Monday, July 28, 2014

Horsey wine alert: Dark Horse Cabernet Sauvignon

I pulled this bottle of Dark Horse Cabernet off the shelf because of the name (obviously), considered buying it because it is a Cabernet and it is from California (check and check, two of my favorites), and I ultimately made the purchase because it was on sale for under $10! Score! And you know what? I tried it last night and it was actually pretty good.

Plus the graphic artist in me loves how their logo uses a champagne flute as the horse's blaze (even though to be technical a wine glass would have been more fitting). Very cute :)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

You can never trust the weatherman

When I left the barn at 7pm tonight after feeding and turning everyone out, the forecast called for a 40% chance of scattered thunderstorms until 8pm with the chances of rain and the severity of the weather dwindling as the night went on, clearing completely after 2am. 

It is now 12:30am and it is *still* continuously lightning and thundering outside, which has been going on since about 9, although the torrential rains have finally stopped; and I just got back home after rushing out to the barn to bring everyone back in. 

I have never seen lightning like this. It was so continuous, the only thing I can think to compare it to is war footage in movies; it was literally like the 4th of July out there for the past 3 hours, with more lit sky than dark. I tried to get a video but my phone just wouldn't capture it. 

As the weather worsened I kept checking my phone, hoping to see a clear spot in the radar, but it was all jumbled and no one seemed to be able to predict when it would stop or where it was going. Where did this storm come from?? Finally aound 10pm the flash flood/severe thunderstorm/hail/damaging wind advisories started coming in and I heard the fire alarm go off at the firehall down the street. Unable to get ahold of Jan and torn between the worry of the horses being out in the electrical storm vs putting myself at risk of getting struck by lightning (handling wet metal gates in the middle of an open field is not the best idea in a lightning storm), I eventually decided I couldn't not go. The rain had let up somewhat by then and I was giving myself an ulcer imagining a horse dead in the field from lightning (which was much worse than my fear of going outside in the lightning storm myself). 

When I got to the barn it was obvious they got it even worse than I did at home. There were branches down everywhere, washed out roads and the power was out. Luckily a couple of other concerned boarders were there too and they brought flashlights and headlamps (note for future: buy a headlamp. So much easier than using a flashlight!). They hadn't done anything with the horses yet, waiting for the storm to quiet, but once I got there we got a break in the rain so we got right to work bringing them in. Not the easiest task in the work when you are dealing with wet, scared animals who are afraid of your headlamp!

Honestly, it went much better than I thought it would and all the horses, though scared and blowing, were very trusting and obedient when navigating the dark corners and corridors and circumventing the flooded parts of the aisleways. Let me tell you, what an eerie sight it is to whistle for the horses in the field and hear a thundering herd coming from the far end but being able to see nothing until suddenly floating glowing eyes surge straight toward you in the dark!

I feel so much better knowing the horses are in and dry and safe. I just checked and the forecast now shows a severe thunderstorm advisory until 2am with "one or two" scattered thunderstorms continuing between 2 and 6am. Finally updated! Now I can sleep well....that is if I can fall asleep at all. My body is so pumped and awake right now!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Horse camping

This weekend I took Charlie on his first ever horse camping adventure. One of the other riders in our group was skeptical ("You brought a TB for a day long trail ride? Can he do that?"). Well let me tell you he was fabulous! We rode about 15 miles the first day (Charlie's longest ride ever), stopped for lunch in the middle of the forest and tied the horses to the trees, crossed countless creeks, picked our way around rocks and up and down muddy hills. He acted like a pro, I was so proud. 

Everyone else in our crew had more of your typical "trail" horses (a mule, a Tennessee Walker, a Foxtrotter and a QH) so I think they just didn't expect something as tall and leggy as Charlie to be able to survive out there, but he did! 

I was lucky enough to be able to borrow a flex-panel endurance saddle from one of my barn mates for the ride and it worked perfectly; Charlie wasn't sore at all. It wasn't my favorite to ride in - I prefer a true western saddle for trail rides - but it was loads better than riding in my jumping saddle for 6 hours would have been!

Here are some pictures:

Jan has the most beautiful living quarters Sundowner trailer ever, we traveled in style
Where we going, Ma? Who's that horse?
Charlie's preferred way to ride, despite how uncomfortable it looks

All set up at the campsite
Time for a beer!
That's my tent, right next to Charlie :)

Friday night campfire and dogs
Two of our trail companions: Wrangler, the mule, and Cisco, the TWH (25 yrs old!)
Jan's horse, Randy, and Charlie sharing a snack during breaktime

Charlie's halter fashion statement
So we just left it around his neck and he was happy
Lunch time backdrop: reservoir with windmills
Charlie gaining confidence from a seasoned trail horse
Jan took this shot of Charlie leading the charge across one creek

Night 1: Whew! Exhausted!
Day 2: Switching gears to English tack
A beautiful sunny Sunday morning ride with Cisco and Cindy

I couldn't get enough of these ferns

View from the lookout on the top of the mountain

Friday, July 11, 2014

A hitch in our giddyup

Charlie's had it pretty easy these past couple of weeks, acting as a model citizen to help train some of the babies and being a great escort for trail rides. I tried out my new long lines which are turning out to be pretty awesome. They have three clips with pullies so they're super easy to adjust.

All rigged up. Wish I had pictures of him while he was working in it.
Yesterday I rode for the first time, though, since last week and Charlie didn't want to canter, specifically on the right lead. That's weird, I thought. We were doing so good! When I insisted, he started snaking his head around and doing his old I'm-going-to-bite-off-your-leg-whenever-you-use-it deal. Uh oh.

I figured maybe he was just stiff and I tried to canter too soon? So we trotted around a lot and he was really stretching, like reaaally low with his head on the ground, so I figured his back must be sore. We got some good stretching and Charlie eventually cantered ok but he was still reluctant.

When I untacked him and looked him over he was touchy along his last several ribs on the right where he always is, but a bit more so than normal. Vet says there's nothing wrong over there, but I still think he may have some old scar tissue or something because he's always been weird about his right side being touched or groomed in a specific area and there is a small scar with no hair there from something that happened before I got him. Anyway I applied some Sore-No-More and didn't worry too much about it.

Today we went out on the trails for about an hour and a half and all we did was walk (side note: we were able to cross the scary flooded area of the path this time.....twice!). I figured this might exacerbate whatever was going on without being too strenuous and it would help me see if it is a saddle fit issue, which I've been worried about. Charlie never stepped wrong but when we came back and I gave him the once-over he was definitely ouchy in a few places. 

One was his withers, which I was expecting (although I was really hoping not to find). I've been worried about my western saddle not fitting quite right even with the new Reinsman pad, so I've been riding exclusively in that lately, looking at sweat patterns and feeling for sensitive areas to see if I notice anything before the big two-day trail ride I have planned for next weekend. However he was also sore in his loin a few inches in front of his sacroiliac joint and again around his last few ribs on the right. I'm not sure what to make of the lower back pain. Maybe it's unrelated and he just rolled over funny? That seems like a weird place to have saddle fit-related issues, and I'm not a heavy sitter in the tack. 

I think there's some definite pinching on his left withers, see the area w/ no sweat?

There's also no sweat-free line down the spine even though there seems to be plenty of clearance
Poor guy. I applied a good amount of Sore-No-More and he'll get the next couple of days off. It looks like I might have to trade in my pretty western saddle, though, and I'll most likely be riding in my English one all next weekend. That should be fun.

I'll leave you with this picture of Charlie in his new combo fly veil. He is obviously not impressed.

Colby said, "Jamaican me laugh with all those dreds!"
I'll reserve a final verdict until I try it at least once or twice more but you know what? I think it works.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

New gear

Old paddock boots make way for the new! 

Old faithfuls
Thanks to and their already amazing deals topped by an Ariat Closeout and additional 4th of July savings, I was able to get a brand new pair of Ariat Heritage Breeze zip paddock boots for only $67! My poor old ones (of the original Heritage variety) had served me well but have been through hell and high water over the last 4 years and despite my continued attempts to re-condition them and WD40 the zippers, they were finally starting to die.

No amount of waterproofing or conditioning can save that
Completely wore through multiple layers of the heel
The Breeze boots will be a new thing for me, but Horseloverz didn't have my size on sale in the ones I usually buy so we'll give the washable ones a shot. 

I was actually going to get the matching half chaps (also on clearance) since I succeeded in breaking the zipper pull on my well-loved Grand Prix ones last week (and have worn through the stitching and leather inside the calf). That was until I measured my leg and realized that Ariat models must all be very tall, spindly-legged people, i.e. not me. I should have known, having tried unsuccessfully to find Ariat tall boots in the past, so I opted instead to give some Ovation half chaps a try. They have much more customizable sizing options and seem to be very nice and flexible. Plus they have a super cute quilted leather top :)

The spoils. Aren't the halfchaps cute?
As you can see I also scored a cool ear net/fly veil combo that I've been wanting to try for trail riding since Charlie's normal crocheted bonnet just doesn't cut it out there, as well as some galloping boots. Actually, the galloping boots were a mistake purchase. I had them in my cart to save for later but my computer glitched in the middle of editing my order and they ended up being accidentally purchased. Oh well, they were on clearance too so I didn't waste much.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Charlie and the peacocks

Big excitement this week: Charlie got to meet a couple of peacocks who wandered over from the farm down the street.

Guarding the gate