A Long Two Months

Its been a long two months at Stori Stable.  Since the end of May, we’ve just been bouncing from one illness or injury to another among the lovely residents.  No one is riding; no one is having fun.  I guess the only positive is that I’ve spent more time in my barn on a daily basis than I have in a very, very long time.

My lovely horse, Slewy, was the first problem.

20200417_174722  In late May, he was looking “off” – not moving quite right in the hind.  That turned into a full-blown neurological episode.  He walked like he was extremely drunk and had no idea where his feet were.  We tested for EPM (equine protozoal myloencephalitis – I think that’s correct spelling), Lyme, Vitamin E / Selenium deficiency – and considered a bunch of other things.  None of his tests came back particularly conclusive and his symptoms didn’t clearly point to any one thing.

After lots and lots of medications (so many that he stopped eating for awhile – I think the “cure” was becoming worse than the disease), he’s doing better.  EPM is our best guess at this point; although, Lyme would explain many of his lifelong symptoms of shifting leg lameness, behavior changes, and other “quirks” like skin sensitivity.

I just want to take a minute and say that EPM is a horrible, horrible disease.  We lost the kids’ first pony to it several years ago.  Treatment is super expensive and does not come with any guaranteed results.  And, horses can relapse.  It strikes dread into my heart.  More on exactly what EPM is another day.

Slewy’s walking is close to normal most of the time and he’s back his normal, inquisitive, happy self.  Now we’re trying to get his various sores to heal.  He really cut himself up when he couldn’t walk and, since he was so unstable on his feet, we couldn’t get close to him to treat them right away.  We’re also trying to get his right hind to stop swelling randomly.  Vet ultrasounded it last week and saw a lot of fluid but no tears in the tendons or anything super bad.  That’s good but what exactly is going on with him is anyone’s guess.

Then, there’s Stormy, my old guy.

20200408_152359  Last October, when we evacuated the horses to the fairgrounds for the Kincade Fire, Stormy came home with a cut on the outside of his right hind fetlock.   (Fetlock – think ankle on a person).  It looked like just a cut and I treated it but didn’t think much of it.  Even when it didn’t heal super nicely, I didn’t worry too much.  The horse is 31, after all.

And then, suddenly one day, his entire fetlock was swollen to twice its normal size and the “cut” looked nasty.  Of course, it was in the evening so having the vet out would have meant paying for an emergency call.  Ugh.

As we were standing around, debating what to do, my daughter (who wants to be a horse vet and spends one day a week with our vet) says, “I’m going to poke it!”  “Ok”, I said, thinking that was as good a first step as any.

She poked and a ton of pus and other yuck came flying out.  Ok . . . good?  Yeah, I’m thinking that was the way to go.

The vet eventually came out and x-rayed it to make sure there wasn’t some foreign object in there, some bone involvement, or something else going on.  X-rays said all was clear so we set out on a course of irrigating it and wrapping it daily.  He’s looking good.

Next up?  Smokey!  The 4 year old mini.

20200723_094739  He seemed “off” one day . . . lethargic, depressed, and not at all himself.  We tested for . . . EPM!  And started him on EPM medication right away.  Early treatment is key if treatment is going to help at all.  Results?  Inconclusive!  Because we think his blood might have gotten mixed up with Ghostie (my daughter’s horse – we tested him too) at the vet or the lab.

Thankfully, we caught it super early, treatment worked and Smokey is back to his ADD self.

And then . . . Ghostie!  (I’m telling you . . . its truly been never-ending.) 20200721_093536  You may recall that Ghostie was a rescue (have I written Ghostie’s story here?  I don’t remember.)  My daughter has spent a year working with him . . . nurturing him back to health, gaining his trust, learning his quirks.  They had just gotten to riding consistently and were really making progress.  She had had two lessons with her trainer on him.  All her hard work was paying off.

And then . . . he tore his lateral extensor tendon (again, think outside of your ankle).  Best case scenario . . . 3 months off.  No riding.  No turn-out.  No . . . nothing except a very few minutes of hand-walking (leading your horse around) twice a day and icing.  That’s his “icing boot” on his hind leg.

Unbelievable.

Finally . . . back to Slewy.  The angry looking growth on the tip of his penis (I’ll spare you the photos) is “summer sore”, where flies lay their eggs and cause . . . well, an angry looking growth.  Thankfully, its pretty easily treated with an ointment and he’s really cooperative about letting me smear it on twice a day.

So, there.  That’s the update.  No riding.  No fun.  But lots of time in the barn for morning and evening therapy / treatment / re-wrapping of various owies.

I.  Love. My. Horses.

Today is the Day: Lesson #1

In a couple of hours my daughter’s riding instructor is coming to give her and her horse their first lesson.  I’m nervous.  And excited.  We bought Ghostie to be my daughter’s first horse (besides the minis) almost a year ago.  He was a wreck.  Our trainer hated him.  She actually told my daughter that when she went to pick him up for us.  She said, “This is absolutely not the horse you need.  I have no idea what your Mom is thinking.”

Nice, right?

I’ll admit that I went out on a limb with Ghost.  He was a rescue and he was in sorry shape.  He was a solid 300 pounds underweight with cuts and sores all over his body.  I rode him and my daughter rode him for like 5 minutes because that was about all he could handle.  But he seemed sweet and kind.  At the end of our first meeting, he rested his tired head on my daughter, closed his eyes and sighed.  Sold!

We’ve spent the past year working with him, letting him rest, letting him settle in, gaining his trust, and learning his quirks.  We’ve overcome a few vet issues.  He’s gained weight, his coat is shiny and he adores my daughter, as she does him.

So, today is the day!  Our trainer is coming to give them their first lesson.  I’d be thrilled if she said something like, “O.k., you were right”.  But, really, I’m just hoping she’s a bit more positive about him.

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Isn’t he cute?

I’m probably placing too much emphasis on today’s lesson.  I’ve built it up in my head to be a referendum on my horse . . . I don’t know . . . ability? knowledge?  Something.  Here’s why . . .

I’ve ridden horses since I was 9 and have owned horses since I was 14.  I have a bachelor’s degree in Equine Science.  I was a confident rider and horse owner.  I thought I knew a fair amount about horses.

Then, right before graduating from college, getting married and moving back to my home state, I lost my heart horse.  He went suddenly.  I was devastated.  He was supposed to  move back home with me.  We were going to buy a house where I could have him at home and see him every morning outside my window.  I even had another horse at the time (whom I still own, that’s Stormy, my old guy) but I was utterly lost.

We moved and bought a piece of property where I could have Stormy.  I rode Stormy for years.  When Stormy retired from being ridden, I bought Smitty.  Smitty was a total nightmare.  He had “Sudden Explosive Disorder” (I made that up) or something.

Next I bought Nikki.  Nikki was gorgeous but absolutely the wrong match.  I have a two inch scar across the back of my right hand to remind me of that.

Next up was Slewy.  I bought Slewy as a 4 year old, pretty much right off the race track.  He’s a handful.  I’ve owned him for years now and have never really gotten around to riding him.  Just when I was finally making progress these past few months (after like 12 years), he came down with a acute neurological issue at the end of May.  We really thought we were going to have to put him down. Many, many weeks of worry later, thousands of dollars in vet bills and still unclear diagnoses, he’s improving and is nearly recovered but I don’t know if he’s rideable.

Somewhere along the line we bought Flicka for the kids.  Flicka was a fantastic pony.  The kids loved her.  We had her for many years and then, when my daughter was in 5th grade and my son in 7th, Flicka got sick and we lost her despite our vets’ heroic efforts to save her.  We were all crushed.  I have been left wondering if I missed her illness early on.

So, my horse record over the past 10 years or so has not been fantastic to say the least.  I’ve really lost all of my confidence in my ability to ride and keep horses.

And then I bought Ghost based on my gut feeling and faith.  Ghost – a wretch of a horse.  What on earth was I thinking?

Well, today we’ll find out.

A Saddling Experiment

I’ve been putting Slewy back to work with plans to actually ride him soon.  Given that its Slewy, we’ve run into some hiccups.  I’m trying to be creative and patient in finding our way past these little issues.

Disclaimer:  I’m not an expert.  I’m not a professional trainer.  I’m just a lady who has owned horses since she was a teenager, has had a fair number of lessons, has done a little bit of horseback riding teaching to beginners, has a tiny bit of showing experience and has a Bachelor’s degree in Equine Science (and one in English).

So if you’re a horsey person who has some relevant advice or thoughts, I’d love to hear it.  But just please be kind.

Our first hiccup was that the trainer my daughter rides with (and whom I’ve ridden with a couple of times) has been convinced that Slewy’s poor behavior is caused by “kissing spine”.  “Kissing spines refers to a condition in horses in which two or more of the spinous processes (the flanges of bone sticking up from each vertebra in the spine) are positioned so that they touch or rub against each other.”  (ker.com)  Here’s an x-ray showing kissing spine (not Slewy):

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So we had Slewy x-rayed.  Slewy does not have kissing spine.  Yay!

(Don’t worry, we’ll get to the saddling experiment.)

With that diagnosis out of the way, I put Slewy to work on the lunge line.  “Lunging” a horse consists of having him work in a large circle around you.  Its sort of boring, honestly, but there are a lot of things you can do on the lunge line.  For example, your horse can practice listening to you, you can practice transitions between gaits (walk to trot, trot to canter, walk to whoa), you can work over ground poles (literally poles on the ground that your horse goes over).  Lunging is a good way to get horses back in shape or just to “get the bucks out” before you get on them.

Lunge line work has been going well so I decided to put a saddle back on Slewy.  Please note that Slewy has a custom fit saddle and a very expensive ($200), very fluffy, saddle pad.  So Slewy really has no excuse to be a dork about having his saddle put on.

But, of course, Slewy is a dork.  We put his saddle on and Slewy acted like he was going to die.  Seriously, he pretended that he couldn’t walk.

Day 2 of saddle, we went through the same thing.  But I watched Slewy very carefully this time around.  Slewy bloats, i.e., holds his breath when  you put his saddle and girth on.  (The girth is the part that goes around the horse’s tummy to hold your saddle in place.)  Horses that bloat / hold their breath, make their tummy bigger so that when you’re done, and they let their breath out, their girth is looser.  (Not that the girth hurts them in any way; its no different than wearing a belt.)

After a few minutes of talking to him and scratching his neck (Slewy’s favorite thing in the world, besides food), Slewy relaxes and remembers that he can, in fact, walk.

I began to wonder if he wasn’t just holding his breath and freaking himself out.  Slewy is like that.

I remembered that, before his current job of “family horse”, Slewy was a racehorse.  Many racehorses are saddled as they’re walking, pausing for only the briefest of moments so the saddle can be tossed on and the girth done up.

So we decided, on Day 3, to play “racehorse”.  (This is the saddling experiment.)  I put Slewy’s bridle on, which he doesn’t mind at all.  Then, I had my daughter walk Slewy in a circle around the little barn yard.  They walked a couple of circles and, on the third time around, paused for me to throw a saddle pad (fluffy that goes under the saddle) on.  More walking circles.  And then a brief pause for me to put his saddle on as quickly as possible.  Then, immediately to more walking.

It sort of worked.  Slewy did settle down much more quickly.  Normally, I’d put his saddle pads on, then go get his saddle, saunter back over, fuss with his saddle pads, and put his saddle on.  That gave Slewy a lot of time to worry.  And Slewy worries a lot.  So I think our new “racehorse method” distracted him and gave less worry time.

We’ll try it again today.  Here’s a picture of said dork, Slewy:20200417_174722

He is cute, isn’t he?  Which is why we’re being patient, going slow, trying experiments, and working hard to figure out what’s best for dear Slewy.

 

My Horse Needs a Goat

Yep, Slewy the horse needs a goat.  My veterinarian actually prescribed Slewy a goat.  Now, I just need to find one.

20200212_091303  That’s Slewy.  For those of you who don’t know him, Slewy is my extremely sweet, highly anxious, severely ADD, very large, off-the-track Thoroughbred.  “Off-the-track Thoroughbred” or OTTB, means that he was a race horse but now had a new career.  In Slewy’s case, he only ran 4 races and was terrible.  My guess is that he couldn’t focus.  His new “career”, if you can call it that, is to be a family horse.

Anyway, its not uncommon for stress-y Thoroughbreds to have a pet goat.  For some reason, goats tend to calm their Thoroughbred down.

Stormy, my almost-31-year-old Thoroughbred, who was never a race horse, used to have a goat named Oh Well.  Stormy loved Oh Well so much that once, when I had to take Oh Well to the vet, I came home to find Stormy colicking.  Colic is basically a horse tummy ache but it can quickly become fatal.  As Oh Well got older, began to worry about what Stormy was going to do when she passed away.  So I got Stormy some new goats.  He could have cared less.  But he was ok when she did pass so maybe the new goats helped a bit?

Here’s dear Stormy.  This was taken just the other day; I couldn’t find one of him and Oh Well.

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Oh Well started us on several years of owning various goats. DSC_0560  This was Oh Dear.  She and her sister, Oh My, were Stormy’s next goats whom he never bonded with.

Next we had Billy, Willy and ???  (I honestly can’t remember the third one’s name!!!)  They came to us because they had the unfortunate habit of jumping on (and denting) cars.  They were overly friendly.

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You would think overly friendly goats would be ok but, when your goats like to jump up on you (like a dog) and they’re super tall and  you have smaller children, it becomes problematic.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   The half door that he’s up on is chest height on me, which gives you an idea of how tall these three were and why the “Hi!  I want to hug you!!!” wasn’t always welcome.

Its been several years since we’ve had goats.  In the past, it seems like our goats just sort of found their way to us but now I’m actually looking for a goat.  Which, has turned out to be more difficult than I thought.  And, goats have apparently gotten expensive!!!

My vet recommended a well-known goat dairy about 5 minutes from us.  I called.  Yes, they have baby goats.  We’re up to finishing up bottle feeding because at the moment, like the rest of the world, we’re home with lots of time.  Then they told me the price of said baby goats . . . $400!!!!

$400 for a companion goat!!

I think the most we ever paid for a goat previously was $50.  So, much to my daughter’s disappointment, I said I’m not paying $400 for a backyard goat.  She could just see herself bottle feeding her new baby goat.  I pointed out that the goat was then likely to bond to her rather than Slewy.  And that Slewy needs a comfort goat; she does not.  This argument fell on deaf ears.  Well, either way, I’m not paying $400 for a goat.

Next was a Craigslist search for goats.  We found a baby fainting goat.  I’ve always wanted fainting goats!!!  But then, it occurred to us that if Slewy’s goat suddenly fell over, catatonic, that might be more upsetting than comforting.  O.k., no fainting goats.

I called my vet back to ask for another recommendation.  Told the receptionist that the dairy’s goats were too expensive.  “How much did they want?” she asked.  “$400” I said.  “Holy Crap!” was her response.  O.k., good, its not just me who thought that was an awful lot for a goat.

We got referred to a local farm animal rescue.  That sounds better!

After a long talk with the rescue lady and sending a “virtual tour” of our place – they aren’t doing home approval visits because of coronavirus, she’s on the lookout for a goat for us.  I’m all for rescue animals.  So hopefully, a post in the very near future will be to introduce Slewy’s new goat!

Fine, I’ll Ride My Own Darn Horse

I’ve started putting Slewy, my loveable, dorky, slightly nutty, rather large, off-the-track-Thoroughbred back to work.  Which leads to me contemplating actually getting back on him.  Hmmm . . .

So I came up with what I thought was a good idea.  I asked the trainer who my daughter rides with (and I’ve ridden with a bit) if she would get on him a couple of times before I did.

Besides being slightly daunted at the thought of climbing back aboard, I thought she could give me some insight about how best to work with him under saddle.  (Ok, that’s what I told myself . . . really its because I’m a wee bit concerned about riding my spooky, 17 hand, horse.)

She said, “NO!”

I was like, “What?”

“He’s crazy.  No.”

I tried to talk her into it, noting that he has never offered to buck, he just gets a “little” strong, and promising to lunge him for another week or so before she comes out.

“No.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

I was surprised.  And then a little miffed.

First of all, he’s not “that” crazy.  He practices his airs above the ground and he’s wiggly in the cross-ties but he’s never once offered to buck.  Sometimes he forgets he’s not a race horse any more (which is funny because he sucked at racing) but you can tell he’s trying really, really hard to be good.

Second, isn’t that her job . . . to ride horses??  (I know I might get some flak for this one.)  Doesn’t she train horses?  Isn’t she the professional who rides all the time and has the skills to deal with young and green horses?  She does train green horses besides giving lessons to kids.  I completely understand not wanting to get hurt but, back to point number one, Slewy’s not that crazy and I definitely wouldn’t call him dangerous by any stretch of the imagination.  Like I said, he tries hard to be good.

But, ok.  Sigh.  Kind of like Ella and Ghost, I want to prove that Slewy can be good.  So, I guess I’ll ride my own darn horse.  Look how cute he is!!!

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A Tale of Two Thoroughbreds

Here at Stori Stable, we have Slewy and Ghost.  Here’s Slewy:

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And here’s Ghost (who wasn’t feeling like having his picture taken.  Slewy LOVES to have his picture taken.)

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Both Slewy and Ghost are 14 years old.  Both are off the track.  Both are about 17 hands tall.  Both raced only a few times.

Slewy has had a pretty cushy life.  He has only had two owners – his breeder and me.  He had a whole extra year to grow up; his breeder doesn’t believe in sending their horses to the track until they’re 3.  He was well-treated at the track, ran terribly 3 or 4 times, and was brought back home.

Then I bought him.  He was sent to a nice trainer to be re-started for his new career.  He lives here, in our quiet little barn, with his buddies.  He has never been mis-treated.

Slewy is a complete dork.  Slewy spooks at everything.  Slewy gets into everything, knocks stuff off the table, tries to eat his halter when you put it on, wants to “help” with whatever you’re doing, and firmly believes he can fit in your lap.

Slewy rarely walks in from his daily turn-out without practicing his “airs above the ground.”  I’m positive he sees a future for himself at the Spanish Riding School and that’s why he practices so diligently.  Its about the only thing he does consistently.

images (1)  I’m pretty sure this is Slewy’s goal.

And then there’s Ghost.  From what we know, Ghost had a good life for awhile once retiring from giving racing a try.  He also only ran a few times.  He was owned by a nice family and well taken care of until his girl went to college and he was sold.  He fell into the wrong hands for a few years and was passed through a few people, none of whom treated him kindly.  Eventually, he was rescued by a kind person who rehabbed him.  But, by then, his coat was marked with scars, he was extremely underweight, and his teeth and hooves hadn’t had any attention in far, far too long.

We bought him from the kind lady who rescued him, put a bit of weight on him and promised him she would only sell him to a good home . . . which turned out to be us!!!

Ghost is kind as can be.  He’s loving and steady.  He doesn’t spook.  He takes things in stride.  When you put his bridle on, he drops his head, looks at you and quietly says, “I’m glad you’re here!  What do we get to go do?”  He’s willing and trusting.

Ghost has lived with us, right next door to Slewy, for not quite a year.  Slewy has lived here for 10 years.

Neither Slewy nor Ghost did much work over the winter when our arena is too muddy to work in.  They both got turned out, together, along with Stormy our old guy, almost daily.  

And last week, when we set out for our first lunging session?  Well, there were turkeys at the end of the arena.  Ugh.  Turkeys.

Ghost:  “Oh, hey, did you guys see those turkeys over there?  O.k.  I saw them too.  No big deal.”

Slewy:  “Hey Person!!!!  There’s TURKEYS over there!!!!!  They might KILL us!!!  RUN AWAY!!!!”

Aahhhh . . . Slewy.

Maybe Ghost will be a steadying presence to Slewy?  Maybe?  I can always hope something will be a steadying presence to Slewy.  Its good to hope.

At least I have Slewy to save me from killer turkeys.

Slewy’s Saddle-Fitting

My trainer came out yesterday to check Slewy’s saddle fit.  Last year, I had my saddle “re-flocked”, which means they open up the saddle and redo the padding and stuffing in it to make it soft again.  I also had it widened a bit.

But, because of how my life goes, I had never put it on Slewy so we didn’t know how it fit.

At the saddle-fitters advice, I also bought a Mattes saddle pad, which is perhaps the most expensive piece of tack I’ve ever bought.  It has its own bag, which it will return to after each use!

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Its white and fluffy and oh-so-soft and beautiful and I intend it to stay that way!!!

The Mattes meant that I also had to buy another saddle pad to go under it, between its snowy whiteness and my horse.  Horses are never-ending . . . buying one thing leads to the need for another.

Anyway . . . we went super slow with Slewy, letting him give each new saddle pad and the saddle a thorough sniffing over before putting them on him.  He’s a super anxious horse so slow is the only way to go.

He was super good!  He probably hasn’t had a saddle on in nearly a year.  But once things were completely sniffed, he was fine.  It took him a minute to remember that he can walk with a girth on but that’s ok.

My trainer gave the thumbs up to our new saddle pads and saddle fit.  Yay!!!

But, here’s the not so good news.  Slewy is still super skinny.  And his back is sore, which is weird since he hasn’t done anything much in the last year.  She said I could ride him but I’ve decided to wait until he puts some weight on and gains some muscle.  As inpatient as I am, it wasn’t a hard decision to make because I want to do this right.

So, I’ve sentenced Slewy and I to more boring lunging.  But, Slewy also now gets all the hay he can eat and that makes him a super happy horse!

At least with all good pads and a properly fitting saddle, I feel like we’ve made some forward progress.  Now, I just need a fat horse!

Its a Good Idea to Label Your Garden

We plant a garden every year; usually at least four tomato plants, some lettuce, carrots, lemon cucumber, potatoes, and whatever else.  I’ve given up on zucchini.  Everyone around here plants zucchini, it grows like crazy, everyone always has too much zucchini and is trying to give it away, and, at least in my house, no one really likes it.

This year, I bought a ton of seeds for cool, funky, heirloom vegetables from the Baker Seed Company catalog.  I made the mistake of assuming most of them wouldn’t grow.  So, to start my seeds, I dumped a whole bunch of seeds into my little seed starting containers.

Surprise!  The majority of them popped right up.  Then, I was faced with the problem of root tangle.  So, I just transplanted them in clumps.  Now I have a clump of tomato plants, for example.  None of which are getting very big.  Hmmmm . . .

But my bigger problem is with the seeds I direct sowed into the garden beds.  For some unknown reason, I didn’t keep track of what I planted in any way.  So now I’m faced with this:

20190530_112754  What are baby veggies and what are weeds??  I’ve got no idea!!!  I planted a couple of different things in each container so I’m not even sure what veggies to look for.

Yesterday, as I was studying  my budding garden and this problem was dawning on me, I tried to look for patterns . . . like, similar looking plants in a row.  That helped in a few containers; I think I identified some baby beets.  But overall, its going to be garden surprise!

So, folks, remember to label your garden!!!!

A Week or So of Lunging

First Slewy update:

I’ve managed to lunge him for several days now (consistency is one of my challenges).  He’s done pretty well!  But then, he’s typically good on the lunge line.  We’ve been lunging at the same time my daughter lunges one of the minis.  Occasionally Slewy forgets which person he’s supposed to listen to but, for the most part, he’s paid attention to me and remained focused on what we’re doing, rather than what the small ones in the other half of the arena are doing.

I gave him  yesterday off because on Monday, he really just wasn’t having it.  He obliged me by trotting and cantering around but, when we changed directions after about 15 minutes, he said he was done.  So, after a few decent circles, I let him be and turned him out with his buddy.

I am concerned that he trips quite a bit.  And that he drags his right hind toe.  If I lunge him over a trot pole, 95% of the time he clonks his right hind toe on the pole.  I’m hoping that either 1) he’s just being lazy and / or 2) this will improve as his conditioning improves.

Our other problem is that, let’s face it, lunging is boring for both of us.  Everything I’ve read says that ground work is of the utmost importance.  But, honestly, I know zero about it.  I really want to try double-lunging or long-lining him but I’m kind of scared to.  He’s so sensitive and I’m scared I’ll screw him up.  I just ordered the book, “Schooling Horses in Hand” by Richard Hinrichs.  Hopefully that will be helpful.

Tomorrow my trainer is coming to check saddle fit.

Minis Update:

I just finished reading “Step-By-Step Guide To Training a Miniature Horse to Drive”.  Its super helpful.  Very clearly written with lots of pictures.  The author makes the whole process sound super simple.

We’ve been lunging the minis as well because everyone needs to get back into shape.  But I think we can undertake some of the exercises in the book as well to try to keep things interesting.

Sorry I didn’t have time for pictures this morning!  Next time!

The Road to Riding Slewy

The chestnut (light brown for the non-horsey readers) is Slewy.

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I’ve had Slewy since he was 4 years old; he’s now 12.  He’s an OTTB (Off-The-Track-Thoroughbred), which means he was a racehorse.  I bought him pretty much straight off the track.  He had been brought home from the track to his owner’s place and allowed to relax for a couple of months before looking for his new people, which wound up being me.

Pretty much everyone thought I was insane for buying him.  My two previous horses were disasters and my confidence was at an all-time low.  So, what do I do?  Buy an untrained, huge, racehorse.  Yeah, ’cause that’s a wise decision.

I have ridden Slewy.  But its been  years.  I was just scrolling through my phone looking for the photo of me on Slewy and my daughter on her first mini, Flicka, but instead I came across the photos I took of the kids and Flicka in the days before we lost Flicka to EPM (a horrible, non-preventable disease) and that made me cry.

O.k., moving on. . . .

I have struggled with Slewy the entire time I’ve owned him.  I’ve been advised to sell him on numerous occasions, by numerous people.  My farrier has called him “dangerous”.  My vet has told me “your horse has a severe case of ADD”.  But I can’t quite give him up.

I know that part of my inability to give him up is rooted in my need to prove something.  To prove to myself that I do know what I’m doing with horses.  That I am a good rider.  And that I can handle a horse like Slewy.  (This has been confirmed through recent lessons with a well-respected trainer who admitted that, when I first discussed Slewy with her, she thought I was insane.  But then, when she saw me ride, she was like, “Oh my gosh, this lady can ride.”)

Second reason I can’t give Slewy up is that he’s the type of horse that I’m afraid could easily fall into the wrong hands.  He takes confidence.  And patience.  So. Much. Patience.  I’m afraid that someone could quickly get frustrated with him (or scared of him) and thump on him.  And then, he’d totally lose it and not recover.  It wouldn’t be a good situation for anyone.  So, he has a forever home here no matter what.

I have gone through periods of time when I’m absolutely frightened of Slewy.  He would never purposefully hurt anyone; the horse doesn’t have a mean bone in his body.  But, he does jump around and rear and play when you’re bringing him back from being turned  out with his buddy (my 29 year old, retired, Thoroughbred – the one behind him in the photo).  And, at 17 hands (that’s big for the non-horsey readers – I’m 5’4″ and I cannot see over his back), that gets scary.

But in the past few months, really, since January, the fear has disappeared.  I can’t explain why.  I wish I could.  For the first time in a long time, I’m actually excited about the prospect of riding my horse.

I believe in Slewy.  I whole-heartedly believe that somewhere under the ADD, there’s a really good horse who just needs kindness and patience.

And so I’m putting him back to work.  I’ve bought fancy, ridiculously expensive saddle pads and had my saddle altered so its just perfect for him.  Of course, he’s extremely sensitive . . . think the Princess and the Pea sensitive.  I’ve started lunging him.  Unfortunately, this crazy May weather we’re having has interrupted that.  With all the rain we’ve had, my arena is a lake.  But, I’m not going to get discouraged.  Its supposed to dry out after today.

I don’t know what twists and turns lie ahead on the road to getting back on Slewy.  But, for the first time in years, I’m heading down it because I want to; not because I feel like I have to.  And I’m hoping that makes all the difference.