Nani Nani Boo Boo

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The High Stepper prior to his brazen escape

So Ike decided that today was the day that he would not respect the stall guard’s authority. 

I noticed a popped nail while grooming Ike for our ride, and had Mr. D come check it out.  He decided that it needed some attention,  so he went to get his farrier supplies.  I left the stall as well to get some treats from the tack room.  Ike typically stands quietly…but today was not that day.  In the 20 seconds that Ike was left alone, I heard a metallic “Snap!” and then saw a large dark form trot by the tack room…

Ike made it all of 30 feet from the barn before he was distracted by a juicy patch of spring green grass.  My appearance was unwelcome so Ike showed off his Hackney trot and pranced off to the arena which, he would soon realize, would mean the end to his freedom.  Haha, big boy, Mom knows how to close the gate…(but obviously not stall doors.)

Mr. Hot Stuff high stepped his way past all the other horses who had come racing to the fenceline to check out the mayhem.  He stopped to visit with his barn buddy Joe, caused some squealing, and pranced away again as I slowly approached. I am pretty sure he was chanting “Nani, nani, boo, boo” as he tossed his head in my direction.  Mr. HS was yet again distracted by some grass in the corner of the arena.  At this point, I finally caught up to my naughty pony and was able to clip the lead rope to his halter to end the hijinks.

Someone was not happy that I ended his walk about because he was wretched for tacking, tried to bite me when I buckled the girth, and tried to run me over as we headed back to the arena.  Fearing the worst, I swung my leg over for our session.  Luckily Big Man settled down for a very positive workout.  We held our countercanter in both directions with uphill simple changes to the correct lead.  Our 10 meter circles were fluid.  Our shoulder in and travers had steady bend and rhythm.  While I was pleased with our work, I don’t think I will encourage Ike to repeat his freeform warmup.

Tomorrow the stall door will remain closed.

Extracurricular Activities (or Why Ike Needed to Get Back to Work Sooner Rather Than Later)

"Who wants to play with me?"

“Who wants to play with me?”

The month of February was not a good month for making forward progress to our goal of showing Second Level in April.  We had a solid lesson on February 9th, and then Mother Nature decided to be persnickety and throw every type of frozen precipitation at us for days on end.  I tried riding one other day, but that ended with Ike’s hind end slipping out from under us and me almost sliding off with thoughts of broken bones and torn tendons flashing through my brain. So I hung up our bridle and hunkered down until Mother Nature’s mood improved.  Unfortunately it took her almost 4 weeks to come to her senses as our next lesson just happened today, March 10th .  Grrr, not amused.

Ike on the other hand, took the time off to engage in some extracurricular activities.  The more bored he became, the more the extracurricular activities escalated.  I thought I would share with you some of the activities in case your horse is still out of work and you need some ideas to keep him occupied.

  1. Halter Removal – This game only works when at least one horse is wearing a halter.  The object of the game is to get the noseband of the halter into the mouth of the horse wearing the halter without the halter breaking.  I guess it goes without saying that it is also better if nothing breaks on any of the participants.  Of course, this game is hard on the halter, so buy cheap ones since they will eventually fray and break.
  2. Snow Angel – You try and make the most elaborate snow angel.  This game requires some agility skills and the ability to completely roll over to obtain the full angel wing span.  Ike, sadly, usually made a one-winged angel.  This was his least favorite game and soon fell out of favor.
  3. I’ve Got Your Water – This game involves trying to steal the water from your brother’s paddock.  Each day, repurposed muck buckets of fresh water were set out in the paddocks in the morning.  We came to realize that Mr. Giraffe could grab the handle of his brother’s bucket if it was set too close to the fence.  Ike thought it was great fun to grab it and try to put it in his paddock.  “Ha, ha, I now have two and you have none.”
  4. Play With Me Now – The instigator stands at the fence line and must make mean faces at the other participant until the other participant relents and finally plays with the instigator.  It also helps to stomp the ground and kick out your hind leg in disgust.  Once both participants are engaged, both must show off their rearing skills in the icy footing.  The first one to fall is the loser.
  5. The Tree Removal Game– You find the one and only tree near your paddock and pull on the trunk of the tree to see how much of an angle you can obtain before the tree splits in two.  So far a 30-35 degree angle is the record.  Ike plans to parlay this game into some side work this summer working for a tree company.
  6. Paddock Redesign – This is an advanced game that requires some knowledge of electric fences and how to test whether or not they are working.  Beginners will need help from more advanced players to hone their fence testing skills.  Once the basics are established, the object of the game is to remove a section of the paddock fence to create a “door” into the adjacent paddock.  If the “door” is not fully open, you also test your jumping skills to avoid the “trip wire” still blocking the “door.”  Once in the adjacent paddock, this opens up a whole new array of game opportunities…until of course you get caught by the warden…
  7. Spring Fling – This is a bonus game if you master Paddock Redesign.  It is also a boy/girl game.  The object is to see how long you can play with the girls over their fence line until you get caught by the warden or you piss them off enough that they no longer want to play with you.  Bonus points are given if you can avoid shocking yourself on their hotwire while you engage them in play or if you can create a “door” into their paddocks.

Phew, we went back to work just in the nick of time.  I would hate to think what was next in line for equine activities…Trailer Pulling Contests or Hide and Seek anyone?

Pony Gone Mad

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You know it isn’t going to be great news when you hear from your trainer early in the day with an email with your horse’s name in the subject line…great, who did what to which horse or what body part?  Luckily, the damage was to an inanimate object.  Even more lucky, there was no damage to the horse that caused the barn damage.

As you can see by the photo, Ike decided that his feed bucket was very, very naughty and had to be destroyed to save the barn.  Not sure what triggered this destructive turn.  We did begin switching Ike to a new supplemental feed with yesterday’s dinner. [Purina discontinued their Athlete feed last year.  I stockpiled almost 20 bags in my family room to delay the switch, but the day finally arrived to change over to the Purina Amplify.]  We are not certain if the change in the feed made Ike mad that there was a change in the taste or if he like the new feed so much that he was mad that there was not more.  Or it was completely unrelated to the feed and he was bored.  Either way, Mom had to stop to buy a new feed bucket on the way to the barn today.

Sadly, this is not the first time Ike has destroyed pieces of the barn.  We had to buy a new gate after he mangled the old one when he’d rear on the gate to take it off the hinges.  He also played with the ceiling fan blades enough to damage the motor;  his fan would spin slowly like top getting ready to topple over.  That poor fan was put out of its misery last summer.  And finally, the day is near, when we will have to purchase the lumber to reframe the windows of his stall.  Ike still exhibits termite like behavior in spite of the No Chew sprayed on the wood with chicken wire stapled over it.

Fingers are crossed that the new bucket will survive the night.

Happy Easter!

So glad Mom is wearing those dumb bunny ears.

So glad Mom is wearing those dumb bunny ears.

Ike and I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Easter!  We are taking the day off and spending the day with family.  I should have known that after the Santa Hat debacle from Christmas, that Ike would not be a willing bunny ear wearing horse.  When I walked into Ike’s paddock carrying the bunny ears, this is what happened…

We’ve had some great work this past week including a tough lesson with Ms. C.  There are only two weeks left before our first show of the season, so there is much work to be done before our debut at First Level at a rated show.  What was I thinking?!

Happy Birthday Cigar!

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Today is Ike’s brother’s 18th birthday.  According to The Jockey Club, he turned 18 on January 1st, but I like to acknowledge the actual day.  He has been a part of the family for 9 years.  Cigar is incorrigible.  I tried my best to turn him into a dressage partner, but he fought me on each and every ride.  In his mind, you could not win unless your nose was stretched far out in front of the rest of your body.  It must have driven him crazy when I said that no, we could not gallop down centerline…although we actually did that at one schooling show when he decided the herd of sheep were to be feared.

He has given me a black eye, a bloody nose, a crooked finger, bruises, sprains, and whiplash.  He might be incorrigible, but he is my grumpy old man and Ike’s buddy.  Happy Birthday Cigar, we love you!  🙂

 

More From Ike’s World

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Hello Friends!

I’ve decided to not give up control of Mom’s blog.  Still trying to figure out how to change the password so she can’t use the blog, but I guess that would be easier if I knew what a password was.

Do you know that Mom and Dad left me behind again when they went on vacation?  Can you believe that?!  Mom said that they were visiting islands on a boat and that there was no room for me or my brother.  Must have been a very small boat if we couldn’t fit on it.  If that is the case, I doubt that they had a good time.  I know that things here weren’t all sun and fun while they were gone.

While they were on the boat, we had to endure another snow storm.  I again tried to eat it, but this stuff was as bland as the other stuff.  White grass is worthless.  My brother tells me that he is certain that the green grass will be back soon.  The good side of having white grass is that I didn’t have to do any work while it covered the ground.  Word around the barn is that Mom told Ms. C to ride me two or three times while she was away.  As it was, Ms. C did make me do stuff twice, but I did my best to let her know that I wasn’t thrilled with this plan.

The first time was before the storm.  Ms. C put me on a really long lead rope and made me go in circles around her.  Hmm, just because my legs are longer than hers, why do I have to do all the work?  She also had a really long stick with a rope attached.  I tried to ignore what she was saying and do whatever I wanted, but that made her shake that stick at me.  If I ignored the stick, she would shake the stick so the rope wiggled like a snake.  Meanie.  I showed her by taking off so fast that she dropped the rope.  I ran to the far end of the arena, but thought I saw that scary bird hiding in the bushes, so I ran back to Ms. C.  She was less scary than the prehistoric bird.  Along with learning what a password is, I’m planning to learn how to use that stick thing.

Then right before Mom came home, Ms. C put on my saddle to ride me.  I am usually tacked in my stall, so I cleverly walked too close to the stall door and managed to pull the stirrup away from the saddle.  Ms. C couldn’t get it reattached.  Yea!  Awesome, I thought, no work for me!  But she then put her saddle on my back.  Wait a minute, how uncool is this.  Did she really think that I was going to wear a strange saddle?  No way.  I let her know right away that I thought her saddle was a bad idea.  She mumbled something about a fairy tale called The Princess and the Pea, but I’m still not clear how that relates to me and her saddle.

The highlight of my week was the warm weather on Saturday which meant that my blanket had to come off.  Heehee.  When all the white snow went away, it left behind some gooey mud.  My brother has shared with me his mud application techniques to get full body coverage.  You first need to work the mud with your hooves to make sure that there are no dry spots that would keep parts of your body mud-free.  One also must make sure that your rolling method allows you to get full coverage on your sides as well as where the saddle goes.  Cigar says that the saddle area is the most important, but also make every effort to coat your neck and face as well.

I think I did a good job because I stopped Mom in her tracks when she came to the barn on Sunday.  I’m pretty sure she almost gave up the thought of riding, but then a determined look swept over her face and she pulled out the curry.  I made her chase me around my stall a few times too, but she stuck with it.  She worked hard enough to clean off the saddle, girth and bridle spots, but she did leave a significant amount of mud on my legs, my butt, and in my mane and tail.  She won’t win any grooming contests anytime soon.

Even though I was mad at her for leaving me, I was glad to see her especially since she brought juicy apples from her travels.  At least I’d like to think she brought them home from vacation.  It is the least she could do.  We had a good time on Sunday and a lesson with Ms. C on Monday.  They gave me a lot of praise and Stud Muffins.  Guess I will try to be good under saddle since I like getting treats.  Can’t make any promises about staying clean.

Ike

It Is My Turn Again – Ike Takes Charge of the Blog

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Hello everyone!  I’m hijacking Mom’s blog to again get you up-to-date with the latest from the barn without Mom’s biased opinion obscuring the truth.  You all know that she just doesn’t get things right sometimes.  Poor clueless woman.  I hope I don’t get in trouble for saying that!

Anyhoo, this has been a winter unlike any of the other two winters I have experienced.  There have been numerous days where I don’t get to go out in my paddock at the usual time because of this white stuff that hides the grass.  It is an odd substance that the humans seem to dislike a lot.  The night before it came, they even took the gates off the hinges.  I thought that they’d decided to let us have free roam of the barnyard so that we could eat the tasty grass on the other side of the fence, but no, after the white stuff covered the ground, Mr. D drove the tractor around, and then they put the gates back on.  Shucks!  I thought my brother and I were really going to get to play rather than improvising over the hotwire.

I pushed the white stuff around with my nose.  Ms. C told me I looked like a big anteater.  Not sure what an anteater is or if I want to be compared to one.  What I can tell you is that the white stuff does not taste like grass.  I tried eating it a few times just to make sure I was right.  It is just cold and tasteless.  I also tried rolling in it just like my big brother.  Not impressed.  I think I’m glad I had my blanket on when I rolled.

The best thing about the white stuff is that I don’t have to work when the white stuff is on the ground, so I have had a lot of time to hang out.  Mom says that I’m like a kid who has been home from school for too long;  she says that I’m “stir-crazy” and need to get back to work.  I think she is the one that is crazy.

I did have another new experience this winter.  My best buddy Dooda left the barn one day and didn’t come back.  I knew that he wasn’t feeling well even before everyone else did.  He was very sweaty and rolled in his stall the night before.  I stretched my neck out as far as I could, but I still couldn’t see him when he lay down.  I think he belly hurt and the pain just kept getting worse.  It made me very worried and I spent my day checking on him.  Mom cried when she came to the barn.  She told me that Dooda might be joining Lancaster on the other side of the rainbow bridge.  She told me that Dooda would not be in pain anymore.  I usually don’t say much when horses come and go from the barn, but I did whinny to my buddy as he walked away.  He nickered back.  I’m not going to tell you what he said.  That is between the two of us.

After Dooda left, the whirling dervish Sophie moved into Doo’s stall.  I like her just fine, but she is a girl and doesn’t get me like Dooda did.  At least she doesn’t try to bite me like the other girls at the barn.

And, finally, I know my Mom has told you all about her fall, but you need to know the facts.  She told you that a bird scared me, but she didn’t tell you how creepy the bird was.  He looked like a prehistoric creature with its wings spread.  It just sat on the fence pole motionless even when I stared at it.  It was humongous!  When it starting flapping its wings, I knew I had to get away from it really fast.  I was trying to save myself and my Mom.  Pretty sure that it would have eaten me if I hadn’t run.  In my panic, I bucked.  How was I to know that Mom would fly like she did?  She doesn’t have wings like that bird.  Mom didn’t even come to rescue me when the reins got wrapped around my leg.  She just lay on the ground like a pile of poo.  She left the barn with Ms. C and didn’t even come to say goodbye.  Sheesh!  Good thing that Mr. D was there to take care of me.  My brother Cigar gave me a secret high-five later that day;  he thought my feat was pretty impressive.  Don’t tell Mom though, because she doesn’t like when I take advice from Cigar.

So there you have it – straight from the horse’s mouth.  Feel free to ask me anything.  You can count on me to tell you the whole truth.

Ike

Black and Blue and Sore All Over!

My two nurses made sure I was well cared for when I made it home.

My two nurses made sure I was well cared for when I made it home.

Well this has been an interesting week.  If you had asked me while I was sitting in the emergency room how I would be feeling four days later, I’d have told you that I’d be back to walking the dogs, practicing my vinyasa yoga, and dancing to my Zumba DVD by now.  Boy, was I WRONG!

I could barely walk Monday night and it would have been comical for you to see me trying to get out of the bed Tuesday morning.  I felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck.  I suppose getting hurled to the partially frozen ground off a galloping horse isn’t quite equivalent, but it sure did take a lot out of my body.  I’ve had spills before, but I was younger and bounced back rather quickly.  Mr. D told me when I finally retrieved my car on Thursday that he was certain that I was unconscious or severely broken because I did not bounce when I hit the ground.  “Thud” is the word that came to mind.

I managed to knock the scab off my nose today while in the car.  Next thing I knew I had blood streaming down my nose and into my lap as I cruised down the road to the barn.  Awesome.  I was able to scrounge some napkins out of my center console to sponge up the flow.  What a mess.  I ended up folding a napkin, placing it on the wound, and holding it in place with my glasses.  And no, I did not take a photo.

Today I was finally able to walk a little more normally and not have to take the stairs one at a time while gripping the rails.  I no longer grimace as I sit or try to get into the bed, and thankfully the whiplash has lessened.  And thank goodness it is wintertime and I can cover up the bruises with layers of clothing.  Yikes!  I am very colorful in multiple places.   There are bruises covering my right foot and ankle, my tailbone, my left waistline, and the granddaddy of them all is a hand-sized bruise down my left hip and thigh.  For those of you who like to stare at car accidents, I share the following:

Not as bad as some of my sprains from high school track.

Not as bad as some of my sprains from high school track.

Pretty.

Pretty.

It was good to finally see my boys yesterday and today.  Our arena still looks like an ice skating rink, so I suppose if I had to be out of commission, this is a good time to do it.  Ike and I had a good chat about what happened.  He was apologetic, but did ask if I could purchase a bb gun to scare away the vultures.

Not sure when I will be back in the saddle, but hoping that it is sooner rather than later.

She Didn’t Stick the Landing…

"Um, Mom, why are you laying in the stonedust?  I was trying to save us both."

“Um, Mom, why are you laying in the stone dust? I was trying to save us both.”

So, Ms. C sometimes watches Ike gallop and buck his way around his paddock; she’s also said that she hopes that he never does that while I’m in the saddle, “You are doomed if he does.” Well, she was right.

Had not been in the saddle but for a few minutes when all hell broke loose.  Mr. D happened to see the entire event unfold.  The vulture that had been sunning himself decided to take flight.  Ike decided he was a flying boogie man and went from walk to gallop like a racehorse.  He bucked once, and I was okay…it was the second one that got me. I attempted a front flip with a half twist dismount. I did not stick the landing. Landed hard on my left hip. Also managed to twist my right ankle. My pride is also a bit broken.

Mr. D grabbed Ike and put him in his stall. He then brought the tractor to the ring and I hitched a ride in the bucket (thankfully, no photos of my newest mount).

After 3 hours in the emergency room, I learned that all my years of drinking milk have paid off. Nothing is broken, but boy am I going to be sore. Bring on the muscle relaxers and Aleve. Cannot wait to see the bruising.

BTW, the funniest moment in the hospital came when a bunch of stone dust fell out of my pants…bet they don’t see that every day!

Time to rest! Alison

Reasons to Hate Winter and Be a Snow Bird in Welliworld

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In case you have been wondering why things have been so silent about Ike’s adventures, it is because we have not had any saddle time since January 1.  Yes, that is right, the 1st.  “But why Alison, why have you been so unproductive?  You have to master the Ten Commandments According to George before show season.”

Well, let me fill you in on the past nine days…which will clearly explain why I hate winter and why I need to win the lottery so that I can afford to flee to Welliworld and warmer temperatures. [In case you aren’t aware, Wellington, Florida is like Disney World for dressage lovers in the winter.]

Ike had his teeth floated on January 2nd.  They had last been done in May 2012.  Now before you accuse me of being negligent, he had not needed them done until now.  Yes, I got lucky with a horse who does not need dental work every 6 months.  That same day, since he was sedated, he also got his sheath cleaned…he frowns upon any attempts at touching the area without the help of drugs.  I gave him the rest of the day off to chill since I know how my mouth feels after the hygienist has been scraping and probing around my gumline.

Anyhoo, January 3rd brought snow and ice to the mid-Atlantic region – not any appreciable snow amounts, but enough to send Virginians into a blind panic to buy bread and milk and toilet paper in large quantities (those in the north must get a good chuckle out of us.).  Those of us without indoor arenas stare out the window and frown.  January 4th and 5th were saddle-free days because the chilly temperatures froze the arena to the hardness of concrete and prevented any snow melt.  January 5th also brought in some more rain.  Why not?!  More insult to injury.

January 6th dawned with another morning of rain.  Seriously??  Luckily by afternoon when I was done working, the rain had stopped.  Finally, I thought, I can hop on Ike for a ride.  Even if the footing was a little sloppy, I could at least do walk and some trot….or so I thought.  Got Ike tacked up quickly and headed to the arena while there was still daylight.  We started walking to warm up and all felt fine.  I knew something was off as soon as Ike made half a stride of trot.  Almost felt like he hopped with the hind end, like a runner pulling up with a strained hamstring.  Luckily, Ms. C was jin the barn and she came out to watch.  There were some good strides tracking right, but left was definitely off.  Ike went back in his stall where he had some Surpass rubbed on his hamstring and some Bute added to dinner.  Since Ike was sound on January 1st for my last ride, that leaves cavorting with his brother as the number one suspected reason that he was off.  Rumor has it that they can cause quite the commotion when they start the gelding play over the hotwire fencing.  I perish to think about the damage to themselves and the farm that they could cause if they were to share a paddock.

Well since Ike was having some rest time, I wasn’t too upset about the whole Polar Vortex/record-setting cold that settled into the area January 7th and 8th and re-froze the ground  It also turned my hands into white, bloodless extremities.  Can’t really half halt, groom, secure buckles, or pick hooves efficiently when you can’t move or feel your fingers.  It was definitely cold here, but after seeing some of the negative temperature values around the country, I don’t feel that we have too much to complain about.

January 9th – Ike was still not quite right.  Vet has been called and scheduled.  Thankfully he just had his routine adjustment, so we have an excellent baseline for reference.  So much for my goal of saving some cash; we can start next month.

January 10th – freezing rain in the morning followed by more rain in the afternoon.  Small pools have formed in the far end of the arena.  I managed to find the only patch of ice in the area and had the sidewalk viciously attacked my knee.  My knee is a wimp.  Tylenol is a good thing.  Where is the leftover ice melt?

Looks like more rain for tomorrow the 11th.  We can start working next week.

Wish me luck with the lottery.  I just know that my numbers are going to come in!