Trying to take pictures of my horse goes something like this

 First I smile because I know you must have cookies

Oh my god...what is that in the distance?!

Wait...wait...wait is that GRASS over there?

If you're not going to let me have the grass I'm going to paw the ground

If you're still not going to let me have the grass I'll just drag both of us over there

Okay, fine. Let's compromise. One quick picture...



Phew...It's all good! Talked to barn owner today and she has just been super busy! I really need to relax...We are all set to move on Saturday and I'm so excited. Me and Carole are planning on moving the boys earlier in the morning than we originally planned because it's supposed to be 90+ degrees on Saturday. Tomorrow afternoon I'll head up to the barn to give him a good bath, pull his mane, and trim him up so he's all clean and fancy for the move. Hope he likes it and settles in well!
I also got the results for Finn's vitamin E/Selenium testing back. I have him on a vitamin e/selenium supplement but because he tested high on selenium and on the low end of normal on vit e it looks like I'll have to take him off of it and switch him to a better vitamin e supplement. Vet recommended Elevate, but the only place I've found that carries it is Dover, and it's not in Smartpaks.



Vitamin E: 269 ug/dL
Comments: The reference ranges for serum vitamin E in horses vary with age. The following values are based on data in, Vitamin Levels in Animal Health, published in 1994 by Puls.
Neonatal foal: 180 to 200 ug/dL 
10 day to 1 month old foal: 120 to 800 ug/dL 
1 month to 2 years old: 150 to 1000 ug/dL 
Mature horse: 200 to 1000 ug/dL
Vitamin E is not stable and some sample characteristics and handling procedures may decrease the concentration of vitamin E present in serum samples. Factors that may affect vitamin E levels in a serum sample include hemolysis, contact with rubber stoppers, repeated freezing and thawing and exposure to light.
The NRC recommends that equine diets contain 80 to 100 IU vitamin E per kg of dry matter. Vitamin E is very safe to supplement and
vitamin E toxicosis has not been reported in livestock. 

Blood, Whole, Edta
Selenium, whole blood Quantity: 26.31 ug/dL Comments: The reference values for blood selenium in horses, based on Stowe (1998) are:
1-9 days: 9.80 to 13.5 ug/dL 
10-30 days: 11.2 to 15.0 ug/dL
1 mo-1 year:12.6 to 16.5 ug/dL
 Greater than 1 year:14.0 to 24.0 ug/dL

Blood selenium concentrations less than 6.0 ug/dL have been associated with white muscle disease in neonatal livestock. signs of selenium toxicosis are reported with blood selenium concentrations above 110 ug/dL (Puls, 1994).
Vitamin E Alcohol, in serum This analysis was developed to determine the vitamin E (as alpha-tocopherol) concentration in serum samples. Analysis of an inappropriate sample, such as serum collected or stored in gel clot tubes, or plasma instead of serum, could affect the accuracy of the test result .
Report Date: 5/29/2013 9:07:57AM


A little nervous

Finn's had some time off. After another bout of terrible hives and meds that work intermittently, I decided it was best to just give him some time off before we move and hope for the best after we move. The drive up there makes me cringe every time I think about it, so rather than stress and get annoyed, Finn's had the life of a pasture puff this past week, and I'm sure he's loving it.

We are supposed to move this Saturday at 10AM. I emailed barn owner last week, called her when I didn't hear back, left a voicemail, and then left another voicemail this week... I wanted to make sure that we were all set to move, that she had all the information she needed, I wanted to get a list of different feeds they use so that I could research and pick the best one for him, and I wanted to get the name of the barn's vet so I could get all his paperwork transferred ASAP. I have not heard back from her. We are moving in 3 days and I have absolutely no information. From the looks of the barn's website she's away at a show all weekend. While checking out the website I noticed the price of board increased by $100 then from what's on my signed boarding contract?! After having my horse at a barn where the owners are super responsive, and the barn manager treats my horse like a prince, I can only hope he'll receive a similar level of care...but I'm seriously doubting that now.

I am confused. And annoyed. And just wish I could have my horse at home so I could take care of him myself.


The almost eventer

Finn had Sunday off. I went up to the barn on Monday to ride in the afternoon and it was nearly 90 degrees. I had downloaded a pretty cool app called cyclemeter on my iphone, with one of the acitivites being horseback riding. I thought it would be cool to have something that tracks my time in the saddle, speed, distance etc. I also ride my bike a lot, so I'll be able to track that too. We had a somewhat short ride (34.52 minutes), due to the heat. We traveled a total of 2.71 miles, with an average speed of 4.66 miles and a top speed of 14.25mph. We also cantered a few ground poles to work on my own release. Finn was also a lot less spooky in the outdoor than he usually is. Finn then got hosed off, and his sheath cleaned (fun).
Aren't I cute?!
Early this morning I get a text from the barn manager "Hi, sorry but Finn is covered in hives again this AM".
Yesterday was his last day of treatment. This morning his hives were back before he was even turned out. After a frantic call into the vet we're going to do four more days of treatment and see where we are then. Finn will be turned out with his fly sheet from now on. If his hives come back again we'll have to do allergy testing. The vet seems to think that when we move his hives might subside. The barn we're moving to isn't nearly as buggy or dusty. 
     When I first got my plucky, little 15.3h TB with his myriad of health and behavioral issues....Well I had dreams of Rolex. 

Then our first summer looked like this:

We're jumping all of 12 inches, practically cavaletti, and I'm terrified. Before Finn, I was leasing a total packer. Perfect post-baby horse, and perfect horse to take to hunter paces and gallop 3ft cross country fences no problem, because I knew I would be fine. Now I have a green TB who I probably have no business or right owning. I probably should have that packer to take me to that first event. I love Finn, but he is no packer. He spooks at the wind moving through the grass, rears when nervous or excited, and I honestly can't imagine taking him to a show. My fear of what could happen outweighs everything. I guess I expected to go from jumping the old QH through courses and feeling like the most confident rider ever...To applying those same principles to Finn. Instead, we've dealt with a year of on and off mystery lameness that we now have under control, a couple of moves, and now severe, seasonal allergies. A few weeks ago I was thinking about taking him to a little schooling dressage show next weekend, now I'm thinking how to best manage my horse's allergies and if he's going to be a mess all summer. I know that there are riders out there who get a new horse, even a green one, and take him to a show a few weeks later. I am not that type of rider. I am a perfectionist through and through, and want to be 100% prepared before we attempt to do anything. It seems like our whole past year together has been a bunch of let downs. Last November we got into one of the clinics at Equine Affaire (a huge equine expo) with Julie Goodnight. I was ecstatic, and couldn't believe we got in. Then, we couldn't find a trailer ride down there. Then when we finally found a ride, Finn was lame. Audition video for Equine Affaire:

 Watching that video (taken over the course of a few weeks last August-September), I know we've come so far since then. It's just slow going. I do not want this to be another summer where we are just dealing with more issues. Let's hope the stars line up for us this season. 



Luckily the vet was able to come out right away to take a look at Finn's hives:
They were even worse than this on his sides

After a steroid shot and a day of dexamethasone (of a four day treatment) his hives cleared right up. The vet said his lungs sounded really raspy, but she attributed it to allergies, and not something more serious like pneumonia. She also recommended soaking his hay from now on so he won't be breathing in the dust from it. The barn he's at right now is extremely dusty. The paddocks are dirt and there is basically just dirt and dust everywhere. Luckily, his new barn has grass paddocks and just a whole lot more greenery. I'm hoping his normal little warm up cough (two or three coughs), and his super dry hooves, will subside once we move. Two weeks from now we'll be all moved in to our new home and I can't wait!  Vet also tested for Vitamin E and Selenium deficiency. Finn's had a pretty dull coat recently, even though he's on Omega's, and the vet thought it would be worth it to test. New England is very deficient in Vit. E/Selenium, and even though he's on a supplement, she thought it might not be enough. Results should be in around Wednesday.
   After a week of dealing with Finn's allergies he was finally better for a lesson on Saturday. There was a  well known dressage clinician there that day, so the barn was packed, and Finn was very excited about all the activity. I had the best lesson, and I really feel like we're making progress (finally). I think I'm getting much more consistent in my contact, and a lot more following and not so stuck. My reins felt like elastics. I'm also much better about using my left rein, which is something I always struggle with. We still had some llama moments in the canter, but our trot was great, Finn was supple, really using his back, and not hollowing at all. He is getting so much stronger and I can even see a difference in his topline. Two things I needed to be reminded about constantly was "chin up" (I look at his ears), and to sit back ( I always tilt forward). Then...we did a little jumping. It's been a while since I've jumped him, and oh boy was he excited. There is nothing Finn likes more than jumping. Luckily he really takes care of me over jumps. My trainer could see my nerves...even over a little two foot cross rail, so she made me sing the ABC's over the jumps. This helped a lot! I'm hoping that the more often we jump, and the more I just trust my horse, my nerves won't kick in so much. I also asked my trainer if she'd be interested in teaching me at my new barn. She said she'd love to, but it will probably only be twice a month, as new barn charges a ring fee. After our lesson Finn got a good hosing off. While we were in the wash stall the clinician came up to me and said that I had the most talented little horse, and that she just loved him. I definitely liked hearing that!


NOT fun

We have not been having the fun, enjoyable rides I envisioned for our week together. Instead, we've been dealing with a severe case of hives. After trying everything homeopathic...we now we need the vet out.




Well, I didn't make it to the barn today. Work sort of took over the better part of the day, as well as a very grumpy toddler. If I had left for the barn when I could have (4pm) it would have taken me 2+ hours to get up there...A reminder of how much I can't wait until Finn is closer to home and I can shoot up to see him whenever.
   These past fews weeks I've invested in a few maintenance things for Finn. Being an OTTB, and a highly stressed and clumsy one at that, he is very prone to stiffness, soreness, minor injuries, etc. Finn had chiro last week which helps him a TON. I also recently bought him an EcoGold Secure XC Saddle Pad:

While pricy, this saddle pad is AMAZING. I have at least fifteen other saddle pads and I'm pretty sure I won't ever use another pad again. I have a very forward cut jumping saddle and the normal, cheap, square pads I usually get don't fit my saddle at all. There's no padding on the flaps, so no bulk, and high density foam in the seat area to protect from impact= a comfy-backed horse. Even though Finn gets his saddle fitted regularly, the day I used this pad he moved much more freely than he normally does. I even like it better than his Back on Track saddle pad (and I'm the biggest BOT advocate). The material is also super breathable, and for a horse that normally sweats buckets, Finn was dry for the first time ever under this pad. I've also washed it once and it looks brand new. Definitely an awesome buy!

Today, I also ordered Finn an Equilibrium Massage Mitt: 
    While popular in the UK, these aren't as well known over here. The mitt has three settings and is supposed to help promote relaxation, improve flexibility, and improve muscle tone. When the chiro was here he did a bit of body work and said Finn was very tight through his neck and  hip areas, and that he would benefit from regular massage. While I don't think the massage mitt will be a substitute for regular massage, I'm hoping it will help work the kinks out a bit with regular use. This should be arriving at the end of the week and I'm excited to try it out.
    After a year with Finn and seeing what works, and what doesn't, I'm a firm believer that holistic treatment is very beneficial, along with the normal veterinary treatment. Anything I can do to make my boy more comfortable, I will. I know how much back pain he came with when I got him, and I never want to see him in that condition again. 

Love ya, buddy



The past few weeks I've changed my work schedule around so I could take some dressage lessons with the barn's regular trainer. She normally teaches younger kids, and after watching some very basic walk/trot lessons, I wasn't sure if we were going to click. Holy crap...After two lessons, I've never been more sore or sweaty, and learned so much. I absolutely LOVE her and it makes me not want to move at the end of the month. I've never really understood what is an appropriate amount of contact to have. After growing up with drill sergeant instructors who repeated over and over the importance of "soft hands" I didn't realize until two weeks ago how my idea of soft hands is really NO contact...like not even a feel on Finn's mouth. Trainer emphasized that having weight in my hands is important, and letting Finn know I'm there to help him is important, until he's able/strong enough to carry himself correctly. When I lifted my hands, and really pushed him into my hands, it was like a whole different world. A forward, relaxed horse for all of five strides until we lost it. Our second lesson was better than our first, and trainer had to constantly remind me to scratch Finn on the neck when he was a good boy. Whenever I scratched Finn and whispered good boy, he'd try even harder. Trainer says Finn is not the type of horse that you can just "force" something onto him. He needs to think about it, process it, and try to execute it. If he doesn't execute correctly he gets frustrated. He thrives on positive reinforcement and really wants to do things right, he just doesn't have the training yet. When trainer asked us what our goals were I said I'd like to do a few BN schooling events this summer, and work on getting him collected, willing, and straight. We reviewed the dressage pyramid of training and I guess I didn't realize how high up actual straightness is:

I think we have made strides this past year in terms of rhythm, relaxation, and connection...but not so much in terms of impulsion. We'll also be taking a few jumping lessons in the next few weeks before we move with the other trainer at the barn. My friend Michelle, who was riding Finn a few times a week, recently moved her horse closer to home, so now it's all on me, and I haven't jumped him in nearly a month. I've been riding 4-5 times a week on the flat and I really feel like we're getting somewhere, but we definitely need to start jumping more. Tentative schedule for the week:

Monday- Flat school outside
Tuesday- Flat school, and popping over a few cross rails
Wednesday- Finn gets the day off, I'll probably take a yoga class
Thursday- Jumping lesson
Friday- Possible flat school or hack
Saturday- Dressage lesson
Sunday- Day off

In other news, Finn has been breaking out in hives due to bugs. He gets fly sprayed every day, and wears a fly mask but still has hives all over his neck and sides. They don't seem to bother him, and go right down when I put witch hazel on them, but they look horrible. I'm afraid to put him in a fly sheet because I've heard that flies can get under them and bug him even more...but I don't want him looking so horrible. I don't know if I should try a different fly spray (we currently use this) or what.

Very happy to be eating dinner inside with his Back on Track gear on!

This one loves ponies....we're in trouble

Also, be sure to check out the awesome, super cute, Happy Hound stationary giveaway on She Moved To Texas' blog! :)  http://www.shemovedtotexas.com/happy-hound-personalized-equestrian-stationary-giveaway/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+SheMovedToTexas+%28She+Moved+to+Texas%29


Adventures in turnout...and spurs

For Finn's last month at the barn I thought it would be a good idea to do 24 hour turnout. A few of his buds stay out in the paddock overnight, and the barn manager is very organized about feeding them (manager and helpers stand with ponies until they've finished their meals, so everyone gets their own dinner/supplements and there are no fights). I thought he would love it! Well, apparently he doesn't understand that nighttime is for sleeping. He literally runs/moves around the entire time he is out. I just know that he is not laying down or napping. The other afternoon when I brought him in to ride him he was snoozing on the crossties (usually a dancing mess), and then he was dead quiet during our ride. When I went to put him back outside he looked longingly at his stall, and unwillingly went back outside. Today when I brought him in to ride he was exhausted. We got a quick ride in, worked on a few dressage tests, and then I told the barn manager that he'll have to come in at night. He was SO excited to see his stall, and was nickering like crazy at me. Apparently he is just too much of a prince to be turned out all the time. I also think I like him coming in at night better because I can put his hock boots on, and I know he's totally safe inside.

We've been having some pretty good rides lately. He's been sticky and stiff going to the left, but warms up out of it. I usually have the chiro out every 12 weeks, but it's been about 15 weeks now, so he'll be getting adjusted tomorrow which always helps his stickiness. Our ride today was the best we've had in a long time. For the first time ever I wore spurs. I've never worn them in my life, and didn't even know how to put them on... Finn was SO responsive to leg yields, was so connected and forward in the trot, and for the first time ever I felt glimpses of a rocking horse canter. I wasn't flopping all around on his back, and was able to have a following hand (something I always struggle with in the canter). Finn was seeking contact and really using his hind end. He usually gets quick and llama-like in the canter, and he didn't at all. I also switched him back to the Myler Level 1 Dee, which apparently he loves now. I know that I need to strengthen my legs a whole lot more, but the spurs really helped me to cue him so much better. He was connected, forward, relaxed, and happy our entire ride. We had no llama moments, and we had no disagreements about what we were going to do. Spurs are probably not something I'd use all the time, but definitely something I'd use every now and then.