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Think OUTSIDE the Arena
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lantair look
It makes me sad to see this place so quiet.

One of these days I'll make time to post photos, but that requires being at the computer for more than 10 minutes at a time.

We are in the process of reducing the herd by two. Panda has been sold and unsold twice, and hopefully sold for the final time to the original buyer who had run into some finance issues, but is now secure. I can see why everyone I've ever bought a horse from never accepted payments. The good is that people can figure out the match before fully investing. The bad is the yo-yo effect that we've experienced. Fingers crossed all goes well from here on out. The lady and Panda have gotten along pretty well.

What drives me nuts about Panda is that she is a great ride. I've done most of my showing on her, taken her in the mountains and around the neighborhood and rode her until I was seven or eight months pregnant, BUT I can't really trust other people on her. She tends to reflect the exact confidence level of the person on her. She has an excellent "go" button and if you squeeze she will go. This is why I can't use her for lessons. I have one student on her right now, but that is not enough to sustain keeping her and I don't have time to campaign her myself. I can get on her and do all sorts of things, but it doesn't matter what I do if the other rider is not mentally present for her. And it isn't like she doesn't give warning either. If she has an issue with something it is head up, two or three quickened steps, and if you engage her that's it. If not the steps get quicker, run into the canter, and soforth. She does have a great stop, by the way. They're not butter-smooth yet, but she does do a canter-halt tranasition.

Anyway, beating my head against the wall on that one, but hoping it turns out well. I'm trying to ride her a couple times a week during lessons, which I think will help her to not be as anticipatory since when I "ride" during lessons I may demo something, but mostly it's standing and watching.riding her during lessons also means I don't have to squeeze in the time elsewhere.

The other horse we'll be seeking a new home for is Jed, our 17.1hh Percheron gelding. Again, he's not being used for lessons (except for the driving lessons I've been taking!) mostly because he is big. He's a good horse, but if some novice rider bobbles off of him it is a LONG way to the ground. Last month I took Jed to a pleasure driving show and we placed 1st in out two ring classes (both working and reinsmanship, thatter is the driving equivalent to equitation) and sixth in our obstacle class. Great driving horse, and a good ride too, but it's that time thing again. That and the fact he doesn't get along with the herd and requires a hot wire so our fencing stays intact. I've really enjoyed driving and riding him, but like Panda, he deserves a place where he is going to get used.

In other horsey news my riding lesson business exploded this year. I don't even know how many students I have off the top of my head, but the last month I've averaged 20 lessons a week. Add to that a nearly year-old baby boy and I'm super busy!

I also have Zetahra coming up. She's two and a half now and I'm getting ready to start working her three times or so a week. Once her lunge work is more solid I'll introduce the cavesson and long lines and then transfer to the bridle and bit. Her lunge work is just about there, it's just reaching the point where she moves off nicely to start rather than going okay, then cantering around for 5-10 minutes (asking for a direction change when she picks up and focusing on direction before asking anything else) before settling into work. I'd like to get her broke to drive as well as to ride. I'm hoping to drive her first and once she's going well in the long lines I'll be pulling out Kitt's harness and seeing how it fits Z.

Coming up in the New Year I plan on doing some more shows and Chris and I are going to do a driving clinic in January, which should be fun.

How are you alldoing with your horses?
28th-Oct-2012 08:47 pm - Resale Value
As of the 15th Panda was officially sold (again). As I mentioned last month I think the previous buyer ran into job security issues and had to back out. I guess the good news is that she let us keep all that she had paid down on Panda despite a partial refund being written in the contract. My clients who are leasing a horse from another ADHMA member and had been interested in Panda when she first went up for sale found themselves in the position to be able to acquire Panda. There was some negotiating both on terms for payment and price. The price dropped, but they're taking care of her feed, vet, and farrier expenses as of Thursday when they moved her in with Gypsy. Panda and Gypsy seem to be getting along quite well and the daughter is rather enjoying Panda.

Saturday the father and daughter came out to do a little riding. I had a break in lessons so the arena was free. I was mucking with a new working student while they were getting ready. Gypsy was giving the father a bit of trouble about mounting up. She kept moving off and after a few minutes of this he asked for some help. I obliged and grabbed my helmet and Dressage whip. The short of it is every time she moved off I made her trot for a couple minutes before returning to the block and asking her to stand still. I ended up asking her to stand away from the block a couple times and standing in the stirrup as at first I think she was associating being next to the block with being tapped on the butt. Without the block it seemed to click that all I wanted her to do was stand still. The first few times I stood in the stirrup and then stepped down she appeared slightly confused, asking "that's it?"

Once I got her standing well enough that I could get on and off consistently I gave her back. She was sweating a bit on her neck and shoulder and I'm sure the same under her tack. He was able to mount up and she didn't move a muscle. I suggested he just walk once in each direction to show her that when he's on her back he isn't asking for nearly so much as when I was on the ground with her. He was happy with how she stood and went for him and admitted he needs to get out and work with her more. Both on the ground and under saddle.

While we were fussing with Gypsy, the daughter and Panda roved the property. I caught glimpses of them first on the ground and then under saddle. They work really well together, which makes me quite happy. They wandered by the road, trotted in the front of the property, and roamed around behind the house. Z was quite vocal and excited about seeing her mother, but Panda was mostly quiet and focused on her rider.

I'm looking forward to seeing the pair of them work independently and grow together. While she's been riding Panda in lessons off and on for almost a year now this was their first ride without my comment or help.

They're a pretty good match and I couldn't be happier with where Panda is. Of course things can still happen at this point, but that's why we have a contract and while Panda is in their posession they're responsible and liable should something happen to her.

I will miss riding her. Truth be told Panda was my first real show horse. I've ridden her infour shows and she has done well each time and always placed when we've competed rather than schooled. Hopefully as I bring Zetahra along she will be able to do much the same and then some as I plan on keeping her for her whole career.
13th-Sep-2010 07:16 am - Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games!!!
lantair look
Pretty much anyone who get some sort of horse-related magazine should have heard by now that the World Equestrian Games (also known as "The WEG") are occurring this year in Lexington, KY at the Kentucky Horse Park!

The WEG is, essentially, the Olympics of Equestrian Sport. It doesn't just include the three Olympic Equestrian disciplines of Dressage, Show Jumping, and Three-Day Eventing, there are five others: Reining (the only Western Discipline), Endurance, Vaulting, Paraequestrian (Dressage for riders with disabilities), and Driving.

The most awesome thing is that NBC Sports is supposed to have actual coverage of the events! Unfortunately it's only about six or seven hours of total coverage for the nearly three weeks worth of competition, but it's better than nothing! The US generally does a rather crappy job of covering Equestrian Sports, though I hear Europe is a bit better on that mark. To give you an idea last year's Rolex Three-Day event was denied coverage due to a Hockey game running over and then wasn't allowed to play afterward because of a stupid Poker tournament. Tragic on all accounts!

Of course, while NBC will be airing the games, good luck trying to get information from their website.

According to Horse & Rider NBC will air coverage on Sept. 26th 12.00-1.30pm (EST), October 3 1.00-4.00pm (EST), and October 11 4.00-6.00pm (EST). Now I haven't been able to confirm if this will be on local NBC channels or if you have to have satellite/cable for their NBC Sports channel. The Universal Sports Network is also airing coverage.

I'm really excited to watch Vaulting and Driving since you almost never see such events broadcast.

Do any of you know more about how to see the games on TV than I do? If so share!

Do you have an event or horse-and-rider pair that you are just dying to see? What is your favorite event? Have you been to or seen the WEG before? Any of you in Kentucky and hoping to go see it in person?
4th-Sep-2010 08:09 pm - filly playing with a ball clip

When my welsh section a pony was half a year old she was crazy about playing with a ball in the riding arena. The first time she discovered that you can do something with a ball I was able to safe this on video. :-)

Here is a clip of this:
25th-Jul-2010 04:03 pm - Youtube clip

On this picture you can see my 2 years old Welsh Section A pony when she was still a little filly. When people hear that I own such a young horse I sometimes get a strange reaction. Even more, if I tell that she is my only pony. They say that you can’t do anything with such a young animal and it’s a waste of time to wait three years till I can ride her. I put my answer to this in a video clip.

I also entered a competition with this video. The person with the most hits wins. So it would be really nice of you to click on my video….


bastek kunst
So we picked up a couple bales of alfalfa a week ago Wednesday in order to tide us over until we could order our next squeeze. I could tell from twenty feet away as the fork lift came over to load it that it was tremendously weedy, but figured it couldn't hurt and we've dealt with less-than-stellar hay in the past with no problems so we trucked our bales home.

It was either Thursday night or Friday that I noticed Kash (13 y/o Arab gelding) had some swelling over his right eye. I figured he must have hit his head on something, which is entirely possible, but he was happy an alert otherwise so it was filed away as "something to keep an eye on."

Saturday morning a student and I go to get Kash out to use for a lungeing lesson and we discovered a BIG abrasion on the inside of his right leg. It was a little swollen, but he wasn't limping on it so we pulled him out, brushed him off, and started the lesson. Asking him to trot he, again, wasn't limping, but he was a bit stiff through the leg, tied him up, and learned about first aid. It looked a lot worse than it actually was and at this point I was figuring he must have been kicked by one of the mares, it's happened before with similar results. He also had a little rub on his nose.

After the lessons were over for the day Chris and I took a drive to see a horse (yes, I know I already have five plus one on the way ... we were just looking, promise! [as another aside, he was quite nice! 16hh Belgian gelding who drove quite well and was safe, sane, and sound]). When we got home poor Kash had more abrasions on the right side of his face (noticing a trend?). At a loss and trying to figure out why the mares might be beating up on him we put him up for the night.

Sunday morning found my poor boy with most of the hair on the right side of his face rubbed off and even more on his leg plus some up by his sheath and between his legs. Did I mention he is an insanely flexible Arab and can reach around to grab the fleshy part of his tail? He can also scratch his ear with a rider on him and chew on his stifle if needs be.

Chris insisted that we take him to the vet. I hate making people work on Sunday, but it wasn't getting better. Knowing that the mares weren't beating him up made me feel a little better, but the realization that it was self-inflicted was distressing. It was at this point that I started to suspect the hay.

To the vet and after a brief check, some talk about the weedy hay, and a rather powerful anti-allergy drug with some direction to get some good soothing gel to slather on his skin we were on our way. Well, not quite, but the other talk and such didn't really pertain. Mostly about the first of the babies he now has on the ground and our own expectant mare.

So the first three days it was hibicleans (surgical soap) and sol-a-caine three times a day. He stopped scratching and the skin started to heal up. He's looking much better and I actually rode him yesterday briefly. He was good on all accounts, but he didn't want to extend in the trot and felt it was easier just to canter. I think the skin is still a little tight and healing, but that's okay. He's bright and cheery as usual and no swelling. Plus we have our new, good, non-weedy squeeze of hay stacked high so no worries about allergies for a good few months.

It is a little odd, he hasn't had any allergy issues before. During the change in seasons he will rub his backside (underside of his tail gets dry and itchy and he's smart enough to realize that it's the underside so he flips his tail over the rail and rubs where it itches, leaving a bald spot on each cheek, but his lovely, long tail unscathed), but this was unique in the six years I've owned him.

And in other news: Panda is due in about a month!
26th-Aug-2009 12:59 pm - Gaited Horse People
lantair look
I don't mean to offend, but I've noticed some things about "Gaited Horse People." Of course, the same thing could probably be said of most anyone who is glued to a single breed or type. My mom also falls under the category of being a "Gaited Person."

Anyway! I took Kitt, our young Norwegian Fjord mare down to the horse park that is a little over a mile from where we live (which is really nice!). I went with my parents and I use it as a way to get Kitt more exposed to a more busy atmosphere as our little arena is pretty much free of distraction and completely familiar, making focus relatively easy. It also serves to get my parents out on their horses more regularly and give Dad even more confidence riding his little mare as he isn't really what one would consider a horseman. He rides because Mom rides.

I'm getting off track, I finished tacking Kitt up and was leading her up towards the arena when another truck and trailer pulled in. Being a highly unusual breed for our area and having such a distinct appearance the guy driving paused and asked "Is that an Icelandic?" I probably should have known then by the choice of breed he tried to peg her as. I responded, "Nope, she's a Norwegian Fjord." His next question "Is she gaited?" Response: "Uh, no." And then the guy just sort of lost interest and both of us continued on.

He and his companion were on Missouri Fox Trotters, I later found out. They and my mom gabbed quite a bit because they both rode the same breed and I continued working with Kitt.

But it illustrates my some-what muddled point. If it isn't gaited they don't really want anything to do with it and, if it is gaited, it's the greatest thing since sliced bread, irregardless of how crappy its conformation is, especially if it gaits well.

Kitt might be an odd breed and simply draw attention from her coloring (who can forget that bi-colored mane!), but she is also very well put together and in the initial evaluation of a horse, regardless of breed, that should be the thing that makes a horse worth looking at. I do note that the guy's horses weren't, ah, the best-looking Fox Trotters I've ever seen. Dakota (Mom's mare) was definitely of higher quality.

I was talking about it a little with a woman whose horse I've started working. He is a Rocky Mountain Horse and gaited, though it's taking a bit of a trick to get him to gait as he's a bit out of shape (trots wonderfully, though!). She just wants a safe, sane, and sound trail horse; he just happens to be gaited. And that's how it should be. I have a horse, it just happens to be (draft, stock, gaited, etc.)

I just don't get this one-breed (or one-type) mentality. There's so much in the world that you're missing when you're like that!

A good horse is a good horse no matter the breed, color, type of gait, or gender.

I'm unsure if my mom is serious or if she is just teasing me when she says "You don't like gaited horses." I often respond "It's not that I don't like them, I just don't have a use for them." Which is pretty much true. I teach riding, you instruct a kid on a gaited horse from the get-go and they're not going to know what to do when they come across a "normal" one that trots.

And yes, I know gaited horses are better for those who have physical problems sitting or posting the trot.

Of course this all leads into the Quarter Horse "Discussion" that I should probably refrain from before I get more rambling.

I guess the core of it is: Don't snub your nose at a horse because it's not your "favorite breed." Don't close yourself to opportunities to discover a new breed or type because you're too fixated on your own. Long live variety!
12th-Aug-2009 01:00 pm - Equine Update!
lantair look
Sorry I fell off the face of the planet for a few months there guys, but, per usual, life gets busy!

I am now graduated, much rejoicing! BFA in Art Education, hurrah! Not certified to teach in the public schools, but that's okay, teaching riding lessons has been doing quite well for me and I plan to at least get certified to substitute teach.

Our herd is holding at five right now. We sold Jinjer back in May to a young girl and her family. Last I heard they are doing wonderfully and they couldn't have found a better first horse for their situation. I'm glad she's in a place where she can get some one-on-one attention and our herd dynamics have settled significantly since her departure.

Panda was bred back in April and is in foal, hurrah! We did an ultrasound at three months and got to see the heartbeat and it kicked a little bit. Exciting stuff. The vet thinks it is probably a filly (it spent the first minute possibly being a colt as it kept moving), but we'll find out for sure come March when it's on the ground.
Panda and Hedzer photosCollapse )

In other Panda-related news, she's been doing quite well. She's getting more relaxed and the canter transitions are coming off more smoothly. Today I did a lesson on her and we were able to get to working on the canter a lot quicker than before. Part of it is that I'm more relaxed and able to channel her energy better and the other part is Panda relaxing and shedding her nervous energy. Not to say she's a bundle of nerves, but she is not a horse you could just hop on and kick to go because that first kick will probably send her out from under you. She'll do whatever you ask so long as she understands, but if you get aggressive with your aids she does not respond well and those legs move pretty fast for a draft! Anyway, she is accepting whip cues now without overreacting to it and the same with the leg. The biggest thing continues to be getting her to round up and soften, but again, she's coming along and has come a long way since we bought her three years ago when she didn't even know that she could canter under saddle.

Kitt the FjordCollapse )

Chewy is still going strong and I don't know what my lessons would be like without her. I need to get my butt moving working with Kitt so I have two really nice lesson horses. The only thing with Chewy is that she's pretty much just a walk-trot horse. Partially because at 18 I don't really want to worry about getting her cantering and polishing that off when I have younger horses that I can mold into my walk-trot-canter horse, which leads into the boy.

Kash is doing wonderfully. I'm part-leasing him to one of my older students and the two of them are doing quite well together. She is a good enough rider to handle Kash's little quirks, and Kash is enough of a challenge to keep her interested and learning, especially with his insistence on the proper use of the aids. You just try and pull him around to go somewhere instead of light, correct aids. I guarantee you'll go everywhere but where you think you want to go. That said I haven't ridden my boy much, but he's been getting worked three times a week besides so I'm able to focus more on Kitt and Panda who are in greater need of the attention without feeling too guilty.

Ruby continues to be the big good lady. I was able to take her out with Kash and Ola (girl leasing him) Monday and rode up to the Horse Park (it's less than two miles away, an easy ride from the house). I even got her to canter in both directions and it was a lot easier than I expected, especially since I don't think I've asked her to do that in over a year. A big Belgian mare cantering around is quite a sight to see and pretty comfortable as well!

The Strudel-horse under saddleCollapse )

I think that covers everyone in our herd. My in-laws horses are still over-fed and underworked. I have used Sunny in a couple of lessons (Cinnamon's mom). My parents' horses are doing well. We took Réo (RAY-o) up to Utah in May and, tragically, he fell out in the pasture and broke his neck (compression fracture the vet said). One of those freak accidents you have no control over. I was the one who found him stumbling around the pasture and, needless to say, the whole incident was terribly distressing. Dakota and Hershey are being worked on a somewhat regular basis, which is a good thing.

In other news I've started driving lessons! It's fun and different and I'm looking forward to using the knowledge on our group (Panda, Kitt, and Ruby all drive to some extent). I practiced ground-driving Kitt the other day. Of course that was the one day it decided to rain and, from the sounds of it, it just rained on Kitt and I, accursed weather. It stopped raining once I had her put up and I thought of working Panda too, upon which thought it started raining again. Anyway, the driving lessons will be a couple times a month and once we get our cart stripped down and repainted we should be good to go. That and have the tugs adjusted on Ruby's harness as currently they sit towards the top of her shoulder rather than more level with the point of shoulder, which would put the cart where it's supposed to be in a level frame rather than tipped back where it was previously.

So that's about it! How have you all been?
4th-Feb-2009 10:14 pm - Babies at Play - 2007

Something to chase away the winter blues. I had this on tape and finally edited it today (the things you find time for when the temps stay below zero!) Enjoy
30th-Jan-2009 09:07 pm - on the subject of pictures

I'm not a particularly gifted photog either, but occasionally I pull the trigger at the right moment.  These are a couple of my more successful attempts (stored with countless scores of "ho hum" pictures).  These days my preference is to pull stills off of video footage.

The little guy is named Tressor when he was just a tyke.  The battling boys are Bommarito (on the left) who is standing at stud currently at Vintage Vanners in Delano, MN. and the more "well rounded"  Cushti Boc Misto (aka, Gussie) who belongs to my significant other.  He's what one would call an easy keeper (evidenced by his ample girth).  I think the politically correct term is prosperous....
2nd-Oct-2008 08:59 pm(no subject)
Schatzie smile

It *should* go without saying,
but ANY member caught
spamming, flaming, or otherwise irritating another member
based on content from THIS community -
will be banned!!!
Consider this your warning!
Feel free to send me a private message if this is a problem
21st-Sep-2008 11:20 pm - New baby
Major Bo finally arrived. He is a rescue thoroughbred out of War Admiral and Native Dancer and over 17 hands of sheer laziness and only 6 years old. He was found starving on a pasture and t-bred rescue tracked down the trainer. He had broken his sesamaoid bone and was put out to pasture. They spent several days trying to rescue Bo as his trainer just wanted to euthanize him. Anyway that was in Dec 2007. He is still thinner than I like and has a horrible looking leg, but has shown no lameness and the vet said he is ridable, just not fast - like you could get him to go faster than a slow trot. He is the mellowist guy ever. He prefers to meander around. This is the first time my partner has been on him because the farrier just came and fixed his awful looking hooves. Bo truly is the "back yard horse!"
Major BoCollapse )
21st-Sep-2008 07:00 pm - breaking in new tall boots....
I don't get a chance to post here tooo too often, but I come in search of help! yay!

I show sparingly through my university equestrian team (we just set up an inter-university circuit last year which is kind of neat!!) but this year I decided that if I was going to do it, I was going to do it in my own gear.. borrowed gear can only get me so far.. especially when boots don't fit right and jackets are too small.. so I hit up the greenhawk by me come sales time in August!

anyways, my question is for those of you who DO ride in tall boots what is the best way you've discovered to break in your new boots? Greenhawk suggested just plain old wearing them (which I am doing with my breeches and socks right now *L*) but is there any other secret I should know??

other than that I can't wait to start the season (heck I'd like to just get my butt back on a horse!) and start sharing photos :)
16th-Sep-2008 02:12 pm - Teaching Ideas...
So for the therapuetic riding program I work at I have to do the arena theme for a week. The indoor arena is about 100'x200'. Usually there is an obstacle course and 4 or 5 posters hung up for the Theme of the Week. I was assigned "Horses Come to America" as my theme. Any one have any ideas for some posters or activities to go along with this? There are lots of posters in storage at the program, but I like to make at least one or two new ones for the week I am running.

Here's what I was thinking:

-Poster with a diagram of a cross section of the inside of a boat so the kids can see where the horses would be.
-Poster(s) about Mustangs and other feral American horses (Abaco Barbs, Chicotague ponies, etc)
-Poster about when Prehistoric horses went extinct and when they were reintroduced.

-A fast walking race "across the Atlantic Ocean" with "doldrums" about 3/4 of the way down the arena. In other words, there would be a line of poles where they have to stop between the poles and count to five before continuing to the end of the ring.
-Maybe something with some pictures of horses they take from a barrel at one end and attach to a poster at the other end of the arena? I know take a picture of a horse from a poster/map of Spain/Europe and stick it to a poster/map of America. :)
15th-Sep-2008 02:57 pm - Hey guys!
I'm Lucian, and I just joined. I am a senior in high school, and plan to attend college to major in equine science. I do compete, however, my horse is hardly around to earn me bragging rights.

This is BBR Ryskabug, A.K.A Hawkeye. He rolls english, western, or bareback. ;D

He is a 6 year old registered grulla tobiano american paint horse. I've had him since he was a 4 year old green broke monster.

He is still in training, and will be for quite a while.

He's much too smart for his (and my) own good.


What kind of 'tag' are you looking for? :/

15th-Sep-2008 01:53 pm(no subject)
Grey's Anatomy

not a great picture but it's a recent (as in today) one of my boy. He needs to be worked sooo badly.
13th-Sep-2008 09:41 pm - What Is More Humane?
I've been thinking about the issues facing horses today regarding the downturn in the economy.

There are TONS of articles out there about various problems regarding high feed costs, over breeding, lack of rescue/shelter space, horses going to slaughter etc...etc...etc...  If you are not aware of these articles I will let you google the issues yourself or even better yet continue to live under the rock you are under as it will be much happy there.

My question is this:

If you are faced with seriously economic hard times what would you do? 

I'm not talking about giving up cable or keeping your horse, I am talking about all the money is out of savings and no more is coming in.  I am talking about I'm not sure how I am going to buy groceries kind of times.

Is euthanizing the most humane?  Do you try to find someone to take the horse for free?  What if you can not?  Do you consider slaugh auction?  Does the horse go to a rescue if you can get it in? 

What option would you turn to if you had no other?  I know it is hard to imagine but it seems there are many that are/could be faced with this very issue?

NOTE:  I am not asking out of personal situation, just curious.

2nd-Sep-2008 12:53 am - Introduction
I am just getting back into horseback riding after a 5 year break because of a cervical fusion. I am really not supposed to ride, but I just couldn't take the lack of horses in my life anymore. I started riding on the reservation at 3 years old sans helmet, shoes, and tack. I went through the english, western, endurance (with my 17 hand hunter) and even side saddle phases. I can drive a single horse or a team of four thanks to a great teacher I had in my teens. I currently have a 6 year old, 12.1 hand high mustang pony named Pompeii. He has only been mounted three times so far.
On the 13th my partner is getting a rescued T-bred that is over 17 hands - we will make quite the pair riding together. He has only been mounted three times so far. I am into natural horsemanship having spent my formative years riding bareback with a rope through my pony's mouth. Unluckily I have no pictures from that period in my life, just memories!
PicturesCollapse )
27th-Aug-2008 07:04 pm - Horsey tattoo!
I got my first tattoo today and naturally its horse related, Im absolutely planning on going back for more and maybe turning it into a horse/pet related half sleeve!
Read moreCollapse )
4th-Aug-2008 05:03 pm - louie the lover!
hey guys,

i lurk here rather frequently, but i am not into posting all that much. i figured that i would today, though, since my horse is very much on my mind right now!

3 years ago, my partner announced that she wanted to buy property that would have acreage, so i could make my dream of owning a horse come true. this started a frantic search for the "perfect first horse!"

at the time, i was significantly overweight (i'd struggled with obesity my entire life)...probably about 230 pounds at the time, but i read that a horse can safely carry 20-30% of its own weight.

after seeing several horses, one little sorrel captured my heart. you see, for me, it's not about looks, it's not about performance. i am just your average girl who likes to be in the presence of a horse, who finds the smell of horse sweat, leather and shavings nothing short of entrancing...and the most i do is bum around or trail ride. nothing fancy. this boy had soulful eyes that just reached in and stole my soul. he was one of those horses that just LOVED being loved on. he'll stand there all day for kisses and strokes along his nose. he's just that kind of horse. i rode him a few times and we seemed compatible.

i was told he was 12, an ex barrel racer. his name had previously been "speedy, " but his owner, a young college student, renamed him, "louie." she was selling him because her interests had changed to her new car and to boys. louie had a bad skin infection when i first met him and he was also about 150 pounds underweight. he lived with another horse...a large bully named, "legs." the girls would feed both horses in their stalls, but leave the stall doors open. so, legs would scarf down his food and then chase louie out of his stall and eat his too!

i had a vet come out and do a pre-purchase exam. louie passed reasonably well. some minor soundess issues were noted, x-rays were taken (but came up clean)...etc. i expressed to my vet that my primary concern was my weight and he told me for what i was planning to do...bum around and occasionally trail ride, he'd be a perfect first horse. he told me he estimated louie's age to be 14.

my partner then realized there was no way we could afford "horse property" in our area and i had to do full board. i live in palm beach county,florida...very close to wellington (which i am sure most of you have heard of or probably even been to!) so, land is limited her and board is extremely outrageous...we are talking like $700-$1200 for full board. so almost ALL of my income goes directly to my horse!

when i had louie's teeth floated by an extremely well-known and respected equine dentist/veterinarian, the doctor asked me how old i thought the horse was...i said, 15 or 16? he looked at me with a shocked expression on his face and said, "no. i don't think so." i asked him how old he thought louie was and he said rather quietly, "i don't want to tell you." i said, "what? like 20?" he said..."yeah, i guess you can say that." when i heard this i was heartbroken...i thought, oh my goodness, i may only have this guy in my life for a few years! but, i've come to peace with the fact that he is older.

louie has a lip tattoo that is barely readable. i've tried researching it with AQHA, but the numbers I could guess at didn't match any horse in their database. it is not in the format of a thoroughbred tattoo or a standardbred. i wish i could track it down because it would be nice to know his real "breed" and "history" and "age." but, really no matter who he is, what he is or how old he is...i will still love him.

i stopped riding louie for the most part because unfortunately, my weight began to climb drastically. at my highest weight, i topped the scales at 295 pounds! i simply did not feel it was fair to ask him to carry my weight. my saddle was a 19 inch western saddle. riding was a real production...especially mounting and dismounting. in august 2007, i had weight loss surgery. it was a difficult decision to come by and not one easily made. i had gotten to the point where i could no longer walk due to incredible pain from heel spurs. i had to ride in an electric scooter at grocery stores because i could no longer walk up and down the aisles. i had a surgery that is still considered "investigational." it's called a "vertical sleeve gastrectomy." basically, i have 80% of my stomach removed...and i am left with a 3 ounce capacity. the remaining stomach is in the shape of a banana and about the size of a cigar. i had a very difficult recovery. i was nauseous and SICK for 3 months straight. i barely, if ever, saw my horse during that time. i was hospitalized 3 times for dehydration and naseau.

i have since lost 169 pounds...and i now weigh 126 pounds. the comfort and well-being of my 20'something horse has really helped to spur me into action. now i can ride him without feeling guilty. we both enjoy our rides more. i feel stronger, more confident and more capable on his back. our relationship is constantly blossoming even more!

here are some pics of us!Collapse )
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