able to get to barn for some pony time but with no major plans over the weekend the horses better be dreading the torture I'll find for them.

December 5, 2012

Chaos of a Week

Monday night the farrier came out for regular trims on all horses. Dakota hadn't been trimmed that long ago so he needed a quick rasp. His front right, his problem hoof grew a lot faster than the others but at same time we need it to grow so it was decent news. 

Echo... Echo was back to herself. The concept of holding a leg up longer than 30 seconds baffles her mind still. She wiggles every direction possible and wants to see everything going on to her hoof.

Tuesday (last night) marked the official one week mark of Echo being on antibiotics. She still is showing excessive urination, but does not appear to be in pain when she urinates. I'm leaning more and more toward the theory of erratic heat cycles. Avoiding social convention of heat cycles calming down this time of year and only having one cycle a month. She'll be super easy to breed when the time comes, in fact it's been suggested to me I breed her to get her to level back out. That however is going to have to wait.

Echo also got a new field mate, Turbo. Turbo had been at the barn before and was owned / ridden by K. However after it was decided he didn't have the heart and power to hold up to eventing, K sold him to a friend of the family for trail riding. Since the guy who bought him doesn't have a good winter set up, he's back for a few months and is turned out with Echo, Glitch and Indy the pony.

Brought both horses in to feed and groomed Echo. I kind of wanted to ride Dakota but decided to wait until tomorrow or Thursday for a ride. I put up my 'ghetto' style stall guards, aka lead ropes. Dakota broke his in the past so I have none at the moment. I think I'll be investing in a few though since Echo seems to like to be able to look out when she is in her stall. I proceeded to give Echo as good of a grooming as possible... It was rather difficult considering the amount of mud on her. The dirt had dirt on it. I wish I had a before picture!
Watching all the other horses outside.
My failed attempt at an artistic leather picture.  I'll try again someday!
Love this face!
I promise I cleaned stalls after the pictures were taken!
Trying to sniff each other.
Tonight Dakota's lesson has been cancelled so I will probably go for a ride on him. I need some Dakota time after my stressful week. Classes wrap up next week for the semester which is a complete YAY meets freak out. Work on our walk / trot transitions. Hopefully with his recent trim he won't be such a jerk on transitions. Going to give Echo a thorough groom. Tomorrow hopefully Echo will be ready to work a little bit. I don't want to push her but she's looking more and more like herself. 

December 4, 2012

Blog Mini Series

Winter is upon us as we turned the calendar to December this week. I fully admit as it gets colder and colder, my spare time is less likely spent in the barn. I'm sure I won't be working with Echo 3-4 times a week like I want once she's healthy enough to be worked. I want to keep writing post so this is part of my way to take up that missing time.

All 'series' will be 8, 12 or 16 weeks long. If this works out and people seem to like it, I may find things to continue with.

December - February: These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things - I've been going through all of my horse stuff since I found out I was getting Echo, trying to reorganize for 2 horses. It the process I found a lot of things that I had a "Ick that needs to be thrown away" or "I love this" reaction too. So this series is my way of sharing the good reactions. From everything from tack to supplements and apparel to first aid.

March - June: Echo's Stallion Selections - What mare owner doesn't love browsing stallions to potentially breed your mare(s) to? These will be my top picks for everything from Thoroughbreds to warmbloods and sporthorses.

August - September: Under the Influence - More favorite things, but this time it will be more industry wide and along the lines of "these are the top 10 racehorses that have influenced me..." or top riders, trainers, etc.

Future Ideas - Comments or Suggestions Needed! These could be a weekly / bi-weekly / monthly post. I don't want anything more frequent than weekly for fear it'd take away too much time from post about Echo and her training.
- Industry Trends - Economy, Legislation Passing, etc could be covered here. Whether it be racing, eventing, dressage, etc.
- Organization Spotlight - Equine organizations I've come across in my years as a horse owner that I feel actually do good for the horse world and ones I've seen actual results from.

December 3, 2012

Healthy Echo on the Rise

Echo seems to be on the mend. She's more and more like herself every day. I saw her running in the field a bit and is back to being feisty in her stall. 

Friday was a bad night for me. I went to the farm, fed fast and went home. Echo bit me in the process of giving her the syringe of apple sauce and antibiotics. Ouch. Then the emotions of the week between Echo and work caught up with me. After a good crying session over the phone with my Mom we got my plane ticket purchased for me to go see her over Christmas in North Carolina.

Saturday I went to the barn super early for me, around 1 in afternoon, and got stalls ready for both Echo and Dakota. I discovered Echo will eat her antibiotics if they're mixed in with her hay pellets. Yay for no more getting bit. I think had to go home and spend late afternoon and evening tortured at my 5yo cousins birthday party.

Sunday I went shopping and out to lunch with my Dad. We finally got him a new computer! First one since 2001ish. I was ready to take a sledge hammer to the old one - so frustrating. Now I get to learn Windows 8 because my Dad is technology impaired and I'll have to walk him through almost everything.

Few pictures to hold everyone over until I get new ones of Echo.

Dakota being naughty and refusing to go back out in the field.
My cat Holly enjoying feeding time in my aquarium.