Saturday, September 26, 2009

Tough decisions.

This post is really difficult for me to write. I am considering selling Boomer. I love him very much and we have come so far together, but I am not sure he is the horse for me. He is a great arena horse, and he could be a great trail horse with a lot of work and a more confident rider. I just don't enjoy riding him anymore. I know it will always be a fight unless we stay in the arena. I like riding in the arena, but that isn't why I bought him. I like working through tough spots with him and training him, but I just don't want to fix this. Whatever 'this' is. Be it barn sour, or just too excitable on the trail, I just am not the person to fix it. I want something reliable on the trail. I envy my friends who don't hesitate to drop the reins to fix their ponytail as we walk along the trail.

I am hesitant to give up on him, because I know he is unique and he needs someone who understands him. I don't want to sell him in to an abusive home or a home where he is not appreciated.

I am also hesitant because I know he can be great some day and I would love to be his proud owner when he is 10 years old and a shining star. However, he needs someone who can lead the way for him and I don't think I am that person.

Right now, I just want a horse I can hop on and go for a ride with my friends without cutting their ride short or limiting the areas we can ride. I want a horse I can trust. I want a horse who goes where I point them.

I posted an ad on craigslist to just see if there was a market for a horse like Boomer in this area. I am also going to post on and I am pretty sure this is the right next step. Though, I would also be very happy leasing him out to the right person. Or, if there is no interest, I guess we will just keep on working.

Here is his craigslist ad:

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wedding Pictures!!!

I can't find a post with wedding pictures, so I am going to post them now! Sorry for the wait!

We were married August 6, 2009 in Lawrence, KS

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Charley's new trick!!!

I have long thought that Charley was unable to learn anything new. I figured he was too old and his balls too attached. However, I have become determined to teach him to roll over. He knows sit, shake, down, stay, heel, load up (into the truck), go (get out of the way), and come (unless he is distracted). Those are all needed dog skills, except shake, and I thought Charley needed more real tricks in his life. John was dubious, but Charley is treat motivated! So, here is Charley's new trick:

Now that Charley has almost mastered 'roll over', I'm trying to think of other tricks to teach him. Unfortunately, he is too top heavy to be able to balance on his back feet for 'raise the roof'. Leave a comment with your dog's best trick and tips for teaching it and we will work on learning it!!!

Here is another picture of the new couch with throw pillows and a blanket from target:

I LOVE the blanket:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sometimes it helps to sing out loud!

I am feeling much better today. I got rechecked by another doc and he said that I have some sort of bronchitis/walking pneumonia going on. The only way to diagnose walking pneumonia is a chest x-ray, so he just assumed I had it and gave me a Z pack and an inhaler. I already feel better!
I went out and rode Boomer today for the first time in 10 days. I think that is the most he has ever had off. I did put him in the round pen for a few minutes the last two days to start getting the stink off of him. Today he was great. I was very proud of him. We started in the arena and he was great. His canter was even better than usual! I am really happy with his progress and getting closer and closer to trying him in a hackamore. He has always been very sensitive to leg and hand cues (I like horses like that) and he really doesn't need bit cues very often. He rates pretty easily (we are still working on that at the canter) and he doesn't have a stopping problem. His problems on the trail have nothing to do with his face/mouth, so there is no reason to not try it. The times I have ridden him bareback with just a halter and a lead rope, he was very responsive to everything I asked of him.
After we finished in the arena I had him work on side passing towards the gate so that I can open and close it. He is pretty good at that! Then we rode up the hill and towards the trails. He threw a little fit and didn't want to go, so I spurred him pretty good and I think he got the idea. He walked on and was very good the rest of the time. He gave a little spook at a gate to the big pasture along the way and I used a Mugwump trick and started singing and shaking the saddle to distract him. He calmed down and seemed to enjoy my singing (no one else does, so that was a surprise)! I kept on singing and was just singing what I was thinking, what I expected of him. I think it calmed him and it also gave me the chance to say out loud what was expected and that gave me a clear idea of what I should be cueing rather than just being the 'monkey tied to the dog'. Sometimes when he freaks, I go blank and don't really ask him for anything clearly. So, I started singing about him going forward and straight and pointing out to him that his left shoulder wasn't always keeping up and that I didn't like his head tossing. It was easier for me to focus on what to fix. Plus, you can't be grouchy when you are singing!
After the ride I hosed him off and tried working on the wash rack with him again. This time I used an apple as a bribe and just asked him to step closer to the black mats. I didn't expect him to step on them today. He got pretty close a few times and got to snack on his apple. Even if we just walk past it he always hugs the opposite wall. When he was down to one bite of apple left, I set it on the mat and he lowered his head to sniff it and you could see that he was nervous and trying to be brave. I am going to take that one slowly and see if I can just get him more comfortable being near the wash rack before I try getting him in it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Who needs sleep?

Boomer is doing much better. His leg swelling is gone although he was pretty stocked up in the back yesterday. I trotted him around the round pen for about 10 minutes and the swelling went down. I'm getting his antibiotics down by mixing them with peach baby food. I didn't think the first time I did it and I mixed two tubs of baby food with water to make it easier to suck up into the syringe. There had to be 15-20 syringefuls of stuff there. Luckily Boomer is patient and a good boy. He learned quickly that I WANTED his head up high and he started lowering it (because he is oppositional), which actually made it easier to get ahold of him and get the syringe in his mouth, then I raised it up to make him swallow. I figured out that sticking the syringe between his cheek and teeth made it harder for him to spit it out, and if I kept the syringe in his mouth horizontally, like a bit, after I was done he had to work his mouth and swallow it right away. The Gerber peach baby food is great because it is pretty liquid, and there is room at the top of the tub for one scoop (25mg). I put in the scoop, put on the lid, and shake, then I suck up one syringe to make more room and add the second scoop and shake. Not too bad.

I got my tires and new rim yesterday! My tires are awesome! They are 8 ply which means they have pretty thick rubber and the tread is super deep! I am excited. Having new tires fixed my alignment problem. The tires guys said it wasn't out of alignment at all and sure enough, the truck doesn't pull right with the new tires!

John and I went to the urgent care clinic last night because we have both been coughing for a few weeks. It is only at night and it is awful. In the day time, I am 100% fine. I can bike uphill to class and be active outside just fine. John coughs sometimes in the morning though. This has been going on for about 6-8 weeks. I think it is whooping cough. Kansas City had a number of cases recently. I read that only about 50% of people actually have the 'whoop' after the cough. We do not. In China it is called the 100 day cough. We had been taking Nyquil at night, but that only lasts for a few hours and we wake up with this huge painful coughing fit. Urgent care advised me to try Claritin D. Well, apparently a side effect of Claritin D is sleeplessness, nervousness, shakiness, etc. So, that didn't help me sleep better. And I had a fever and cold sweats. Plus, I was still coughing! I'm kind of mad they didn't prescribe me something for the cough so I called them back and am waiting to hear back from a nurse. Arg. I just want something to knock either me or the cough out.

I should study this morning, but I just want a nap! I think I will take my books downstairs and study on the new couch so that I can nap as I read :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Glad thats over!

I managed to snap out of my funk today and man, am I glad that is over!!! John and I started the day with breakfast at Wheatfield's, our favorite bakery. Then we went window shopping only to find the furniture store we were headed to had actually closed. We just assumed their "going out of business sale" was a sham as it had been going on for 2 months. We then came home and talked seriously about what kind of couches we want. We went out to the barn, hosed Boomer's leg (which is looking much better), grabbed the trailer, headed to Nebraska Furniture Mart in Kansas City and came home with a sofa and a kitchen table!!!

(No, it isn't two tone. The picture doesn't show the color well)
We got a corner sectional that seems to fit perfectly in our living room! It is a large space, but is a multi purpose space, making large furniture difficult. We really love the couch and we got microfiber fabric because we knew that Charley wouldn't be able to stay off of it.
See, he leaves evidence:

The table is great because it is taller, but isn't a huge table. It is perfect in the window nook because we still need to be able to open and close the back door. I really like the stools!

Funny story about Charley. When we lived in the Bartlesville house the living room was in the back of the house beyond the kitchen and living room. Every single morning, when John's alarm would go off and he would head to the shower at the same time we would hear a 'click click click' across the tile. Charley would either lay down outside of the bathroom door or slink into our bedroom and quietly get into his crate. We know he was on the couch because we would catch him on it if we got up in the middle of the night for a drink. We never caught him on the couch in the mornings and he always made it back to where he was supposed to be before John was out of the shower! Charley thought he was getting away with that one and I guess he was!

After the furniture shopping, we washed out the trailer and then took it to the barn where John installed the brackets for my portable corral! I am very excited about that! He did a great job and it will add 15' to the diameter of the corral!

Boomer's leg is looking much better this evening. We are having a hard time getting him to want his antibiotics though. He has been sifting though his grain lately, so I didn't want to feed it with meals. I tried mixing it with beet pulp yesterday and ended up adding a handful of grain before he would eat it. Today I bought some carrot baby food and topped the beet pulp with that. He raised his head and tried to avoid even smelling it. So, I mixed in another handful of grain. Tomorrow I am just going to syringe the baby food. I have heard that banana is a good flavor for horses. I will try a few flavors and see how that goes. Any other suggestions are appreciated. He already gets one scoop of hoof supplement and two scoops of fat supplement, so I don't think adding more powder to his grain is the answer.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Better or worse?

Boomer seems better, I feel worse...

He is breathing normally, his temp is down to 102. However, now his front right fetlock is swollen. I think he was bit by something and was having an allergic reaction.

On to the bad news, I am in the process of discussing my bill with the clinic because they charged me an after hours emergency fee of $70. I called them at 3pm. The vet didn't show up until 5pm. Does that make it an after hours emergency? Should I have to pay an extra $70 because I had to wait for 2 hours before a vet came out? Is their scheduling my problem? Should they have warned me beforehand that he would be getting out two hours after I called and that it would be an after hours visit?

I really believe that when you are making the right decisions in life, things go smoothly. When life is rough, perhaps it is because of the decisions you are making or the direction you are trying to lead your life. Just something to think about.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Life popped in again!

I thought surely I have done my duty by now... Life had to let up and let me relax soon! WRONG! I had been hoping to go to a Competitive Trail Ride this weekend. It seemed a perfect intro to endurance for Boomer. It is 30 minutes from home, we could choose 15 or 25 miles, it is held on a Sunday so John wouldn't have to miss work. It just seemed right. So, I headed out to the barn planning to do a nice long, hard ride in the arena. I wanted to work on getting his trot strong and make sure he was bending and responding as he should. I thought that a nice strong workout would be a good preparation for a slow 25 mile ride this weekend. Here is where things got funny.

I went into Boomer's paddock to get him and he seemed fine. I was holding a few flakes of hay to put into his shed in case it rains tonight. He didn't follow me with the hay, which was weird. Then when I haltered him and started walking him he seemed normal but was breathing hard. I figured he was just excited, however his breathing was still shallow and rapid after being in the cross ties for a while. He was almost panting, his sides were heaving and his nostrils were flared. I called a few people over to see what they thought and everyone thought he just didn't seem right. His gums were pale and didn't get any paler when I pressed on them. His chest felt a little warm to the touch, but it was 84 degrees today. I wasn't sure what to do. I thought about lunging him to see how quickly his breathing recovered after working, but was afraid of making it harder for him to breathe. I put him in a stall with the fan on and got my thermometer to take his temp. He did NOT like that at all. His temp read 105.6. Normal is 100-101. Not good. I called the vet and the earliest he could come out was at 5, 1.5 hours away. So I hosed him and put him back in front of the fan. That seemed to cool him down and he stopped breathing as hard. He was very lethargic. We temped him again and it was down to 104.2 which is still too high. The vet came out and took his temp and got 104. He said that his breathing was still labored (it was much better than at first). He said it is probably a virus, which isn't that big of a deal. He did say that if a horse stands around breathing like that it could damage their lungs. He gave him banamine for the fever and an antibiotic. I am supposed to check on him in the morning and report back his temp and how he is breathing. If it is the same or worse, he will get a week of antibiotics injected. If he is better he will get oral powder antibiotics. He said that he may develop a cough as well. I plan on leaving him inside with the fan on during the hot part of the day while I am in class.

I feel really bad for him. He was alert, but just not himself. Watching him breathe like that was scary. he was panting and his nostrils were flared and shiny. He was hot like we had been working, but no sweat. I can't believe his temp was almost 106. Scary.

So, no ride this weekend. Probably no ride next weekend either. Now I am hoping for October 3rd. That is a 25/50 Endurance ride in Oologah, OK. It is an 'elevator' ride which means that I can sign up for the 25 miler and if he feels great at 25 miles, we can 'elevate' to the 50 miles and try to complete the full distance. There is another 15/25 CTR on 10/18 in Nebraska (3 hours away), a 25/50 endurance on 10/31, and a two day 25/50 endurance 0n 11/27-11/28. Maybe we can make one or more of those! Of course, I can never count on anything! So, wish us luck and be thinking of Boomer!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Something had to give

I am feeling much better about life right now. I dropped my Chem 2 class. I just couldn't handle driving 1.5 hours one way, twice a week. That is almost $400 a month in gas money. My gas would have been as much as the tuition for the semester. Plus, it was just mentally and physically draining. I just couldn't get used to the workload/schedule. If I had continued taking Chem at KSU, (KU offers the courses on a rotational basis) I would have been commuting every semester until I started vet school. I just couldn't do that. So, since my whole vet school application deadline is self imposed anyway, I have decided to sit one out. So, now I am just taking Physics and Genetics this semester. I feel much better about it.

My wonderful husband found a used rim for $125 at a salvage yard and tires are going to run about $700 for 4. We decided to replace all four because my current tires (after market, but before I bought it) are only 4 ply which means they are only rated to tow about 4000 pounds. Not really what I need. So we are looking at 6 and 8 ply tires. The current tires John knew were lower quality, but didn't realize that they were unable to tow what we needed. That also explains why they always look low and leave tracks in our driveway. So, they needed to be replaced anyhow. That doesn't make either of us any happier to be spending the $$$.

It has been raining all day so I went out to visit Boomer and drop off his grain. I am switching from Omolene 500 to 200 just because he isn't getting ridden like he is used to. The feed store guy said it is worth trying the 200, but that he hasn't head of much difference from the people who have switched from 200 to 500. So, I'll give it a few months and see. Boomer can be pretty sensitive to his feeds, so I'm hopeful it will have some what of an effect on his energy when I can't exercise him every day. The rain had slowed by the time I had put his grain away so I walked up to see Boomer. He had a little hay left so I took it up to his shed and let him eat out of the rain. I started scratching under his neck and he stretched up tall and reached his head straight in the air! He must have really liked that! As I started to leave, he poked his head out the door and watched me walk away. When I was halfway down the paddock he ran past me and started trotting around the bottom of the paddock, prancing and snorting! It was really cute! I said bye to him and left. Once I was a paddock away I looked back to see if he was still trotting around and he was gone! He must have high tailed it back to his shed to get out of the rain!

Monday, September 7, 2009

When time is moving so fast...

Sometimes I just don't know if I should tell stories in the order that they happened, or by what is freshest in my mind! I'll go with chronological order here...

Saturday was awesome. I think I already posted about that. I rode with a friend and Boomer was very good. Well, after picking John up yesterday afternoon, we hauled three horses in our trailer and one in another trailer to Kill Creek Park and rode for a little over 2 hours. Everyone was awesome and John got to ride Taz again! We all had a blast and I was very proud of Boomer. He got in the trailer both times with only a little encouragement (ie. clucking) even though it was a new situation. We left the center gate open and hauled three tied up like in a slant. We put Boomer in the middle and he was great! The ride was awesome too. We had a big creek crossing, which Boomer was hesitant about until he followed the other horses through. His only real problem out on the trail it that he just wants to duck his head down and barrel down hill. Not safe, especially when heading towards water or going down rocks. So, we worked on that some. I tried setting him up and rocking him back on his hind end and keeping his head up. Now I know what to work on at least!!!

Fast forward to last night, at the grocery store John asked me "what happened to your tire"? I hadn't a clue. Then I saw the rim all dinged up and the tire had a chunk out of it and I remembered a few weeks ago hitting a curb hard and thinking to myself "I should look at that when I get home". Did I? No.

Well, today John looked closer at it and realized that the rim is all jagged and I am DAMN lucky that I didn't have a blowout what with driving 1.5 hours one way to Manhattan twice a week. PLUS, I hauled THREE horses on the highway with a FRIGGIN shredded tire. I could have done some serious damage. Luckily, we do have a gooseneck, so a blowout is less likely to turn into a jack-knife or a roll. However, I was thisclose to being responsible for a situation I would have had to live with the rest of my life. If I had injured or killed three horses, two of whom were not even my own. I would probably never look at another horse again.

So, on top of a 5.5 hour study session with a classmate today, I found out that I probably need a new rim and all new tires. Can we say "goodbye $1000". I feel so terrible. Poor John has to deal with this even though it isn't his problem. I did a 'dumb wife thing' and now that we are married, John has to suffer the consequences too. I just feel awful all around.

I had wanted to go to the endurance ride in OK on the 19th, and I had just found out that there is a CTR on the 13th a few miles from here. That would have been a perfect warm up! However, I need to get new tires and a new rim. Once again, life has cropped up. So, maybe the 2010 endurance season is the one for us.

Speaking of life, is this it? Does it ever slow down? Or do you just ping pong back and forth from one thing to the next?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Random Pictures

Boomer being cute with his fly mask on last week

Charley coming home from the dog park a few months ago

Riding this spring before we moved

Charley getting his ears blown back. I think this was back in 2007 when John and I had just started dating.

John and Charley getting down in the Spring of 2008 at the house in Norman before I graduated.

That which is the most difficult is often the most rewarding

I have been struggling lately with how to think about Boomer's behavior on the trails. I can't say that he isn't cutout to be a trail horse as he doesn't balk on trails away from home, he crosses water, logs, mud, etc with no issues. However, he balks/spins/rears at home occasionally. And when he does that, he ruins my ride. When he is good, he is wonderful. When he is bad, he scares me. To be honest, I have thought about selling him even thought I never would. I have really started to bond with him and he does amazingly well in the arena. He constantly improves in his arena work. When he does behave on the trails, I love to ride him. I know that with work, he can improve. Nothing with him has ever been fast or easy. In so many aspects, he is just the horse I want and need. But this balking BS has really got me worried.
He was pretty bad on a ride last week. I had to get off a few times to get him under control. However, we did finish the ride on my terms and we did NOT go back to the barn the way we had come, which was what he wanted.
After that ride, I stuck to the arena for the next few rides and was amazed with his progress. His cantering is coming along so well and he is also doing really well with side passing. He seems to be learning a little about collecting himself, especially at the trot and he is starting to carry his head lower and not trot around with his head up and nose out. I am very proud of his progress.
I had made plans for today to go on a trail ride with a friend. She knew that we were needing to take it slow and just go with what Boomer's behavior dictated. We decided to go all around the property but not out to the roads. He was great. He was on a loose rein the whole time and was really great. He wasn't spooky or fast, he just walked along like a hero. However, once when we headed up in the direction of the road, he started to balk. I easily got him to move forward with gentle urging and a quick prick from the spurs I had worn today (for the first time). There are a number of paths back to the barn and we decided to take the one closes to the road so that he would think we were going towards the road, but would be rewarded by turning off to go to the rest of the trails. As predicted, he balked and popped up in front, but was pretty easy to get going. I would say that last week his temper tantrum was an 8 out of 10 and today was a 2 out of 10. Overall, a HUGE improvement! I actually really enjoyed our ride and I was able to relax out on the trails, which is really all I want to do!
My new goal is to try to give the horse as many positive experiences as possible with out putting him in a situation where he may want to fight. Call it avoiding the problem, whatever. It is a temporary goal. I want to build a foundation of pleasure on the trails. As he increases his confidence, we will try the roads again. Really his main problems have stemmed from the road. He did have issues leaving the barn, but those were quickly resolved once I worked with him and kept to the grassy property. His bad behavior picked back up after John and I ran on the roads for 8 miles. I am wondering if his feet hurt him on the roads. Not enough to lame him, but enough for him to resist going. Solution for that will be to make sure he has hoof boots on when we make plans to go on the road again. For now, I plan on just building his confidence out around the property. Really, with everything going on in my life, I just don't have the energy to do anymore with him.

The take away message is that Boomer was awesome today. He is really improving on his arena work. He is a really good little horse all around. I have no plans on trading him in for a more sane horse. I do plan on continuing to work with him at a very slow pace. I hope that one year from now I can ride him out anywhere without an argument.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Physics and Cozy Caves!

I have been having a bit of a rough time of it lately. I just have a ton going on with school, tutoring, shadowing the vets, and riding the horse. My classes are going surprisingly well. I refuse to let myself get behind and I seem to be doing well so far. However, there is a test tomorrow in Physics. I have been told that this professor (the department head) likes to have a test early in the semester (2nd week of class) to weed out the students who aren't going to cut the snuff. I think I will do OK on it. I can do the basic algebra and I know the formulas, it is just a matter of slowing down and reading the problems at least twice so that I can know what is being asked and know what formulas to use. Chemistry is also going well. I met with my tutor today and I don't think this will be as difficult as the summer course just because of the time spent on each subject and the fact that I have so many opportunities to learn and study before the tests. The first test there is 9/21.

I am somewhat hesitant to write about this, but I have decided to find another vet clinic to shadow at. In short, I do not feel that the animals are respected or treated in a way that minimizes pain and fear. I have slowly figured out that the reason I am not acclimating to the things around me is not a 'me' problem. I am not being too sensitive. If being cold, clinical, and sterile is what I must become to be a vet- I can't do it.

I have been trying to work with Boomer lately but just don't have much time. I rode him with a friend on Friday and he was good until we got out towards the road and then he started throwing a fit. Of course, not wanting to let him win and go back to the barn on the trails, I had to fight him until we got on the road and then ride around the highway to the front of the barn. He was fine until we got to the barn and then he started balking and being spooky/silly on the way TO the barn. Sometimes I just don't know what gets him. Needless to say, he got lunged hard afterwards. I worked him in the round pen Monday, thinking that I would ride Wednesday but now the weather forecast says rain tomorrow and thursday. So, I might just end up riding in the indoor which is super dusty.

I got some Cool Calories 100 for Boomer to try and put some weight on him without upping his grain. I am going to put that and his hoof supplement in little baggies so that I know he is getting his supplements every day in the right amounts. I also got Charley a new dog bed which he hasn't quite figured out yet. It is a Cozy Cave from SmartPak. He loves beds that are small and he loves to snuggle, he just hasn't figured out how to burrow in yet. I know it must be comfortable because he always looks guilty when I catch him on it! Very cute! I have been baiting it with treats to try to get him to climb in!

John is still out of town and I miss him terribly!