Thursday, September 29, 2016


Gosh it felt good to have my horse completely healthy, healed, adjusted and with shoes for my lesson last night. This is what riding must be like for most people.

I didn't have a lot of time to warm up, so we walked a couple of circuits around before starting with a couple of walk pirouettes. Ashke has pretty much figured out how to do these, even if I am still a bit foggy on the difference between a WP and a turn on the haunches. I can feel the difference, but I'm still not clear in my head of what I should be getting from Ashke. The pirouettes were solid and he didn't peter out into stoppage on either one (more leg would be the answer). I was able to do them sitting straight in the middle of him, rather than shifted to the outside and trying to push him around with my body.

Next was leg yielding at the trot to the rail from the quarterline. This is an exercise we were struggling with our last lesson. It was good to feel how much more comfortable Ashke was when bending and moving his body around. He is able to hold himself much more straight in the movement rather than throwing his shoulder out when he moves sideways. After the leg yields we did some canter work, a spiral to the right side, then spiral out, and leg yields from the quarterline to the rail at the canter. He struggles more to move from the right to the left on the right lead canter, but last night by the third one, he was crossing nicely to the outside. I need to remember to lower my left hand and open the door for him to move his shoulder toward the rail. We also did some figure eights with simple changes in the center, until I had to take a break because I couldn't breathe.

Then we worked on the serpentines with w/t/c transitions. I love this exercise, because it completely befuddles the boy. He gets all "Rawr!! Canter!!" and I am like, nope, stop and back up. Now walk. Now trot in a circle. It gives me so many opportunities to change the conversation from tension and anxiety about cantering to relaxed, happy, not predictive horse waiting to see what I want from him next.

We did some haunches in, which he has mastered well enough that Amanda thinks we can start seriously addressing a half pass movement with him. Then she made us do the leg yield, shoulder in, leg yield down the centerline. He can do it. I really struggle to get all of my parts operating correctly to get him to move the way I am asking. We managed a couple of really good movements in each direction and then stopped with that exercise.

Finally, we finished up with a canter figure eight with a simple change in the middle. Amanda wants me to really focus on the seat and leg aids for this exercise, which even I can see that it is in prep work for a flying change. I need to weight my outside hip, bring my leg just behind the girth, then cue at the girth with my inside heel. As we come into the change, I let my legs return to neutral while transitioning down to the trot, then shift them to the proper position to cue for the other lead. Ashke did it really well, no longer pinning his ears and getting fussy about the request. We finished up with that and gave Ashke lots of praise and attention for his try.

Things that have changed in the past few months, even in spite of the lack of work.
  1. Ashke and I are no longer fighting up front. He has not thrown his head up and braced his front legs since I put him in side reins to work out his own damnation. He loves the spanish bit we are riding in and he was soft and foamy at the end of our ride last night.
  2. The canter is now able to be achieved without him throwing his head up. We are actually beginning to see a solid transition from walk to canter. He still gets amped or anxious when we go from canter to do something else, but it is getting easier to redirect him to something else. All of our canter demons are being defeated each ride.
  3. Amanda is gifting me with some little tricks to redirect him when he starts looking for trouble (he gets spooky). Making him bend and move sideways toward the object of his distraction was a subtle reminder to him last night that life can get a whole lot harder if he doesn't want to pay attention.
  4. A good solid extended trot will help unpretzel him when we are doing the movements that require him to move a shoulder or hip. 
  5. He is capable of achieving all of the things I had hoped we could learn to do, as long as I understand I need to be very specific in my aids and how I ask.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Weekend: Part Three

After we dropped the horses and the trailer at the barn, J and I headed for home. After parking the truck (this is fun, since typically J backs into her space and the truck no longer has a back up camera) we walked the dogs, grabbed the car, picked up lunch and headed out to watch T's football game. The football game lasted a bit longer than we expected, but the team played tough and almost won the game (the other team had one play with six seconds and managed to score a TD). After the game we headed for the grocery store to pick up food for Saturday night and Sunday morning. Then we grabbed the boy and headed home.

We started loading the new camper: food, clothes, pillows, dog bed, water, while I cooked cornbread muffins to take with us. Then headed for the popup camper in storage to get all of the other camping gear we were going to need. We grabbed sleeping bags, silverware (plastic), dishes (paper), garbage bags, etc. By the time we had grabbed what we could think of, it was almost dark. We were both grumpy. I broke out the cornbread muffins and wild honey and we ate enough to get us to the camp site. We also worked on getting the dogs to walk up the scissor steps into the camper (they were very hesitant to do it without help, although Skittle figured it out first.) Then we closed everything up and headed north to Wyoming.

It is a solid two hours, regardless of anything else, before we reach Vedauwoo. One of our friends told us about stock holding pens for horses in Vedauwoo off of Happy Jack road, so we drove out on Happy Jack trying to locate them. By the time we got there, however, it was too late to explore, so we pulled in on Vedauwoo Road and started hunting a camp site. We found a relatively flat area set off of one of the meandering roads that wind through Medicine Bow National Forest and parked the rig. The wind was blowing and it was in the low 30's when we got out of the truck. The dogs raced around wildly for a bit while J and I dropped the stabilizers on the four corners of the camper. We set up the stairs and we were done. Ten minutes, maybe. Inside I got the propane heater running and went to start our stew for dinner. That's when we realized we didn't have matches for the stove (they were in the popup, we just didn't think about it). Thankfully, there was a lighter with fluid in the truck, so we shared a can of stew and some cornbread.

Skittle: Queen of the camper.
J was about to fall asleep eating.

Fifteen minutes later, we discovered that J hadn't filled the black water holding tank, so no toilet. Ooopss. I then discovered: no toothbrushes, no contact solution, no contact holder, no toilet paper. Fuck. I used plastic cups lined with ziplock baggies and filled with water to hold my contacts overnight (and boy was that a joy to put them on the next morning). Then we crawled into bed. J went right to sleep but I did not. In fact, I barely dozed all night long. The roof of the camper is very low and I hit it every single time I rolled over. Both dogs were on the bed and laying on my legs. It just was not a good night for me. 

Good thing: the wind roared all night long and the camper never swayed. And you could barely really hear the wind. Also, the propane heater was very quiet and although I could hear it come on, it would have been quiet enough to sleep through had I been sleeping.

By the time Skittle was ready to get up I was tired of trying to fake sleep.
The dawn was incredible. 

Standing on the rise near the truck looking out of Medicine Bow National Forest.

The sun just starting to come up.

Standing there watching the light break across the forest with the lines of a Robert Frost poem running through my mind:

Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her earliest leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Leaf subsides to leaf
Eden sank to grief
Dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay

Sully and Tabi in the breaking light of dawn

J and Lily greeting the morning

Up close

This is my heart place.
This is where I go to be healed of fear, of anguish, of pain, of worry.

Me watching the dogs and the sunrise.


All of Wyoming is gold in the fall.

About fifteen minutes after we got breakfast, I tried to take a shower and there was no hot water. This was disappointing because that was the most important part for me. We did something wrong during set up and had no idea what it was or why there was no hot water (there is a winterizing flow valve that was turned the wrong way so there was no water to the hot water heater. We went back to the dealership on Monday to find out what we had done wrong.) Then J realized the Bronco game was at eleven. We packed up and headed to find the stock pens (just a bit further down the road) although it looked like they were being picked up for the winter. We will try again in the spring. On my wish list is a portable corral. 

When we got home, we filled the camper with all of the things that we had forgotten, plus a few more items. Then sat down and watched the Broncos beat the Bengals. Unfortunately, I don't think we will be able to camp again until late April. We will winterize the camper and park it until spring.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Weekend: Part Two

Saturday started early and we met K at the barn by 7:45. Once the trailer was hooked up, it was a matter of minutes to get the boys loaded and on the road. J figured out that if she turned on the tow load option on the truck (first time trying that) it made the braking and acceleration soooo much smoother. IDK why we were surprised, considering the truck came with the tow package. The trip was uneventful and we reached Dr D's about ten minutes early. I stripped off the BOT blanket and quick wrap and took Ashke to the round pen.

J testing the turning potential with the trailer. We needed to check to make sure there was enough distance between the end of the camper and the front of the trailer to keep them from banging into each other. This was cranked as tight as we could get it and there was still 20" inches between the two.

It amazes me how willing Ashke is to talk to Dr D. There are things that he might mask when we are working together (he can be rather stoic with pain, the same way I am) but with her he is engaged and very open. He also loves to see what she is doing, following her around and getting in her way. I came out with the expectation that his neck was out, but wasn't sure about the rest. 

In the round pen we do w/t/c in both directions. Then a trot out and back on a straight line.

Dr D said that overall, he looked really good. She really wasn't expecting a whole lot, but then we got him in the exam stall and he started telling her all sorts of stuff. His poll was out to the right, the base of his neck and down to his hoof. On the left, the two ribs at T9 and T10 were both out, plus he was tight at T12 and L1 (this is his default - he cares his stress here kind of like me carrying my stress in my shoulders). His withers were incredibly sore. Dr D thinks I should carefully evaluate my saddle to be sure it's not bridging, but then we found the ribs and its a possibility that the bridging pain is from him carrying himself differently. I will keep an eye on it over the next four weeks and if there is still signs of bridging, I'll get Megan out again. However, based on everything that happened, I'm leaning toward the ribs being the issue. 

I think, and Dr D agrees with me, that these injuries were sustained when Ashke cast himself in the stall and ripped open his leg in the process of getting up. He had a scrape on his face at the same time that I think he got when he threw his head into the side of the stall. Dr D took blood, applied needles to his poll, his neck, chest, shoulder, back and sides. Plus the front of his left front hoof and the back of the right front. If the muscle releases and the accupuncture has worked, Ashke will push the needle out. If the release is big, the needle bends. One of the needles was bent in a half circle as it came out of the right side of his poll. After the needles were in, laser was applied to his withers on each side, and then the injury site on his LH was lasered as well. 

Next, Dr D used an actuator to move the vertebrae back into alignment, but Ashke was twitching so badly as she worked across his withers that she stopped and tested the needles. Some of them were still stuck, unwilling to release, so she adjusted Ashke's base of his neck first. He needed her to do that before she could fix his back. The neck moved right back into place (soft pop). Then she was able to go back to his withers with the actuator. Once all of the adjustments were complete, Dr D asked him to stretch.  I verbally told Ashke he needed to lift all the way up through his shoulders in order to fix the ribs. Usually, the horse will lift up through their back and it kind of tails off at the base of the withers. Ashke curled his neck down and in, and you could see him stretch up through his front legs to the top of his withers. The ribs moved back in with a loud crack. You should have seen Ashke's face when they were back in place.

Dr D told me a story about her mare a couple of days ago. She went out to let them into the pasture and the mare had not eaten her hay. Dr D stopped and said, "What's wrong?" The mare turned her head and lifted her right hind leg and pointed to her belly under her leg, like "this is where it hurts". There is a reason I only see Dr D. Ashke is willing to talk to her, to allow her to help him get back to a place of balance and that is more valuable than anything else. 

I can't wait to see how he is under saddle tonight. I think the issue we have been having with bending will now be resolved.

Eddy went next and there was very little he needed. The teeth balancing and adjustment from last time had corrected a large part of what was off. K needs to work on making him stronger to the left (I think it's left) since he is very one handed. They spent their time trying a couple of synergist saddles on him. K found one that works very nicely for both her and Eddy and the owner is willing to allow a week trial. I have a dressage girth that should work (it is a western style saddle with billets) so she can ride in it through the weekend. We are planning on the East-West regional trail on Saturday, so that should be a really good indicator of whether or not it will work for her. If so, maybe she can make payments until the saddle is paid off. New, they run $3000 or so. The saddle is in great condition and it puts her in a balanced and correct seat.

Dr D finished up will a slight adjustment to Eddy and we loaded for the ride home. K is going to pick up the saddle this morning and we shall see how it works for her tonight.

That was not the end of our weekend. Wait for Part Three.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Weekend: Part One

OMG. What a weekend it has been.

Friday, both J and I took a half day off work to go pick up the camper.

So, let me back up and tell you about this camper. Two and a half years ago, when we were looking for a horse trailer, we first looked at a two horse Bison trailer with living quarters. It was a really nice unit, with a slide, big enough for the boy to come with us, but it was pretty pricey and I had no idea how we could make it work for our daily trips to local trails. Facing the prospect of a fairly hefty monthly payment for a unit we were going to hate using every weekend caused a reevaluation. J really wanted a truck camper and regular horse trailer and I just wanted a trailer we could use all the time. We opted at that point to purchase the Maverick and wait for the opportunity to horse camp.

Since that purchase, J has done a ton of research. She's read Truck Camper magazine. She's educated herself on airbags, stable loads, overload springs, tiedowns, load stabilization bars, extended hitches, cassette toilets, water capacity, and everything else you could possibly think of as it relates to carrying a tiny house in the back of the truck while safely towing the horse trailer. She refused to consider overloading the truck, primarily because she would not risk the horses following behind. A little less than a year ago, J finally made up her mind and told me the camper she wanted was a Northstar Liberty. It had what I wanted, which was a shower, and although we knew T wasn't real excited about smaller (his favorite is the 600 sft driving monstrosity with a washer and dryer) it looked like it could work for all of us.

Our plan was to purchase the camper in the spring, but then things conspired against us (taxes, long term budget goals) so we postponed ordering the camper (there is a five month wait for delivery since this particular model is very popular) and waited. A couple of weeks ago, I told her that the milestone we were waiting on was going to happen his month and that we could look at ordering the trailer. Then I went onto the interwebs and look for distributors. There was a distributor in Grand Junction (about five hours away) but they didn't have this model in stock. Then I checked our local dealer and was shocked to find the camper on their lot. I texted J and we made plans to go out on Saturday, a week ago.

As we left the house to go look at the camper J seemed really upset at me. She had asked me earlier if we were planning on buying the camper and I said yes, since they had it and it was time. In my mind I was thinking that this was exactly what we wanted and it was here locally and we didn't have to wait, why wouldn't we buy it.  J seemed really upset by my attitude. I asked her why she was mad and she said she didn't want the camper if it had a microwave, that she wanted some very specific items on the camper and if this camper didn't have those things, she didn't want it. She said that by my deciding to buy the camper sight unseen, she had no say. I got very offended considering she had made the decision on which model without any feedback from me and having a microwave seemed like a really bad reason not to buy the camper if it was what she had decided on. The argument ended with silence and we didn't speak to each other again until after we were at the dealership and inside the camper, when I said "it doesn't have a microwave" because I'm an asshole like that.

It ended up being exactly what she would have ordered if we had ordered it from the dealership.

 Our little kitchen. Two burner stove. Small sink. 

 This is a fold down bed or storage cabinet depending on how you want to use it.
It is fairly narrow, but long enough that T will fit.

 The right side of the Queen sized bed.
Memory foam mattress. Skylight over the head of the bed. 

 There are long storage areas on either side of the bed, where clothes could be stored.

 Oversized kitchen window (one of the items J wanted) with hood that vents to the outside.
Cabinets above rather than a microwave.

 Little table that can be moved around to make more counter space if needed. 

 The table comes off and the bottom of the dinette slides out to make a bed. It will fit a short person who doesn't sleep straightened out (or small children). J could possibly sleep here.

Refrigerator with storage cabinets. Across the aisle is the toilet and shower. 

It was exactly what J wanted. It was cozy, but it has a shower (I really miss showers when I can't get them) and we will spend very little time inside when using it. It is cute and snuggly. And it has options if T decides to join us. We talked to the owner of the business, filled out the paperwork to apply for financing, and left a deposit. 

This past Friday, we went back to the dealership and picked up our new camper. We hung out in the camper while they did the tiedowns on the truck, plus put an interrupter on the battery circuit so the camper can't drain the truck battery. One of the other guys came and walked us through all of the parts of the camper and we should have taken notes, but you never know what you aren't going to remember until you are out camping. Then J backed the truck under the camper (I couldn't look until they were close to having it all the way on the truck) and we got it hooked up. I'm really hopeful that we can do it again after we take the camper off the truck for storage. 

 Still needs the tie downs.

From the front.
I wanted to call the camper Turtle, but J chose Tabitha, so we are calling her Tabi for short.

After the camper was on, tie down, and all of the things checked off the list, we went inside and signed the paperwork. Got the keys and all of the other things that we needed, then thanked Jay and all of the other guys at 5 Star RV and headed for the barn. J wanted to pull the trailer empty prior to pulling it with the horses inside and we had an appointment with Dr D on Saturday morning. Pulling the trailer went well, but then traffic made us late to T's football dinner (players and parents). We were both exhausted emotionally by the time we found our bed. We had to be out of the house by seven am the next morning. 

Hooking up the trailer with the camper in the truck was different. J and I will have to work on our communication since I have to stand on the opposite side of the trailer from where I typically stand, plus I can't stand next to the hitch to guide her in, since she can't see me. It took two tries to line up the hitch. I have no idea how people do it without help. The horses loaded easily and we were on our way.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Finally a Lesson

We've tried three times since Ashke reinjured his leg to have a lesson. Ashke was way to sore on his front feet to ride, so we postponed, again. After the ride on Saturday and Monday, I knew Ashke was good to go and texted Amanda to set up a lesson on Wednesday night. I got to the barn about seven, got him cleaned up and saddled, then took him outside to warm up, since Amanda had a jump lesson in the arena until 7:30 pm.

To say Ashke was feeling better is an understatement. He was jumpy, not in a "I'm terrified" way, but rather in the "I have so much pent up energy I am go to test all of my boundries" way. I was doing okay, until he spooked at a divot of sand, tried to bolt and then started bouncing his front feet off the ground. I decided that valor is overrated and took him back inside before we started doing airs above the ground.

As we walked into the arena, Amanda looked up and laughed, then said "So we are working on Piaffe and Passage today, are we?" I laughed. He was very bouncy. Amanda finished her lesson and watched me canter Ashke in both directions. He is traveling so very nicely now. There was no hint of cross canter or struggle to hold himself properly during the canter. To the right he did go very low but for the most part it was very nice.

Amanda had us start with our trot serpentines, then move to trot serpentines with a walk transition with each change of bend. He was bending much better by the end of that exercise. We moved into spiral circles, two in and out, going from a 30m to a 10m with Ashke being pushed out with almost a leg yield sort of feeling. We only did two in each direction, because hard and both of us are out of shape. I was very pleased with how hard he tried.

I have to say here that there are a lot of little issues we've been dealing with that have suddenly evaporated: he did not try to cross canter, he was on the bit and not throwing his head up in the air, the slightest touch of my leg kept his hip under him, he did not break gait until I asked. My feeling is that so many of the things I was seeing as physically unable to perform due to his hind end were actually being caused by his feet. Either from him being hesitant to weight his legs or from his hooves slipping. I don't know how else to explain it, but I had a very responsive, eager, energetic, down right bouncy horse last night.

After the canter spirals, we started with haunches in. Hard. Shoulder in. Hard. Leg yield to a shoulder in before straightening along the rail. Amanda was trying to show him how to not reach up and hit his front feet (he's been in the BOT bell boots since we put shoes on him). Then we did the leg yield from centerline to quarterline, shoulder in at the quarterline, and then more leg yield to the rail. VERY FREAKING HARD. OMG!! It was really cool at the end though, when both Ashke and I could feel him shift his hind end from one point to another. And for me to begin to understand the leg aids for a flying change.

Then we did trot work. We started with as slow a trot as we could handle, then extended along the rail, coming back to a slow, collected trot around the ends. For the first time, I could feel Ashke really extend at the trot (which he does on trail when I won't let him canter) and then come back to a very soft, slow jog. Amanda had us do walk-trot-walk transitions so Ashke didn't blow off my seat aids next time I ride. She said it was very important to reestablish those transitions after doing the extended trot.

It was a great hour. I feel like Ashke and I enjoy trying hard stuff and he is so pleased with himself when we accomplish it. I probably won't get to ride again until Monday, since we are getting the camper on Friday, testing it with the horse trailer Friday night, taking Ashke to see Dr D on Saturday morning, then going camping Saturday night. Ashke has to be off for 48 hours (through Sunday evening) so Monday will be our next ride.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Injury Recap

So, to recap our slew of injuries from this year:

Swung his head into a square wooden fence post, near as I can figure.
Slight scratch under eye. Completely swollen and disfigured face.

Threw himself in the crossties in the wash stall and nylon burned his face.
Also, wrenched the base of his neck out and was unable to bend to the right.

Swollen right front (I still think it was a slight splint).
Unable to finish show at Expo. Retired before the speed round.

Tore open left hind when he stopped too suddenly in turn out.

Two weeks later.
Fairly significant scrape.

Tried to lame himself scraping the edge of his hoof on the bottom of his stall door just for fun.

Stuck a weed into the back of his heel bulb.

Ripped open his leg again. Smashed his face at the same time, but I don't have a picture.

So foot sore, he needed pads with his shoes.

And now, I can tell you, the shoes have worked their magic. He was wonderful at the canter last night in the arena. His hind feet are no longer slipping (in the arena or on trail) and he no longer feels anxious about cantering. I wonder now if what I was feeling was his attempt to tell me how much it hurt to canter. He didn't cross canter. He didn't throw his head up. He didn't feel tentative or hesitant. It was as wonderful in the arena as it was on trail. Sometimes shoes can be magic.

As far as his current injury to his LH:

We are so close to having the injury completely sealed off. 
He is still in the quick wrap on that leg. Hair has grown in.

In maybe another month, that leg will be back to normal.

Monday, September 19, 2016


Saturday we spent the morning accomplishing a task (some of you might have seen the post on FB) that has been on our list since about fifteen minutes after purchasing the truck. I will have a full post after Friday, once every thing is finalized. Be patient, my sweets, all good things come in time.

Saturday late afternoon, we headed to the barn. We loaded the trailer and got Ashke ready for a ride. Our friends M and A showed up about five and we loaded their bikes in our truck, loaded Ashke in the trailer and headed to Chatfield for a full moon ride. We pulled into the parking lot at Chatfield, got Ashke set up with his bucket of food, then ate cold chicken, tomato and cuke salad, fruit salad, fresh french bread with wild flower honey while the sun slowly sank below the mountains. It didn't take long to get Ashke saddled, although he was like a cat walking through water, when I put the Royal Tendon boots on his hind legs (getting another set and a pair of dressage pads this next weekend). They worked very well to protect the back of his hind legs and the healing injury. We walked down to the pit toilet, did our business, and then headed out on our ride.

The first thing I noticed was how much easier Ashke was walking on the path to the river. There are rocks and pebbles and for the first time he was fairly easy on his feet, with very minimal flinching. For the first time ever, he was sound and confident walking across the river, despite the fact that it was almost dark. He went slow, but confidentially across. He has always flinched and reacted when crossing the river (the river bed is very rocky - most of the rocks are head sized) even when wearing the gloves. On the other side, he was ready to pick up a trot and move out. We were trotting next to J and she was saying he was floating in the trot with lots of suspension. I told Ashke he could slow down if he wanted and he shook his head "no" and kept going. It made J and I both laugh.

Just about out of light.

After we passed by the lake pictured in my header, the trail turns to soft dirt and he offered a canter. It was, hands down, the absolutely best canter I have ever ridden on him. He no longer felt like he was struggling to move, hesitant to put his front hooves down, or having issues with his hindend. I laughed out loud at the joy in his movement. We cantered 3/4 of a mile, before slowing to wait for the bikes. Then we moved onto singletrack and he cantered most of it, although I made him slow to a trot for the really tight turns. I didn't want to stress him until I am sure all of the residual soreness is gone. The singletrack was so much fun. It's been over a year since I felt confident enough in his feet to let him canter something that twisty.

Then we moved back to a double track road, heading downhill, and the three bikes took off flying. I let Ashke pick the pace since we had just completed a little over a mile at the canter, it was getting darker by the minute and because he gets to have a say in this too. We walked most of the downhill, then picked up the canter once the road flattened out.

A few minutes later, we turned back to the river, to do the river trail back to the parking lot. By this time, it was hard to see the trail and we had a couple of moments where Ashke stumbled and tripped over the rocks and roots, but then he seemed to work it out, since going forward he was sure footed with no tripping. M turned his headlight on and took off ahead. A alternated between following M and using the glow from his light to see the ground or turning her own light on. J preferred to ride in the dark, feeling like not seeing the path was easier than reacting to every rock or root she came across. I followed the light glow of luminescence from J's bright yellow shirt. The trail is still very overgrown and there was one point where we were riding through part of the trail where the trees were grown over the path, a deep dark greeness all around us and J's shirt glowing softly just in front of Ashke's nose. It was magical.

We had to traverse trail that is now being eroded by the river. I was scared and uncomfortable with the thought of a misstep and slip into the river (which is really low, but still) while we were going past that part. Luckily it happened before the pitch darkness following the sunset and before the moonrise where both Ashke and I could see. I could feel Ashke radiating confidence "I've got this mom" as we went along.

There were also a bunch of beaver downed trees to traverse. I had asked M and A that when they came to an obstacle that needed to be traversed, that they wait for me so we could use their lights to negotiate the obstacle. The first required us to jump over two small trees that were down, then continue up a bank to the top. This particular maneuver is difficult enough in the day, but Ashke was a trooper. His jump was small (no deer jumping) and we continued up the bank without issue. Our next two obstacles were downed trees that were too big to go over, so we went around. Then a trunk to step over. The next obstacles were a series of trees downed across the bike path that M was kind enough to bush whack around in front of us, so Ashke could see the tangle of trees and brush we needed to walk through. Once we were back on the path, but J and I knew there would be one more tree to cross (which he leaped last time and almost took off my head on an overhanging branch). When we got to it, I talked him into just stepping over it, another trick that we have been working on.

Finally, as we were walking through the trees, listening to the cicadas and the bull frogs, feeling the bats flit around us, listening to Ashke snort softly but walk calmly ahead, the moon rose. The path and forest was suddenly illuminated by the soft, but bright, orange glow of the Harvest moon. The final half mile was magical. Then we crossed the river again and Ashke was amazing. He was so good.

Note to self - pack the BOT fleece cooler for trailer rides home. It is finally cool enough that I need to blanket him if it's getting late.

We didn't get back to the barn until after 10 pm, got him settled and headed home. It was an amazing journey and a fantastic ride with wonderful friends. We will have to try another, maybe in November, if the snow doesn't come early.

Last note*** On Sunday I got tickets to the Broncos game last minute. I went over to see the new Thunder (this is the fourth grey arab they've used and he doesn't spook at the numbers the way the last one did). I was scritching his cheek and asked the handler about his breeding. She said he was pure polish (slightly stockier than Ashke) and I told her that I had a straight egyptian. She was telling me, when he curled his head into my chest and gave me a gentle rub, then pulled back and gave me a kiss on the lips. It was so sweet. I was laughing and so were the onlookers. I said to the handler, "they always know". It made my day. Don't tell Ashke, though.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Entire Story (mostly)

To start from the beginning . . . .

When I first brought Ashke home, his feet were a mess. I had started doing some research and trying to find a farrier, but for the first six months or so, I was locked into using the barn farrier while I searched for a better way. Once I moved to TMR, I started using Michelle. She did a decent job with his feet and for the most part he was sound. By that time, we knew he had issues of weakness with his right hind, and I was working on straightening and strengthening his right hip. After Michelle stopped traveling for trimming, I had a brief encounter with another trimmer who left Ashke sore and unbalanced before finding Dan. Dan started off okay, but toward the end, Ashke was left with flares untouched and the bottom of his hoof completely flat. I moved again from Dan to the farrier I am working with now and I have been completely happy with how his feet have looked.

One of the things I have heard from every farrier is how short his hooves are. K measures them and they are about 3.5" long from coronet band to the end of his hoof. The length of his hooves corresponds to the depth of the sole between the ground and his coffin bone. I am always amazed at watching Eddy traverse the terrain with no hesitation while Ashke has been tender even in gloves or boots. And Ashke hates the gloves or boots. It changes how he travels in the front and he has a hard time with where the break over on the boots is located. He trips and stumbles and slips when wearing the boots, which is only on trail.

During this time, he has always felt just the slightest bit tender in the front, and we have dealt with slipping and traction issues with his back feet. Those moments I chalked up to his left stifle and right hip. It's hard when both of them are wonky. It kind of feels like when you try to start fast and your shoe slips on something and the foot goes out from under you, with a lack of impulsion, That is how this has felt at times. When K put the shoes on Ashke's front feet, it changed how he was using them. Dr D watched how he was going and asked me to put shoes on his hinds, saying she thought he could use the traction. (Lightbulb went off). But then Ashke managed to pull both front shoes and tore up his left hind again, so I waited.

After Soapstone Prairie, on Labor Day, we did a ride along the South Platte. The ride was almost entirely flat, with wide verges on either side of the sidewalk for the horses to ride on. J and I talked about riding from Adams County Fairgrounds to the park off of 88th (about a mile from our house), getting a slurppee (there is a 7-11 on that corner) and riding home. We made it to the park without any issues, just some moments of temporary tenderness over sharp rocks. The ride out was 10 miles. Riding back both horses were up and eager, knowing they were going home, and along a stretch of dirt road, we let them canter. At the end of that stretch Ashke hit something in the ground with his left front and was lame immediately. I got off and hand walked for a brief stretch. He was a tiny bit tender over really uneven ground, but sound on hard flat ground, like the sidewalk. I figured we had eight or so miles left to the trailer but we could take it slow and stay on flat ground to get him back to the trailer.

Then K started having issues. She was experiencing intense pain in her hips, got off to walk for a while, then got back on without it getting any better. I was having doubts about her being able to finish the ride and it was getting dark quick. I suggested she stay at a trailhead at 104th, I would pony Eddy back to the trailer, and K's hubs could ride ahead to his car to go back and pick her up. She decided to do so and W took off for the fairgrounds. I took Eddy and we headed for the trailer (yes, we did check the parking lot to see if we could get the truck and trailer in there, but there was no way. It was too narrow and did not have enough room to turn around, plus it was still full of cars. J double checked before we went on.) I had K strip the bridle and take it with her, gathered Eddy on Ashke's left side and we headed onward. This was our first time ponying.

I had to keep Eddy close, with his head at my knee, on the left side so I could control Ashke with one hand on the reins. It would have made more sense to have Eddy on the other side, but I was afraid I couldn't keep Ashke under control with my stupid left hand. Ashke was pissed. He was not interested in having Eddy that close to him, but I couldn't let Eddy drop back given Ashke hates ropes by his haunches, plus I was afraid Eddy would run up on Ashke and reinjure that left hind leg.

Ashke piaffed. He jigged. He danced sideways. He kept his ears pinned for seven miles straight. He kicked out at Eddy three times, connecting once, and when I yelled at him, settled for snapping at Eddy as often as he felt he could get away with it. It did not give me the opportunity to rest Ashke's foot on the ride home, although he felt sound as we were going. And he would not walk. I had to settle for a slow jig and Eddy trotted next to us. J rode in front and our friend A followed behind to let anyone coming know what was going on with the horses.

Very short video clip showing how unhappy my horse was.

We finally made it to the fairgrounds as the last of the light was leaving the sky. K was there and took Eddy as we got close.

Wednesday when I went out for my lesson, Ashke was sore footed and lame. I contacted K and got Trey's information to set up an appointment to get shoes on his feet.

I think that Ashke would have been footsore anyway. K said that he was likely to be sore after we removed the shoes, since she had trimmed him short to put the shoes on. Trey applied the shoes (Ashke was not a fan of hot shoeing and pretty much freaked out at the roiling clouds of smoke coming up both sides of his barrel) but it didn't make any difference in his soundness. On Monday, Trey came back out and added pads to the shoes.

I had no idea what that meant. I thought that perhaps there was a nail set wrong and he was sore because of that. Trey tested the nail holes and there was not indication of pain, so he put pads on. They are a thick piece of leather between the shoes and the hoof. Trey said he was having sole pain and this would help. If his soreness didn't resolve in a couple of days, he would come back out and put casts on him to allow his hoof time to grow.

By Wednesday night, I could see he was almost entirely sound. He appeared sound to everyone else, but I could see a slight hesitation when circling to the right. By Friday, he looked amazing.

 One of the things that has changed with the shoes is his big, floating trot. He has one now.

Sorry for how dark it was. We are losing the light, quickly.

I didn't ride for long, just checked him at w/t/c in both directions

He is really stiff to the right and I wonder if he threw his neck out in whatever happened that caused him to rip open his left hind leg again.

So, he is sound again. Still a touch tender over rocky terrain, but better overall in comparison to any time since I brought him home. We had a wonderful ride on Saturday evening, but that deserves a blog all of its own. 

I know there is a huge contingent of people out there that believe barefoot is the only way to go. I can tell you that I have spent four years trying to figure out how to make that philosophy work for us. The bottom line is that Ashke needs shoes. After our ride on Saturday, I am convinced this is the absolute best solution for his thin soled feet. I am hoping that we can get a little more hoof growth on him, to deepen the sole and give him a longer hoof capsule, but we shall see. At this point I am just ecstatic that we have found a way for him to go without the tenderness. I have added a hoof supplement to my smartpaks for the next few months to see if we can get this issue put to bed once and for all.

More to come in the post about our ride on Saturday . . .

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Improvement . . . maybe

I checked on Ashke again last night and during our visit I told him he no longer needed to hurt himself if what he wanted was for me to come out more. I can do that. I checked his leg and there is a very small section of open sore that still needs to fill in. It is less than an inch long and maybe a quarter inch wide, for the most part. The rest of the injury has completely healed. There is no tenderness except for right where the small gap in skin is and it is healing at a remarkable rate. I would highly recommend Silver sulfadiazine for wounds of this kind. It is sold under the name Ascend and it worked amazingly. Minimal proudflesh, which I treated for three or four days with a topical steroid cream I got from the vet, and quick clean healing.

I took Ashke out and turned him loose in the arena. This is what J videoed.

Obviously, still very sore when moving clockwise on the circle. Overall, an improvement from the night before. I will see how he looks tonight and then make a decision on our next step. If he is showing improvement and it seems like he will be sound in a couple more days, I will wait. If he is about the same, I will contact my farrier to come out and put casts on his front hooves. Casts will give him a chance to grow out some hoof and deepen his sole, which has been thin since I brought him home.

What sayest thou?

Monday, September 12, 2016


I swear to you, this year has really sucked in the "keep the horse healthy enough to ride" department.

We did not show. He is head bobbing lame on the RF after the shoes were put on. I treated with Magic Cushion and bute but to no avail. I am having the farrier back out to make sure he didn't quick Ashke on accident, since he is showing no signs of improvement. I finally twigged to the idea that maybe it was a misplaced nail that was causing this issue (I should have called the farrier back on Friday, but he had been off before, just not like this) and contacted the farrier last night. The good news is that he's been wearing the bell boots and not having any issues. Hopefully, this is a simple fix and we will be sound again this week.

Our show season is over and I managed to participate in one show in July. The good news is, I designed the course for our final show and with feed back from the Show Manager (making sure the left and right turns were balanced) we came up with a great course. If Ashke decides he really isn't interested in showing (we will be talking about this in detail in the upcoming months) I may have found my niche in being a Course Designer and Technical Delegate for WE. Woot for me. I do need to look into the TD certification process for WE United, but overall I think it could be a lot of fun.

Look for a write up about the show and pictures of the events in the next couple of days. First, I need to get my horse sound enough to ride again.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Soapstone Prairie

God, I love this place. It fills my heart to overflowing to ride at Soapstone Prairie. We did a ride on Saturday with a woman (A) from J's work, that J has been working with for eight years and who has become a friend outside of work, her daughter (I) and our son (T). It started out overcast and fairly cool. Short sprinkle to help keep things cool, with sun later in the day.

 Following J's friend, A, up from a ravine.

 Ashke was moving very nicely out on trail.

 One of my favorite pics from the day.

T was not impressed and spent the day looking like this.

 Going down a ravine. The terrain is awesome.

 K and Eddy.

 T and I, heading out to harass the cows.
The only time he was happy all day.

Ashke. My heart.

 Short break.

 Getting love from the fans.

Ashke loves T.

The ride was good. T ended up getting cactus stuck in his tires and hand walked his ride back the final two miles. We did 12.5 miles. Great time with A and I. Can't wait to do another ride.

Friday, September 2, 2016


I am changing the bandage every two days or so, mostly due to my incredibly busy week. Last night, late, J, T and I traveled out and changed the bandage, putting the Silver Sulfidiazine on instead of the steroid antibiotic. I've been alternating them, since that seems to speed the healing. I probed the injury with my fingertips, and there was no pain reaction from Ashke. In fact, he seemed only interested in dealing with T. Although, he did stoop to taking peppermints from J and I.

A lot of pink skin, but healing really quickly and well. Unfortunately for Ashke, this leg is going to be in a wrap for at least six months, until the tissue has totally healed. I don't want this to happen again.

From the inside.