Thursday, December 12, 2019

Shit Shit Shit

My job revolves around animal care, rodents in particular. Mainly mice, but some rats and the occasional hamster. I've also worked with llamas, alpacas, dogs, barn owls, chickens, pigs, quail, and ducks. But 95% of my job is mice. Cleaning cages, handling mice, treating mice, collecting tissue/fecal/blood samples, etc. So, obviously, I'm around mouse poop a lot and it doesn't bother me. Until yesterday.
Your basic lab mouse, a C57BL/6J

The barn Peebs is at has a mouse problem. I've seen them, they've chewed into my SmartPaks when people leave the drawer open, I've see there poop. But last night when I went to grab my gloves out of my helmet, which hangs on a hook on my saddle rack, I noticed mouse poop IN MY HELMET. Disgusting. I then had to take everything off my saddle rack and inspect it.

New BOT quarter sheet in action
My new BOT quarter sheet had some poop on it, but it brushed off easily enough. But the biggest issue, besides my helmet, was my Mattes half pad.  Not only did it have poop on it, there was evidence of chewing on the sheepskin. Can't say I blame the mice, it makes great nesting material. But my half pad! I'm also terrified my saddle's going to get chewed like Cob Jockey's old Wintec did. It's currently swaddled in covers and my helmet (minus the liner, that's in the wash) and half pad are in my tack trunk.

I'm going to have to have a talk with the BO about getting tougher on rodent control. I saw her saddle had some mouse poop on it, but she either hasn't seen it, or cares about it. At least I'm well versed in mouse psychology and know lot of tips and tricks to catching the little bastards.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Back to Basics

It feels like I've been spinning my wheels a bit this fall. Work has been crazy and won't even back out for another month, I was gone early in November and then again at Thanksgiving, and with the ponies at two different barns I feel guilty spending more time at one barn than the other. Granted Cinder is two, turned out 12hrs a day, and her only job right now is eating and pooping. Peebs, on the other hand, has been either super hot and spicy (for him) or super lazy and convinced he doesn't know concepts like bending or riding with contact.

We went to Utah to volunteer at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary at Thanksgiving and I got to help feed ponies and Lucky the mule
I think part of Peebs' issue was moving barns.  He went from 24/7 turnout to maybe 4hrs of turnout a day, and now that its started raining, the pastures are closed and he's in 24/7. Also GS switched hay from the local grass they used to feed to Eastern Oregon orchard grass, which is a lot richer. I've always had him on plain grass, and he just felt like he was vibrating out of his skin on the orchard. Peebs had diarrhea almost constantly from the orchard so I went out and bought my own grass hay for him. Diarrhea stopped, and a much more saner Peebs is back.  He's also an air fern and got very rotund on the orchard.

Lucky and his pasture buddies live at the Disney barn. Many movies have been filmed on the property and Disney built this for one of theirs.
I finally had a lesson this weekend, after about a month.  I had asked for a flat lesson as Peebs and I had been having issues, see above. We did have a CTJ last week when I had to borrow a dressage whip, but Peebs did remember he knows how to get off my right leg and that he can go on the bit. Our lesson went a lot better than I was expecting; I was able to get Peebs to soften and listen to my aids quicker than I thought I could, and from there we worked on more refining the aids rather than big asks. My big take aways were watching his right shoulder tracking left, and to always feel like I'm pushing him out tracking right. And if I feel like I'm working too hard, grab the dressage whip or put on my spurs.  He knows what I'm asking for, I shouldn't have to nag him.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Two Years of Cinder

Happy gotcha day Cinder!! I can't believe two years ago I picked her up from her breeder. She'll get stuffed with cookies tonight to celebrate.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Mid-fall Break

After the show at FHF, Peebs got a bit of a mid-fall break.  He had spent a couple of days at TCF before the show (since the weather was perfect and dry and they reopened the big pasture) and I decided to leave him there after the show. I had plans to be out of town for four days and felt better about leaving him at TCF where he could be out 24/7 vs at GS where he would be out only a handful of hours a day, if that. And after his colic episode, I trusted A to watch him better. The morning feeder at GS had noticed he was slightly off his feed the morning he colickd, but they didn't tell me till 3pm in the afternoon. Not cool.

Nap time
In the three days between the show and when I left for my trip, I got some nasty 36hr stomach bug and spent most of the time hurling my guts out and sleeping. Thankfully once it was over I felt perfectly fine and back to my normal self. So between everything, Peebs got 7 days off. He didn't seem to mind at all. When I got back he went for a lunge the first day and spent a good 20mins blowing off steam before settling down. He was his normal, lazy self for our rides after that.

So that's Peebs bridle, and I didn't have to adjust anything on it to fit her head. His girth also fits her.
Cinder on the other hand, has decided that fall is the perfect time to come into heat. She has one heat when we first moved to TCF early in the summer, but then I never noticed her showing signs till last week. She was way more flirty with the boys in the pasture, and peed every few minutes with them, but thankfully didn't do any of that when I had her out. She was more amped during our ground work in the arena and I ended up letting her loose to run off some energy.

Cinder's changing color
About a month ago I switched her grain in a continuing effort to find something she likes and can eat with her allergies. She's on Purina Wellsolve L/S and likes it. I've noticed since switching her to it that her coat is way shinier and she's developing Bend-Or spots. She's got a few on her right hip, and one on her left. I also noticed she's getting some dapples on her barrel but couldn't get a good pic of them. I guess the Wellsolve is agreeing with her!

Monday, October 28, 2019

FHF Fall Schooling Show: The Show that Wasn't

The morning of the day Peebs colicked I saw a FB even for a schooling show one of the H/J barns outside Portland was hosting. They had had one show this spring and were seeing if there was interest in having more.  For this show they had jumpers Saturday afternoon/evening, and hunter/eq all day Sunday.

They had 3 .70m classes, starting at 3pm. The entry fee were slightly higher than other shows around here, but they didn't charge a haul in fee and with a 3pm start time and our classes going first I wouldn't need a stall. So it worked out to being a fairly cheap showing opportunity for us. Once Peebs recovered from his colic episode I sent our entry in.

The facility was freaking gorgeous
A few days before the show I got an email from the show manager saying they were limited in parking, and that haul ins would have to park at the bottom of the hill, while the barn and show was at the top.  But they had some empty temp stalls, and I could use one to put Peebs in and unload my stuff and then go park. So I basically got a day stall without having to pay $65 for it. Score. And the night before the show she emailed everyone with current class counts and estimated start times for the later divisions. That's super rare for H/J shows and I thought it was super nice and helpful. A++ for show management.

Schooling the Halloween jump at A's earlier last week
This barn has a huge outdoor ring that was open for schooling, a small indoor that was being used for lunging/schooling if needed, and the big indoor which was the show ring. It was honestly one of the nicest barns I've been to in a long time and I was slightly taken aback by just how nice it was. The show ring was open for schooling prior to the start of the show so we had planned to school there before my classes. The course was set to .7-.75m when I went in and everything was built up, oxers, planks, boxes, skinnies, you name it, they had the fences decked out. They also had pumpkins at the base of all the fences painted with the fence numbers. Cue me starting to feel intimidated and like we don't belong.

I would happily take that outdoor arena home with me
They had doors on the long side of the arena, one that was being used as the in gate, and another that looked out to paddocks.  Peebs did one big spook when we walked past the paddocks the first time, then seemed to realize they were just horses and there was nothing to be scared of. Once I asked him to trot he settled more and was all business. There was a few other people schooling so my trainer lowered a skinny plank for us to warm up over. I'm not sure if Peebs didn't get his eye on it, or my slight unease trickled down to him, but he ran out the first time to it. We came back and got over it and on the third time I remembered (or my trainer yelling "other right" clued me in) that we were supposed to land and turn right in the course so we schooled that.

We then picked up a diagonal line that actually rode well, but I couldn't see the distance to the second fence for the life of me. I was starting to go fetal and lock my elbows so Peebs was shortening his stride and distance would be gone.  When I did actually sit up and let him go it was a perfect 5 strides. We tried another line and a single and I kept panicking about my distance and either pulling up or circling. It was like my brain switched off as soon as I started thinking about putting everything together.

Enjoy Peebs and Cinder sharing breakfast the morning of the show. Peebs spent a few days at A's last week
I was getting more and more worked up and finally asked my trainer if we could go take a break in the outdoor. Peebs was being a saint and didn't care about the fences, or me having a panic attack on his back, bless his heart. No one was in the outdoor so once I had walked and calmed down a bit my trainer set some tiny fences and had us work over those. She just wanted me to find a rhythm and let him go. It took a few tries, but I finally remembered how to ride and let Peebs do his job. Both Peebs and I were pretty tired and I asked my trainer if we could scratch. She agreed and said this was schooling and show, and we schooled. It doesn't matter if I didn't actually make it in the show ring, we had issues and schooled through them. Peebs probably could have gone in a done a round, but mentally I couldn't, so why push ourselves?

I walked Peebs out while my trainer went to scratch me and then we untacked and put Peebs away. Nicole stopped by as her barn is just down the street and some of her barn mates were showing. We chatted for bit before I loaded up and headed home. Did the day go as I had planned? Hell no. But my horse was a saint and took the best care of me, I didn't cry or fall off, and I was able to fix our issues in the schooling ring. I don't know what it is about jumperland that makes my brain shut off or intimidates me, but we're going to keep working at it. Show management said they're planning on 4 shows next year and we will definitely try to make it back for some of them. 

Friday, October 18, 2019

Bloghop: Playing Favorites

Thanks to Raincoast Rider for the hop!

1. Favorite Show Venue
That I've show at, probably the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego. I showed there as a kid, and my first ever jumper class was in the Del Mar Arena at night, under the lights. Walking down the ramp into the ring was amazing!

Del Mar Arena. They set up other rings behind it for shows and part of the track is blocked off for warm up areas

2. Favorite Discipline
Right now, for me, I'd say the hunters/eq. Peebs has such a natural hunter rhythm and he's so fun to ride in those classes.  If I'm spectating, I'd much rather watch the big jumpers.

3. Favorite Horse Color
I'm a big believer of a "a good horse can't be a bad color" and don't really have a preference. I will say I'm not a fan of blue eyes on horses.

4. Favorite Tack Store
In person, Mary's. I grew up shopping there and was totally spoiled as far as tack stores go.  Now I mainly shop online at RW or SmartPak but whenever I get the chance to browse Mary's in person I take it.

5.Favorite Breed
QH cross. I love their brain, and their willingness to do whatever despite my ammy moments.

Must love QH crosses!
6. Favorite Place to Ride
I love wandering the grass seed fields after they harvest in the summer. Just a nice meandering walk with my pony with no agenda or plan.

7. Favorite Piece of Riding Apparel
Probably my custom LM boots. It's hard to not like something custom made for me that I designed!

8. Favorite Horse Related Website
Probably all the horse blogs I follow

9. Favorite Piece of Tack
My saddle! It makes my butt happy.  I really, really hope it'll fit Cinder. But if I have to get her her own, oh darn!

10. Favorite Horse Book
I haven't read many horse books lately, but as a kid I loved the Thoroughbred series.

11. Favorite Horse Movie

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

So Close

Sunday I got to TCF right as A was getting ready to ride. I had vague plans about doing something with Cinder, so I decided we'd do some mounting block practice while A rode. A let me use her old saddle on Cinder since mine was at the other barn with Peebs.

so grown up looking
I also had to borrow an extra girth from A, and honestly the size 50 fit Cinder better than Peebs' 48. Cin still seems so narrow and unfilled out yet and seeing the 50 fit perfectly was a bit of a shock.  I haven't measure her in a while, but I'm estimating she's about 16.2hh right now. I hadn't pulled her sheet off in a couple of days and she had withers that weren't there earlier in the week. She's also in a horse sized bridle now, and I need to lower the nose band a hole from where I had it adjusted.  I know I've said it before, but I'm worried about just how big she's going to get!

We worked on standing still at the mounting block then I climbed up and started flapping and tugging on the stirrup leathers, and leaning all over her back.  Other than an ear cocked back at me, Cinder really didn't care.  I then started leaning more of my weight on her.  I was so, so tempted to just swing a leg over, and honestly, if I had had my helmet on I might have just done it. I'm thinking I might just sit on her once or twice this winter before sending her off to get started in the spring.