Monday, July 22, 2019

Allergic to Life

Back in April Cinder broke out in hives. They came and went for a few weeks before finally deciding to stay. We did a round of steroids and switched bedding because my vet thought it was something coming in contact with her.  We tried three different types of bedding and nothing worked.  We did more steroids because the hives came back worse and she lost a lot of hair on her hind legs and face. Right before we moved barns for the summer we took a blood sample to send in for allergy testing.

She can finally be cross tied while getting hosed off!!

The first week we were at A's was Cinder's last on steroids. I was slightly concerned moving her would shock her system but my vet thought moving was a good idea.  The other barn, GS, is in a different micro-climate and much wetter than A's. Vet thought the (relatively) drier climate would be good for her.  And since we've moved Cinder's hives have gone away. 

First page of allergens. The ones with the * are what she's allergic to

Unfortunately the lab lost Cinder's blood sample so we had to take a second one and send it in again. It took about 10 days from when we sent the sample to when we got the results back.  The lab emailed my vet who forwarded them onto me and called me later that day to discuss. The first thing he said was "She's allergic to life". Not what you want to hear, let me tell you.

Basically there's a lot she's allergic to and it was probably a combination of things that caused the hives. There was a third page of allergens for insects and molds that I forgot to take a pic of and she's allergic to some of them as well.  Some of the things she's allergic to we don't have here in the PNW, such as sycamore and hickory trees, and fire ants (thank god!). But we have elm and oak (which are in the pasture she's living in) and deer flies, plus the molds.  There's also a fair amount of timothy hay that's fed around here so I need to be aware of what's in her grass hay.

This one really sucks
The biggest issues are going to be the food items.  The grain she's on has timothy and rice bran in it.  Her vitamin/mineral supplement has corn and rice bran. The treats I have right now have corn and carrots.  Luckily my vet said that he's seen the carrot and apple allergy before and in his experience the test for it is not that accurate.  He said she can still have the occasional apple or carrot, just not a lot of them at once. And she can stay on her vitamin mix. The amount of corn and rice bran in it is so small, and since it's cooked in a pellet form, most of the allergens have been cooked out. Which is great because do you know how many supplements use corn, rice bran, or soy as carriers? I was driving myself nuts looking at ingredient labels.

I'm still trying to figure out what grain I want to switch her to. I'm going to the feed store later today to see what's available, but I'm leaning towards just alfalfa pellets.  Her current grain is a limited ingredient, mostly alfalfa and timothy hay based feed and I'd like to keep her on something similar.

For now we're going to changer her feed, keep her in a fly sheet and mask all the time, and wait and see how she does.  We can do allergy shots for most of the things she's allergic to, but that's $$$ and doesn't have the best success rate. Since she's doing much better at A's barn I'm really hoping I can keep her here this winter and not have to move her back to GS. Finger's crossed we can make that work and her hives stay away!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Team NW Bedrock Show July 2019: Day Two

So day two of the show really started after my rounds on day one.  Trainer and I were back at the stall untacking Peebs when she told me she wasn't going to be able to make it up on Sunday.  Originally when I entered the show she wasn't going to make it Sunday, but then thought she would. I don't know if it was the adrenaline of being in the GP ring, or a bit of heat stress (it was in the 80s and humid for Oregon), or what but I almost immediately started internally panicking. All night I gave myself a stern talking to.  I've shown plenty of times by myself, but never over courses this complex and built up.

Sunday's jumper course
Our classes were first thing Sunday morning so after I fed Peebs I wandered down to the ring.  They were just finishing dragging and setting the course so once the tractor left we could walk.  It honestly looked like a sea of oxers and big fences even though I know it wasn't. The turn from 3 to 4 was almost a V and I spent a long time trying to figure out my plan for it. When I went back to tack Peebs up I felt slightly sick and anxious over it. Both Peebs and I were tired so I didn't do much warm up, trying to conserve our energy for the ring.  My plan was to have a good rhythm and pace and not have a death grip on his mouth.  But doing that and starting with a long approach to a single oxer wasn't easy.  I basically picked up a canter, put my hands forward, and let Peebs figure it out. Which, bless him, he tried to do but when he added a stride we ended up crashing into the fence.

Crashing into fences has always been my biggest fear. Not so much because I worry about getting hurt, but because I worry about my horses getting hurt, or their confidence getting shaken. Peebs has never stopped like that, never crashed a fence like that, and I was immediately convinced I  had ruined him. Once they rebuilt the fence we circled around and re-approached.  Only this time I panicked and pulled him away two strides out. It was a very long, sad walk back to in gate. I told the woman running the back gate that I was scratching our second round and then cried the whole walk back to the stall. I knew I needed to get back on and jump something but I had to take a breather first.

Much easier than a jumper course
Our regular hunter ring was just off the end of the row of stalls and I watched some little kids do trot pole courses.  I checked the class schedule on my phone and decided to add a couple equitation classes later in the day. I hoped being in our normal ring with a simpler course would help both Peebs and my confidence. Luckily I had brought my show garment bag and had a white shirt and hunt coat.  I didn't have my hunter show pad, but figured Peebs could rock the old school just-a-half-pad look.  Then I remembered I had Peebs' blue sparkly brow band on his bridle and didn't have a regular one. The one tack vendor at the show didn't have just brow bands so I ended up getting a whole new bridle. Which I do like better than my current one but it still sucked having to spend that money when I really didn't need it.

We redeemed ourselves
I'm pretty sure Peebs was pissed when I pulled him out again but he warmed up well and didn't seem at all phased about crashing into a jump.  It was definitely my confidence that was shaken, not his. He was very tired though. Our first eq round was really nice, except that when I asked Peebs to wait to the first fence he broke to the trot.  We managed a 4th out of 7 for that. His energy was pretty much gone for our second round and he broke twice during it and we got some ugly short spots. We got a very fair 6th out of 7. But we jumped everything without any hesitation, I actually rode and made decisions, and most importantly got my confidence back and proved to myself that I can at least do the hunters/eq sans trainer.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Team NW Bedrock Show July 2019: Day 1

This past weekend we went back to our favorite show, the USHJA Outreach show held during the rated show.  This time we were going in the 0.70m jumpers.  In years past they've had one of the hunter rings dedicated to the Outreach show, hosting both the hunter/eq and jumper classes.  This year they moved the Outreach jumpers to the rated jumper ring.
It's very important to practice, practice, practice before a show
Originally in the prize list they had the jumpers still going in the hunter ring.  Which was perfectly fine by me.  That's our ring; Peebs and I know it well, and I'm perfectly comfortable in it.  I've never been in the Grand Prix ring, or even been on that side of the property much.  The lunging area is next to the jumper warm up and Peebs has been lunged there. We've also hand walked around the GP ring. But never been inside it. There's a bit more atmosphere by the GP ring, flags and banners waving around, and the spectator parking is right next to it as well. I was 99% certain Peebs wouldn't care about the change in venue, but I cared.

Our first round course.  Our second round was a speed round and it was the exact same course minus the jump off
During the rated and outreach shows the week prior, show management had been posting the back gate boards and courses on their FB and IG pages.  The rated 0.70m and the outreach 0.70m classes were exactly the same. I figured that would be the case for our show and it was. 

The show photographer had some medical issues so they weren't sure she'd be there for the show.  But don't worry I have more than blurry screenshots
I hauled up mid morning and hung out for a while before my classes went.  Both Peebs and I had lunch and I was able to watch some of the rated classes go.  My trainer got there about a half hour before we could walk so we hung out and chatted.  I was at the bottom of the order so the plan was to walk, tack up, warm up and show. I was super glad to have trainer there to walk with me because I was a little intimidated walking into the GP ring and trying to figure out which jump was where. It's been a very long time since I did a jumper class like this (ie not a quasi hunter course with a jump off). 
Fence seven, looking toward eight on the left. PC and bought from: Julie Ward Photography

We made a solid plan for riding the course and I tried to remember everything while tacking up and warming up. Peebs felt ready to go and we only did a few warm up fences before heading to the back gate. Of course people weren't ready and I was able to slip in early.  Our first round was me mostly trying to get over my nerves.  I took a longer line in the first bending line and rode a little backward to 3 and 4. The plan for the turn to fence 5 was to not let his shoulder drop and to wait to turn till after the timers.  I waited till we past the timer to turn, but his shoulder dropped and we ended up aiming for the inside standard of 5.  I circled and re-approached it better. Six to sever went ok and my instructions to 8 were to sit up since it was a slight downhill and I didn't do that but it still rode well.  I didn't get him quite straight to 9 and we added a stride in the line to 10. But we survived! Which was really my goal.

If you look closely you can see the rail coming out of the cups. But at least I kept his shoulder up in the turn to 5. Also bought from Julie Ward Photography
We had a couple of people go before my second round so I could catch my breath and talk about the plan for our second trip. It was really about making sure to get him balanced for the turn to 5 and straighter into the 9-10 line. And I'm proud to say we did that (and got the correct strides). But unfortunately Peebs and I were tired and feeling the heat so we had a rail down at 4. With 14 in both classes we didn't pin but that's ok.  We made it around, fixed some issues, and had solid trips.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Pony Kindergarten

Both ponies have settled into A's barn pretty well by now and we've got a good routine started.  Peebs has obviously been here many times and settles into most places well so I wasn't worried about him. But this would be the first time Cinder would be out with horses other than Peebs (or her mom and another pony at her breeder's) and I was a little worried. It's like dropping you kid off at kindergarten and hoping they play nice with the other kids.

Letting Cin get settled in with Peebs in the drylot at first
Of the four horses at A's, all are gelding and three of them are in their mid to late twenties. Scottie is 14 but acts about 4 with other horses so both A and I were hoping he at Cinder would play together.  And they do.  Scottie tends to be a  bit lower on the totem pole and Cinder, while not yet showing alpha mare tendencies, does push him around a bit. One of the other geldings, Giz, is only turned out at night but he and Cinder are back scratching buddies and get along well.

Red, the oldest on the place at 28 is the one with the broken coffin bone.  He's turned out during the day with Peebs in the dry lot which shares a fence line on two sides with the big pasture.  Red used to be boarded at my old barn and both his owner and I kinda forgot that he sometimes falls hopelessly in love with mares. The first few days Cinder was out Red was frantically pacing the fence line trying to catch her attention and push the other boys away from her.  She couldn't have cared less about him.  We started calling him the creepy old man and told him that toxic masculinity bullshit will not be tolerated at TCF. He does seem to calmed down a bit and isn't quite as frantic when Cinder's close to the fence.

Out with her best bud Scottie
The biggest issue has been between Cinder and Blue.  Blue is the herd leader and doesn't tolerate bullshit. The first few days Cin was out with him, I saw him pin his ears at her and she respectfully stayed out of his way.  But the morning before we left for the horse show A called me that Cinder had jumped the pasture gate destroying it. Blue and Scottie had been down by the gate when she put Cinder out and she had her back turned to them when she heard scrambling and turned around in time to see Cinder's escape.  Cinder hit the metal gate with both her front and hind feet, but landed fine and ran back into the barn and into her stall. The gate sadly died on impact.

RIP gate
We kept Cinder in till A and I got back from the show, and luckily her parents were able to get a new gate and install it that same day. When I went to put Cin out again Blue pinned his ears and snaked his head at her.  Cinder went full on panic and ran back to me clearly terrified of him.  We're assuming Blue must have gotten after her and since Cinder absolutely does not want to touch the hot wire fence she must have jumped to gate to get away from him. So currently Blue is turned out in the smaller field by himself during the day and with Giz at night and Cinder and Scottie are in the big field 24/7. I feel awful that Cin has caused such a ruckus and wrote A's parents a check to replace the gate. And I know part of having horses turned out together is them not getting along and finding the right buddies.  But it feels like I sent my baby away and she got beat up by the school bully.

Monday, July 1, 2019

LOEC Summer is Here Show

Never say never kids.  Last weekend I did what I said I wouldn't do and went back to LOEC for their first summer show. I had been planning on going to a different show the weekend before, but ended up not being able to.  And A wanted to show once this summer before she left for Ecuador and the LOEC show worked best for her.

I honestly wasn't super jazzed about going.  But I've had a little voice in the back of my head whispering how it'd be fun to play in the jumpers so I figured why not. I changed my plans for showing this year and am not aiming for medal finals, or any year end awards, so why shouldn't we go in the jumper ring? And best of all, this show has their jumpers go first thing in the morning so I wouldn't have to wait around all day.

pics bought from Ella Chedester Photography

We hauled the boys up the day before and schooled.  Peebs was totally fine and we warmed up in the indoor where I'd be showing before going to the outdoor where A was showing.  After A was done I wanted to walk around the field where some of the XC jumps were set up.  I popped over a couple small coops and logs and walked up the big bank complex.  Looking down the drop, all I can say is eventers are crazy for wanting to do that.

On show morning, the arena was open at 8 for schooling with a start time of 8:30.  I was on Peebs at 7:58 to make the most of our schooling slot.  They had a small mounting block set on the outdoor track that I used to get on and for the first time ever Peebs took of as I was midswing over his back. He put his head down, humped his back and trotted off. I yanked his head up and got him stopped while calling him bad names and got some terrified looks from a couple of pony kids. But once we were in the ring he calmed down and got to work.

We were doing the 0.70m jumpers and the courses was the exact same hunter courses we did at their April show, only with a jump off and they added more fill to the jumper fences. It was honestly kind of a let down.  We warmed up ok; the lines were a short five for us and one time I got in super awkwardly and tried to cram six in the line and it didn't go well.

Our first round was a little jazzed.  Peebs seemed to understand what the buzzer meant and pulled hard to the first fence. We had a little discussion about that which resulted in some drunken sailor weaving but whatever.  This was only our second time doing full courses with our new bit and there's bound to be a learning curve. He got a little strung out in the second outside line and pulled the back rail so no jump off for us.  In our second round I went in with the idea of having a quiet hunter pace to start, but forgot to keep my leg on to keep the impulsion. We got a super crappy distance to the first fence and took the rail.  The rest of the course was really nice. I was determined to not have first fenceitis in our last round and nailed it.  But we got crooked to the second fence and I circled. We did have a bending line in this round and I was really happy with how it rode.  It was a left bend going past the in gate (historically our bad direction and Peebs would have thrown his body to the right) but it rode really well and we got a nice even 8 strides in it.

We ended up 6th out of 9 in all of our rounds.  I'm happy with how we did.  There were definite bobbles, but I know what they were and how to fix them. Part of it was learning how to ride him in our new bit, especially at shows.  We're going to play in the jumper ring again in a couple of weeks and will hopefully be able to implement some of the fixes.