I love being a seamstress. I never used to be one. I think it was 2004 before I made my first attempt. I started going to the renaissance festivals more and more with friends, and dressing the part in borrowed garb. I wanted to get some of my own outfits, but they were way too expensive to buy them already made, especially considering you can make them yourself for literally a fraction of the cost, but I had no idea how to sew. My first outfit, I bought the fabric and had someone make it for me. I wanted another outfit, but that still meant paying to have it made.
I finally said what the heck, how hard can it be, and took the plunge. I bought the cheapest sewing machine I could find, some cheap fabric, and a skirt pattern and headed home. I had no idea how to sew. Had never used a sewing machine before in my life. And really had no one that could teach me how to do any of it. But I read through the manual to figure out how to set the machine up and how to thread the darn thing and attempted to decipher the "greek" on the pattern pieces and instructions. I was flying by the seat of my pants and figuring it out as I went, and thankfully being an engineer and fairly mechanically inclined, sewing actually turned out to be pretty easy, at least for me and my oddly wired engineering/programming brain, it's all simple logic, like putting together a puzzle, and what I didn't understand, I could usually figure out after some thought and a little trial and error. And before I knew it, I had two new skirts!
Ok, I can do this! Next project, pirate garb! I tested the waters, so might as well jump right in the deep end! I picked up tips and ideas here and there from friends that made their own renaissance gear, and paid more attention to the construction of various garments, and soon, I had made my first full outfit! And my sewing skills exploded from there! I have quite an array of completed renaissance costumes in my closet, and several in progress. And have gone the full spectrum of renaissance garb, from simple wench garb, to the courtly dresses of the nobles with all heavy layers and corsets and pleats, etc. Throw in a little Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings for good measure, and a bridesmaid dress! It's been a fun journey to improve my skills and see what all I can create. And with so many ideas in my head...... And for the most part, I'm pretty much self taught.
This blog is about my horse life, right? Well, eventually my new sewing skills branched over into my horse life. Wayne started that, Cody helped it along, and now Lady gets in on the fun too. Wayne had a long full tail that I kept trimmed and inch or two above the ground, but his tailbone was actually docked like a draft horse (a fad the Haflinger breed went through for a while), so it was amazing that he grew any length of tail at all, let alone down to the ground! Considering the massively thick tails on his offspring, I can only image what a beautiful tail he would have had if his tail had not been docked, but hey, I was more than happy with what he had, and his mane definitely made up for anything this tail lacked. But when your tailbone is docked, yet those flaxen tresses on it hang clear to the ground, it's a little difficult to get that nice blonde tail out of the way of them road apples! So unless you wanted a tail that was flaxen at the top, and road apple green and gross at the bottom, a tail bag was required in the winter, and frequent washings, lots of show sheen, and the occasional tailbag in the summer!
Then along came Cody, who has that long thick lush tail that is the envy of any show horse. No fake tail required here! And while she had a superior summer fly swatter, in the mud season it collected mud like you would not believe and could leave every thing it touched plastered with the gooey stuff, and in the winter, the ice balls on the end of that thing was like getting whipped with a cat of nine tails if you were standing in the wrong place at the wrong time! Not to mention the destruction the mud and snow reeked on the end of that beautiful tail! Tailbag is a must in the mud and winter months on that show tail! And to protect it from the tail chewing goats at one place I boarded at, who seemed to prefer Cody's tail over all others! Go figure. Mmmmm....yesterday was show sheen, taste like cowboy magic today!
And Lady, well, she pretty much had no tail, it just hung to her hocks and was pitifully thin. But thanks to Wayne and Cody, I'm a little obsessive about beautiful long locks on my horses, so my furkids all get tailbags in the winter, and by summer, they all have beautiful fly swatters for the fly season. Even Lady has a pretty tail to the ground now.
But tailbags only last so long. Especially with the geldings in the next pasture reaching through the fence and ripping them off my girls, I swear the goats talked them into it so they could have a snack!! And you can only repair a tailbag so many times before there is just no repairing left to it. And while tailbags used to be like $5 a bag, it seemed like they took a sudden price increase and you were lucky to find one for under $10 a bag, and then there was shipping.
So how hard can it be to make one of these things? And it's gotta be cheaper than $10 a bag! Well, I bought a yard of lycra for $5 and got 7 tailbags out of it! You do the math! I will never buy a premade tail bag ever again!
My horses are usually pretty darn easy on their clothes, unless there's a blanket ripper in the pasture, but rips still happen. And soon my sewing skills paid off there too, and my poor sewing machine was fixing their winter blankets, sheets, slinkys, shipping boots, polo wraps, splint boots, fly masks, hay bags, the list goes on and on! If it belongs to my horses and is sewable, I've probably fixed it, sometimes more than once! And they all still have their original winter blankets, that are still going strong at 7 to 8 years old, even with the patchwork of repairs on them!
I miss that sweet furry little face.....
And this year I ventured into making show shirts for Western classes and selling them on ebay. Though at that point, I had to break down and replace my sewing machine. But I sure can't fault that $70 very basic cheapest one I would find machine! I put that thing through 6 years of hell, getting dragged down to the barn and repairing stuff for my horses (and sometimes other people's horses), and yards upon yards upon yards of fabric for costumes and misc clothing repairs, and getting dragged around to many a stitch n bitch with friends! But it was definitely getting a little on the wore out side, and if I was going to be making shirts to sell, I needed something a little more dependable. But on it's last leg or not, that old machine is still going, and been relegated to the horse repairs, because those filthy dirty horse clothes aren't coming anywhere near my new machine!
So this summer I bought a new machine, and upgraded a couple steps up from the old one. Oooo, this baby is nice! And I've been punching out show shirts over the past several months, which actually turned out to be easier to make than I thought they would be! It's been a lot of fun picking out fabric and adding all the bling, decorating each one a little different from the next! Almost makes me want to show western pleasure again.....almost! They don't sell on ebay quite as fast as I had hoped, but it's usually a nice little profit when they do, and an added bonus to put toward the horse hobby or sewing hobby, since I seem to have two rather expensive hobbies!! I suppose I could do a little bit more with marketing my shirts to get them to sell better, rather than just putting them on ebay, but honestly, I'm not looking to make a career out of them. I already have a career job, and a husband and horses, so my time is pretty limited already, I don't need another added pressure. So I have fun creating them as I feel like it/have time for, and when they sell, great, and if they don't, well, eventually they will.
But one of the added bonuses of making show shirts, is left over lycra fabric (and cheap lots of remnant lycra) make great tailbags! I have tailbags coming out my ears, so my furkids are definitely sporting some of the coolest/wildest/loudest tailbags in town! And I have more than I will ever use, so off they will eventually go on ebay too!!
And sometimes it's fun to combine the horse and renaissance hobby, even if only for pictures! I mean, what's a musketeer without her loyal mount!
Or taking a ride on the castle lawn (ok, so the castle is actually photoshopped in)!
And as soon as my gold and burgundy court gown was even remotely wearable, I had to have pictures riding Cody in it, because the fabrics in that gown couldn't match Cody's coat more perfectly! It's definitely still a work in progress, it needs sleeves, and a few mistakes fixed, and a new undershirt, since Cody completely destroyed the undershirt that day with green slobber stains that didn't come out, but I work on it as I feel like it, and hopefully next summer I will be up on Cody's back again, and there will be more pictures to come!
Though lately I've been a bit bored with the western pleasure shirts (have a few stocked up waiting to sell) and the renaissance projects, so I've switched gears a bit toward movie costuming for something new to try. And needless to say, my inner geek is having a ball......
Hmmm....western pleasure and horses, that works. Renaissance and horses, that works. Star Wars and horses?!?! Well, Obi-Wan had Boga, I guess I have Cody! Yes, I am a geek, the cowgirl look is merely a disguise!
No more riding lessons for Lady. One of the boarders that gives lessons at the barn, and who I have become good friends with over the past 2 years, has been borrowing Lady one night a week since the end of last winter to do a group riding lesson, since she only has one horse of her own. Kate and her husband used to have two horses that they rode and used for lessons, but one of them kept pulling up lame last year if they did anything more than a little walk/trot with her. They finally discovered severe arthritis in one of her hocks, probably from an injury that happened before they got her considering she was fairly young still, and ended up finding her a home as a pasture pet and possible broodmare.
Since Jesse is finishing up vet school, they decided not to get another horse, which meant splitting up the couple of group lessons she had. For the most part that wasn't a big deal, and she wouldn't take on any more group lessons, but she had two little girls that had formed quite a friendship through their group lessons that were going to be pretty crushed over not being able to ride together.
So I offered up Lady. I figured why not. Lady's quiet enough, and takes good care of her rider, she'll adjust to their riding level. And the 4-H kids all used to ride her walk/trot at another barn I boarded at a few years ago when they couldn't bring their own horse to the 4-H workouts from time to time, so she's good with kids. And since I always ride Cody, and my husband doesn't really ride a whole lot, Lady wasn't getting ridden much anyway, and could use the job and the exercise. And it was only one night a week, and just walk/trot which shouldn't aggravate the hock arthritis she'd recently been diagnosed with, so it seemed like a win-win situation for everyone, and definitely has been!
So when their other mare went to her new home, Lady started doing lessons. She's always been a trail horse, she's not "show broke" so she doesn't "know a whole lot", but she's sensible and safe to put someone on, and she'll walk, trot, turn, and stop, and won't really take advantage of a beginner rider, so walk/trot lessons wouldn't be a problem. Just don't canter, that former barrel horse training takes over, and cantering Lady in an arena is a wild ride that I just hadn't taken the time to work with her on, since Cody's my preferred mount, and Lady canters sane enough out on the trails.
Not long before Lady started doing lessons is when Cody got hurt. Of course at that time, we just figured give her a few weeks off and she'd be fine, but as you know, that wasn't the case, and well, I haven't been on Cody's back in 11 months now. Which left Lady as my only rideable horse.
Monday nights were lesson night, so I usually hung around to watch Lady's lessons and chat with the girls' parents. And lessons definitely had a way of pointing out bad habits and/or holes in Lady's training that had me sitting there going "Oops, I guess I better work on that". Lady's riding lessons gave me homework to do!! Which was fun, because it gave me specific things to work on with Lady, and goals to meet with her. And with Cody out of commission until I could afford her knee surgery, and Lady my only rideable horse, I did my homework!
There was the go to the gate and stop habit to break. Something she didn't really do much with me, but with the girls, she'd stop at the gate every time around and just stand there, or turn and head for the gate any time the girl that was riding her stopped paying attention or gave her a loose rein. Now a lot of that was that the girls just needed to learn how to keep her going, which was a good learning experience for them. But when I would ride her between lessons, I realized she really did head for the gate a little too often any time I gave her a loose rein. So I started letting her mosie on over to the gate when ever she wanted to, but when we got there, I'd work her little fanny off right there by the gate, then take her down to the opposite end of the arena to rest. She figured it out pretty quick. The girls learned how to keep her going, and Lady learned that the gate isn't always the greatest place to be, problem solved. Next problem.
Sticking her nose down like a peanut roller to get more slack in the reins. Something she's always been a bit of a stinker about, and something everyone who's ever ridden her, myself included sometimes, have let her get away with, intentionally or not. She's almost always on a loose rein out on the trail, and has always been one that hated any kind of pressure on her mouth, so she'd hang her mouth open and/or fuss over rein pressure, or if she figured out she could get away with it, which she did with the little girls, she'd slyly stick her nose out and down to the ground and loosen those reins up herself, and then move happily along on a nice loose rein. Naughty girl!!! Need to fix that habit!!! I had been doing some of Clinton Anderson's riding stuff with her off and on since last summer, and we were right about to the point of starting vertical flexion, so start we did, and I quickly discovered that it wasn't so much that she didn't like pressure on her mouth or that certain bits bothered her mouth, it was more that she just had no clue what so ever how to give to bit pressure. No one had ever taught her how to give to pressure, and any time I've tried to teach her, she just didn't seem to get it, it would turn into a fight, we'd both get frustrated, and I usually gave up because we never seemed to get anywhere. But with a lot of insight and exercises from Clinton and a few other trainers, and breaking it down to even smaller baby steps than I had tried in the past, and having the concept of lateral flexion well versed in her head at this point, she finally started getting the idea of vertical flexion and learning that she had to give before she could have that loose rein back. She's getting pretty good at it now while standing, backing, and walking, and we're working on it at the trot. And while she was smart enough to figure out that the little girls weren't going to make her give like I did, the vertical flexion lessons with me between riding lessons at least kept her from trying to loosen the reins herself and going around looking like a peanut roller so the reins were loose like she wanted them, it definitely kept her a little more honest with the girls. We're still working on vertical flexion, but for the most part, problem solved. Next problem.
Eating grass on the trail. The girls sometimes had their lessons out on the trails when the weather was nice, and on that first one, Lady was eating the whole way with a rather frustrated little girl on her back. Another one of those things that she doesn't really do with me, because she knows I'll get after her for it, but everybody else that rides her always lets her get away with it, even my husband. If you don't tell her no from the get go, she'll figure it out quick, and she just can't help herself! Lady loves food and food loves Lady! So I started doing some work out on the trails with her, daring her with a nice loose rein to take a bite, and then hustling her little fanny when she did. And I put my foot down with my husband about letting her eat grass on the trail. It didn't take her long to get over that habit, and the girls learned how to tell no from the get go if she did try, and trail lessons went a little better. Next problem.
Reverse doesn't work. Another one of those things that she's just never really been taught to do properly, and I haven't taken the time to really buckle down and teach her. You can get her to back up when you need her to, but it's not a pretty picture. It's your typical head in the air, mouth hanging open, bracing against the bit, feet glued to the ground for a moment, and then finally she'll shuffle back a step or two. And that's with an adult on her back. With a kid, she just stood there with her mouth hanging open and that look on her face that said "I have no idea what I'm supposed to do!" Or, after vertical flexion lessons, she'd stand there flexing vertically as the girls tried to back her up, then get frustrated and stand there with her head up and mouth hanging open. And the barn where we board was going to be hosting a twilight horse show in a week and one of the girls was going to be showing Lady in walk/trot. I guess we better work on getting reverse fixed, and quick! So we went to work, and having learned vertical flexion, it didn't take her too long to figure out what the cue to back up was and how to do it in a nice soft head down giving to the bit frame, actually collecting herself and using her hindquarters. I think we spent about 75% of each ride that week in reverse. And on the days I didn't have time to saddle up and ride, I at least put a bridle on, climbed on her bareback, and spent ten minutes working on reverse. By the time of the show, she was backing like a little reining horse for me! And as her first class came to an end and they had to back for the judge, I stood there on the rail going "Come on Lady, we've been practicing this!" And back she did, not quite as nice she did for me, but plenty good enough for a walk/trot class! Another problem solved! Next problem.
"I think it's time for the girls to start learning how to canter soon, think Lady can do it?" Erm......maybe.......let me work on that! Lady's always been a crackhead about cantering in the arena. There is no canter, it's just full speed ahead, and the second you put any pressure on the reins to try to slow her down, she slams on the brakes regardless of your legs telling her to keep going. When it comes to canter, there is no gentle transition into or out of it, and no speed control. It's like riding with somebody who's just learning too drive.....slam the gas, slam the brake, slam the gas, slam the brake.....and you're getting slammed around the saddle. Very frustrating for both of us, and the reason I just haven't bothered working with her on it, Cody's my show horse, and Lady does fine out on the trails, she only goes barrel horse bonkers in the arena. But she'd already learned a lot of other things, so we'd work on the canter. Which was hard, because doing one rein stops every time she went too fast just made things worse and got her all the more worked up. But with the arthritis in her hocks, I have to be careful of marathon canter sessions till she learns to slow down on her own and risk making her lame for a week by over doing it. But thankfully the vertical flexion lessons up to this point proved useful! She'd learned that picking up the reins doesn't always mean stop dead in your tracks, she'd learned to listen to both my legs and my hands to know if she was supposed to stop or keep going, so I was finally able to keep her going with my legs, but begin to dial her speed down a little with my hands, and when I got the speed I wanted, I'd let her have her head and just cruise, and repeat the process all over again if she sped up. Eventually she figured out there was a speed between trot and flat out, and we finally started cantering in the arena, almost down to a lope! And though she still feels really fast to me sometimes, I have to remind myself, Lady takes very short, quick strides, so sometimes it just feels really fast to me because I'm so used to Cody's long, flowing strides.
So Lady finally learned how to canter, on the rail anyway. Try doing any tight turns, circles, or patterns at the canter, and she'd start getting revved up to barrel horse mode again, but that will come with time and work. She'd learned to canter sanely on the rail, so she'd start giving lessons at the canter too! I held my breath the first time they asked her to canter at a lesson. Cantering with me was one thing, cantering with one of these little girls who's never really cantered before and is nervous about it was another! But our work paid off, she cantered like a good girl, no crackhead barrel horse! Go Lady go! Next problem!
Right lead, left lead! With Cody out of commission, I sat bummed on the sidelines at the first twilight show the barn hosted. It was fun watching Lady do her walk/trot classes, but I wanted to show too. But while Lady cantered sanely now, she doesn't know her leads at all, she just picks up which ever lead she feels like. The only time she knows her leads and when to do a flying lead change is running barrels. And while they had adult walk/trot classes, it seemed unfair to the other riders in those classes for Lady and I to enter. I'm an advanced rider, she's not a green broke/nervous/excitable horse, and we're not a new horse and rider team getting to know each other. So I sat that show out, but we started working on her leads with the goal of me showing her in the canter classes at the next show! And the girls were learning how to sit the canter pretty well, so they'd need to start working on learning leads too. So it was time for Lady to start learning her leads! And she did pretty well, she started getting them correctly most of the time. I'd never shown Lady before, other than one show that I took her to to run barrels and speed classes several years ago. But at the next show, she did her walk/trot classes with one of the girls, and did the two western canter classes with me, and I guess our hard work paid off, because Lady and I got first in both Western Pleasure and Horsemanship!
There was going to be another show in the fall, and my goal had been to try the reining pattern with her (well, "reining for pleasure horses" or "open show reining", no true sliding stops or spins or rollback here). She was getting a little more solid with her leads, and getting better with the speed control, so she was starting to do some pretty good reining circles, slow small to big fast back to slow small and some simple lead changes in between. But with everything that went on this fall with my wedding and Wayne's injury and losing him and Cody's surgery and doctoring her, I didn't have time for riding and skipped the show, since Lady's canter and leads progress has slipped considerably. And I don't do much canter work with her in the winter, since the indoor arena has very little footing and is really hard and so really hard on arthritic joints. So we'll see what spring brings and stick to mainly walk/trot for the winter.
But Monday was Lady's last riding lesson with the girls. Kate and Jesse are expecting a baby in March and Jesse is almost done with vet school and already has a job lined up, so it's time for some big life changes for them, moving to a bigger place to live and closer to where Jesse will be working. So they'll be leaving the first of January. I'm very happy for them, but sad to see them go. And will definitely miss Monday night lessons. But who knew how much Lady would end up learning when I first said "You can use Lady for lessons!" lol! She was a good girl to begin with, she's even more well rounded now!
Lady definitely had a not so typical Lady kind of day yesterday. Yes, even the most quiet steady eddie has one of those days from time to time. Thankfully for Lady, they are usually few and far between, maybe one or two a year, but yesterday was definitely one of them. Not really sure why, but I think she checked her brain at the arena door and picked it up on the way out.
Saddled her up yesterday and headed to the indoor arena with both of my girls. I usually take Cody with us and tie her up along the wall while I work Lady. Good tying and patience practice for Cody, she used to be a bad puller and a very impatient horse when tied, usually standing there digging to China the whole time. She's gotten MUCH better over the years, but still, might as well kill two birds with one stone and train both girls at the same time. It usually draws some odd questions or comments from newer boarders that aren't used to me doing this. I mean, why on earth would you tie your lame unridable just had knee surgery horse up in the arena while you ride the sound one? I usually just shrug and say "Moral support for Lady."
But anywho, we made it to the indoor arena and tied Cody in her usual spot, then walked over to close the monster heavy overhead door that usually requires my entire 125 pounds hanging off it to eventually get it pulled down. Lady's bug eyed stare and steps backward as I wrestled with the overhead door should have been my first indication that she'd checked her brain at the door. Score a point for my mecate reins, Lady was able to take a couple steps back to a "safe distance" and I still had plenty of lead line draped over my arm in case she did decide to take off so I could continue wrestling with the door, which was particularly stubborn yesterday.
Door finally closed, I discovered someone had left a jump set up kind of close to the wall. No biggie, but I decided to move it so I could work on the rail without having to squeeze between jump and wall and risk getting my knees banged into something every time I went by. So lead line draped over my arm, I set the rails down on the ground. Lady took a step back. I picked up one of the jump standards to carry it out of the way, and Lady freaked. Big snort, eyes wide, flying backwards several steps. Another point for the mecate reins, Lady retreated to a safe distance and I still had ahold of her and the jump standard. And it's obvious now that Lady is definitely having one of those really rare off days, because I can't count the number of times I have picked up and/or dragged those jump standards around to move them out of the way with her lead line just draped over my arm or shoulder because they require two hands to move, and Lady following along behind me like a half asleep puppy dog. And while she did follow along behind me, it was at a very bug eyed distance, making full use of that 12 foot of mecate lead line, no half asleep puppy dog yesterday!
One standard moved, and we go get the second one, and same reaction when I picked it up. Ok, I should probably desensitize her to it at this point, but those standards are way too blasted heavy to stand there picking them up over and over to desensitize my horse, and I realize Lady is just having one of those rare off days, she'll most likely be over it and be back to her old self next time I have to do this, like she normally does when she has a bad day, but if she's not, I'll worry about it then rather than throwing my back out lifting these heavy things when it probably won't even phase her on any other day. Pick your battles.
So standards moved, and we headed back to move the rails, which I decided to leave down as ground poles along the wall for her to walk and trot over. I picked one pole up to move it where I want it, and Lady spooks. I picked the other pole up and moved it, and Lady spooks. This could be an interesting ride. I walked Lady up to one of the poles and she's watching it wearily, and as soon as her front feet get about a foot away from it, her eyes go wide, and she's rocked back on her haunches and shifting lightly on her front feet, standing there like a cutting horse waiting for a cow to move. Ok Lady, now this is getting a bit silly. Eventually she reaches down to sniff it, snorting at it loudly, and when her snorting blew dirt on it, she went flying backwards again. OMG, it made a noise!!! Well, good thing I didn't get out the tarp to work with like I had considered doing, that would have really blown her mind!
Ok, time to pull out the Clinton Anderson groundwork and get her using the thinking side of her brain! And score another point for the mecate reins, I don't need to go get a lunge line out of the barn, because I already have a 12 foot one in my hand! So we work on lunging for respect and the sending exercise over the ground poles. At first she was stopping wide eyed in front of the pole every time, then jumping over it, then she'd finally keep going, but would still jump over it, eventually she was finally tip toeing over them, making sure to lift her feet extra high.
Eventually she pretty well clamed down about the ground poles, thinking rather than reacting, but I noticed she looked a little foot sore on her front feet. Lady's feet grow like wild fire between trimmings, even in the winter, so my farrier always has to trim her a little on the short side when he does her feet to prevent her from getting just way too long and out of balance between trimmings, and when she doesn't have shoes on in the winter, she can be a little tender footed for a couple days if I don't use her easy boots. She did just get her feet trimmed on Thursday, and I thought she would be ok without her boots, but apparently I was wrong, and her easy boots were down in the barn. Score yet another point for the mecate reins, because there is a certain way you can loop and tie them so that they become a neck rope that won't pull on the bit if the horse pulls back, and enables you to safely tie your horse with a bridle on. So mecate rigged up for tying, I tied Lady to the wall next to Cody and headed off to the barn to get her easy boots, grumbling the whole way because, in my opinion, easy boots are anything but easy to put on, but I haven't found any other boots that work on her feet without rubbing her raw.
As I returned to the arena with "easy" boots in hand and the tools required to up them on with (hoof pick and nylon strap), I started talking to let the girls know I'm coming, because Cody tends to spook if the people door suddenly flies open unexpectedly. Well, this time it was Lady who did the spook in place and bug eyed stare when the door opened, while Cody merely shifted her head to look then went back to her nap, one back foot still cocked. Maybe Cody's holding Lady's brain for her today?
Ten minutes and a few curse words later, and Lady was finally sporting her easy boot epics on her front feet and looking more comfortable as she moved. But in the time it had taken to retrieve her boots and put them on, and get on her back, the ground poles had apparently grown teeth again. Seriously, Lady?!? Score still another point for the mecate reins as back down to the ground I go, unlooping the lead line from the saddle horn, and back to the groundwork we went.
Eventually I got back on her, and had a decent short little ride, though she was still a little extra attentive of those ground poles every time we went over them, but she kept her theatrics in check. Even still, I didn't do too much with her in the saddle. Mainly some flexing, some collecting at the walk and trot, some backing (as long as we weren't backing too close in the direction of those evil ground poles, then her feet got a little glued to the ground), and trotted some of the clover leaf pattern. But her brain obviously wasn't there yesterday, so wasn't much point in doing too much with her, she'd already worked quite a bit on the ground, and I do have to be careful of the arthritis in her hocks, she's not a spring chicken anymore.
So again standing at a bug eyed distance as I rolled my eyes at her and wrestled and grunted to open the overhead door, we collected Cody and headed for the barn. And I guess she found her brain again upon exiting the arena, because she was back to her old self in the barn, standing there half asleep, back leg cocked as I unsaddled, took off her polos and put her blanket back on. So I guess it was just one of those odd days for Lady. I hope so anyway, since she has a riding lesson to give tonight!
According to Lady, that would be a Yes!! At a whole whopping 9 degrees out Thursday morning, Lady had a rather frosty muzzle! And she wasn't the only one around the farm with a little frost on the whiskers. Burr!!!
Of course Cody was frost free in her stall in the barn. And of course it's 9 degrees out the morning my farrier was coming. But thankfully the main barn is insulated, so it does stay a little warmer in there than it does outside, and after having four horses in there all night to warm it up with their body heat, the barn was close to 30 inside, so the farrier appointment wasn't so bad.
I'm so glad they got trimmed though. Cody's feet weren't too bad, but Lady's feet grow like weeds, even in the dead of winter, and with her hoof walls a little on the long side, she was getting some serious snowballs in her feet!!!
Over the past few months my mares have been up in the front pasture by the barn owners house, the furthest possible pasture you can get from the barn. And since the barn and indoor and outdoor arenas sit well back from the house, it's a bit of a hike up there to go get the girls to bring them down to the barn to feed them and do whatever else I need/want to do that night, and then another hike back up to the pasture to put the girls back out and return their halters to the barn. Ok, call me lazy, but the worse the weather gets, the more I hate that hike up to the front pasture. Believe me, it's no fun in the pouring rain, mud, whipping wind, snow, and I've been dreading making that trip every day this winter, through snow and ice and unplowed/half plowed snow drifted driveway. And it's not like I'm one of those boarders who only comes out to see their horse once a week or less, I'm there every day, because I live two miles down the road and I grain my horses and give them their supplements myself every day, so it's a two round trips daily trek that was getting more and more annoying the worse the weather got. At least Cody is in the barn now and individual turnout near the barn because of her knee surgery, but Lady is still up in the front pasture, and the other day I couldn't feel my fingers and my face was hurting by the time I made it back to the barn with Lady, and that was wearing plenty of layers, snow suit, and carhart.
Yesterday my husband and I went down to the barn in the morning to check on Lady, because it had been pouring rain all night, and the lead mare in that pasture doesn't share the shelter with anyone, so I knew Lady had been standing out in the rain all night, and I had a feeling her winter blanket was most likely soaked. And sure enough her blanket was soaked and she was wet and shivering. So we dried her off and put her in her other winter turnout blanket and headed back home, we'd be back later in the evening to feed them. And since bad weather was rolling in, we decided to save ourselves at least one trip up and back to the pasture, and put Lady's halter in the truck so we already had it with us when we came back later.
Lady - 2007
Rain turned to snow and after dinner we struck out into the blizzard to go check on Lady (Cody stayed in yesterday so her knee wrap stayed dry) and get the girls fed. It was definitely one of those high winds, whipping and drifting snow, ice underneath, white out, can't see much of anything, 4WD kind of nights. So we pull in the driveway and my husband jumps out with Lady's halter as I drop him off at the front pasture, and I proceed to drive down to the barn. He'll go get Lady out of the pasture and bring her down to the barn, while I get their grain ready.
So I get their grain all ready to go, and still no husband and Lady. I'm beginning to wonder what's taking so long, since my horses usually meet you at the gate and Lady knows my truck. But still no husband and Lady. It's then that the barn owner tells me she just moved all the horses around before I got there, and Lady is now over in the pasture on the other side of the driveway and the herd of geldings now have access to the front pasture. Great, so my poor husband is up there in the dark in the snow trying to find Lady and she's not even in that pasture anymore! And I can just picture him going "Where the heck is Lady and where did all these extra horses come from?"
I called his cell phone, he had left it at home. I decide to walk up there, but the blast of wind and snow in the face as soon as I walked out of the barn had me jumping back in the truck and driving back up to the front pasture. As I get there, my husband is leading a horse out of the gate, and as I get out of my truck and the flood light up there finally turns on, I hear him say "You're not Lady!" and he puts the horse back in the pasture. Nope, that's not Lady, that's Waylon!
The poor guy had been up there looking for Lady, and since it was dark and blowing snow, he was looking for the big white blaze with a blanket, because when we were there in the morning, the big white blaze without a blanket was Cheyenne and the big white blaze with a blanket was Lady. So he found the big white blaze with a blanket, put a halter on it, headed for the gate, and realized he had the wrong horse.
Lady, Cheyenne, and Cody - 2009
Well, at least he realized he had the wrong horse before he made it all the way to the barn. Which did almost happen last winter, when he went out into the dark pasture to get Lady, and realized when he got halfway to the barn that he had Cheyenne instead of Lady. But then it's not to hard to mix those two up, they're similar in build, size, and color, they both have a big white blaze, and when Cheyenne wears a blanket in the winter, they both have purple blankets, so in the dark, they do look an awful lot alike, even I've had to do a double take sometimes, along with Cheyenne's owners. And while Waylon is actually black, in a dark pasture, he's similar in size, build, and blaze as Lady and Cheyenne.
So I guess the moral of the story is, if you find a big white blaze in the pasture in the dark, check their feet and count the socks to see who you've got. Four white feet is Cheyenne, two white feet is Waylon, and no white feet is Lady!
Of course, once he got in the right pasture, he found Lady without much trouble, but actually catching her was another story. With so many horses having been moved around all at once in a snow storm, they were all riled up! But eventually he got her caught and we finally got her in the barn. So much for saving on time out in the elements!
So last night at the barn was an adventure, but we survived, and I'm so glad the mares got moved to that other pasture now that winter is here full force! The gate to that pasture is much closer to the barn. And the shelter in that pasture is bigger and so much safer than the shelter in the front pasture, so hopefully Lady (and eventually Cody too) will have shelter this winter, since it will be a little harder for Cheyenne to hog the whole thing to herself. And they managed to share that shelter last year, so hopefully they'll share it ok again this year!
Well, so far so good with Cody's knee! All things considered, she's walking on it pretty well. Turned her out for a bit in her individual turnout and she did good, so she'll start going out during the day tomorrow, as long as she behaves. Sometimes that busy body Thoroughbred side of her brain gets the best of her, and she forgets to take care of herself. But they said she could start going outside, as long as she stayed fairly quiet, so hopefully she'll be a good girl.
Took the big bandage off tonight too, and her knee looks pretty good. No swelling. Two very small incisions that look great. She didn't pop her stitches! They said I could leave the bandage off after today, but her entire knee and leg above and below it are shaved bald, and we're supposed to have some pretty cold temps and wind chills tomorrow.......probably not a good idea to leave that bare skin exposed. So quilt and vet wrap around her knee, and standing wraps to keep it in place, so she should be protected from the elements.
As for me, I'm sick with a sinus infection. Icing on the cake for a very rough past couple of weeks I guess. So off to bed I go.
Dr. Caron called me this morning about 10:00 am and said she looked great and could go home any time! So we headed over to get her about 12:30 and brought her home.
She looked much better when I got there today. Much more alert and bright eyed. She's actually walking better than I thought she would too. Her limp isn't any worse now than it was before she went in (and will slowly improve over time as the bones heal). Though she does have a pretty substantial bandage on her leg.
So she's home and in her stall and on stall rest until Tuesday. Then she can start going outside in an individual turnout, unless she's being a wild woman or it's too icie or rough. But hopefully she'll behave herself when she gets to go back out. She tends to have issues with stocking up pretty bad in her back legs if she's on stall rest for too long, hence the reason for the standing wraps. I guess I better dig out my bigger quilts tomorrow. Those new quilts were great for Wayne's back legs, but they're a little short for Cody! Oh well, they will work for tonight!
The bandage on her knee has to stay on till Monday or Tuesday, unless she destroys it in which case I'll have to rebandage it myself, but she's usually pretty good, so hopefully she's all set. My horses have helped me become a pro at bandaging over the years with all their booboos and accidents, so I don't really need the extra practice! But after that bandage comes off, it's up to me whether I want to continue to bandage it or not. So we'll see how it goes. Though I might need to keep something over it till her hair grows back some, since it is winter here and she's shaved pretty bald! But we'll see. I guess there's two small incisions in her knee, and they're stitched with dissolving stitches, so I don't even have to worry about that too much.
Now we just wait three months for her to heal, and see what we've got!
So what exactly did she have done? Arthrodesis of the left carpal metacarpal joint. That's a mouthful! But basically, they surgically destroyed the cartilage in that joint using a small drill. The body then thinks the joint is a "broken bone", and the top and bottom bones of the joint heal together, fusing the two bones into one, and relieving the pain in the joint that the arthritis was causing. But it's a three month healing process for the bones to finish fusing themselves (much like the healing time of a broken bone). And since the joint that was effected on Cody is the bottom joint of her knee that moves very little, fusing the joint shouldn't effect her gait much, and she should be rideable once she's healed.
From what I've read, it looks like Arthrodesis is a little more common in hocks (which Lady would be a good candidate for), than it is in knees. And it's often done with alcohol injections in the hocks, instead of surgical drilling. Dr. Caron said Cody is only the fourth one of the knee that he has done personally, but the previous three all recovered pretty much 100% and returned to work. And he also trained for this specific surgery under the vet in Canada that basically developed this surgical drilling procedure for the knee joint and has done several of them over the past 25 years. So Dr. Caron said he'll be setting a reminder on his calender for 3 months from today, and pestering me with phone calls until he gets ahold of me to see how Cody's doing.
I've already got March 2, 2011 marked on my calendar too! I will be counting down the days and hopefully I'll be back in the saddle on Cody this spring!
Cody after knee surgery at the MSU Vet Clinic - 12-2-10
Looks like all went well with Cody's surgery!! Dr. Caron called me about noon today and said everything went just fine, and that Cody was awake and back in her stall already! Talk about breathing a HUGE sigh of relief!!! Sounds like she'll probably get to come home tomorrow afternoon if there's no complications. But Dr. Caron said he'll call me in the morning and let me know for sure, after he's had a chance to check her over and change her bandage. Hopefully she'll come home tomorrow. I think Lady is feeling a little lost, first Wayne's gone, and now Cody too. Poor girl!
So stopped into the vet clinic to see Cody for a while after work. She whinnied at me as soon as she saw me. That made my heart feel good! She seemed to be doing pretty good though. A little dumpy, and a wee bit wobbly on her feet when she moved, but then I'm assuming she's probably had some meds too, and she still has an IV in her neck, which again I'm assuming is for continuing to give meds. She was alert if she heard something, or I started moving around, but otherwise, she was pretty zoned out most of the time. Poor girl! But she was picking at her hay here and there, and all about the carrots I had in my pocket. And it looks like she has a pretty well shaved bald leg under a big ole bandage.
But at least she came through surgery ok, and seems to be doing fine. I'm sure she'll be back to her old self in no time. Spent about an hour with her, mainly just hanging out in her stall and giving her a few carrots and lots of love. And she whinnied at me again as I was leaving. Looking forward to seeing her again tomorrow, and hopefully she'll get to come home too!
Where are the brakes? I want off this ride! That's how I feel anyway. The last two weeks have been......crazy to say the least.
I'm still heartbroken over losing Wayne. But I know it was the right thing to do. He seemed to be doing so well after getting his feet trimmed and seeing the vet. On his feet most of the time and content, and seemed to be getting more and more comfortable each day. But then all of a sudden his bad knee just decided to give out on him. Apparently it couldn't handle the extra weight it had been carrying because of the bowed tendons on his other leg. One day his bad knee looked fine, the next it was bowed out to the side really bad, and he was obviously very uncomfortable and laying down again, so I knew it was time. He was trying hard to be brave, and seemed fine when there were things going on to keep his mind busy. But when the barn got quiet and it was just me and him, it was obvious he was uncomfortable and his eyes just lost their sparkle.
It's so hard to say goodbye, but I wasn't going to make him suffer either, and that knee would only get worse. So it was the right thing to do. I spent that morning with him, just fussing over him, taking him out to graze and roll, put my girls in the outdoor arena so they were out there with him, Wayne always hated to be alone, and did whatever Wayne wanted to do, anything to keep his mind off his pain and keep him happy till the vet arrived. And considering that he went down so peacefully and so gracefully (the vet said she has never put a horse down that went so peacefully), that tells me he was ready to let go, and I was able to stay with him, holding his head until he was gone.
I miss him terribly. And have cried a lot of tears, and will probably shed a lot more. Tearing up again as I type. The barn seems so strange without him. Too quiet without Wayne talking his little head off to everyone passing by, singing a little song for the mares. No greeting when I jump out of my truck or walk into the barn, no trumpeting gallop to the gate to see me, no banging on his gate to make sure I didn't forget to feed him. I guess I didn't realize how used to hearing him I was. I miss his little song and dance. It's hard, but slowly time will heal the heart.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to bury him at the barn where I board, but I was able to have him cremated, and got his ashes back today. At least this way he will always be with us, once my husband and I get a place of our own, Wayne can buried at home with us. But for now I need to look for something nice to keep them in, along with the braids that I kept from his mane. I also want to look into having a horse hair bracelet made with hair from his mane braided in with hair from Lady and Cody. Studly-Do-Right loved his girls.
Thank you, everyone, for all the thoughts and prayers and support. He was a pretty special little guy, and greatly missed. In time, when I'm not breaking down in tears so easily, I look forward to blogging some of our adventures together. Oh the crazy things he did and the fun we had together.
Things this week have just been crazy. My husband ended up in the hospital yesterday, and had some emergency surgery. Thankfully it turned out to be something minor, and he's home now, and feeling 100% better.
Today we took Cody in to MSU for her knee surgery. She'll stay overnight tonight and have surgery tomorrow morning. Dr. Caron seems pretty confident that she'll be rideable again after the 3 months healing time. It should relieve 90 to 100% of the pain in that joint. They x-rayed her knee again, and very little has changed since June in that lower joint, so that is good. There is a tad bit of arthritis in the top joint of the knee that might be an issue, but there's no way to know for sure if that top joint will be any kind of a problem until she's healed up from surgery to fuse the bottom joint. But the arthritis in the top joint is very minor, so if it does cause her any kind of a problem, it should be able to be managed pretty easily with joint supplements and/or a yearly joint injection. But there's a good chance it may be no problem at all. They also x-rayed her other knee to see if we had any issues going on over there, since she is 16 years old and this is a lot of money to drop on surgery, and thankfully that other knee is perfectly clean! No arthritis anywhere! So he's pretty sure I'll be riding her again come spring! I sure hope so!!! I haven't been on her since January and really miss riding her!
So she's tucked away in her stall at the clinic for the night. Dr. Caron will give me a call tomorrow when she's up and on her feet again and let me know how things went. I'll be on pins and needles till I get that call and know she's up on her feet and ok, especially with having just lost Wayne. Hopefully all goes well. She's been a great sport about it all so far. She was a little bug eyed and looking wildly around when we first walked into the clinic, but can you blame her? All the footing is green and soft, it smells like disinfectant, lots of people and other horses coming and going or standing around in stalls.
But a few hesitant steps and wild looks around, and I think she realized she'd been there before, and walked calmly down to the holding stall to wait. The other horses there were pacing and/or carrying on, and Cody just looked around for a bit, and soon was standing there with one back leg cocked, head down, eyes half shut. Good girl. She didn't even do her little holding her front foot up anxiety thing. That's impressive! Good girl Cody!
They came to get her for x-rays, and I had to chuckle. The other horses they were taking back for x-rays were nervous, in a bit of a hurry, and a little spooky. I handed Cody off to the tech and with a big sigh she followed along, as if to say, "ok, sure, where we going." When they came back, Cody was just moseying along about as slow as she could go and the tech saying "she's definitely not in a hurry to get anywhere fast." And it was back to sleep mode once she was back in her stall. Cody, I think you are finally growing up! Even when we took her back to her stall in the hospital ward, she mosied along without a care in the world, and dove into the hay in the hay rack as soon as she was in her stall. She was more concerned with eating than this strange new stall and all the new things around her. What a good girl, hopefully she stays that way for the entire stay! I can't wait to stop and see her after work tomorrow!