Sunday, December 30, 2012

Highlights from 2012

I really didnt post much this last fact, this final post makes 101! Wow! Coming from someone who used to post near daily, thats quite a leap. But life tends to change things...

The big change in January was that Milo and I moved from our boarding facility forty minutes away, to a smaller, quieter (and cheaper) one 8 miles from home. Some days I still miss the old facility, but the drama has certainly gone down. We put hind shoes on Milo and attended a horse show that was really embarrassing, and Milo got his camo sleezy.
I STILL think its adorable. :)
Ah, February. We attended a horseshow with Sarah that did not offer reining, but in the process my truck left me stranded. I started really noticing and becoming frustrated with the imbalances in my body - it was also hard work to get used to the smaller arena, making all of our issues I could easily overlook front and center. I also went to Texas for the first time and visited my Dad as well as went to the NRCHA World Show which was really fun.
My favorite pair at the show. Looked the happiest and most natural
Milo turned eight years old and I was reminiscent of the journey we had taken so far. I had some really good rides on him (we were finally figuring out how to stay balanced in the arena), and I started learning the value of trail rides. Angie killed a barn swallow and I started my own crafting business, The Crafting Cowgirl!

Happy Birthday!
Sarah made her first trip to my barn for a lesson. I was getting frustrated in the arena and retreated more and more to the trail as the weather warmed a little, again learning its benefits. We got more work done at the property at home and I was dreaming of the day when Milo would finally arrive (still am).

Looking pretty clear of trees!

I started riding the fiery red mare, Cayenne, and got to put the first few rides on her. I also rode a few other people's horses for tune ups. Pain in my back was really starting to take a grip on me and I knew pretty soon I would have to do something about it (still a problem actually...). I took Milo to an impromptu local horse show to try the Western Pattern class and practice our lead changes in another arena.

I cant skip a picture of Miss Pretty Cayenne!
I had some epiphany moments for my lead changes were starting to become solid. I went to my first Quarter Horse show, although it was a Rookie one. We had an awful run in our class but I learned that I really needed to stay in the moment and ride the horse I know I have, not the one I want. I spent a lot of quality time with Milo this month and took tons of photos.

Angie and Milo
Horse show season was in full swing and I went to some Zone shows in Port Angeles and FINALLY broke the 70! I was ecstatic. I beat myself up over my own body issues again, had one of Sarah's students come ride with me, which helped, and attended another two-day show in Port Angeles where Milo won two overall neck ribbons in Novice Reining and Stock Horse Halter.

My little red Ford hauled one of it's last half-ton hay loads (though at the time I didnt know that). I had fun at the County Fair helping the mini horses (and Spanky!), spent more time on the trail (even took you guys along for the ride), got the professional photos from the July horse shows, and attended the last one for the season in Port Angeles, which didnt go as planned because I forgot the pattern in EVERY class

I had only four posts in September: one on our spins and the online video I found which changed my mindset on how I approached it and has seemed to help. I posted on another way to work on circles, my hatred for run in patterns, and a bad ride I had on Wesley. No photos from this month.
Apparently I never posted about the WA State Finals Show?? Well, Milo and I went, got nearly last in all three of our classes, and I felt pretty stupid after going. In reality, we were just up against some really good riders and our mid to upper range 60 scores just werent a match. I had fun though as this was a show I was wanting to go to for years.

Let's see, I took some more photos of the Baby, he got that awful cut on his face, needed to be doctored and kept on stall rest, got his winter clip, and I ended my job at Costco and went to Texas for a week to see my Dad before starting my new job.

My friend Caitlyn giving him a clip. 
Two whole posts! You can see my new job really has had me busy...I had a really good few rides on Milo when I came home from Texas and really enjoyed spending time with him. I also started using the slow-feed hay net for his evening feedings, which I still like. I started my new job at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

I realized the importance of making time for Milo, even in my busy work schedule. I have found a way to be happy with the fewer rides, which doesnt necessarily mean less time spent with Milo (as chores still need to be done), but have found that the time we do get together is really rewarding and I am constantly reminded how much my horse really enjoys spending time with me too. I posted some Christmas photos of the Baby, and some from our ride in the snow and my new buckle.

2012 was good, for the most part.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas was Good to Me!

I honestly have had stuff to post, I just havent had the time. Then it feels like the moment is gone and its too late to share that "update". For instance, when I have a little bit of down time at work, I have jotted down a few "from the past" stories in my little notebook that I have wished to share, plus a Milo update, but now thats been nearly three weeks since I wrote those and they arent really updates anymore....

But Milo and I are both doing well. Taking it easy this winter with once or twice weekly rides. I didnt get his second clip scheduled in time and so his original clip is starting to grow out, but with the way this winter has worked into fewer rides it seems to be for the better anyways. He has been happy and the funny thing is, although I havent ridden as much, when I do get on and go in the arena we have nearly perfect rides. I remember again how much this horse loves to work.

So we had a white Christmas up here in Washington this year (the snow has actually stuck around at my house for about two and a half weeks now), and I had the incredible fortune to get a trail ride in on a beautiful snowy day. My facebook friends saw these photos when they were taken about a week ago, but now you all can too. Just some of my favorites from the day...

He's turned into a bit of a chunk!
Beautiful snow on one of my favorite stretches of trail
Love this view. :)
Been considering making this one my new header. 
Oh and check out those gloves boyfriend bought me. It was when I was at the Mario clinic and he left for lunch then came back with goodies from the farm store! :) I have REAL riding gloves!
He had a few good rolls when we got back :)

So handsome

being a goober :) But I loves him
So, to continue with the title's post, Boyfriend got me this really neat gift. For any APHA members, you might have seen the limited edition buckle and clothing items in celebration of their 50 year anniversary. Buckles were limited to 500 pieces and I had my eye on one of those since their announcement. Well, Boyfriend listened to my pleas and got me one for Christmas! It's so beautiful, and I've literally always wanted an APHA buckle but the ones I had seen available (before this one) just didnt appeal to me. But now I have my buckle, and its limited (stamped 464), and its an anniversary edition. Very cool!

So, what kind of awesome stuff did ya'll get??

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Season's Greetings from Milo and I!

Some of my favorites for cards...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Something I MUST Make Time For

No, I have no dropped off the face of the planet - just been busy. Sorry if anyone was concerned or is long and exhausting (but I'm not complaining!) and I have a hard time fitting in everything I need to get done during the day just after I get off work and preferably before the sun really goes down at 5pm. Making time to actually ride has been hard, although I do still see Milo each night for feeding and chores, and love and cuddle time.

I have found that the nights that I actually make myself ride (and yes, I do have to make myself...I tend to guilt myself into it because I know how important it is for Milo to get out) I am so happy that I did and just kick myself for not making ride time a priority over errands, making dinner, and business-related chores at home. While the laundry pile increases daily and although I promise I will get tasks done around the house on the weekend (then end up being asked to come in the weekend), I have been feeling a little less then motivated to get on a ride.

But, tonight I did make myself get on. I had been wanting to get a "real" ride in since this last weekend when I had the opportunity to ride (got off at noon), but found the arena packed with three other horses trying to take advantage of the sunny Sunday afternoon. So I was limited to a walk with a few strides at the trot. Which ended up being a good route anyway as Milo hadnt been out in a few days, the weather had changed, and the largest horse in the arena, a beautiful Gypsy Vanner named Seamus, was bewildered by all the strange horses and acting silly. At one point, in fact, Milo threw out some little crow hops and acted silly - just the same way he used to when he got excited on the drill team if any of you remember me posting about that. He gets this look where his ears go forward and together, but turned out (kinda looks like bunny ears), his head goes down and he started bouncing - literally its like he just leaps in place a little. Its kinda cute.

Anyway, I wanted to get a more productive ride in so I mounted up and had a really nice ride. I was again reminded how important it is to give my horse this opportunity to not only stretch his legs, but exercise his mind as well. I have found time and again that he truly enjoys work, no matter what any crazy PETA people might say, my horse loves to have a job and loves to be ridden. I was thrilled with the time spent with him as well. The nights I dont make time for cuddles and kisses Milo keeps an annoyed look about him. But I must have a different air about me when I do have the time and effort because he is happy and content.

Before I rode I snuggled with him in the arena next to the mounting block. He dropped his head down and I wrapped my arms and upper body around his head and neck - stroking his big beautiful face and watching his eyes so heavy enjoying the touch. My ride was great and afterwards I patted his neck all the way back down to the barn, so happy with my horse, who walked contently beside me, ears pricked and a happy look about him.

After I cleaned his stall and stripped off his navy cooler, he must have sensed that soon I would toss his winter blanket back on and leave. He stepped away from his hay net and looked out his open stall door (he was tied in the stall on a long-ish rope - enough slack to allow him dinner and access to water). I walked into his stall readying myself to give him his last groom and he easily blocked my path with his head and looked right at me, begging for more time. I happily obliged and snuggled some more with him, breathing in his scent and enjoying his big soft face. Finally I broke our moment and finished up.

I untied him, gave him a few cookies for stretches, and went to leave. He stood by his water, then followed to the closed stall door as I passed the stall. He watched me attempt to leave. I made the mistake of looking back and seeing his begging face. So I stepped in front of the bars of the stall - he reached his nose through them and nosed my hand looking for more treats. When there were no more, he began licking my hands like a happy dog. His eyes went heavy again and I was taken back to the first day I met this awesome horse; he licked my hands for five solid minutes that day until I broke free. That was when I was sold on this horse. I enjoyed every moment this evening of him slobbering all over my hands. This long time licking is not something he does all the time - it most often seems to be when he really craves attention and honestly seems to simply enjoy my company. I need to remember how integral I am in his life instead of just how much he means to me, and when I can make the time for more then just chores.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Doin' the "Net Thing"

I have been talking to the Boyfriend for at least a year now about building Milo a slow-feeder hay box. I wasnt happy with most of the designs available on the market so ended up drawing up a design of a box myself. Boyfriend is pretty darned handy with a hammer and nail so I figured I would ask him to make one for me. Well, I knew the cost of the material would be a little high, but aside from that, finding the right sized grid-wall paneling suitable to act as the "slow feeder" aspect of the box, was proving more difficult then I imagined. We scraped the idea for a while. But recently I had been really wanting one again, so I asked for Boyfriend to make me one as my Christmas present.

Well some time as passed again and I decided that irregardless on if we build our own design, I wanted a slow feed hay net. I was skeptical about them at first (why not just use two regular hay nets together?). But after seeing the success that Melissa and Grace have had with it, I decided that it would be a good compromise for my situation right now. And down the road, if I get a box, I can still use the slow feeder net for other uses.

Obviously, the benefits behind a slow feed is well documented. Aside from the physical benefits of allowing horses access to hay at a much slower and natural rate, I also figured this would be a great method for Milo offering him something to keep his busy mind occupied throughout the day. As well as a physical benefit, the slow feed option would be better for Milo mentally.

And what even got me thinking about going the slow feed route? Besides the mentioned above, I have honestly gotten really "over" the current BO feeding at such irregular and inconsistent times as he does. Morning feedings are anywhere between 8-10am, and evening feed ranges from 3-5 (mostly around the three o-clock range). Inconsistent feed scheduling as really gotten to me, not to mention the 16-some hour difference overnight between the two feedings. Plus, the BO really wastes a lot of my hay (how hard is it to cleaning pick up a few flakes from the bale without strewing broken flakes all over??) and Im also not sure he correctly feeds the amount that I request.

So, with the slow feed method, I can be in much more control over the hay part. As my new schedule allows me, I feed Milo almost every evening now. Which means I can set up his evening feed in the slow feed net (cleanly) and the BO only has to throw two flakes in the morning, hopefully cutting down on his waste. Plus, Milo can peacefully eat most of the night during the long spread of time.

Why was I initially adverse to the net? I didnt really like their design; most of the options I researched online included hanging them high (necessarily) and thereby requiring the horse to eat high, and I much prefer the natural "head down" stance for consumption. How would I combate this problem offering the hay a little lower then I had been seeing, but safe enough to keep Milo's hooves from getting caught in the netting? I decided to utilize his "hay corner" (which, btw, the BO fails to toss the hay into. Instead, opting for the lazy route and dumping it immediately into the doorway, and right into shavings. Um, theres a reason why I swept a CLEAN area in the feed corner...ugh) and feeder. I hung the slow net just over the feed bucket, so when it empties out the loose net can hang into the feeder. This location is low enough for me to be happy with Milo eating at, but clearly avoiding an open option for Milo's hooves. I like it so far.

And Milo took to it pretty easily. He quickly figured out how to spin the net, now making it a stall toy too!

BTW, did you notice how nicely Milo's cut is healing up? :)

I even came back after about four hours to check on how it was doing (I fed it in the morning so I could make sure he was eating from it, then feed evening hay if he didnt take to it), and it seemed great! Milo seemed to eat about a third of it, and found a way to pull enough out to get a small pile on the floor too. But after four hours I was pleased to see he hadnt completely drained it, so it is offering a slow feed for him.

Oh, and the photos were taken when I first put it up, when there was still morning hay on the ground. Milo chose the feeder! Probably because its new and fun looking, LOL!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Best "Welcome Home" Gift

I returned home from a week-long visit to Dallas to see my Dad. It was a good trip and the timing was between my new job transition. Did I not tell you? I officially resigned from Costco and tomorrow am starting my new job with the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS), one of the best places to get into in my neck of the woods. Sorry I hadnt told ya, its been crazy around here.

Anyway, the trip to see family was fun, the weather was hot, and the atmosphere Texas-western. I avoided thinking about the hard goodbye the whole trip, knowing that this trip would be the last for a long time, with starting this new job I have no clue when I might start receiving vacation or an opportunity to even use it for some time. When the morning came to finally leave back home, I was eager with a touch of melancholy - for leaving Dad, but homesick for the Peninsula. I kept it together though throughout the fast hug and goodbye at Security, through the metal detector, the pat down, additional screening on my hands (for what Im not sure, never had to do that before), and through having to throw away my hair products because they were apparently more high-risk then the empty shot gun shell in my purse. I waved goodbye to my six-foot-three father as I saw him just overhead in the back of the crowd. I headed around the corner to my gate. I continued to keep it together even after I realized it was Daylight Savings and I was now an extra hour early for my flight. I finally lost it however when boarded on the plane and feeling that moment when the aircraft is no longer touching ground. That instant brought on the waterworks and I tearfully said goodbye to my Dad and to my scary but exciting future.

A stop in Albuquerque and four and a half hours later, I was arriving in Seattle - home. The sudden descent from the cloud-filled sky into airspace just above treetops and roofs was a surprisingly unemotional moment. We touched ground, unloaded, and I met with Boyfriend outside the terminal. We headed home.

He dropped me off before making some necessary errands (he is leaving for one of his two annual big Idaho hunting trips), knowing I would want to zip out to the barn and see Milo without waiting any longer. He was right. I dumped my bags in the front door, loaded up with Angie and headed to the barn, butterflies in my stomach.

Milo was filthy. Boyfriend had been checking on him nearly every night while I was gone, giving reports of him being "ok". I dont think he groomed him in the week I was gone though! Milo had dried and still wet mud encrusted in areas underneath the blanket I had yet seen him accomplish. I scrubbed and brushed, Milo tried to be patient but week-long prison and lack of work made him anxious to go and he chewed eagerly on his lead line. This time I allowed him to.

I carefully wrapped his legs in my black and orange polo wraps and we headed to the arena. Outfitted in the snaffle bit, I thought it would be wiser to stick with some basics to get him back into work. I mounted up, then quickly dismounted to adjust my stirrups.

Whilst in Dallas I had an acute realization about my body. I had been told on multiple occasions about the difference in length between my two legs. Sarah had felt it, noted it, and changed my stirrup length on the right side one hole shorter. I always figured from my broken leg as a five-year-old it had just grown a touch shorter. I had never truly felt a notable difference. But there I was, walking down the aisle-way of my Stepmother's tanning salon when I noticeably felt the harder step on my longer left leg, and the imbalance of my hips and the general way I was walking. Just one of things you can be told about, but dont truly understand until you feel it. Kinda like when I saw the sign in Texas for "Texarcana" just like the song "Eastbound and Down" from Smoky and the Bandit. Never making the connection before until seeing this song, I now truly understood the geographical meaning from "the boys are thirsty in Atlanta, and there's beer in Texarcana, we'll bring it back no matter what it takes. Eastbound and Down". Just a side-note.

I readjusted the stirrups I had just situated the week prior after my clinic with Mario (post still yet to thing at a time), now making the left length one hole longer to accommodate the uneven feeling I now realized when saddled. I climbed back into the saddle again, stirrups feeling even, and walked Milo around the arena on a loose rein about two or three laps each direction. I then bumped him into the bridle, focusing again on really using my leg to push him into the bit and only use my hands as a means to hold him there, rather then use my hands to put him there, just like I had been working on late this summer. But today I had a further realization with my legs. I realized I was bumping my legs in a motion that not only meant "go forward" but also "lift up, push into the bit". No wonder I was having communication issues with my legs, especially while at the clinic. I had two meaning for the same cue!

So I focused on maintaining a bumping leg cue only for lift, and a squeezing motion only for forward. With this in mind, as well as a more correct use of my hands, I schooled Milo at the walk and trot maintaining beautiful mostly consistent contact on circles and straight-of-ways. The visible difference in Milo was notable - the arc in his neck a soft and fluid curve from wither to poll, nit bulging in the center or top showing breakage in the spine, but a continuous, flowing arc and a lovely connection on the rein with push from the rear.

After the trot we moved into the canter-depart exercise, learned from the Mario clinic. What he really showed me was two things: the importance of practicing the canter-depart (or any maneuver, really) in the same location of the arena (utilizing a wall in this practice for instance) to help teach the horse the maneuver properly with a good level of anticipation. Obviously, you then start weaning away from the singular spot in the arena to being able to perform the maneuver in any location, but starting from one location helps teach the horse the maneuver in a way he can be confident with. Secondly, the importance of keeping Milo soft of the bit and engaging from the rear through the entire maneuver. This is something Sarah had been telling me about and we were working on even a year ago. But hearing it in another way and from another person really made me realize the importance of it.

Mario got on Milo at the clinic and really showed me how much Milo evades staying consistent on the bit into the canter depart. I explained that I can just keep my hand forward and on a loose rein he can pick up the canter depart nicely. He further explained that although that method is not technically wrong, in the eyes of a judge, which he is, he questions what exactly it is that I am hiding by not showing the judge my horse's response to bit pressure. He continued that we are riding in reining, afterall, and he personally as a judge wants to see what the horse does when you pick up the reins. He concluded that a truly broke horse will allow you to pick up the rein, stay soft and go right into the maneuver. By having to tip-toe around the issue only proves that the horse and maneuver arent fully developed.

Fast forward two weeks now. Milo and I have been working in the particular canter depart exercise, which is simply riding a circle at a walk or trot (preferably aiming for a clean departure from the walk, but we are working the trot now, then the walk to ease him into it), and as you approach the wall at a forty-five degree angle, sit into the outside seat bone and ask the horse to canter. Now, with Milo, I need to maintain a bumping motion in my legs and steady contact with the rein to encourage him to stay in the bridle and not flip out of it. Usually the first go of the ride is a bit sloppy, but by the second or third attempt, he makes a beautiful canter depart, and he did today.

I also learned, thanks to Mario's clinic, how to ask for a canter departure without feeling overwhelmed. It still follows the same general principles in Sarah's method, but I dont get very overwhelmed thinking about each component. I still maintain hold on the outside rear leg, the driving leg, but instead of "loading the hock" like Sarah had me do by slightly pushing the hip out on the hock, I simply sit on that outside seatbone, holding the leg with my seat. Theres far less for me to micromanage, but its the same general concept I have learned. It also allows me to ask for the canter depart without having to lay my outside leg back, another obstacle I recently was shown from my last lesson on Wesley with Sarah, one I had struggled with for weeks afterwards.

So anyway, my ride was excellent, my horse felt ten feet taller (maybe just from not riding in a week, but he really felt good today), and the best part was that I truly knew that Milo was happy and enjoying his work. The fact that he was a little mouthy and a little anxious in the cross ties when we started was forgettable. I really knew he was happy Mom was home by his happy demeanor and appetite for work in our ride. It was truly a splendid and most rewarding return back home.

Friday, October 26, 2012

It's that Time of Year Again

Yep its officially time to clip off Milo's winter fuzz, round one. This is a little late for our usual first clip, but we had a very odd early fall here and when he would have normally been clipped, or at least wearing his first blanket, the temperatures were still reaching 75 during the day. And then we have had all these fiascos with keeping him in his stall, so I figured I would wait until I could let him out again before blanketing or clipping. He had grown such a nice, fluffy (and clean!) coat while in the comfort of the stall, but after bringing him back into work now, that same furry coat was now becoming a nuisance with cool-out time. So I scheduled with my friend for round one of his two seasonal clips.

But first, I let him out into the arena to enjoy his cuteness of the furry coat, and he really enjoyed the maple leaves (is that OK for them?!)

Awww so cute red furry Milo! I will miss the ease of grooming while you were in stall prison
Last hoorah for the fuzzy red coat
Caitlyn almost finished with the first clip job. Milo was a very good boy! He now sports his "red dun" look for the winter.
With the clip finished and his blanket protecting him he was now allowed back into his paddock after three long weeks of stall prison. He trotted a few steps and dropped to the ground for a good roll.

Aww Milo thanks Caitlyn for the nice clip job, and Colt enjoys the horse breath (we are starting him young!)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

On The Up and Up

While I was gone on our hunting trip, my friend who was taking care of Milo for me, phoned to say that Milo was doing much better. The cut on his face was healing nicely and starting to scab over, and the swelling in his leg was entirely gone! I was pessimistic, however, even when she assured me that another boarder also thought it was gone. I still kept Milo on stall prison for the leg and cut at least until I was home to see it myself.

We got back late Tuesday evening but the Boyfriend had promised we could stop out at Milo before going home. I was so excited to see him, rushing to his stall. I rubbed his face a moment then promptly checked his fetlock. No swelling! A little stocking up in both of them from being in the stall, but the swelling was gone! I was so excited.

The next morning I arrived early before work and thoroughly cleaned his stall, then wrapped all four legs before taking him to the arena. (I should add that I really like a stall-kept clean! No muddy feet!) I walked him on the longeline for five minutes. He was really wily and kept turning his head to me and sizing me up, "Should I do it?" his glace asked. I growled my answer to him. But occasionally he would toss his head around and leap forward. I was nervous of him injuring his leg when he started leaping into the air. Our five minute walk was done and I wasnt going to let him trot on the longe, so I walk trotted him around the arena, five minutes both ways. He tried to nip at the line a few times, but my verbal disagreement would make him stop.

After ten minutes (five both ways) at the trot we had both had our exercise! Another five minute walk on the longe and I returned him to his stall. I unwrapped his legs and felt no heat and swelling. Yay!

But I wanted to check on him after eight hours had passed, so after work, and in the dark, I headed to the barn again, even with my tummy rumbling. Milo was quietly waiting for me in his stall (clean! I cant get enough of that). I led him out into the cross ties, then wrapped all four again, then cleaned out his cut. Leading him to the arena, he had a little pep in his step, asking to trot a few times. Poor guy sure is eager to get out of his stall no matter how much Mom enjoys it.

Five minutes at the walk and he was placidly eating maple leaves off the arena floor as he walked past them. I decided I would try the trot on the longe. He was decent, an occasional head toss, mischievous eye, but after five minutes at the trot the real fun would begin at the canter. I wondered if I could even keep him cantering for five minutes on the longe. If you remember, I practically have to beg him to canter for an entire circle. But I tried it since I cant canter him in hand, and he was a little pistol (to put it nicely). No real tearing around, but a whole lotta attitude. I was nervous of his antics but my firm verbal reprimands only made him want to trot. After I finally did get five at the canter, another five were needed at the trot (he not had his head to the ground and was puffing), then finally five at the walk.

I checked his legs after taking the wraps off. Still tight! Even with five minutes added canter. Maybe he was just fine. I figure that this morning I will ride the same twenty five minute interval and see how he does.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

So Here's What Happened...

Tuesday afternoon I get a phone call just before I was getting ready to leave the house for the barn. It was a boarder there who owns the Fjords. She said that Milo had a nasty cut on his face. The blood left my head and I waited quietly on the phone to hear more. She described what it looked like. I was a bit speechless but asked if I needed to call the vet. She told me that he would be fine until I got there, but that decision would need to be made by me. I scarfed down the remaining cinnamon raisin bagel I was eating and headed out the door.

Boyfriend was on his way home from a week-long hunting trip to Montana with his Dad. I called him to tell him what was going on, and would let him know if I would need the vet. Tears started streaming down my face as I worried for Milo and what I might see when I got there. The boarder that phoned me sounded concerned and a little shaken on her end of the telephone, and I could only imagine how bad the cut might be. I wondered how I would get Milo to the vet with Boyfriend not being available and my truck unable to haul a trailer. I made a few plans in my head, but didnt phone my friends unless I knew I would need a ride.

I flew into the barn like a bat out of hell and raced towards Milo's stall. He stood placidly in his paddock, but met me at the stall door, probably knowing that Mom was now here to help him. My heart sank when I saw all the blood on his face that had dripped from the wound. As I got a closer look at him, I was relived to see that the cut wasnt as large or horrid as I was imagining. I led him to the wash rack and began to slowly clean the cut and dried blood. Before treating with any disinfectant, I phoned the vet, describing the cut to his assistant who said she would have my vet call me back.

In the meantime, I closed off Milo's exit door and tossed a few flakes of hay for him to keep him occupied and safe while I waited for the vet to call. I then walked the fenceline in his paddock and turnout pasture. I was furious with myself and the situation, especially guilty that today was the first day I allowed him back on turnout. Milo has also been ailed by a intermittent swelling in his left rear fetlock region since the prevous Thursday. Daily I had been cold hosing the area, and laying my hands on it and the other to compare the differences.

Initially when I first noticed the swelling it was only because he stepped funny as I led him from his pasture. I wondered, as I continued to watch him walk soundly, if he had simply mis-stepped on a rock or something. But I walked him up and down the concrete and noticed when he turned over that leg that he was a little tender on it. I reached down and felt no heat, but did note some minor swelling. As the days unfolded since then the swelling either increased or decreased, but never seemed to cause heat or lameness even after I shortly lunged him at a walk and trot and tried a flexion-test that the vet always uses. He always seemed to come out sound. But why the swelling?

To avoid making anything worse I not only wasnt riding him, but also requested to keep him in his stall and paddock only, no turnout, and play the cautious "wait-and-see" route. When confinement only seemed to cause some "stocking up" I decided to try turnout and see if that would help at all. Still concerned it might exacerbate the problem, I tried it anyway since confinement hadnt solved any problems.

Here I was now on the first day I allowed turnout again and now my horse sustained an icky cut on his face. Was it from a fenceline in the turnout? Or maybe the stall or paddock? Either way, I was upset that maybe my allowing the pasture time might have caused the problem. I searched the fencelines.

Although I didnt find any sort of obvious bloody stain or hair loss on fences or the two stumps in the pasture, I was now pretty upset by all the exposed nail heads I saw. But then the vet called.

He requested I send a photo to him of the cut, which I did, then we discussed what should be done about it. Because there was no "extra skin" or skin flap around the cut site, stitches werent really an option. But also for the fact that the cut was not down to the bone or effecting any nerves or serious tissue, my vet thought it wasnt entirely necessary to come out or make an appointment. He did advise, however, that if I noticed nasal discharging, ooze from the injury site, or any increased swelling, to phone him. I then asked him what of the swelling in his fetlock, but naturally without seeing or putting his hands on the leg he couldnt diagnose anything over the phone. He did agree though that if I was playing the conservative route that cold hosing, exercise, and limited moving would be a good option to try, for it it was something like minor tendinitis that would be the first treatment route. I asked if walking him down the road for ten minutes and looking for any change would be reasonable, which he agreed to. I didnt exactly feel better, but at least it seemed I was doing the right thing.

I called by Boyfriend and told him the news, and he suggested that when we get back from our trip if the swelling hasnt subsided that we would take Milo into the vet, and he could then check on the progress of the cut at the same time. I agreed that that would be a good idea.

Oh yeah, did I mention that tomorrow we are leaving for Mule Deer hunting on the other side of the Cascades for five days? Of course something like this happened right before I left somewhere and would now need to employ a friend to clean the wound, cold hose his leg, feed nightly, clean his stall, and take my big dog for a walk down the road.

My vet recommended rinsing the cut daily with water, then disinfecting with Batadine solution, then treating with anitbiotic Neosporin before putting him back in his stall. Stall confinement was the best option to ensure minimal infection opportunity, and with the leg swelling too might be a better route. However, as stated before, that now would pose the issue of more responsibility needing to be given to a friend to take over while I'm gone. Not only will that require more stall cleaning and bedding (which is no problem for me, but I am pretty anal about pee spots and not with him staying in there for a whole week, requires some diligent cleaning I am hoping my friend will provide), but Milo might just turn into a really stir crazy butt for whoever handles him. I hope that the short walk might help calm his mind while hopefully helping the leg, but am worried about his behavior with someone else.

Let me just say, a few pages of details notes and instructions will be left with the caregiver, and hopefully everything goes smoothly. For now, I cant do much, but I do know that when Boyfriend and I return I will be putting some serious consideration into what I can do about the fenceline I have now discovered is really lacking in structure and safety, and deciding if I need to take the next step and haul out to the vet. Oh joyous vacation coming up that will now be wrought with worry.

Poor Baby. Day Two of treatment, Milo being patient when cold hosing

Milo keeps some humor though despite his cut and stall prison.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Poor Milo :(

I will update more tomorrow, but here is what I found my horse like (actually, this is after I cleaned it out):

Monday, October 1, 2012

My Favorite Paint

Obviously, my favorite Paint is Milo. Here are some photos from the other day. I took video but my camera is dead and I have to charge it before uploading and, well, I just havent gotten to it yet.

"Hello Momma...I was a good boy, can I go back to my stall now?" 
I have started using the "knot method" for his tail. I chopped off about two inches (needed to be done) then knotted it up. I think there are seven knot strands total. His tail looks really short now after the cut and knotting, but by the end of winter it should be long and full.

Then it was time for Mom's chores. Milo initially made it look like he was going to help...

But really he just scrutinized my work and got in the way. :)

This is Milo's best "standing on a pedestal" impersonation

And totally being in the way of the wheelbarrow...
"But I'm so cute Mom"
"Who needs to clean poop when you can love on meeeeee"
Chores eventually got done and I got this great glamour shot