Holy crap, it’s been a day or two since my last post!
In all honesty, when Eli got hurt I lost a ton of motivation to keep this thing going… and lets be real, I wasn’t realllly the best at keeping up with it anyways. Eli was out for 7 weeks total, so I just let the WordPress subscription run out; we’re back up an running now, though!
Stall rest did not do good things for Eli. His attitude and behavior went straight down the hole, and he’s turned into an (even bigger) jerk. Since we’ve been back in work he’s decided he doesn’t want to move. At. All. After several really awful attempts, I broke down and hired the local cowboy, Billy Smith, to come out and work with him. He showed me a ton of ground work and narrowed in on an issue with his teeth/TMJ. We’re back to baby steps… but at least we’re back. I have a much better understanding of the ground work he needs to be doing, and while I AM riding, we’re focused on that right now.
In other news, we’ve added another kid to the string. A 4 year old chestnut TB mare named Absolutely or “Abby.” She’s currently away in training with W Show Stables, and I’m excited to see where she goes. She has a pretty unique back story that I’ll get into in another post.
I’m excited to get her back home, but also pretty happy to only have one project at a time. We got Abby completely unstarted and while I have been on her once, it was pretty clear that she needed a bit of a quieter setting than the 50 horse show barn that the Eq Center has blossomed into.
While it kind of (really) sucked to have Eli out of work and Abby not started, it was a great opportunity to wind down a little bit and spend lots of time with my boys. We’ve started working on plans to build the house addition (yikes!), and take a breather from the whirlwind what was show season and the huge influx of boarders that we got before winter started. Life has settled into a comfortable routine (well… as settled and routine as a barn manager’s life can be).
I’m happy to be back, and excited to be writing about all of our adventures! It’s sure to be a super fun 2020 with two great horses, an amazing support system, and a lots of great content for you!
**** This post will contain pictures of some grossness!!****
Obviously since I was lucky enough to preface this post with that warning, it means nothing really great is happening.
I got a text from one of the weekend girls at 645 am this past Saturday that said “I just got here and opened his stall door and this is what his knee looked like…” attached was this amazing picture:
Since it was 645 and I was precoffee, I didn’t fully comprehend WHO the owner of said knee was. On closer inspection I knew the answer to my “who is that?!” response was going to be Eli.
As a barn manager, I’m always a little conflicted when it’s my horse that gets hurt. I’m always thrilled I don’t have to make THAT call to any of my clients at 645 on a Saturday morning; however it’s my horse so that sucks.
I threw clothes on, and immediately headed out to the barn where he was standing in then wash rack with the hose on it. This horse puffs up worse than me after a Chinese food binge, and in the hour between when I got the text and when I arrived at the farm, it was a disaster.
We immediately got the area cleaned up (thank you, Ashley!) and in my assessment of the situation, it wasn’t a stitchable area (because flex points and swelling). A quick text to our AMAZING vet confirmed that, so we dried the leg, wrapped him up, and threw SMZ’s in his breakfast.
Shockingly he was really, really good with all the chaos. His leg, obviously, hurt like a son of a bitch but he didn’t put up a fight as we were fussing with it.
The vet peeked at it on Monday morning as I was changing the wrap and confirmed it looked good (her “good” and my “good” are clearly two different terms) and we have our marching orders…twice daily hand walks, temp checks, and every other day bandage changes.
It looks like it’s going to be a slow healing process, about three months, but I’ve been trying to spin the whole situation in a positive light and am thankful that we’re going into winter, so the downtime was planned anyways…it’s just a little earlier than scheduled.
As for how it happened… nobody really knows. He was stalled all night so my only assumption is that he got himself cast and possibly caught himself on the box in the back of his stall in his flailing. (You can see it in the picture above)
While I’m obviously super bummed, I’m also really happy that it wasn’t worse. It was caught quickly, handled perfectly, and the joint wasn’t affected at all. We’ve moved him to a stall with padded walls (seriously) and he has a next door neighbor who is also on stall rest. He’s got toys, a stuffed hay net, and a mom who shamelessly dotes on him.
He’s also getting three or four times weekly Magnawave sessions from his favorite Auntie Steph to not only speed up the healing time on the wound but also help keep his body loose and preserve some of the muscle we’ve worked really hard to build.
It will (hopefully) be alright and we’ll be back bouncing off arena walls and terrorizing the pony children in a few months. I don’t even care if he has an ugly knee…just gives me an excuse to never sell him.
We reached the end of what was (hopefully) Eli’s two weeks of living like a semi-feral creature who was expected to do nothing but eat and stand quietly for the Magnawave Lady. He mostly managed to achieve this goal… after a go ’round with Steph over the fact that no, he actually cannot double barrel the wall while he’s being treated.
Most people would assume this means that he has pain in that region, however there was no actual region being treated and he really enjoys the sound of his feet hitting the wood.
I pulled him out for a lunge on Tuesday, super excited to get back crackin’ only to have it end in hysterics (mine) when he went wild and somehow tweaked something in his stifle, rendering him three legged lame.
After cold hosing, Bute, stall rest and prayers to the gods of Thoroughbred shenanigans I pulled him out Friday and he was sound.
I’ll never understand.
He had a half day of turnout on Friday and a full day on Saturday because I’m not an idiot. When I pulled him in to tack up and have a spin on the lunge line he was foot perfect. Not even a single shenanigan on the lunge line.
I happily hopped on and was THRILLED with what I had. Granted, I didn’t ask him for anything of consequence, but he walked and trotted around like an old hat. All business.
What was even better was that he felt absolutely amazing through his body. He was lifting his back and was straight as an arrow, but willing to bend and stretch. I didn’t get any of his usual pushback about moving off my leg, or any of his usual bucking/bolting/rearing nonsense.
If you follow me on IG (@thelazyottb), you know that my grown up job is at the farm. I ride, teach, and manage the farm where Eli lives… we also show often, where I take on the roll of groom. All this means when it comes to picking out day to day attire I feel like I’m pretty well versed in what looks professional, holds up, is comfortable, and doesn’t break the bank.
My absolute favorite shirts are the Kastel Denmark 1/4 zip sun shirts. In 3/4 of my #ROOTD posts in my stories, you’ll see I’m rocking one of their shirts. The price on their website is $75USD however I am pretty good at shopping clearance, so can typically get them for around $50. I usually wear a small, but typically size up to a medium.
What I Love: The shirts are super light weight, and the mesh undersides help keep me super cool even on the most humid of days. I rarely get sunburnt at horse shows, since I opt for the long sleeve version. The collar helps keep my outfit looking professional, but the variety of color combinations are super fun. The sleeve cuffs have a bit of elastic in them which helps them stay down around my wrists no matter what I’m doing. They don’t easily hold dirt or stains, and lesson horse drool wipes right off. They pass the “toss in the wash with everything else” test, and hold up perfectly even when washed with jeans.
What I Don’t: The lightweight material can be a bit of a catch 22 and easily shows lumps, even when I’m wearing a t-shirt bra. I do wear a cotton tank top underneath them, to smooth everything out, which makes it a little thicker, but I haven’t overheated or been uncomfortable even with the extra layer underneath.
Breeches were a huge thing for me when I first started my job… I couldn’t afford the nice TS breeches like everybody else at the farm, and when I finally did score a nice hand me down pair, they fit like garbage. I went through several pairs of Kerrits tights and Dublin’s, since that was what I could afford from our local feed store, but they wore like crap.
I then bought a pair of SmartPak’s Piper breeches when they were on clearance… I paid $34 for them and had low expectations for a breech at that price point. If you want them new, expect to pay around $75-$80, which is still reasonable. They have another level up in quality, called the Hadley, which I wear for show breeches and also love, but at about $100-$120 it’s a steep price for my budget to have several pairs.
I’m about 5’4 and 110lbs, usually about a 2 in jeans, and wear a 26 regular comfortably in both styles.
The Piper’s quickly surpassed my expectations, and I have since added approximately a dozen pairs to my wardrobe. I throw a pair in my cart anytime I make an order. Don’t tell Brad…
What I love: First off, the price point is spectacular… and they always have a few pairs floating around on clearance if you aren’t super picky about color. I have high, mid, and low rise in front and side zip, and all fit well while also being flattering to my shape. They wear like iron and I’m never worried about ruining them, regardless of what I might be doing that day. It doesn’t matter if I’m packing the trailer for a show, stacking hay, or teaching a million lessons, they hold up. I literally wear them from 630 in the morning until I shower at 9pm. My first pair is almost a year old, still look brand new and have held their shape.
What I Don’t: If I’m being super picky, the full seats can be a little restrictive in the saddle. I find myself spending the first five minutes of my ride trying to get them to stretch out, especially around my knees.
I am EXTREMELY picky about my footwear since I am on my feet constantly. It can make or break how my day goes, and it’s hard to have a consistently good attitude when your feet feel awful.
That being said, I don’t have the budget to invest in lovely custom boots because… horse trainer. I snatched up a pair of Ariat Heritage Contour field boots a few years ago, for about $250, and have yet to be disappointed.
I’m about a 7 in a regular shoe/boot and I sized down to a 6.5, regular calf, regular height. I could probably have gotten away with a slim but I like having room to layer in the winter.
What I Love: These boots had almost 0 break in period. I took them out of the box and immediately began wearing them 12 hours a day and my feet felt great. (I made the mistake of deviating to a pair of Treadsteps for my show boots and HATED them immediately because they will. not. break. in.) They look great and have held up to all the day to day abuse. I wear them in all conditions and my feet stay happy. They clean up beautifully with some leather cleaner, no matter how disgusting I get. They are thin enough that I can get a good feel of my horse, but not too thin that they wear quickly.
What I Don’t: The laces do NOT hold up… not even a little. Both Ashley and I have these boots and both of our laces break constantly. They do sell replacement laces and while it’s fairly simple to replace them, it’s still a pain in my ass. I found this great tutorial from Kelly over at the Hunky Hanoverian and it saved my bacon.
When I’m not riding, or I want to give my Ariat’s a break, I turn to my Dublin River II boots. I bought them on sale for about $170, and while it was a bit of a splurge, I needed something a little bit more sturdy than my Nikes (plus when I’m setting courses my Nikes fill with sand).
Again, I’m a 7 in sneakers and these are a 7 as well. The foot is a little big, but wanted room to layer this winter.
What I Love: They are mad comfy, with some space around the calves to allow for air flow that I don’t get with my Ariats. They are completely waterproof which is nice when I’m slogging through puddles and mud in turnout. I usually grab them when I’m wearing jeans, and are fashion forward enough that I can get away with wearing them to the grocery store without many odd looks. They are rugged and clean up easily. Similar to my Ariat’s, there wasn’t any break in period, and they provide considerably more back support than sneakers.
What I Don’t: They are a bit warmer than wearing sneakers/socks, so on the super humid/hot days, I’ll choose my Nikes or else I get gross leg sweat. I’ll probably change my mind on that this winter.
I had been a life long Charles Owen fan for as long as I can remember, however after my last serious crash I had to replace my helmet, and settled on a OneK Defender. I have a small, oddly shaped head and often times wearing my CO for extended periods of time would give me a huge headache, especially with my hair up. When I tried on the OneK in the tack store, it was instantly more comfortable. The price point is about $250, which in comparison to Samshield or GPA is certainly on the lower end.
What I Love: This helmet is super well ventilated, which is so helpful when it’s 100% humidity and your young horse decides it’s a good time to need some extra help. I rarely ever overheat, or feel like I get extra flushed/sweaty. It provides as streamlined of a profile as you can probably get when wearing a brain bucket, and I don’t get the “mushroom head” effect I did when I wore a CO. My hair fits neatly underneath and I can wear it from lesson to ride to lesson to turn out to feeding to ride with total comfort. The chin strap is comfortable and easily adjusted.
What I Don’t: There’s literally nothing I don’t like about this helmet…
Ahh, my favorite part of getting dressed in the morning. The majority of the riders in our barn are hunter riders, which means I enjoy getting their blood pumping with my bling and other colorful details. I’m notorious for blingy western belts and crocodile print spur straps.
I typically scour my local Tractor Supply for blingy western belts on clearance, usually between $15-$20, and it adds a super fun pop to my outfits.
If I need to be a bit more pulled together, I have a big collection of C4 belts. One of my clients is a rep, so we get them slightly discounted, which means my collection is enormous. I still get to have a ton of fun with colors and prints, but it’s a touch more subtle and usually only costsabout $20 perbelt.
Honestly, when it comes to socks I usually steal Brad’s dress socks, or purchase tall socks from WalMart. I do have several pairs of Noble Outfitters but other than cost, I don’t see a huge difference in how my feet feel, or how they wear.
So there you have it! A round up of my favorite things this summer.
Eli and I had picked up a great head of steam after we got home from Fieldstone. We were committed to our schedule and he was working wonderfully… I had a ton of motivation and was super excited for how well he’s been going.
Our plan had originally been to go to summer GMHA, but have since readjusted and decided to two the last two weeks at Vermont Summer Festival instead.
Then yesterday this face came in from turnout with a really nasty puncture to the outside of his left fetlock. Ashley and I debated on calling the vet out to stitch it, but that area flexes so much that it would probably be a waste of a couple hundred dollars. He got to spend some time in the ice boots and then was wrapped. He’s pretty sore on it, understandably (dude is also not stoic AT ALL).
Luckily it looks pretty good this morning. When I spoke to the vet this morning, he agreed with everything we were doing and upon seeing pictures added in two weeks of stall rest/handwalking/cold hosing/ice boots/wraps.
We’ll see where that leaves us, but here’s hoping he picks up close to where he left off. I’ll be chomping at the bit over not having a project, but Brad and I HAVE been sort of but not really shopping around… we just can’t decide if we’re going the OTTB route for me, or rolling with a QH for him. Might be a good excuse to find something sooner rather than later… (and since I know you read this… hi honey, we both know we’re going to end up with the OTTB…)
As I’ve mentioned a few times, we were bringing a bunch of students down to Fieldstone Show Park in Halifax, MA for the June show, and since there was a spot open on the trailer, baby horse got to tag along.
All of my plans for him have been so open ended, because when he’s on, he’s great but channeling his energy and getting his brain to stay focused on one task is a huge challenge at HOME, much less a big horse show. GMHA went well, though, so I was hoping Fieldstone would too.
We left Tuesday morning and the dude hopped into the trailer like a champion and rode quietly the entire way. (Yes, we refilled the hay net… we’re not monsters!) He settled into our tent stalls, took a nap, and then marched around the grounds like it was all old hat. While his head was constantly on a swivel, he was respectful and had (mostly) full awareness of his body.
Wednesday started cool and damp, not the best horse show weather but we made the best of it, got our students settled and then got on the young horses to school. Since they have several warm up rings, we had options to stay mostly out of traffic. Eli marched up and we had a great 5 minutes of minor shenanigans but nothing out of character… until another horse cantered up behind him and he lost his marble. I had Ashley hop on him because my nerves were at an all time high, and she ended up taking him to a smaller ring where she got him to settle nicely. I hopped back on, and while he was still tense and spooky, I got him around a few times before we called it quits, and got everybody tucked in for the night in anticipation of a full day of showing Thursday…. and a trip to the SmartPak outlet!
Best. Place. Ever.
My bank account is thrilled I don’t live in MA… because I would move in.
Turn out we got to show Thursday in the POURING rain…. POURING. I hand walked the young horses, did chores and was absolutely soaked through and shivering.
Ashley had a 3′ Open Hunter class and laid down really nice trips despite the weather and absolute slop that was the footing. The show crew worked their asses off, but it was raining faster than the rings could drain. That, combined with the amount of traffic made the conditions iffy, but they got the job done.
Eli took a bunch more handwalks, but that was the majority of the fun for him on Thursday, since we were a lot busier.
Friday brought… more rain in the morning, but the afternoon cleared up and we had students in the hunter and jumper rings, so were running most of the day. I finally got Eli out for a hack after the show was done for the day, and all was well until another horse in the warm up ran into him. We were both moderately frazzled and I hopped off, not wanting to put him in the position for it to happen again. The other rider honestly didn’t mean to, but was on another young horse who didn’t have much in the way of breaks.
We went to the lunge area, and I lunged him for about 45 minutes, and then Ashley hopped on him and hacked him around a quieter part of the grounds with great success. My brain was NOT cooperating, and I’m so thankful she was there to help me out.
After a complete meltdown to Brad on the phone, because this whole fear thing is getting REALLY frustrating, we agreed that I should try getting on him as early as possible and schooling. I checked in with the show office and was told that as long as it was light out, I could ride… so I set my alarm for 430 on Saturday and was at the grounds and mounted by 5 am.
It absolutely did the trick. We went around with no issues. Eli still looked at EVERYTHING and used all the distractions as an excuse to blow me off, but I was confident in getting after him and I got some really nice work out of him in the end. We did have one epic meltdown on the way home, when we passed the lunging ring. One horse blew up and it was just a domino effect… understandable.
Total light bulb moment, and something we will be incorporating into our show routines from now on… dating another horse trainer has proven to be helpful when we aren’t arguing about QH’s vs TB’s!
Saturday was a mostly chill day after the morning hack, with just one student in a handful of classes across two rings, so Eli got a ton more hand walks and even a visit from my folks! Eli showed his appreciation for their visit by almost running them over spooking at a storm drain, they went home and we ended up getting sent back to the barns for a thunder and lightning hold.
None of the commotion bothered the kid, who was happily stuffing his face. Hurricane winds (I’m being slightly dramatic), thunder, hail, lightning, rain blowing in sideways… none of it even so much as caused him to lift his head.. and we were in a TENT. Horses are weird.
I got to sleep off my early morning and then we were back to showing for the afternoon. Our students did an awesome job and everybody wrapped up the day feeling great.
Sunday was another really early, but really good morning with Eli being the Goodest Boi in the warm up ring, and my student with the other young horse lessoning really well. We had a quick morning, with more amazing trips from the kids (there were many happy tears) and more handwalking before we packed the crew up to head home.
All in all it was a great experience for Eli and I. I’ve learned a bit more about how he needs to be prepped, and he’s learning that being a show horse isn’t that big of a deal. We have a ton of homework to do before I feel confident that I’ll give him a great first trip in the show ring, but I was so pleased with how it all went.
As far as shows go, Fieldstone was great. The staff was super friendly and worked hard to make it a good show despite the constant rain. The accommodations were great, the facility was gorgeous, and the food was stellar (French toast sticks… that’s all I’m saying). The only thing I really could complain about was that the set up for lunging was horrific. The footing was a mess, and there was no fence around the area, which resulted in SEVERAL loose horses all week.
No matter what, though, I’m so grateful I have this horse in my life, and I’m so excited to see what we can accomplish together. We’re actually doing this thing!
If you follow me on IG or FB you may have noticed a new face…in the form of a rotund bay QH named Fat Pete.
Fat Pete came about a few weeks ago, in the form of a FB message from one of my clients.
“My husband found these two free horses and what do you think?”
Attached to the ad was a flyer indicating that the owner had moved and was looking for a new home for her two older horses. They had been family horses for a long time, and had just been sitting in the backyard for the last four years.
I agreed to set up an appointment to go see them, after chatting with their owner, thinking one would make a good lead line horse for this clients daughter. The other would just come along for the ride as they were a bonded pair.
Unfortunately the morning that we were set to go see them, there was much chaos at the farm, which resulted in me getting a solid knock to the head and spending most of my day in the hospital.
(More on that, and minding my melon in a different post…)
Ashley picked them up later that afternoon and I immediately got a text message that read, “Dude, these horses are so chill. They are exactly what we need.”
Our client passed on them, so Ashley and I quickly became the proud owners of Fat Pete, and Joe (the draft cross).
The two are 17 and 18 years old and probably the best trail horses I’ve seen. We tossed the kiddos on them and they happily trucked all four of us around the hay field.
While Fatty needs a little bit of a refresher in what it means to have manners on the ground (stop screaming, dude), he’s great in every other aspect!
As a full time trainer with a barn full of young horses, I’ve sort of forgotten what it’s like to be able to hop on a fat QH and just plunk. I’m somebody who absolutely lives and breathes this industry, but relaxing on my horses isn’t much of a thing. Fat Pete IS exactly what I needed in terms of “fun” and introducing Liam to riding in a safe manner.
I think you’ll be seeing a lot more of Fat Pete around… as he seems to be able to restore a little bit of that ever elusive work/life balance for me, gives Liam a safe horse to learn on, AND makes BG happy that we’ve finally added a Quarter Horse to our ever expanding herd of Thoroughbreds.
Plus, he lets me braid his mane sooo….
I do want to add that we got lucky with these two… I don’t really encourage people to just blindly grab two free horses and hope for the best. Ashley and I are professionals with the means and knowledge to figure out any health or training quirks that might have come up and would have reacted to that appropriately.