**** 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.
I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life, and a year ago when I Paypal’ed my $1,250 to a trainer I’d spent five minutes on the phone with at 5am while I was heading to a horse show, I was pretty well convinced that I’d gone off the deep end.
I’d found Eli’s ad on the Finger Lakes Finest FB page the day before and he sparked my interest enough that I sent a text to his trainer asking if he could give me a call.
I heard nothing all day, then on my way to the horse show at 445am I got a text saying “if you’re up give me a call about that brown horse.”
I immediately did and chatted with Eli’s trainer, Mike. I told him I was looking for a project and Eli was my type. He responded with “he’s tough to gallop, but he’s a good horse.” Because I’m not the best decision maker and I AM the best impulse buyer, I was sold. He accepted my offer and it was a done deal.
The looks on everyone’s faces when I walked into the horse show office and announced what I’d done were priceless.
Ashley (who’d also found a Finger Lakes horse a week or so earlier) and I set off bright and early the next morning to pick up the boys, and when we walked into Eli’s stall we both wondered what the hell I’d just done.
He was absolutely insane. His front legs were crooked as shit. He’s got weird eyes anyways and Racetrack Eli was a sight to behold. There was a lot of kicking all the way home.
After a bit of a rough introduction to turn out (ace is our BFF), he settled into his new life reasonably well.
I discovered him to be a handful but without a mean bone in his body. (The time he picked me up and chucked me out of the wash rack doesn’t count.)
On the ground he’s quirky. Lord help you if you touch his ears. He will NOT stand to be clipped, even under incredibly heavy sedation. He will not have his mane pulled… we can barely shorten it with scissors. He LOVES to be bathed, but can barely manage to be brushed. He adores when you scratch his crest, but don’t brush his mane.
In the saddle, he’s tough, but there is a kindness in his disobediences. He’s probably the most immature 5 year old I’d ever sat on. He can take one hell of a joke. Outside stimuli is our biggest challenge, particularly other horses. He wants to touch every one he sees. He gawks and runs into things. He was so very weak.
We went on adventures to horse shows, starting with GMHA. We tackled the bridge, the warm up ring, and walking into the creek. We had an amazing first experience, and he grew leaps and bounds.
We went to Fieldstone, which was the first “A” show either one of us had been to. We learned about the merits of schooling at 5am and avoiding the horses being lunged. We loved Fieldstone!
We tackled Vermont Summer Festival, which was chaotic and exhausting. We had a backslide ending in a rearing fit in the warm up. We went home with a new plan, and an adjusted trajectory.
I made the decision to scratch from the Retired Racehorse Project, and was relieved when I sent the email. The atmosphere down there is so big, and one competition wasn’t worth my horse’s brain.
We injected his SI and his back, and I have an infinitely better horse for it. He needed almost three weeks off to adjust to this new feeling, and I was happy to give it to him.
He’s gained almost two inches and a few hundred pounds. He’s still immature and quirky, but he’s the kind of horse that I know has so much try and so much give, I’ll feel secure galloping down to any size fence.
It’s been so slow. So, so very slow and I’m fine with that. He’s needed it. He’s not a horse that will be rushed or pushed. Physically he’s a completely different horse than what I brought home and mentally he’s fragile. This first year has been all about getting him to a point where his body and mind is simply trainable.
I cannot wait to see where he is in the next 365 days, and am so looking forward to another year’s worth of adventures!
The Eq Center that I run is probably the biggest barn in our area, with a total of over 40 horses, and I’m certainly not shy about my love for feeding Purina products and how they make my horses look and perform. When our rep, Kelsey, asked Ashley and I if we wanted to go to their professional horseman’s conference, I jumped at the chance!
Ashley and I agreed that it would be the smarter thing to send me to absorb all the information because while I control all the feed schedules, I’m also an uber nerd when it comes to nutrition and research. I LOVE to hear about the new research and gain an intimate understanding of how the products I’m feeding actually work to make my horses feel better.
Once we arrived in Missouri, we had about 30 minutes to settle into our room before we hopped on the buses to the Anheuser Busch factory in St. Louis, where we got to participate in the VIP tour of the facility, learn how the Clydesdale hitch operates, and eat some absolutely amazing food.
(Spoiler alert: they feed us… A LOT)
It was kind of nifty to see the horses housed right in the middle of the factory and listen to the history of how the hitch came to feed Purina. We talked about how closely they still work with the company on a daily basis to provide high quality nutrition to all the horses in the program. The demo horses travel 320 days out of the year!
We also got to learn a bit about the beer making process which was… beer. I was more enthralled with seeing the equine facilities and hearing about how they managed them all. You can take the horse girl out of the barn but…
We bused back to the hotel by 8 and I think everybody was asleep by 830. We had to be back on buses and head to the Purina animal research center by 7am the next more… that was a tough alarm to set, but it was amazing to crash in a giant king bed all. to. myself.
We got to the Research Center around 8 am and dove right into lecture after lecture. We first learned about the history of Purina (fun fact: the checkboard came from a family that was clothed entirely in the pattern. When the founder asked the mother why her whole family was dressed so garishly, she responded that it was so she could find them – as a mother, I feel this woman in my soul. The founder then adopted the patten for that exact reason!) and then the history of the center. Not only do they do equine research, they also have dairy and beef cattle, aquatic… things, companion animals (deer sperm goes for $150k A STRAW, yo. I’m in the wrong business), and poultry.
We then learned about the science behind the their newest (and my favorite) feed supplement, Outlast and keeping sporthorse guts happy. We moved from there to properly fueling/recovering these horses by using amino acids and fats in the appropriate ways. We finished up with an amazing lecture from an equine lawyer, and I think she scared the shiz out of all of us because the only thing that anybody talked about during lunch was revising their contracts and waivers.
After the morning of lectures and an absolutely amazing lunch; we swapped groups and got to go see the actual center. We weren’t allowed phones, but their barns were state of the art. They showed us their most used piece of equipment, the treadmill, and demo’ed it’s use so we could see how they actually can apply the research to a working horse. They have a full breeding program of Quarter Horse’s and work closely with the 6666 ranch for stallions, then send the young horses NOT being used in a study to Colorado State to be started and sold. It was awesome to hear that while they had a high volume of horses, every single one had a plan in place.
From the treadmill and breeding barn, we then went to the barn where they test the feed. After a short lecture on the gut and how it processes feed (microbiomes ftw) we got to see how they do their tests and witness some seriously high tech feed buckets! Not only did they measure weight, but even were so sensitive as to give data on how voraciously the horse ate its food. A barn manager’s dream!
We finished our day two with a Q&A with some of the Purina ambassadors: the Budweiser hitch manager, Amy, Eventer Kyle Carter (swoon), and barrel racer Missy Powell. It was neat to pick their brains and hear how they personally managed their horses during the on and off seasons. Kyle is an absolute crack up, and Amy and Missy were happy to play along.
After MORE amazing food, we hopped back on the buses to head back to the hotel around 8 for a full nights sleep.
Day three was the final day, and they had us hopping with a 730 start time at the hotel conference center.
We kicked off the day with a repro lecture, and learned about how proper nutrition for the mare and stallion were the foundation for producing a healthy foal. From there we went through the stages of gut development through the yearling year and how to feed it for optimal growth and wellness.
The second lecture was talking about equine endocrine diseases, how the diseases worked/affected the horse and how to feed those horses properly. It was fascinating to again learn the science behind all of their feeds and how I can tailor my feeding programs to feed the few horses in my barn who are dealing with this.
We finished the day talking about selecting supplements and how to weed through the massive amounts on the market. They taught us about reading labels and finding the research behind the things that they claim to do.
All in all, it was a complete whirlwind of learning, questions, science, and lots of great food. Purina really does work hard to produce the best line of feed that they can, and their research is unparalleled to any other company. Their PhD’s have a passion for their job that I would have never thought possible, and they really, really care about producing the highest quality product for every facet of the industry. While I was sold on their feed just from seeing the results in my barn, I can guarantee that I will feed Purina for life!
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.
After Eli finished up with the time he got off after injections, I was sooooo excited to hop on and see how amazing my “new” horse felt. We’d done some light tack walking, but nothing where I asked anything of him.
He did feel good… he was happy to stretch over his back and I was able to get a few seconds of real engagement here and there.
But he still felt… weird. He was more wiggly than I think I’ve ever felt him; completely unable to keep his body straight for even a step or two. It was like he 100% did NOT trust where his feet were going. He never took a truly lame step, but he just felt …. not quite there.
My first thought was that something had gone wrong with his injections, but he had no heat, swelling, lameness, or any other indication that something was physically wrong.
I called the vet and discussed the issue with him and he agreed upon seeing video that it wasn’t a physical issue, but perhaps a mental one.
This horse is so wildly defensive about his body that the vet thought that he just didn’t trust that the good feeling was actually good; hence his extreme need to “protect” himself by being unstable and backed off entirely.
So from there I had two options… force him through it or turn him out for another week or two and see where I was at.
I chose the latter of the two options, and tossed him out with his old man friends. No lunging, hacking, nothing.
I get a lot of flack because I refuse to push this horse further than he trusts me to. He came to me with issues, and I just don’t see the point in backsliding because he “should be” at x,y, or z place in his training. This is the only horse I have right now, and if it takes me years, than so be it.
If he was a different horse, than perhaps we would duke it out, but he’s not. I have to work the horse that’s in front of me. Giving him a break doesn’t mean he’s going to forget everything that he’s learned, it just means he’s learning that I’m going to listen to him, and deliver on my end of the bargain.
In my opinion, that’s what a good trainer does, especially when they love a horse as much as I love this one.
Fingers crossed my gut is right, and he’s able to come back happy and willing to work. The farm isn’t done showing for the year, but as far as Eli goes, I’m hoping to instead attend a few clinics this fall, for some off farm learning adventures. I’m hoping a bit more constructive setting than a horse show will better set him up to come out swinging next year.
It’s been such a learning curve with him, one that I’m thankful for as it’s really helped me grow and learn patience, humility, and to have a sense of humor. I think I’m going to end up with a great partner in this dude, and I def wouldn’t do much differently about the whole adventure.
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…)