adventures with the vet · road hacking

Happy September?

A friend from high school posted this on Facebook today. She is very excited about her wedding, I guess.
I am kind of having the opposite problem. I am excited about my wedding in a mild, well, it should be a nice day and I am looking forward to being married, kind of way. But I want very badly to care about and do SO MANY OTHER THINGS, but wedding panic is creeping in and derailing me.

Anyway. Tristan seems happy and content and comfortable after his tail biopsy. After an initial scare on Friday night when the wrap slipped down, I carefully applied a slightly more snug elastikon wrap, and that has stayed in place since then. I’m checking twice a day to make sure, but all is progressing well. He’s decided to be a shit about his antibiotics, but that was predictable, so he is back on the applesauce + syringe method.

13 TMS tabs, twice a day. I couldn’t find any other containers to mix them in, so Smartpak wells it was. Mixed success. Only one more day, anyway.
Since he seemed otherwise fine, I jumped on last night for just a short hack. Now that his heel has scabbed over nicely, and he is in no distress from his tail, I hope to get out more regularly, especially as a sanity preservative ahead of the wedding.

road hacking · summer · trail riding

It’s too nice outside, I can’t dressage

Tristan’s dressage-ing has been going really well. That’s the good news.

The bad news? It’s too gorgeous to stay in a ring. I just can’t. I keep driving to the barn with careful plans and thoughts and blah blah…then I pull up and I cannot stay inside.

So last night I stopped back by my car to grab a granola bar so I would not sugar crash after a long day at work…

Good patient pony, if confused.

…and then attempted to take my first horse selfie ever with horse (and like my third selfie ever and all the others were to do things like show off my new helmet or show my mother my new glasses).

Tristan: wtf. Me: …I have no idea what I’m doing.

Yeah, not so much. The light was just so gorgeous though.

Then we walked around the field.

And I still couldn’t make myself go inside.

So we walked down the road.

And down the road some more.

And I know you will all appreciate when I say that I deserve a goddamn gold medal for not galloping up this hill every single time I’m at the bottom of it. Siiiiiiigh.

road hacking · safety

PSA About Sharing the Road with Horses

The UVM Extension Service put together this short (30 second) PSA about sharing the road with horses. I think it actually does a decent job encapsulating good manners.

Have you ever had problems sharing the road with cars?

Tristan is very good now, but he wasn’t always so bombproof. My worst moment was some years ago. I had to ride a short distance on a paved road to get to the state park near my boarding barn. A driver in a sports car revved up his engine, gunned it past us, and passed so nearby I could feel a passing breeze on my skin. If I’d held my hand out he would’ve hit it. It all happened so fast by the time Tristan was reacting the car was well past us; thankfully, he just jumped around a bit on the side of the road and there were no further cars coming.

endomondo · road hacking

Short Hack

I got to the barn intending to do some combination of trot sets and long & low dressage work. I looked at blue skies outside, no snow on the ground, and I couldn’t make myself stay inside. We’re predicted for rain the entire rest of the week and snow this weekend.

So I opted for a road hack instead, which was at times lovely and at times very frustrating. Tristan was not too enthused to leave his hay, and he wandered back and forth across the road on a loose rein. It’s a catch-22, really: if I let him have a loose rein he’s clearly happier and better moving, but he also takes it as an opportunity to wander and occasionally swing around and turn for home, especially in the first 15 minutes or so. If I pick up the reins and ask for contact his momentum stops and I have to do more “schooling” than I really want for a low-key road hack.

I wished, in retrospect, that I’d brought his quarter sheet as it was still chilly even with the blue skies (low 40s) but he warmed up and moved nicely, and was happy to get back to his stall with his stable blanket.

road hacking

Good Morning, Vermont! #winteriscoming

Took this screenshot shortly before I threw a leg over for an early morning hack out before work.

Can we also take a look at the low on Thursday? Already? REALLY?
Sigh. Beautiful morning, even if it was flipping freezing. 

Some pony was a little bit tight and quick due to the cold – striding out much faster at the walk than usual!

This is what Eye on the Sky means when they say “valley fog.” 
Not terribly long, but at least I got something in.

endomondo · road hacking

Continuing Exploration

Longer hack, up the road and took a new sharp left to see if I could indeed explore these fields without riding across them. The dead grass you see in a line ahead of Tristan’s ears is in fact the remnants of a tractor road, with fine footing for walking. We went to the tree line and came back. We’ll definitely head back.

Tris was an utter shit for the first 10 minutes out, wandering across the road, flinging his shoulders everywhere, walking soooooo slooooooowly. He wanted to be back in the barn eating hay. About a half mile in he eased in to the work and most of the rest of the ride was quite nice. We had a few short trot stretches on good footing. He did have one ugly moment later on, when we exited this field and I turned him away from the barn to keep going. He flung his head around and danced and backed up, and put one hind foot worryingly close to a dropoff by a culvert. I lost my temper for a moment, yanked his head around, and booted HARD, basically shoving him into a trot for 100 yards down the road.
Our walk back was good, and I took a bit of a hold of the reins and asked for a little coming through the bit, which he obliged. We got back to flat ground and his hind end went all wobbly! So we walked on the flat road for another half mile to help him work out of it, which he did nicely. So this ride definitely accomplished what I wanted it to – hard hill work – and it’s good that he has tonight scheduled off.

endomondo · long slow distance · road hacking

Long[er] Slow Distance

Starting to push the boundaries a little. Tris recovered just fine after this ride too; pulse of 50 while eating his post-ride hay. Probably 75% of this ride was on grassy hills, and the remaining 25% on the road. He started off slow like molasses, but the last mile was a bit of a faster walk. We had one very short spurt of trot toward the end just to see what he would think, and he thought he wanted to GO HOME, NOW, so I posted very defensively and let him trot huge for 50 yards or so, then brought him back before he grabbed the bit and just went.

So this was Thursday night; I followed it up on Friday night with 12 minute of longeing. Yes. 12. I got stuck late at work and then realized I did not have nearly as much time as I thought I did to get back in to town to meet the fiance for our new cricket class. I threw myself a small pity party, and then decided that some work was better than no work, slapped a longe line on Tristan’s halter, and did 3 minutes of walk and 3 minutes of trot each way.
The plan for Saturday night is about 2 miles, and then projecting the week ahead to do 2 more long rides like this one, interspersed with longeing. Sunday he gets up to his full dose of pergolide, and I’ll start scrutinizing his overall demeanor and recovery even more closely.

endomondo · long slow distance · road hacking

Scientific Trail Riding

Last night, I saddled up and we went for a longish hack. I’m working on three operating theories;

– I need to ride more, for my sanity and health and for Tristan’s health;
– All the reading I do indicates that metabolic horses need regular, consistent exercise;
– Long slow distance is the right kind of work for Tristan right now: low-impact, muscle-building, and when it’s done outside, good for his brain.

All those three things pointed to long hacks as our new standard ride, with occasional short ringwork 1-2 days a week.

So last night was the launch of some new metrics for our rides. I’ve used Endomondo before to track our rides, but last night I paid particular attention to distance and speed. I wanted to know how far it is all the way around the big hay field, and what Tristan’s speed would look like if I rode him on the buckle the whole time.

So there’s the answer. The big hay field is just about exactly 1 mile around. It’s about a quarter mile away from the barn. Last night, I cut off part of the field because I wanted to hold him closer to 2 miles, but now I know we can go 2.5 miles just by leaving the barn and walking around the big field twice. (It also occurred to me we could do a 50 miler by trotting the big field 50 times, and then I thought about how unutterably boring that would be.)
Tristan was spot-on 3mph, or a 20 minute mile, for our first mile, in a really pretty lazy meandering kind of walk. At almost exactly one mile in, he blew out, farted, and eased into the work quite nicely, picking up the pace ever so slightly, still of his own choice. Our second mile was just under 19 minute, still at the walk.
Keep in mind that practically every single inch of this ride was on a hill of some kind: up, down, laterally. The only flat surface at our barn is in the ring. So he worked reasonably hard, in a good way. He was ever-so-slightly warm, and had about a 1″ square spot of sweat directly under the girth. That speaks jointly to the technicality of the ride and to his muscle loss right now. I know it’s nothing like the miles and pace some of you log while conditioning for endurance, but we all have to start somewhere, right?
On an impulse, I stopped by Walmart on the way to the barn and found myself an iPhone armband on clearance for $10. Score! None of my breeches have pockets, and my old cell phone holder is sized for a flip phone and doesn’t work for the iPhone. So I’ll be able to track his rides going forward more easily. I hope to build some statistics as he continues this work and as he starts on the pergolide.
On a personal fitness note, the last quarter mile, up the big long galloping hill, I did entirely in two point. 1/3 of the way I started to feel it. Halfway there was definite burn. The last 100 feet or so were agony. Good for the soul.

road hacking

Sunday Hack

Quiet-ish hack on Sunday, snuck in between rain showers.

Love this field.

Summer working students on ponies, plus dog.

I…have no idea what exactly all that is. Tris was confused too.

You know you’re an eventer when! So much stuff.

Dipping my toe into the half chap world. I’ve never worn them consistently before.

Fall is coming.

The redheads.