Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Better post while I can

The dreaded Blogger Flu has finally caught up to me. I can't log in to anything blogger related from Chrome, but apparently I can from Safari - for now.

Today I rode my horse :) I'm not supposed to ride til this weekend, but you know I don't listen good. I just slipped on her bareback and we walked four houses down the street, then back - less than 5 minutes riding. It was lovely.

I'm actually really enjoying rehabbing Dixie. We seem to spend a lot of time hanging out together. She really likes the new patio chairs - she likes to watch me when I sit out there in the mornings and afternoons.

My kitten is a killing machine. She brought me a whole nest of baby voles, one at a time - five in 24 hours. That was a lot of effort and required a day of sleeping, but today she rejoined the hunt and brought me an adult vole. Atta girl. Just... make sure they're dead, ok? I don't like the ones that still squeak.

Anybody like True Blood? New season premiere did not disappoint.

I did a bunch of stuff around the house - cleaned and de-cluttered, hauled trash to the dump, worked in the yard, and got most of my tools organized in the garage. Now I can pack tomorrow and go camping this weekend - then maybe to SF for the 4th, but I'll be back Tuesday at the latest.

Not that it matters. I bet Blogger will still be a temperamental bitch when I come back. Sigh!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hay feeder update

Here's the pictures of my slow hay feeder.

The white mesh is hockey netting. It's extremely sturdy and the holes are a good size to slow down a horse, but not frustrate it completely.

My attachment system is so ridiculously ghetto, but I can't figure out a better way to keep the hay in the net without starting over completely. Sigh. It's a piece of PVC woven through the top squares of the net, then that's clipped to to the lip of the backing with Romex.

I think the backing is a shelving unit. There were a bunch of wire mesh L-shaped things in the barn when we bought the place, and one of them ended up in my hay feeder. It looks like something from a closet organizer kit to me. But there are no sharp ends and it doesn't trap water!

The rest of the feeder is just scrapped together. The legs are 2' long - because I could cut four legs out of one 8' 4x4. There are plywood ends and some 2x4s bracing it all together. I tried various things, but ended up tying the metal shelf in place with more Romex. No sharp ends, easy to reposition if you have thumbs.

I went ahead and Romex'd the whole damn thing to that telephone post in the pasture. It's not a live wire post, it's just a very sturdy 12' post standing in the pasture. Obviously I didn't put it there, and taking it out seemed like way too much trouble. But it keeps frustrated Dixie from knocking over her hay feeder, so it can stay.

Sharron Angle would be proud

I just traded a chicken for a birdbath. Go go gadget economy!

One of the banties became an escape artist. She ate part of my garden while I was gone, so I shored up the fence and she stayed in for a day. Then she started getting out again. From Tuesday-Sunday I caught her 1-3x a day and threw her back over the fence with the others. I was complaining about her to M and she said bring her over - M is down to two elderly hens. Later I told M that we should go to a yard sale and find me a bird bath, and she offered me one she wasn't using. I forgot it when I left - but when I got home, the damn chicken was out again. So I threw her in a feed sack, fed everybody else, and went down the street and bartered her for a bird bath.

Look! Guaranteed to not eat your garden plants.
Birdbath for chicken!

*edit* Just for the record, I think Sharron Angle is dumb as rocks and it gives me great pleasure to vote against her.

Carpe diem

We lived in Ohio for maybe 9 months and when we left, we'd only made a handful of friends. And I don't mean lifechanging best friends, I mean people who we'd met in person, had contact info for, and would consider eating a meal with. It was pretty embarrassing, actually.

At some time in the moving process, I don't really remember exactly when, I decided to change my fundamental approach to people. Instead of only meeting people in person and interacting with them if the stars were aligned perfectly, I was going to default to actually doing stuff and only back out if circumstances were just awful. It's really hard for me, even after two years of practice, but I just do stuff all the time now.

So earlier this week I realized the weather was just lovely and I wished I could ride. Since this spring I've had a couple of people remind me that there are more endurance horses than riders, and point out that if I ever need a spare horse I can catch ride, so I posted on a brief email on Ridecamp. I almost immediately got two responses, from different people nearby. Yesterday I drove north to Janesville and had a beautiful ride in the Plumas NF.

This is Fire. Isn't she cute? :)

Yes, she's an Arab. (OMG I RODE AN ARAB!) She was so sensible and kind that I really kept forgetting how green she is.

We were up in the eastern Sierras, and the views were just breathtaking. Very different from my usual desert riding. I was utterly lost, but Fire had more than enough go to keep up with everybody so I didn't worry.
Mountaintop, looking west:

Looking east:

Equipment failure: I rode with the sheepskin cover on my saddle again. That thing has got to go. I can't do hills with it - every time the horse picks up a trot up a hill I get almost bounced out of the saddle. How embarrassing! It's really a shame, cause it makes the saddle fit my butt a lot more comfortably. Maybe it's just the fleece over the fenders that's the problem and if I had a seat-only cover it'd work? I might try that some day.

I also forgot to bring ANY WATER AT ALL. Hurf durf. I have two new Camelbaks to try out, too! When we got back to the trailers, I found a half-liter of water rolling around in the backseat of the truck and gulped that down.

We did about 7.5 miles in just over 2:30, but there was 2600 feet of ascent in there. There were some crazy steep hills! Fire was quite surefooted and I never really worried that she'd trip.

She was not so good on the water crossings. Her owner A thought she'd have done better, but the horse A was riding freaked out completely about every puddle we came across, and Fire picked up on that. I can't blame her for ignoring the strange human on her back and assuming her pasturemate is right and water is evil :)

It's a LONG drive, an hour on the highway, but I'll go back for sure. If we do a couple more training rides on Fire, she'd be ready for an LD this fall and I'd ride her in that. Hopefully next week I'll get a ride in with the woman who lives just up the road from me. Ideally, when Dixie gets back in riding shape I'll have lots of new friends to set up training rides with!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

SF #5: I want a houseboat!

Look at these utterly adorable houseboats outside of Marin! I want one.
I want a houseboat

G insists that he's known people who owned houseboats and they only seemed like a good idea at the time and I'd end up hating it and where would I put Dixie, but I don't care!

Look at this adorable little park they live in! It's like the complete opposite of a trailer park!

SF #4: Cars

This one's for the car fans.

We saw a Maserati on the bridge:
A Maserati

And an Aston Martin in Sausalito:
Aston Martin

A purple truck with a green bike by the park:
Purple truck

And a spectacularly badass MG that had just driven all of Highway 50 (plus part of I-80):
Badass MG

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

SF #3: Good eats & good friends

Oh my god, the food.

The worst thing I can say about the food in San Francisco is that most coffeeshops get their pastries from the same bakery. That's it. That's my harshest criticism.

We had some Fine Dining Experiences and some totally normal moderately priced food, and it was all outstanding. Of course I demanded my Cocobang mere hours after I got in - we carted my bags to the pied a terre, I chilled out briefly, then we trundled off for Korean fried chicken. That was before I went picture crazy so you'll just have to imagine it. After that, I turned into That Food Nerd Who Takes Pictures Of Her Food.

Somehow when I went to SF in February I didn't eat crab, and the season closes at the end of June, so I definitely wanted to get some this time around. We had Vietnamese crab at Thanh Long. View this and weep:

Garlic crab @ Thanh Long

With shrimp pâté puffs for a starter:
Shrimp pate puffs @ Thanh Long

And molten chocolate cake for dessert:
Dessert @ Thanh Long

Then Friday night we met up with G's excellent new friends. Unfortunately the guy is also named G, so I shall refer to them as a unit: G&AWS. Apparently G has shown them my blog, so, uh, hi yall! :D They are very compatible people - they also like to drink, curse, and eat really good food.

The menu was so inspirational I took a picture of it. God, I'm such a nerd. (Yes, Dad, that's $24 for a plate of fried chicken!)
Maverick's menu

In for a penny, in for a pound: here's the drinks menu. It was a wine restaurant and these were the only cocktails! I had a Bloody Maverick (yes, I ordered it because it had bacon in it) and a Cherry Bomb (A++ would drink again):
Maverick drinks

Butcher plate. We decided the green spirals were pickled fiddlehead ferns. The stringy green thing by the cauliflower was definitely a pickled ramp. The duck prosciutto was really amazing and I'm seriously going to try to make some soon.
Starter @ Maverick's

The pressed pork was unbelievable. Porky and juicy and gooey, and the skin on top was potato-chip crisp.
Pressed pork @ Maverick's

Ice cream is The Thing in SF right now. We walked a block down the street to a moderately popular artisanal hand crafted heirloom locally sourced low fuel cost roof grown organic free range cruelty free fair trade equitable lovingly created made this way ice cream parlor. This is a scoop of salted caramel (!!) on a scoop of crème fraiche (not as earthshattering as I expected):
Salted caramel + creme fraiche

Saturday we drove around and ended up feeling a bit peckish in Sunset. I fired up Urbanspoon and there was a Thai restaurant with 93% a block from us, so we went there. It was a weird time of day and we were the only people in the restaurant, but they still served up the most awesome Thai dish I've ever had. Spicy basil duck - but deep fried. The basil was flash-fried and the duck was like duck cracklins - exploding fat and almost jerkyfied meat.
World's best thai

Sunday we went back out with the G&AWS for pizza. It's in North Beach, and there was an Italian festival going on, so we got excellent people-watching while we waited for our food. And waited. AND WAITED. The kitchen lost our order, so our late lunch ended up taking like 3 hours. That's ok, though - we ate calamari and drank (a lot) and talked and spilled drinks on each other. Eventually pizzas started pouring out of the kitchen for our table. By that point I'd forgotten I had a camera. After we'd gorged on pizza, the restaurant comped our desserts, so I forced myself to eat some breathtaking tiramisu and managed to squeeze in an espresso macchiato.

And Monday morning, as I was driving out of town, I found an empty spot on the street next to The Last Coffeeshop Before You Get On The 101 From Potrero. It was the last possible chance for SF to wow me. I got a handmade cinnamon orange roll to go with my latte. I don't know if I've ever had a handmade cinnamon roll that I didn't make myself. Amazing.

Yes, I gained 12 pounds in four days. I don't really care!

SF #2: A truly noble bird

Saturday we rented a Zipcar and zipped around SF and North Bay. We saw a gang of vesperadoes, tough looking Mexican* dudes in matching leather jackets on... scooters. Of course we had to get a picture, to prove it to yall on the Internet, so G went roaring off down Great Highway in hot pursuit of them. Did you know that Vespas can almost outrun a BMW? It's true! But we caught them, and I got my picture.


Then we realized that they had the most noble of birds for their totem - the turkey. Ben Franklin would be proud.

*Can I say Mexican dudes or is that racial? Men of Hispanic origin. How bout that?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sounds sound!

This is a terrible video, but Dixie sounds very even in it. Close your eyes if you get seasick!

Sound sound! from Funder on Vimeo.

So, it's been 2.5 weeks since she got hurt. She's really been a model prisoner patient. The hockey hay net, I think, is a large part of her happiness in life. Gotta remember to take pics and do an updated post about it. If you don't have pasture, you really should consider making some kind of slow feeder for your horse!

Today I took her out for a very short walk and a very satisfying grazing session. Some of my front yard cheatgrass has finally gone to seed, and like Merri says, horses only like it when it's still alive. She picked out the green and purple cheatgrass and seemed to really enjoy the stuff that looks kinda like dandelions.

I could still feel a tiny bit of warmth in her leg before I left last week, but now it's totally gone. She hasn't had filling in the leg since a couple days after the injury. I'm definitely feeling hopeful at this point :)

Gonna try to trim her some tomorrow morning. She was due for a trim a couple days after the injury, but she wasn't comfortable standing on three legs so I postponed it. I can muddle through her hooves for a trim or two, and I'd rather do it myself as slowly as I need to for a bit.

SF #1: I am a wizard

So I think rather than trying to do a HUGE POST about SF, I will just do vignettes. This is the best one, IMO.

Friday we had fabulous taqueria food for lunch, then rested a bit. G worked and I chilled out. I was cold (LOL COLD IN JUNE) and wanted to go down to Old Navy (LOL I'M SO CLASSY) and get a cheap summerweight hoodie. (Now I understand summerweight winter clothes!) Anyway G had the iTunes on shuffle, and a Violent Femmes song came on. It wasn't Add It Up and we talked about how that is the superior VF song and how it's a shame we don't have it. Then after enough work and chilling out had been accomplished, we walked down to the big Old Navy by Union Square.

We turned the corner off of Geary and there he was. A grungy looking guy who looked vaguely like Ethan Hawke circa 1998, with a guitar, belting out "why can't I get just one fuck~"

I turned to G and announced "I am a wizard!"

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Comment roundup, plus vay-cay

I know, I'm laughably terrible at those adorably polite personalized replies all the Good Bloggers manage to give to each and every comment they receive. I thought I'd get better once I started approving comments, but no - I just get the email on my phone, click "publish," and keep doing whatever I'm doing. I mean, that's better than getting constantly sidetracked to say thanks, but it sure isn't the kind of conscientious comment acknowledgement I sort of fantasize about. Oh well. Look, I'll make up for it with hyperlinks!

BEC and OS asked if I'm not going to SF. Yes, yall did miss something. Pay attention! There will be a quiz! No, seriously, I kind of mentioned it in the last line of an unrelated post then never circled back around to it. Umm, over Memorial Day we decided that we're doing ok like we are, and it's both dumb and absurdly expensive to rush to combine households again, and we should really hang in there another year like we are then reevaluate. I'll probably move to CA next summer, but it depends on a lot of factors. For now - I need to buy firewood and four tons of hay.

The NASTR post - thanks again to everybody who popped up and offered sympathy or bits of advice or whatever. I felt horrible and blamed myself, because everything comes back to the human - you can't go blaming the horse when anything bad happens. But the logical part of my brain says it's just bad odds. I feel like I did all the right stuff - tons and tons of LSD in '09 and '10, boots for concussion, ride slower than you train, etc. Sometimes shit just happens. Hopefully this is a minor injury and she'll bounce back stronger. It could be a sign that she's wearing out or that 50 miles is just too much for her, but I won't know til she rehabs and we try again a few more times. We'll see. :-/

Also, Mel made a good comment about the POV of the ride vet. She's totally right, and it does make me feel somewhat better - but I still think if you can turn and walk away from a crying person and a lame horse without one single word of advice or even commiseration, you should quit vetting rides. That is not the way to attract newcomers to the sport.

Content animals & plants:
Plant comments - I took a picture of the Mystery Veggie. It's not a weed! I have a full complement of high desert weeds in my yard, and this looks nothing like any of them. It looks like a stubborn stunted... cucumber? Maybe? It's got little prickles on the stems and ribs. The black thing is a soaker hose, if that helps with scale.
mystery plant

And here's the spinach that I can't bear to slaughter and devour.
definitely spinach!

lytha, I am sticking with "I don't want to upset her and have her reinjure her leg" as my excuse for not bathing that nasty mane. She always gets mad and paws when I tie her up to bathe her! Next week, definitely!
Sara, you won't be my friend anymore when I admit that I do absolutely nothing to encourage her mane. Every couple of months in the warm season I bring a bottle of people shampoo and a bottle of people conditioner out and scrub it. I brush it when it gets fairy knots or when I want to braid it, and I usually slather it with Cowboy Magic before I brush it. That's it. Try ignoring Peanut's?

Now. I am leaving. I just got done slogging through 1000+ unread posts, so I'm going to try really hard to stay up on yall's blogs. But this Friday is our anniversary (as Facebook keeps reminding us - it's like a not-too-bright little kid that keeps going "hey! Friday is your anniversary! hey! did you know that?"), and everything around here is kicking my ass, so I'm going to SFO.

I mean, there's the poor broken horse. The traumatic spider incident. The poodle invasion. The rapid proliferation of fire ants in the backyard, which I treated with ant poison, which Cersei snuck off and ate, which led to explosions from both ends in the den. (I checked - it's only lethal to dogs in enormous quantities.) And my good laptop, the '09 macbook pro, is in the shop for overheating, so I'm stuck using the '06 macbook pro. It's a good computer and a testament to the quality of apple products, but, you know, it's five years old, gets burning hot, has no battery life, and the CD drive is broken so it's still running 10.5 with no way to upgrade. Everything takes at least twice as long, I can't access my network backup, I can't sync my phone or ipods, WAAAAH. I know, such first-world problems. :rolleyes:

I will put up a sappy "I love my hubby" post while I'm gone, and show yall pictures of the cute clothes I got for pressies. I will probably drunk-post after some Korean chicken and soju. (If you know how a southerner would say "Korean", then yes, that's exactly how I say it.) I will miss my farm and my animals - but not for a couple days at least.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

All residents content*

*dunno about Banders. I don't think he has states of "contentment" in the same way humans, dogs, other cats, etc. do. When he's unhappy he yowls, and sometimes when he appears to be glad to see another creature he purrs and rubs against it, but I don't think he's ever like "aahhh life is good." It's like he's wandering around in a perpetual acid trip.

So here he is in my pitiful garden!

That is my new soaker hose. He stood there, straddling it, as it "came to life" and filled up with water and made odd noises and started to ooze. He wasn't eating any of my seedlings, and he doesn't live in a world that has cause and effect, so I didn't bother to pitch him out of the little garden bed. Bless his heart.

Look at that huge green plant! It's a cucumber, or possibly a cantaloupe. Those are my two best guesses. I planted some seeds way back in March in a fit of optimism. Some of them came up, but then it snowed like 17 more times and I assumed everything died. Not that brave plant or my two spinach (??) plants - there's a maybe-spinach buried in way too close to the maybe-melon, and another maybe-spinach on the top right side of the bed.

I suppose I should eat them, but they've been through so much and they're so stunted and it just doesn't seem right to pluck my only two spinach plants and eat them. Yes, I'm anthropomorphizing my vegetables.

Anyway, there's some other stuff from the May re-planting coming up! All four beans (they're easy to figure out) and some cilantro babies and a bunch of other seeds that I haven't figured out yet. Now that it's probably through snowing for a while I'm making a serious effort to keep them alive. Well. At least I invested $8 in a soaker hose for them.

While I picked Dixie's jail cell, Cers and Banders relaxed in the shade.

Banders was rolling around on his back. I'm telling you, he's tripping all the time. Or talking to fairies. I just don't know about him.

I can't remember why I took this - she was doing something picture-worthy but I don't remember what. Oh well. Horse investigates shavings in world's most banal blog post.

I put up a half-ass fence, too.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The spider story

I guess really it's the How to Un Winterize Your Swamp Cooler story, but it was totally overshadowed by Shelob the Black Widow of Unusual Size.

Dixie update

We did it! Five days of bute and she doesn't run when she sees me coming with the halter. Of course it's sickly-sweet bute - I made applesauce and sugar bute for a couple days, then last night I found molasses in the cupboard. I can't remember if I bought it for Dixie or for gingerbread cookies, but it's hers now. Today's molasses Bute went down quite well.

She is still quiet. Part of it is that she knows her leg is not right - she stands bearing weight on it, but she's reluctant to walk around for no good reason. Part of it, I think, is that she just usually stands / lays around and sleeps all day normally.

With that in mind, I don't go out there every hour asking her to interact with me. I pay her more attention, and if she's watching the house or watching me in the yard, I'll bring some carrots and do clicker stuff, but if she's just napping in the shade of the run-in, I let her nap.

Cold hosing is going well. I hose while she eats her normal grain at night, and while she eats a handful of oats in the morning. She's used to this strange new routine and doesn't even need haltering anymore.

I spent two days getting the swamp cooler set up, correctly, for summer. Mainly it took so long because I had to go under the house a bunch of times, and I found Shelob the world's biggest black widow had set up a lair two feet from where I really needed to be. This discovery threatened to set off a panic attack and I put off dealing with the spider til the next day. I survived my confrontation, my swamp cooler works perfectly, and I'll try to get it written up for the Other Blog today.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Horse jail

Lisa wanted to see my ghetto horse jail. :)

There's hot tape on fiberglass poles fencing off the run-in, the hay feeder, and a bucket of water.

The corner poles needed a little help so I tied them to nearby bushes with hay strings.

It's maybe 30 x 30, with the run-in taking up most of the space. If she gets too frisky, I can always make it smaller, but I wanted to leave room enough for her to roll and nap in the sun. So far, she's not moving around a lot.

Yesterday I hoped Dixie was just tired, but today I'm sure she's a little depressed. She knows she's been locked in horse jail, and she knows her leg hurts, but I really don't think she understands that she's locked in horse jail so her leg will heal. PLUS her human keeps squirting utterly vile stuff in her mouth. It's just a lot of inexplicable suckiness in her life.


I felt really bad for her when I had to bute her this morning, so I brought some carrot slices. She kept trying to eat them - she'd take a piece of carrot in her lips, carefully crunch it up with her front teeth, taste it (but only taste the Bute in her mouth), and spit it out. Then - this just kills me - she'd give me a hopeful look and take another carrot piece from me. Only three more days of Bute, sweetie.

I bedded down both "stalls" of the run-in with fresh shavings, in case she wants to snooze there. And I'm trying to get her interest with the clicker stuff. Today I worked on targeting different shapes - "box" and "bucket." Then I put the box up and tried to get her to move the bucket around. I know she's perfectly capable of knocking a bucket on its side then back up on its base when it's full of grain, but she was just so listless about playing with it. But I eventually got her to stick her nose in the tipped-sideways bucket and move it a bit and that was good enough for lots of treats.

Later on, I went out with more carrots and shaped her into the beginning stages of picking things up. I tossed her green nylon halter on the ground and lured her into touching it. Then I just gradually shaped her interactions with it til she was biting it and picking it a couple inches off the ground. By that point we'd almost run out of carrots so I jackpotted her last good try then scratched her neck for a long time.

She did get frustrated and paw a couple times. I really don't want to reinforce that; she does it enough on her own! Plus it's probably terrible for her leg. So instead of just passively not-reinforcing it, like maybe I "should" have, when she'd start to paw I'd spin around and really blatantly cut off contact with her for a few seconds. It seemed to work to indicate that's not what I'm looking for, without shutting down her desire to interact with me.


I don't have a cue for whatever we're doing to the poor green halter. I guess I'd like to put "pick it up" on a cue, and if we're really bored / she's a real prodigy, I'll combine the verb (touch / pick up) with the nouns she's learning (box, bucket, halter). I've always been super jealous of people who have horses that will pick up what the human drops under saddle. Maybe this is our shot at it! Anyway, I think I'd like to shape it a little longer without a cue before I put words to picking up the halter.


Any thoughts on the c/t stuff?

I've got some good/bad points from the ride (GAH! my saddle pad failed me) and some thoughts about risk of injury. Maybe tomorrow for that. Thank you all for your comments/emails/texts/etc - it really means a lot. :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

NASTR - the utterly awful bit

Here's what I never said in the last post: we didn't complete. She's lame. I broke my horse. :(

I think we rode about 90% as well as humanly possible. We all got sucked into riding the technical bit of the trail a little too fast, but then Thunder lost a boot so my little group pulled off and let the speedier people get past us. And Dixie vetted through two checks ok after that, so I really don't think she hurt herself there. After that ride-your-own-ride reminder, I made damn sure I rode my own ride. John and Meredith were averaging the same speed as me, but their horses had a bit faster trot and slower walk, so they'd surge ahead then we'd catch up. Dixie didn't like that - she wanted to canter to keep up with their trot - but I wouldn't let her.

Anyway, we vetted through both checks fine, then rode carefully back down the mountain to camp. We walked the last mile and all was well. I led Dixie over to the trailer, petted my Cersei dog (who was sleeping when we got there!), stripped tack and blanketed, and led Dixie back to the final vet check, about 100 yards away.

She wasn't walking ahead of me or even parallel to me - she was just behind my shoulder, just visible in my peripheral vision. We got maybe halfway there and all of a sudden I could just tell that she was not right. I wheeled around and stared at her and asked "is she off? Did she just come up lame?!?" My friends who were walking with me hadn't been paying attention to her and they kinda laughed it off... but I was not at all surprised when she was damn near three-legged lame at the vet check. She wouldn't even trot - when the scribe chased us, Dixie managed a horrible broken-legged lame canter thing. I wanted to puke.

Honestly, the vets sucked about it. In retrospect I'm pretty pissed. The head vet came over when she saw Dixie not trotting. She did a quick exam, without telling me anything at all, while I stood and cried. She hoof tester'd the front right, flexed it (but didn't have her move out, so not a flex test?), palpated just under the knee, and told us to go home. I said "what should I do?" She said, "call the vet tomorrow or Monday." We walked/limped slowly away, then I remembered my bute and stopped to ask. The head vet was already somewhere else, so the other lady vet came over and discussed hydration with me - bute is BAD in a dehydrated horse, so only bute if she's hydrated and still drinking. I asked about cold hosing and she agreed that'd be a good idea.

So we limped away with me trying not to bawl my eyes out. We stopped at the photographer's, because dammit I rode for eleven hours and I earned that picture. He took pity on the crying girl with the lame horse and gave us all the pix for $10. Here's one:

Yes, I'm doing the \m/ rock-on hand.

After I bought the pictures Dixie really didn't want to walk at all. She picked up the bad leg and wiggled it and gave me this pitiful look and put it back down and wouldn't move. I asked the photographers to please hold her while I brought the trailer around, and of course they agreed. Not that she was going anywhere, but you know, it's bad form to let your horse "wander around" loose.

I gimped back to the trailer. I could seriously barely walk. Found Meredith and John on the way and told them we got pulled and cried on their shoulders. Then I got back to the truck, took the tent down, loaded all my shit, and hauled up the road to where Dixie was.

Then I did the One Really Brilliant Thing Of The Day. I hit my thoroughly rudimentary first aid box and pulled out one of those chemical instant ice packs. Vet wrapped that to her leg, loaded my pitifully gimpy horse, and drove home crying in the rain.

That was one of the lowest points of my life. Probably the awfulest I've felt since the day Champ died.

She unloaded much less lame. Surprisingly less lame. And the swelling had mostly subsided. I think the ice pack really mitigated the damage, I honestly do. I let her get a big drink of her delicious home water, then gave her a gram of bute and cold hosed the leg.

Sunday she was a little off at the walk. There was a tiny bit of thickening below the knee on the right front, but no real heat and no puffiness in any leg. I kept buting her and hosing the leg, just in case. I didn't trot her; what's the point?

Today I called the good expensive lameness vet at 8:01 am and got a 10:30 appointment. Dixie was all "oh HELL naw" when she saw the trailer, but she loaded up with just a tiny bit of insistence.

Lame Dixie at Comstock Large Animal Hospital from Funder on Vimeo.

She was just a little lame, very consistently, at the trot.

I had a good diagnosis/treatment discussion with the vet. We ended up a pretty standard lameness exam: hoof testers, palpation, a nerve block just below the fetlock (abaxial sesamoid), trot-out/lunging before and after the nerve block, and an ultrasound of the suspected damaged area.

I am one of those people who can't even see the human fetus unless it's a false-color "3D" ultrasound, so I was really hoping I wouldn't be able to see anything on the ultrasound. Fortunately I was right. The vets (the one I was paying and two student vets) could only find some very minor damage to her high suspensory ligament. This is fantastic news. I know just enough about tendon/ligament injuries to know that Dixie was showing all the signs of having one, and I was horribly afraid it'd be torn or ruptured or something career/life ending. Minor disruption of the ligament fibers is wonderful. It's like I won the horse lottery.

I told the vet up front that I didn't really want to try any cutting edge therapies. Dixie's not insured, and I don't think the outcome improvement is worth the treatment cost for shockwave/PRP/stem cell treatments. It seems like tendon injuries need time more than anything else.

Anyway, we're looking at a standard 6 week healing/rehab process. Yes, I know it will probably take longer, and that's just fine. But for now, it's 2 weeks confined with bute and cold hosing. Two weeks handwalking, two weeks walking under saddle, then a recheck.

I'm not actually putting Dixie in a stall; I'm really not set up for that. I hot taped off a small area around her run-in and hay feeder. It's big enough for her to roll and walk, but hopefully not trot. It is totally ghetto looking - those fiberglass step-in posts are not very sturdy so, uh, I kinda tied the corner posts to some dead shrubs with hay twine to keep them upright.

I'd love for Dixie to recover 100% so that we can pick up endurance again, but if she doesn't, no big deal. She can stay in my backyard in all her bad-tempered supermodel glory for the rest of her life, either way.

So - anybody have any good clicker tricks to teach a bored angry confined slightly lame horse?

2011 NASTR 50, Part 1 - the fun bits!

On Friday I packed up the dog and pony show and headed to Dayton for the NASTR 50. The weather was supposed to be gorgeous - high of 70 and partly sunny on Saturday. I brought a selection of clothes ranging from a tank top to long underwear, just in case.


We had a pretty good night camping, actually. I got Dixie's boots on the night before - front Renegades, rear Easyboots, because her rear Renegades had a bad cable. She ate quite well and drank pretty well. Cersei and I slept great in the truck tent and woke up at 4 when the 75s woke up.


The weather seemed promising, and I wanted ride pics in a particular cool tee-shirt I'd brought, so that's what I wore. I fed Cersei breakfast, made sure her water bowl was full and in a hard-to-knock-over place, and headed out for the 6 am start.


I rode with John on Thunder and Meredith on Info. Thunder is a bad-tempered but experienced grey Arab gelding and Info is an adorable even-tempered newbie mustang. It was his first 50!

(Meredith on Info)

Dixie did everything right. She is such a good horse now! She didn't drink til about 23 miles (horrifying!) but once she started, she drank like a champ. She grabbed bits of tasty grass all day, and she ate great at the checks. She has an amazingly good attitude - even when Thunder pinned his ears and threatened to kick all day, she kept her ears up cheerfully or rotated back "listening" to me.


Bless her heart, she's clearly still completely lost at all times, but she trusts me to keep heading out into the wilderness over and over again. She doesn't like it when other horses pass her, but she doesn't freak out about it either. She crossed water pretty calmly, and when she was thirsty she drank out of the creek! She still doesn't pace right with "normal" horses, but she listened to me all day - and I was right. She walks faster and trots slower than other horses, but it all evens out in the end.

(abandoned gold mine)

We spent a lot of time riding on the edges of hillside trails. I was never nervous that we'd go over, so I stayed balanced and she stayed balanced and it was all good.


Once I was stopped behind a sagebrush to pee and she was bored with it and she dragged me over sideways walking away from me. That's pretty much the only time all day that I threatened to take her to the auction, though.


There was some really "technical" trail (i.e. twisty rocky shit uphill through overhanging tree branches) on the way up to the check. Dixie flew uphill perfectly, and I ducked perfectly - most of the people I was with got nailed in the face at least once, but I got lucky. My poor bare arms look like I've been mauled by angry kittens - I'm covered in tiny scratches - but at least I didn't get a bloody nose.

(look at all those A's!)

I had a really rough day. I never get cramps - except for Saturday. Awful cramps. It felt like my uterus was going to fall out. Plus it was a very hilly ride, so it was all uphill or downhill - lots of bonus muscle groups were used. I could barely walk Sunday. Today it just hurts a lot to walk.


I hopped off about a half mile from the second vet check - and fell down. I slid off Dixie and my knees gave out completely and I slammed down onto the gravel road. She just stopped and sighed and waited for me to haul myself back to my feet.


I never put on sunglasses. I had them in my bag, but the overcast never broke long enough for me to pull them out. (This makes it even more amazing that I didn't get hit in the face with a branch - you'll put your eye out, kid.) It also never got above 60, the sun never came out, and it started to drizzle in the last few miles. Perhaps next time I'll bring more clothes, no matter what month it is!

We did the whole ride in 10:44 (including holds.) Actual moving time was about 9:10, so we averaged just under 5 mph. My GPS insists it was 7300+ feet of ascent, but I never know whether to believe it or not. (My muscles think it was definitely 14,000+ feet of elevation change, FWIW!) I am so proud of my horse. I'm just awestruck at what a sensible, calm, brave, strong partner she is.


I reserve the right to loudly threaten to haul her to auction whenever she sidesteps after I get a toe in the stirrup, though.