Monday, April 10, 2017

New Beginnings

Well, folks, this is the end of the line for this blog.  If you have just discovered it, I would encourage you to please start reading at the beginning of our story back in 2008! (See Blog Archive listing to the right of this display.)

After divorcing and moving to town, I gave Guinness to my close friends who love and cherish him to this day. Thank you all for following our progress over the years. I will always treasure this diary of my horse-baby growing up!

To catch up on my horseless adventures as a mid-life athlete,
please see my new blog INDY Fitness.

"BE the horse!"

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Visiting the Vet School

Today, Guinness visited our regional veterinary teaching hospital for the first time.  Fortunately it was a non-emergency!  We were there to be seen by Dr. Funk, an equine chiropractor.

The trouble with a "thinking horse" is that they sometimes take things into their own hooves.  About 3 weeks ago, Guinness was locked in the paddock for the night, so as not to trouble our new boarder, Zoe.  Guinness apparently grew tired of the situation and decided to jump/climb the 4 ft. gate into the pasture.  Apparently he didn't quite make it since he had dings on both hind legs and bent the top of the gate.  Fortunately, he didn't appear to be lame, just perhaps a bit stiff as the moved about.

About a week later, I took him on a 12.4 mile trail ride on the NR Trail.  It was long and flat and he had plenty of time to loosen up.  Along the way, I offered to allow him to trot and canter, but he wasn't his normal enthusiastic self.  Instead, he wanted to GAIT of all things. (Normally I have trouble encouraging to hold a medium-speed four-beated gait.)  Very odd.  At the walk he seemed to be moving fine.

The following week, I took him horse camping at a different spot along the NR Trail.  Although he would take up a canter when requested, it felt very flat and strung out.  Not at all his usual rocking-horse self.  Again, he was fine gaiting and walking.

Last weekend, I attended a Gaited Dressage clinic where a couple of ladies mentioned that they had recently had Dr. Funk of the VMCRM come out to work on a horse and that they had been very pleased with her.  My awesome vet of the past 9 years has just retired and I've been intending to renew my relationship with the VMRCVM as an "equine field services" client, so I decided I needed to have Guinness adjusted!

I decided to haul him to the vet school, rather than have her come out to my barn for two reasons:
1.  A bit less expensive
2.  A great opportunity to desensitize him (and me) to the clinic environment

Dr. Funk was very personable and did a handy job working with Guinness.  He was a bit right-brained (head up & staring intently into my eyes), but didn't move his feet much.  He was the most distressed over a drain cover in the center of the large grey-toned exam room floor and kept snorting at it.  I clicked him for getting near it which seemed to help.  I also clicked him for touching the big foam block that she climbed up on.

She waggled and twisted him around and he seemed ok with it, but kept expecting her to mount!  She showed me how to effectively get him to hump his back to strengthen his abs, which I've never been too successful with, and encouraged me to start to stretch him a bit.  Apparently, his neck is very flexible while his back and pelvis were pretty stiff.  She said that usually a horse's neck and pelvis are roughly the same in flexibility, so I'm thinking that this may have been a consequence of the gate-climbing episode.

The entire appointment took about 1/2 hour which was enough time to him to lower his head a bit and quit bugging his eyes at me.  (I had to remind myself to breathe!)  However, he had a big shake in the parking lot while waiting to load onto the trailer, so apparently he was still pretty wound up while inside the building.

All and all, this was a very valuable learning experience for both horse and human.  We have a better idea of what to expect if, God forbid, we ever need to come here in an emergency with him in pain.  Dr. Funk advised me to ride Guinness tomorrow to see if his will to canter comes back.  If not, she recommended a return visit in 2 weeks.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Return to the River

A view from the Hiwassee bridge over the New River.

The end of summer is rapidly approaching!  With that in mind, my friend Sierra & I decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and ride the NRV Trail.

Our favorite ride is to park at the Draper access point (with good parking and a conveniently located vault toilet, plus a convenience store).  We then ride from there to the Hiwassee boat launch area, play in the river, then ride back.  Round trip is approximately 12.4 miles and takes about 4 hours at a medium pace, not including play time.

Parlay, Sierra & Bella
Sierra rode her mare, Parlay, and brought her dog, Bella, along.  (The same mare that I had a big accident which prompted me to search for a horse like Guinness!  Fortunately, Sierra has brought the best out of this girl and given her a wonderful home.)

The most exciting feature of the trip, aside from the opportunity to swim, is usually crossing the long wooden-decked bridge over the New River.

This time we had another thrill: we encountered a RATTLE SNAKE stretched across the trail between the bridge and the boat ramp!!

Bella was first to spot the snake as she trotted up ahead.  It had been a cool night and it was out sunning itself near two recently-cut logs.  Sierra called Bella back and we watched from a distance as it slithered off the trail and out of sight.  After waiting a bit, we edged closer, while staying at the far edge of the trail. 

Rattle Snake between two logs!

Here is a photo I snapped as I passed the point where the snake had left the trail.  It had stopped and was looking back at me over his snakey shoulder!!  It appeared to have about 5 rattles but I wasn't about to stop to count..

Guinness on the trail.

Without further incident, we made it to the river.  For the first time, Guinness willingly immersed his belly in the water.  He actually swam his first few strokes and we made it to a little sandbar.  (Could it have had something to do with the PB sandwich I was holding?)

We didn't see the snake again, thank goodness, and made it back to the trailer safely.  It did get us thinking about what we would have done if the snake had bitten a horse.  We decided that we would first tie a tourniquet around the affected leg using whatever we had at hand.  Next, we would call the vet school.  Then one of us would have stayed with both horses, while the other hitched a ride back to the trailer, and came back to pick up the horses.  Finally, we would have driven straight along the highway to the vet school!

One weird thing about this ride:  Guinness was disinclined to trot or canter (his usually default) and willingly gaited instead.  Strange.  Got me wondering if he had hurt himself climbing over a gate a week or so before.  I thought that he had emerged unscathed.  However, he felt totally sound at the walk..?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cody Needs a New Partner

My friend is looking to place her RMH gelding "Cody" free to a good home - preferably practicing some variation of natural horsemanship.  She is in her mid 60s with health issues and is motivated to find Cody a partner that will do fun things with him.  He would love to do mounted search & rescue and competitive trail.  I'm hoping that you guys might know someone who needs this fellow!!

Cody is around 12 years old (no papers since he came to my friend through a rescue group - he was found abandoned with other exotic animals).  She has had him 6 or so years.  Cody is a classic left-brain horse with a bit of a cynical "what's in it for me" attitude.  If make things fun for him, he will relax and respond with enthusiasm!  He loves any variation on clicker training and really enjoys performing tricks and working obstacles, and of course hitting the trail.

Cody's issue is that he has two club front hooves and very upright conformation in his front legs.  He has been diagnosed with high ringbone which is believed to have fused.  (He is now 100% sound according to his vet.) He has mostly been ridden in a halter at a fast walk, but lately has been in training with a dressage rider who has taught him to collect himself using a snaffle bit.  He gaits in the field, but not yet reliably under saddle. He is barefooted.

Cody loads easily onto a trailer & backs off quietly, bathes, stands for farrier (see photo below), ties well, and respects electric fence.  He loves other geldings - will play all day long with his buddies - but distrusts mares and is likely to kick at them.

Here is a link to the post where I describe Cody's success at our local fair horse show a couple of years ago.
(There are lots of other details and photos about Cody throughout this blog site too!)

If you know of anyone, please feel free to share my blog.  To contact me, please comment on this blog with your email address and I will see it but not post.  Cody resides in SW Virginia.

Thank you!
 Happy Trails!

Saturday, July 7, 2012


I had a very interesting week this week..  Lost electrical power at home for 7 days due to a "derecho" storm!  Somehow between hauling water and sweating, I managed to find time to play with my critters.

While playing with Guinness (asking him to change direction from side to side, and then to back rapidly) he began to offer a small rear.  I treated him for it and then refined it to having him do it when I crouch and then "rear up" myself.  This is something that I've always wanted him to learn, but I've been afraid of creating a monster.  I'm trying keep very clear the difference between when I want him to back and when to rear, and to keep him a safe distance away from me..  Reminds me very much of the perils of teaching a horse to move sideways toward the handler.  One must always be sure that a counter cue is firmly in place first.  ;-)

Rode Guinness for an hour and a half this morning at our local recreation area. We rode out alone for the first time in ages and he did great.  Used his new EasyBoot Glove hoof boots.  They seem to fit well, and are MUCH easier to get on then other boots I've used.  However, I didn't get one gaiter tight enough and he wound up with a gravel and small stick on one boot. Also, they held creek water so I will need to drill some small holes in them.  Lucky for me he didn't freak at the squelching sounds coming from his feet.

I'm still riding him in the Abetta Endurance saddle.  It is a cheap saddle, but light weight and with the Theraflex pad, he has a perfectly even sweat pattern with no rumpled hairs.  Yippee!

Speaking of saddles, I need a second one for use when both horses are being ridden.  Have been planning to buy a second Abetta, but am balking at paying $550 for the style that I want.  Today, I ran across a 17" Derby Originals synthetic dressage saddle for around $100.  It is very light and was comfy to sit in - at least on a saddle stand.  I have NO idea how these saddles are sized or how they are supposed to fit, but it seems ok when placed on Guinness' back..?  I may try riding in it tomorrow to see how it goes.  I would love to have this saddle as an alternate for ring work and in case I ever get into the sport of Working Equitation.

PS - I decided against purchasing this saddle.
Just too small for both of us.. However, I am now looking to purchase a Wintec Pro dressage. Anyone have a used 18-19 inch for sale?!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Home Again

Hi folks,

Just wanted to let you know that Guinness (now 5 years old) and I are doing great.  Re-married (yup) my ex-husband this spring - 6 months after our divorce - and moved back home!  It is a long story..

In the process, I purchased a horse for my husband to play with!! (Any excuse, huh?) Stormy is a 3 year old, black, Rocky Mountain Horse filly. Like Guinness, she was bred by Coop's Rockies in KY, but she isn't closely related to him.

 Paul meets Stormy for the first time.

Coop's Ebony Storm, two year old Rocky Mountain Horse mare.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Life Changes

Hi folks. It has been a really long time since my last post. I just wanted to let everyone know that I'm alive and kicking - and so is Guinness.

First, I took a full-time job last summer which dramatically impacted my free time. Then, in January, my spouse and I decided to separate. About three weeks ago Guinness and Cody moved to a friend's boarding barn in town, and I was blessed to rehome Smokey to "horse heaven" (80 acres, a mare for company, and owners that don't want to ride him)! My son & I will be moving to a place in town - hopefully next weekend..

Guinness turned FOUR last week! It is hard to believe how time flies. It was just yesterday that I brought him home at 18 months of age. He is so smart and steady that I feel as though I could ride him anywhere. It was only a year ago I was just really starting to ride him at all.. I don't think that he will get much taller (now around 14.3), but I'm sure that he will fill out some more. (I'll post a photo of him in his new digs as soon as I take one.)

He is now in a pasture with 7 other horses, including 2 mares that he is fascinated with. Happily, he isn't herd bound and I can easily bring him out to play with. His pasture features a wooded grove with 2 large run-ins, plus a grassy hill with a view to several other stables, and a huge "back pasture" that runs down a steep slope and then 1/2 way up a mountain! Just by being there he is getting himself into riding condition, which is a blessing since my time is so short.

I console myself that I'll have Guinness for the next 26 years, so having him lounge out in the pasture most of the time right now is ok. He seems very happy (like a kid on a playground with his buddies). I miss seeing him every day. But, he is starting to really value it when I come to visit. He ran over to see me twice while I was with him today.

It is all good.

Guinness at four years old.