Monday, February 06, 2017

Baby Steps

It feels like the horse gods frowned on us for pretty much all of 2016, but as 2017 begins we have been trying to forge ahead in the simplest way possible and just put one foot in front of the other. With so many horses manifesting special needs, we've honestly been feeling overwhelmed. So finally we decided to pick one problem, focus on that, and let the others go for a while. Right now, the simplest and most urgent of our issues is Laredo. He needs to live in an environment different from the one we can offer him, which sadly means he needs to find a new home. None of the challenges with our other horses are in any way time-sensitive. In fact, (fingers crossed) Piper seems to be getting more sound by the week, so here's hoping she stays on that trajectory if we give her enough time.

So, Laredo. Our primary objective right now is to get him back into shape. He's very very broke, but he's also a little chubby and out of the swing of things. We want to polish him up just a little before we reach out in search of his next home. We also need to get some decent video that shows what he's capable of. To that end, we've been getting him back into regular light work. The main problem with this isn't him, it's us. I'm still recovering from the bad wreck I had in September, and Brian crashed his bike a couple weeks ago and probably cracked a rib or two. So we're just parceling out the rides and trading him back and forth like the old days.

I haven't really ridden Laredo much in recent years, and it's easy for me to still think of him as the 3-year-old we probably weren't totally qualified to own. Then I get surprised when I ride him and realize he's going-on-8, very mature, very accomplished, super duper soft and responsive and light and steady and ... well ... grown up. It's hard to totally comprehend that we've had him for almost five years. He was such a kid when he arrived. Now he's not.

Please disregard us both seeming orange and plump in this photo. We're just both wearing our winter coats. Really. It's pure fluff I swear.

Seeing Laredo go will be sad. He was our first real project, arguably our biggest guinea pig ever. But he was always a total champ when it came to tolerating our fumblings and letting us learn from him. I know he'll be an incredible match for someone who needs a super solid and personable partner in crime. In all reality, he deserves that after being passed back and forth between me and Brian for so long. He's never felt exactly like 'my' horse or Brian's horse in particular. He always was a joint project. Still, I will miss him when he goes.

Horseback Hours YTD: 5:30

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Another Year

2016 is well and truly over, which is a little hard to believe. And part of the reason for my silence on this blog is things have been tough going for us as far as the horses have been concerned for the last many months. Looking back at my stats, I spent only about 100 hours on horseback this year -- by far the lowest number ever since I've been keeping track. This was mainly because, of our four horses, three have been having major issues. Those issues have been pretty varied, but can be summed up quickly enough.


Piper still isn't reliably sound. We've got a good farrier who is working with us, and she's much, much, much better than she was. But we're coming to accept she just might not ever make it back to 100%. So we're trying to digest that and figure out what to do with regards to finding her a life where she can thrive as much as possible given her limitations.


Laredo has been struggling with an intermittent yet persistent cough for the last year or so. Multiple different vets and a long haul to a fancy clinic in Ames so he could get scoped and have lots of bloodwork done have yielded very little by way of concrete information on how to improve the situation. The problem comes and goes, which makes it hard for us to ride him consistently. The vets in Ames diagnosed him with a very early case of heaves, and recommended he not be on a round bale. That's not possible for us. So again, we're looking at making some tough decisions as far as trying to give him the best possible life going forward.


Nevada bucked me off in September. I landed badly, leading to trauma to my lumbar spine and three weeks during which I couldn't even really walk. Once I was kind of up again, I returned to light rides on Steen. But it wasn't until late December that I was able to do much of anything without having to be super careful. Now I'm more or less back to normal, but neither Brian nor I have been on Nevada since the incident. Of course, these things are never the horse's fault. She's young and extremely athletic and despite having so much positive time with her under saddle last year, she still has these explosions every now and then that so far we've had a hard time tracing to an underlying cause.


The good news of the year, however, has been Steen. He continues to be my bombproof goofball. He's a horse I can crawl onto and feel safe on even when I can literally barely walk, a horse that's great for the cold because I can just set my reins down and stick my hands in my pockets and ride all around, a horse who is, impossibly, 17 this year but still acts like a foal sometimes. Let's hope he stays that way for a long time to come.

Anyway, I miss this blog. I miss writing about what we do with the horses. But even more than that, I miss having a record to look back on after the fact. It's been hard to want to write about all the bad news. But hopefully we'll get some of these issues sorted out, I can get back in a better blogging habit, and 2017 will be the year things turn around.

Horseback Hours YTD: 1:30

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