Thursday, December 5, 2019

Thank You!

Thank you all so much for your messages and positive thoughts. I'm really really really really really really really really really really really really really happy to update everyone that what looked like an upper limb (stifle) injury to at least 5-7 people at the barn was diagnosed as an abscess by the vet yesterday.

*happy dance*

The vet was also relieved and I got a high five :) I'm following his treatment recommendation and hoping we can get this thing out asap so that she isn't in pain for too long but mostly I'm just really glad that she's going to be ok, make a full recovery, and not have any major lasting soundness concerns from this.

It was this very swollen leg (pre fantastical duct tape boot) that gave the vet a clue that it might actually be an abscess and, indeed, when he did the recheck on Wednesday this week he was able to find the sore spot with hoof testers.

The very ouchy leg.
Of course now it seems silly that I was so worried but seriously, everyone I trust including the vet and L thought it was upper leg and specifically stifle. When the vet checked her the first time he couldn't find a reactive spot on her foot and agreed that it looked like upper leg.

I'm just so happy right now and Katai is happy because she's back out with her mares and back on our regular schedule of grain, meds, and attention every day. It's probably been this all along and we just weren't able to diagnosis but I sort of feel like it was a little bit of birthday/Christmas magic thanks to all of your positive messages and thoughts <3

Friday, November 29, 2019

Jingles

Not of the Christmas kind. I made it out to the barn tonight after not being able to go Wednesday (snowstorm) and Thursday (Thanksgiving) and finally trotted Katai in hand. She was super lame, much like last Wednesday the day before the vet got there.

I texted my vet and we had a phone call this evening and he's worried as am I. We have a plan but it includes a much more extensive vet visit and based on Katai's overall lack of improvement so far I'm getting pretty worried that we're looking at something more serious.

If you could send jingles, prayers, positive thoughts, or whatever that would be very appreciated.

After the vet call I walked next door to the park and watched fireworks to distract myself.
My heart wasn't really in it though

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Taking Steps

Last grain with bute on Monday!!
I don’t necessarily want or need to share intimate details around the mental health stuff I’ve been working on for the past year or so but this post is about some high level mental health stuff that impacts pony things. I do want to share this level because not only is this a journal for myself about horse stuff and this plays into it but also because maybe someone else out there will gain something from this.

Feel free to skip or read.

I’ve always had pretty high anxiety, ok like really high anxiety. My mom does as well so I’m sure that’s probably part of it. It doesn’t have a hugely visible impact on my day to day in that it’s never negatively impacted my performance at work, I rarely (if ever), make decision based on my anxiety, however, it plays into everything, every day of my life. My way of dealing with it, for lack of having any other answer, has typically been to just force it down and ignore it. For most of my life I’ve thought it was just normal nerves of the type that everyone deals with but it’s come to my attention over the past year that it’s way more than what many people deal with. This led me to seek out therapy. The particular therapist that I was seeing wasn’t a great fit so I’m in the process of finding a different therapist right now but I’m looking forward to learning more about how to manage this.

So, anyone may know the answer to this but how does this relate to pony stuff? I’ve never thought of it as an issue with horse stuff. I’ve never had an issue with fear in the bigger ways that some of my friends have. I’ve had lesson anxiety but that normally goes away once I’m in the saddle so I never really worried about it, and I’ve always thought I was managing it pretty well. Two things happened this past week though that made me take a big step back and realize that I’m just not ok continuing on as is.
Today, snow...

First, on Thursday when the vet was out I was having massive anxiety. I felt almost light headed and definitely nauseous (both normal for me with stuff like the vet visit). If I could have curled up in a tiny ball and let someone else deal with the vet I would have done so. Of course it ended up being ok but I was FREAKING out. I had it tamped down pretty well by the time I got to the barn and brought Katai into the cross ties. I wasn’t thinking about it but Katai was escalating, and escalating. I was standing and talking to someone about the weather (or something else inconsequential) and I looked over to Katai trying to alternate rearing in the cross ties and spinning. Her muscles were all tight and her eyes were huge. There was NO reason for her to do so that day, like any other day where she’s falling asleep in the crossties, other than my anxiety. Plus, then when I handed her off to the assistant (and Katai doesn't like strangers) she was back to being her calm, normal self.

Suddenly I realized that if, in a place that both of us feel safe. A place where Katai is normally quiet and half asleep, she was hose show level escalated, it was entirely related to my anxiety. That means that at shows, where I’ve thought I’ve had a training problem I’ve actually had an anxiety problem. I’ve been walking around thinking that Katai has poor training and poor ground handling at shows and confused because she’s SOOOO good at home and feeling sort of powerless to work on it. I’m sure we’ll have some work to do anyway since new environments do that but the silliness that makes her so tough to handle at shows? Entirely my anxiety. Trailering? Same thing. I know some people say that it’s almost always the person that’s the problem, in this case that is absolutely 100% true. Of course, upon more thought, it may feel like I have it tamped down but Katai and I are very connected and of course when I feel internally like I’m going to die Katai picks that up and also feels like she’s going to die. It’s sort of wonderful in a tragic sort of way.


Second, this weekend I was listening to the Oliva Towers podcast with Jane Pike on cultivating a resilient mindset. I’ll be honest that after my recent therapy experience I was wondering if there was anything to be gained by doing therapy. Then I listened to this podcast and learned more than I ever had from my therapist and decided it wasn’t me, and was more of a mismatch between the two of us. I’m going to be working on some of the things that Jane Pike talked about, and, also working hard to find a therapist that works well for me because I want to improve and help Katai feel better so that we can both have fun at shows.

It’s empowering because it means that by working on that anxiety and finding solutions to that I’ll be solving probably 80% of the handling issue we have at shows where Katai seems to revert to being feral. Then we’ll just have 20% of true training to work on to get her used to calmly following directions in strange places. I know it’s going to be hard work but I’m looking forward to it.

Monday, November 25, 2019

So Lame


The poor lame beast herself

Well, I was really hoping to have a better more positive update but instead I have an update that Katai is very lame. In all the time I’ve owned her she’s had periods where she’s been off but almost never actually been head bobbing lame. Unfortunately I don’t seem to have dodged the bullet this time so in the theme of us just not catching a break…

Two weeks ago I rode three times and she was awesome. Mondays ride was ground pole day with my friend M which I’ve written about. Then Tuesday I had a good, if quiet, ride where she felt a little flat and tired but was sound. On Friday I had a FANTASTIC ride that I was looking forward to blogging about. Her canter felt strong and it felt like she had presence again rather than just being flat and tired. I was so happy and encouraged. I didn’t push her hard any of those days and only rode about 15-25 minutes each day to slowly start building her strength.

Prior to the lameness the boyfriend and I did a road trip to
 Chicago for a live show at the Chicago Theater.

Saturday and Sunday I just fed supplements and treated her feet. I was really happy to feel like I was getting back to consistent rides and looking forward to making more progress the next week. Then on Monday I went out, planning to do a ground pole ride again, but when I went to put her halter on she backed up from the round bale and sort of stumbled on her left hind. My stomach sank immediately.

I got her halter on and walked her up to the barn. I was hoping maybe she had an abscess but she seemed more upset about lifting and moving her leg forward than standing on it (although that seemed uncomfy too). I asked the barn owner and another boarder to give me their opinion while I walked and trotted her in the arena. They thought that, while she was clearly lame, it wasn’t awful and she could have just slipped and pulled something. I asked if she were there horse if they’d call the vet and they said to give it a day or two. Luckily another boarder had the vet coming out that Thursday so I decided to give her Tuesday and then on Wednesday evening have L watch her trot out and make my decision from there. L is experienced with lameness spotting so I figured she could let me know if she thought it was improving enough or not.

I'm loving this gorgeous thing. Review coming soon!

Tuesday I gave ulcer meds and cleaned feet and actually thought she looked slightly better and more confident on her leg. Wednesday evening came and I did supplements and hooves while L finished up a lesson. When L was available I brought in the arena. At the walk L was able to see it but only barely and I started feeling better but then I trotted her and my stomach sank again. She was REALLY off on that hind leg at the trot, worse than on Monday :( L said if it were her she'd call the vet in the next couple of days so I called the vet clinic and get Katai added to the vet’s schedule for the following day. Then I proceeded to FREAK out.

It was awesome to be able to chat with Jen from CobJockey and M from the barn because I just haven’t had to deal with this ever *knocks on wood* On Thursday I literally felt like I was going to throw up and barely made it through the morning without a panic attack. I got to the barn early and brought Katai in to get her cleaned up.

Standing in the barn with her was interesting with where my anxiety was at and I plan to do a separate post on that experience. Eventually though the vet got there, finished pulling coggins on the other horse, and I handed her off to him and his assistant. The vet had her walk and jog and I was relieved to see that she was much better again, even better than Monday from what I could tell. After being a 4/5 lame or so on Wednesday the vet put her at a 1/5 lame at that appointment. He also had me walk and trot her on a small circle where she also didn’t look bad. She didn’t react to hoof testers or any palpation. He thinks, as does L, that it’s something high up potentially in her stifle and is likely soft tissue since she doesn’t have any heat or swelling whatsoever that we can find. It had gotten muddy again a day or so before she hurt herself so I suspect she was running around and either fell or slipped and strained it.

I laugh to keep from crying

His recommendation? Stall or paddock rest for 5-7 days, a steroid injection, and bute for 5 days. I was worried about stall rest because if left alone in a stall with no other horses in the barn she would spin, rear, and try to run in circles around her stall. Luckily I have an awesome barn owner who found me a small paddock for her that is the best of both worlds. I moved her over there on Thursday afternoon and would like to keep her in there through Wednesday and then walk and trot her out for L again on Wednesday evening to see if we need to do further intervention or not. In the meantime she’s getting supplements, ulcer meds, bute, and her feet still treated since we had a warm up and are back to mud again. I also finished her clip finally. The bute will delay her ulcer med plan so I’m going to add a couple more weeks on just to make sure I completely let those heal before I stop her meds.

I’ve got all of my digits crossed that she’ll fully recover by Wednesday and then L and I can make a plan to very slowly and lightly bring her back to work.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Perception

Another boarder with one of our very friendly barn cats

I have previously had a post named perception but it was back in 2017 so I figured I could reuse it at this point lol.

Lots of things have been happening and I've been wanting to blog more but haven't really had much positive to post about. Since there have been so many negative posts recently I decided I was going to wait until I had something more positive to share. I now do! I'm also going to update on some of the other less positive though just because that's important background.

Since my last post I've been able to make it out every single day to give ulcer meds. Tomorrow is the first day I won't be able to but I have someone else set up to give them and if she can't, for some reason, I have three back up people. Have I mentioned how much I love the community at this barn? Tonight is day 22 of the three pill protocol so only about a week left of three pills and then we step down to two pills for 14 days and finally 1 pill for 14 days. While it's been awesome to be out there every day I'm also looking forward to when this is over and I have a little more flexibility in my schedule.

It has proven to me though that most of the days when I "can't" get to the barn are more that I'm telling myself that I can't rather than that I actually can't make it.

Unfortunately not much riding has happened. After the massage, and the following two days off, I rode and thought Katai was slightly off. It was confirmed by a couple of others at the barn but that it was REALLY slight. Some people thought I could still be riding, others didn't and I decided not to push it. Based on how she was off I guessed heel pain and thrush was the most obvious answer. I'd been treating but not very aggressively and we got so much rain for awhile there (seriously we had rain every day for at least a couple of weeks) that the horses were standing in mud 24/7 around the round bale. In the past she would have at least been in a stall overnight where her feet could have dried out a bit but now that she's on pasture board she wasn't even getting that break from the muck. She definitely had thrush in that foot and the deep sand footing was likely putting pressure on it and making her ouchy.

Tiny car getting snow tires
I made myself a timeline where I would call the vet if she didn't improve and treated more aggressively every day (since I was out there anyway...). She remained slightly off up until the day where I was making the decision and then trotted out completely sound. I totally lucked out on the timing! Yesterday I rode a fully sound pony and it was AWESOME! M and I did ground poles (not very successfully on my part) and talked dressage theory. It was 100% lovely and really ignited my motivation again to get some real riding work done. I'm going to join her for ground pole Mondays this winter and then go with her and her horse on trail rides next summer to help with Katai's fitness.

Seriously though, that ride was everything I needed right now. In continuing the theme of nothing going smoothly horse wise we got some snow this past weekend. It was so cold, and no chemicals are on the roads yet so I watched multiple vehicles spin out ahead of me. Luckily I got snow tires on my tiny car on Friday so I was handling it fine but decided that the chances of being taken out by another car were too high so took side roads the rest of the way home.

Coffee at the barn. The light purple dot is Katai

Also on the weekend, my clipper motor finally died. I didn't do a good job with maintenance when I first got it so I wasn't too surprised. It lasted 5 years and I did about 2-3 clips per year so that's around $10-$13 per clip which is still a good value vs. paying someone else. However, I had made it part way through both sides and Katai has lines EVERYWHERE and looks completely moth eaten. Everyone is laughing at her right now. I really do need working clippers especially since the barn and arena here are heated. Luckily I was able to get a lot of hair off (most of one side and some of the other) before it died so while she looks crazy at least she's not overly hot.

I was trying to figure out what to do and then I got the email from Dover about the gift card sale and decided to just go for it. I got a different type of clipper that I think might do better on her super thick coat and picked up some blade wash, a free gift, and got the free $100 gift card that I think I might use on black Friday. I REALLY didn't need to spend the money right now but a clipper is a necessity so oh well.

What I really wanted to post about though is my mood this winter and perception of what the weather is like. Last year I obsessed over the forecast and any day below the mid 20s had me in a bad, or sad, mood. I just couldn't easily keep myself warm at an unheated, uninsulated barn at those temps. In addition, if it snowed my tires couldn't handle it and my car would slide around and be unsafe.

This year I was hearing all these people complaining about the awful weather and felt surprised. I wasn't even paying attention and then when I looked I realized that it was already in the teens. that is REALLY cold for even us at this point in the year but I just didn't care. I'm not even joining in other people's whining because I feel great! It may be cold going from the car to work, or the car to the barn and sure it's cold when I catch my pony but I have a nice warm sanctuary to escape to so I just don't care. It's so completely wonderful that I've been in a great mood this year and just am not dealing with as much depression since I get my barn time. It's lovely.

I'll share more about my plans to get Katai and myself fit and back on track soon!


Saturday, November 2, 2019

Protocol


Back to warm, sunny days where progress was being made.
As mentioned in my previous post I'm doing some problem solving right now with what's going on with Katai. I think that mainly it was stress related and from a big change in her living conditions but there have been small things going on with her here and there so it made sense to just relook at what I'm doing and consider some additional options to make sure she's feeling her best.

First, was ulcer treatment. I started out with UlcerGuard because she was refusing to eat her supplements, and therefore the Nexium pills, but the plan was always to go back to Nexium for the majority of the treatment because of the cost effectiveness and past treatment effectiveness of this for Katai.

After the complicated musical cars process of giving away the half bag of alfalfa pellets I cleared the space in my car and picked up a bag of Senior. I don't love feeding Katai grain but a few handfuls won't hurt and if it's palatable enough that she'll then eat the important supplements and ulcer meds I'm all for it. Luckily it has been working and she's eating it so I didn't just buy a 50# bag of gran for nothing haha.

Unfortunately for me and my personal life the Nexium pills need to be fed daily in order to be effective. I'm following the protocol of 3 pills for 28 days, then 2 pills for 14 days, then 1 pill for 14 days to hopefully not cause a spike in stomach acid. I'm on day 11 right now and that means that this will go into December. I'll be honest, it's a lot to try to get to the barn every single day but I've been successful for the past week. In looking ahead it looks like I'll be able to make it out every day through November except for 1-2 where I'm going to try to get a fellow boarder to give her the meds. This would be much easier on stall board but oh well we'll get there soon enough :)

I also mentioned making a change in other supplements in my previous post. Up until now she's been getting four supplements with California Trace as the main vitamin supplement. CA Trace doesn't have enough vitamin E so she's getting that as well as an Ulcer preventative and Magnesium since CA Trace doesn't have enough of that either. The new supplement has some coverage for all of the above so, while it's a bit more expensive, I will be saving a small amount with just feeding that one supplement rather than all four others. Mostly though it has additional Copper, Zinc, probiotics, biotin, some anti inflammatory stuff, and enough Magnesium and other vitamins and minerals that she's getting now. It's meant for hoof health but also to support the metabolism which are both of Katai's problem areas. Also, since there is just less stuff that I need her to eat I'm hoping it will go down easier with the handful of senior. I also went back to Smartpaks just to make life easier and because there was a small additional cost savings which was awesome. She's starting with a loading dose per the instructions. Once I figure out how this is working I'll do more of a post on what I'm trying.

Most recent riding picture I have :/

To address any body soreness she also got a massage last Monday. The massage person, named Dave, was awesome and came highly recommended from M (the friend who referred me to this barn). I REALLY liked him and, while Katai was a little defensive, he was getting lots of releases. He has rehabilitated a couple of horses at the barn and the work he does is more sports massage based. He did some myofascial type work as well as traditional massage and spent some time working on some specific pressure points. The only thing he really noted was that her hamstrings were tight. We both thought it could potentially be the mud and just the transition from stall to pasture.

He also agreed that just the stress of the move likely caused some ulcers but seemed pleased with her condition and musculature overall. He was also great to talk to about the lack of riding recently and felt that I was following a good protocol in getting the Ulcer meds started and giving her a chance to heal a bit before I went back to doing much riding.

Now she gets two days off, including today and tomorrow, where I'll just go out to give her meds, supplements, put thrush stuff in her feet, and probably hand walk her a bit. The plan then is to ride on Thursday and see how she's doing. Hopefully all of this will pay off and she'll be feeling comfortable and fit :)


Friday, October 25, 2019

What I HAVE Been Doing

Missing my former coach right now.
With all of my whining about what I can't do, ride and just have a nice easy month where things go well, I have been working hard in the background. With the help of my support system I've really changed my mindset over the past few months from just feeling defeated to actually making some pretty big changes to how I function.

I've always been good at self advocating, having boundaries, making time for self care etc. but sometimes if things aren't going well, or I feel like they aren't going well, I swing too far and just stop doing anything productive. That wasn't such an issue when my life was boring but now as I have more adulting to do it's been really affecting my ability to function. Instead I've started to focus on what I can do and to just chip away at small things as I can vs. being such a perfectionist and just not doing anything since I'm unable to do it the way I want.

I've already claimed a corner of the basement in our new house and I want to do something like this plus some shelves and a storage container for grain. I can't wait to set up my little tack space!

With this last month or so of unhappy Katai I've done a few things including getting her on Ulcerguard over the past few days, getting her scheduled for a massage on Monday, and looking at her diet and making some adjustments. These all cost money and I've been really good at budgeting but in this case I decided that throwing some money at the problem was warranted. Even better, because of this change I'll likely be saving money on supplements long term and I've gone from 4 supplements down to, likely, just one. I'm going to trial it for two months, one month of loading dose and one month of the regular dose, and see how she's doing. Fingers crossed it helps with some of the tummy and hoof things she's struggled with. I'll update on how that goes once I know more.

I was also struggling to get Katai to eat her supplements. I think part of this was an ulcer flair but, tbh, she's never loved eating just her small pile of supplements (and I can't blame her because they smell like vitamins) it's just that when she had all night in a stall to eat them she'd eventually finish them off. I don't have all night to wait with her when I'm there. In the past I would have just thrown my hands in the air and given up but instead I checked with a couple of people at the barn to see if they wanted the remainder of the alfalfa pellets that I have to store in my car (since I wasn't feeding them anyway) and found someone who did. I arranged a complicated game of musical car storage for them and then stopped and picked up a bag of senior feed. Sure enough, last night when I gave her the supplements with a couple of handfuls of senior she gobbled them down and licked her bucket clean.

Really thankful that Katai's mane has grown back in!
Now hopefully I can keep it from getting like this again through the winter.
Also thankful she doesn't need to crane her neck to eat her supplements anymore :)

I've also been asking for help more both in my personal life and at the barn. At the barn I vented a bit to a fellow rider and then based on her response asked some questions about horse care stuff. She was really helpful and is in agreement with me that Katai is just taking awhile to adjust. She agreed that some Ulcerguard and just more time were what was needed. That along with T's comment on my last post about her ponies also having sore feet and some text conversations with Jen have helped me feel like this isn't that unusual and it's going to be ok. I just stacked the deck against us when I moved her during this weather change.

Flat drylot

For some perspective, before with stall board she was in from around 5:00pm to about 7:00-7:30am so for about 14+ hours she was in her 12x12 stall. When she went out it was into a fairly large, but flat, dry lot where the horses ate and then stood around a lot. Now she's out 24/7 in a pasture with hills and a slightly larger group of horses that do more moving around. When we moved, her saddle was sitting slightly low in front and I was shimming it because she'd lost topline without consistent work over the summer. Now, with almost no riding, her saddle is sitting even and definitely doesn't need shims. That isn't due to fat at all since her girth is still going up to the same space, I can still feel her last rib or two, and she visually doesn't have a belly at all. The only explanation I have is that she's out moving around, running around, and doing her own hill work and that's why I'm guessing there's some muscle soreness/tiredness.

One small portion of the pasture.
It continues to slope up to the right and this is about a third of the total space.

Last night I went to the barn after a work meeting. It was cold, I didn't have any dinner so needed to stop and wait in line forever (food is the worst) and was just over everything when I got to the barn. I figured I'd just give her Ulcerguard and her supplements and leave. I went in the barn, not even planning to change out of my work clothes, BUT I saw someone else clipping and decided that I was just going to stick with it and do it. I changed to barn clothes, got the pony, and started clipping her. I was about a square foot into it with an almost new set of clipper blades when they just completely stopped working. In the past I would have just packed up and left and ordered a new blade but instead I asked the other boarder who was clipping for help. She, low and behold, works as a dog groomer and has a TON of knowledge of clippers. She helped me figure out how to change out my blade drive and then when that didn't work lent me a set of her blades (which happened to fit my clipper) so that I could finish. She was so lovely and helpful about it that it was a good learning for me.

From pictures like (from the old barn) this I can tell that she's really getting her
muscle back at the new barn despite not much riding

Because of that perseverance I now have a clipped pony who is actually eating her important supplements and who is on the path to an ulcer free existence. I'm hoping that with some additional ulcer guard, being back on her tummy supplements, and the massage on Monday she'll be on the right track. I'm also hoping that the hoof supplement gets here today, or tomorrow, so that I can get her started on that and see if that does anything. Hopefully we can be fully back on track in the next week or so and I can reschedule the lesson I needed to cancel this week!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Through the Ringer



Yikes, I was doing better with posting for a while and now it’s been almost a month again. There’s a reason for that but I’m not happy about it. Basically ever since we’ve moved Katai has had random stuff going on. None of it seems to really be related, none of it seems to point to needing the vet, and none of it is easily addressed. Mostly I think she’s, as I’ve mentioned before, a very sensitive flower that’s dealing with a lot of change at the same time and I feel really awful and guilty about that but at this point it is what it is. Everything from a few massive heat cycles, being tired out, muscle stiffness, sore feet, an ulcer flare, not getting enough magnesium so being a hellion, etc. Below is a timeline if you want to read a bunch of boring stuff about pony’s slight offness.

-The week after I got back from the cabin I was only able to get myself to go out and give her supplements a few times throughout the rest of the week. Then the Saturday after (10/5) she was on fire! She felt great and we had a great, if slightly short, ride. I was happy and feeling like she was adjusting finally after being pretty tired and muscle sore for the 3 weeks or so after she moved.

Tiny dog is judging me for disturbing her
-The following week on Tuesday I lunged her in the Vienna reins and she was good but sluggish which is very unlike her. This has been the theme since she’s been on pasture board and I suspect she’s just using a lot of energy in running around when she would have been in a stall before. She’s definitely building muscle and I love that but it’s also tough waiting for her to adjust and get used to having all that additional time to use up energy.

-Wednesday and Thursday that week I did a couple of light rides and had a couple of fellow boarders watch because she was short in her stride but not off and still lethargic. Both fellow boarders agreed that she wasn’t off (evenly short) and basically seemed to think I was making a mountain out of a mole hill. Since I know I’m a bit of a pony hypochondriac I felt better and decided to give her the weekend off.

At least I'm loving my new tack set up?
- On Monday I was going to go out but I got stuck at work really late so she ended up with 3 days off. Then on Tuesday she was lethargic again but I did more of a ride and worked really hard on trying to loosen up muscles to see if it’s just that she was really tight. She did actually make progress! I got lots of snorts and sighs and by the end she had a more normal stride length for how she’s been going recently. She also just felt much looser and more forward. I was really encouraged!

- Wednesday I went out and had a plan to do similar work but when I touched her girth to tighten it (didn’t even get the buckle undone to tighten) she had a massive girthy, pain response. I tried the other side and got a similar response. She’s not a girthy pony, and hadn’t had a girthy response the day before, so it was pretty clear she was having a bad ulcer response suddenly. Strangely(?) enough most of the horses at the barn seem to be having an ulcer issue right now. I’m not sure if it’s just the weather change, or the change from grass to just hay, or something about the hay but it seems to be the norm. That makes me feel a bit better but I also hate seeing her uncomfortable.


-The rest of the week I’ve been out basically treating her for ulcers, putting thrush meds in her feet, and doing blanket changes as needed. S he’s still been tight and lethargic so I’m still not sure what’s going on there but again, no one other than me seems to even notice so maybe I’m just worried about nothing.

Grrr, I really wish they could tell us what’s going on. She’s also either been sore muscle wise or had sore feet off and on. The high anxiety, panicky part of me is worried that she’s having a laminitis flair because of the tiny amount of grass she can get but she hasn’t had an increased pulse or heat in her feet. It has been SUPER rainy though so I suspect she’s just got tender footsies from standing in the muck and rain 24/7. Hopefully she’s not brewing an abscess.

At the cabin, boyfriend is good at helping his grandma <3
I’m getting out there about 4-6 days a week right now to make sure she’s getting supplements, meds, etc. which is tough because as this is happening I’m also dealing with some bad depression. You know what could help that? Having a pony who feels happy, comfortable, and sound and being able to ride and get that form of exercise.

Honestly? I’m really, really, really, really tired of dealing with all of this. I feel like this sort of thing is made worse because of how sensitive she is and yet I wouldn’t ask for her to hide any of this. I just hate having this sort of domino, one thing after another, sort of situation that feels like it’s been going on low key since I was still boarding at Jane’s. Can’t the universe just give us a break and a month where things just smooth out, we can make some progress, and we’re both feeling ok?

I know it’s not fair for her, as another being who’s dealing with her own crap, but I just want this part of my life to be working well right now and to be my rock while I’m dealing with mental health stuff as the season changes.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Actual Riding Updates!!


Yes, that’s right and they’re positive :)

This whole social barn thing is really helping my motivation to ride. At the old barn I’d be the only one there, literally the only one on the property a good chunk of the time and so if Katai was at all anxious or spicy I’d lunge partially from a self-preservation perspective and partially just because I was anxious and didn’t have any reason to ride. It was tough always being alone.

Here there are always people around and there have been at least a few times when I’ve arrived at the barn with no motivation, thinking I’d just lunge, and then changed my mind when I got there because there were lots of other people riding. Part of it is that this barn has a recommendation (I won’t call it a rule because they’re flexible) of no lunging in the indoor when someone else is riding. They’re fine in the outdoor, because it's bigger, but if there are lots of other people riding I’d still prefer to ride rather than lunge since I still feel the risk of accident is higher. Mostly though it’s just that when my friends are tacking up to ride I’d prefer to tack up and ride with them!


That meant that this week when I went out on Monday I was still feeling like crap and thought I’d just groom and lunge and maybe work in hand outside a bit. When I got there though my friend M (who was the reason I moved here) was there and just finishing up grooming and there were lots of other people riding. I had decided I might ride and then I saw another friend drive up. When I asked she thought that she’d ride in the outdoor. I figured I’d see how Katai was, since she’d been a pill the previous few days, but she was so good and quiet in the barn that I decided to join my friend in the outdoor. I didn’t have a death wish though so I decided to lunge first. At first Katai was a little tight and spicy but she calmed down pretty quick and before I could second guess myself I led her over to the mounting block and hopped on.

Long story short she was SUPER good. She acted like she’d been riding in that outdoor her entire life. She wasn’t spooky even with some construction happening at a nearby pole building, or the foal that was being weaned running around in a neighboring paddock. We walked for a while so that I could make sure she was really tuned in and then did some trotting and finally cantered. I let her run into the canter and just kept it nice and forward and low key but with that being said she never put a foot wrong. The arena is huge so she had lots of room to navigate and not feel like she was losing her balance which I think helped. She fell into trot going right at one point and I wasn’t going to ask for more but she went back into canter and the transition was gorgeous and she was listening to me so I just went with it for another circle or two.

I kept the whole ride pretty short because the arena footing is way different than what she’s used to at this point and we’re still acclimating. I was so proud of her and stuffed her full of treats when I hopped off and then hand walked her to “cool down” for a while even though she wasn’t sweaty at all. I think that part of what was so different was that she was out there with a horse that she knows well. I’m ok with that being our method of helping her understand that the outdoor is a safe place though and plan to ride out there with friends as much as possible until the weather dictates that we only ride inside.

I’m up north at a cabin with my bf this weekend so probably no updates for a bit but I’m hoping to post more soon!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Settling In

You can juuuuust see a tiny white speck of a pony in this
but it was so pretty that I wanted to share.
The new barn is great, really fantastically great. The missing piece from many of the past barns for me has been the social piece. This place is finally everything and more that I could want from that perspective. The people are fantastic and every single time I’ve been out, no matter what time of the day or what day it is there are at least 3-4 people there grooming, riding, lunging, or in some way working with their horses. Most people ride their horse(s) on a regular basis, work with instructors, feed supplements, and just groom or lunge. Everyone is nice and positive and while there’s a lot of diversity from a horse care philosophy and/or training perspective everyone seems to get along really well. There are at least 4 people that board at this barn that I’ve either previously boarded with or knew through a friend and one of the people who is boarding here now boarded at both J’s and Jane’s with me.

There are certainly nice things about having the barn or arena to myself but it is just so much nicer to know that there will be other awesome people to talk to, learn from, compare notes with, and support and be supported by. It’s so motivating to me to go to the barn and then even if, like this past weekend, all I can manage to do is feed supplements I can also hang out and talk with other people, watch others ride, help grab a needed side rein, etc. and feel like the drive to the barn was more valuable than it would have been to just go feed supplements (even though that’s also very rewarding :)
Puppy was napping with me and then when I got up off the couch she got absorbed into the cushions.
You can see how disgusted she was about it lol
Katai also seems to be adjusting and figuring things out. I went out on Monday the day after she arrived and then again on Tuesday. She was definitely tired from dealing with figuring out the new herd dynamic. I missed a couple of days but went out again the following Saturday. Things were on track and going great but then I started to get sick. I was really hoping it would be just a few day thing but alas the cold kicked my butt a full 6.5ish days and I’m only feeling mostly better still more than a week now from when I first got sick hence why I’ve been so quiet!


I'm planning to post a review on my new grooming bag soon!
This past weekend though I was feeling up to getting to the barn and knew that I really needed to. The most unfortunate thing about Katai being on pasture board this winter is that she’s relying on me to feed supplements. I’m working to figure out a storage solution so that I can keep them at the barn (in a mouse proof way) so that others can help if I can’t make it out but I didn’t have that figured out prior to getting sick this time. Most of the time I should be able to make it out at least 5 days a week and it’s a little extra motivation to make it out there but I know there will be times when I can’t so I want to have a backup plan figured out. On Saturday she was not especially excited to see me and slowly walked away but then stood when I approached. She was unusually subdued but didn’t have a temp. She also wouldn’t eat her “grain” but I knew she’d been eating on the round bale all day and maybe just wasn’t hungry enough for the supplements to taste good. I was slightly concerned but figured I’d check on her the next day (knowing she’d have a lot of eyes on her between then and Sunday) and get someone involved if she wasn’t perking up by then.

On Sunday when I went to catch her it was immediately clear that, while she still maybe wasn’t feeling herself, she was feeling much less subdued. She actually ran from me! This pony has NEVER been tough to catch the entire time I’ve owned her even when she was feral at the beginning. At the most she’d just walk a couple of steps and then stand nervously. This is the only time I can ever remember her actually putting any effort into evading me. I walked her down and it didn’t take long but I still have a lot of congestion in my lungs so it was more work than I was looking for. When she eventually stood she was clearly unhappy to be caught but just didn’t want to run anymore. She was also super reactive. I realized pretty quick that it was because she hadn’t been getting her magnesium and made a plan to get her on a loading dose for a couple of days to catch up. She was also clearly in raging heat so she was interesting, to say the least, in the cross ties and wanted to kick at me when I picked her back feet. We survived that and I lunged her in the outdoor but she SCREAMED the entire time to a bunch of mares that are in a pasture near the outdoor who she’s never met before.

Seriously *headdesk*

At least she got her supplements, was sound, and had more energy so I could stop worrying about her being sick. Now I just need to feel better, get her back on her supplements (at least the magnesium) and work some energy off on the lunge and then hopefully by end of this week I’ll be able to fit in a ride or two before we leave for a cabin up north for the weekend!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Moving

I was hoping to have more photos but alas, I’m bad at remembering to take them.
 Instead we’ll do a photo tour of previous barns starting with J's Barn

These have stopped being exciting adventures at this point and are more like slightly annoying necessities lol. With that being said, I have been trying have the mindset of using this move to continue to prep for trailering to shows or as traveling practice in general. I actually talked about it with my therapist and she gave me some homework as far as keeping my anxiety low. She also reminded me that something that’s super scary for both of us like trailering is not the place to focus on others and instead to ask for what we need and focus on our relationship. While my therapist isn’t a horse person it was EXACTLY what I needed to hear and continues right along with the theme of really focusing on the relationship and trust that Katai and I have built.

Temporary "escape from J's barn" barn

A lot of the anxiety with moving Katai comes from knowing that she’s not always a great loader and then feeling embarrassed and guilty that she isn’t better. In all honesty I work hard on it and try to utilize resources (such as others offering to let me practice loading her) whenever I can. This summer alone I practiced in two different trailers, one a few different days, and we made some progress. I also really hate feeling judged. As I told my therapist horse people can be extra judgy and part of why I moved was that the people at my previous barn were super extra special judgy which definitely increase my anxiety about everything including getting her loaded.

Crazy people barn

That morning I actually was managing to keep my anxiety low on the drive to the barn. I was working through some of the homework I had from my therapist specifically for pony moving. When I got to the barn though I saw that two of the judgiest people (and most forceful handlers) were there and got scared. One of the two (miss nosy) was the person who was bullying me when I first moved in. We have an understanding but I still don’t trust her to help or handle my pony at all and knew that she’d try to insert herself in getting Katai loaded. She had also seen me doing trailer practice with Katai on a day when I’d neglected to use a lunge line and, because of that, Katai got free and spooked her horse. I felt super bad about it but horses will be horses and humans will be humans and it was extra unfortunate since that literally hasn’t happened since I first got my pony and of course that was the horse that she spooked *headdesk*. I apologized to her that day but she didn’t handle it very well.

Lovely barn, I only moved because it got too expensive for my living situation at the time

Anyway, on Sunday I was at the barn early so I picked up the last few things. After a while the new barn owner, who we’ll call M, showed up with the trailer and I was relieved to see that it was fully open in the back and had a ramp since I knew that both things would help Katai load quickly. I ignored miss nosy inserting herself into the conversation and walked up to M and let her know how she could help which was basically to stand off to the side, wait for me to walk Katai in, and then hold the doors shut so that I could fasten her up. M looked doubtful and my stomach churned but she heard me. I went and got Katai and led her back to the trailer and could tell that as I walked up miss nosy had been telling M what an awful loader Katai was. I marched right up into the trailer, Katai followed, pulled back once, and then walked right on and turned around. She proceeded to stand fairly quietly next to me while M pushed the doors shut. I tied her up, fastened the slant, and then walked out of the trailer. The whole thing took less than 3 minutes and miss nosy was nowhere to be seen when I walked out of the trailer.

Jane's barn <3

M locked up the trailer, I hopped in my car and we had an uneventful trip to the barn. Very nicely M asked me if I needed anything when I went to unload her. We basically reversed the process, Katai unloaded nicely, and then we walked her to the pasture and let her go to start introducing herself. The whole thing including drive time took no more than 35 minutes and was another good experience to include in the growing list of positive travel experiences.

Weird barn, rough trainer, extra long commute

I like M so far. She hung out watching the herd go through the initial integration for about 15 minutes even though it was raining. We chatted but also she was keeping a careful eye on everything and was ready to break up any fights that occurred if needed. There were definitely a few scuffles which I was surprised to see. Katai has definitely matured and seems to have decided that she needs to be top mare which is so weird since I’m used to her being bottom of the pack. We eventually decided that they were quiet enough and she gave me a tour and I got to know M and the rules a little more. I like her combination of no nonsense but also no superfluous rules and can tell that it’s all about trust which I like since I know my stuff and hate being micromanaged (looking at you previous barn). I got my stuff unloaded into a beautiful and luxurious feeling open sort of tack locker/compartment in the room for the pasture boarders. I really like the setup! I’m looking forward to eventually moving Katai into a stall but I’m certainly going to be spoiled even with pasture board. The barn is set up really nice and feels cozy and like home again which is so super nice.


I’m planning to go out tonight and do my first lunge or ride with Katai even though it’s a Monday. Worst case scenario we’ll just do ground work and get her used to the new facility, best case scenario we’ll do a nice ride in the indoor. I’d like to do groundwork outside but it’s supposed to be raining out and it’s only in the 50s-60s this week so I’d rather not get that cold and wet. I can’t believe it’s almost blanket season again!

Current barn, defending herself from the other frisky mares :)

Thank You!

Thank you all so much for your messages and positive thoughts. I'm really really really really really really really really really really...