Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Getting Better

Second ride on Licorice today.  I was told I could ride him, but not to let him work up a sweat.  We did a little of this and a little of that and had a pretty ugly ride, but both of us were just finding out feet again.  It was good to be back in the saddle.

I don't think Licorice shared my enthusiasm for this.  When I went to get him out of turnout (his second time getting out with friends in almost three weeks!) he gave me "Are you crazy?" look and turned and walked away.

Once under saddle, he tried looking back up at me a few times and stopping.  He just wasn't all that motivated to get back to work.  I think he enjoyed having a three week vacation with 24 hour room service.

I gifted Licorice with a new bridle that does not have a pink sparkly browband.  I forgot to take a specific close up of the bridle, but I'm pretty happy with it.  It's a Horze brand bridle and I think the stitching looks fancy.

See the white stitching?  I love how it looks on his big, black head.  I think he likes this better than bling.

It's a bit stiff though.  What do you use to soften up your leather?  Keep in mind, this is not an expensive leather bridle so it's not going to 'break in' the way a nice bridle would.  Still, I would like to soften it up some so it's easier to undo the buckles.  Any ideas would be appreciated.

Also, I would like to bitch a little about how hard it is to find a bridle without a flash AND a crank on it.  What happened to just nosebands?  Sheesh!!  Also, Licorice is wearing a Cob size bridle and the giant crank noseband is still too big.  He doesn't even have a delicate face so I find this surprising.  I don't want to crank his noseband down and put on his flash.  Sigh.  Stupid trends.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  I'm hoping to catch up on my reading tomorrow somewhere in between oiling my new bridle and drinking wine and eating so much that I pop the button off my pants, which shouldn't take too much since I haven't ridden in three weeks and have been eating my way through Licorice's illness.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Keeping Fingers Crossed

Licorice seems to be doing alright.  He's eating and drinking like he should.  Because his hay is getting soaked before he eats it, he is drinking a little less but my vet said that's fine.

Someone asked about EPM (I think that was it) and we did have Licorice tested for everything.  All of his blood work came back normal.

At this point, we don't have any good idea about what happened.  It was probably a viral infection that gave him a fever and diarrhea.  Who knows what caused him to colic.

We are starting him on Succeed next week, which is supposed to help sensitive flowers like my new pony.

I have also been given the okay to lunge him lightly today.  I'm pretty nervous about that since the last time I did that, he ended up getting sicker.

It's been perfectly sunny (and cold) here.  I'm sad that Licorice has been sick because it's VERY unusual to see the sun this time of year and it would have been fun to be out exploring the trails.  Hopefully we'll see some more sunshine in December when we can actually get ourselves outside!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Lots of poop.  Poop is good.  I love poop.  Poop. Poop. Poop.  I can breathe a sigh of relief now that we're seeing regular piles of good poop.

I don't have much else to say right now.  There will be lots of grazing and hand walking until Licorice can go out with his buddies and be back on a normal diet.  We're putting him on a supplement for ponies with sensitive hind guts and I know more about my ponies internal workings than I did before.  It's all part of getting to know him.

Hopefully this was an unusual event in his life and not a way of being for him.  But even if he does turn out to be a sensitive flower, I'll take it.
Look who's back to wearing a chain and dragging people to his favorite patch of grass!  Yeah for feeling well enough to have horrible manners!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Uphill Downhill Uphill

Well, I spoke too soon about Licorice.  I got a call yesterday from my trainer saying Licorice looked off.  She said she thought he might colic and his poop went from normal back to cow pie diarrhea to overly dry normal.  We called the vet who was 60 minutes out.  In vet speak, that means about two to three hours.  By the time the vet arrived, Licorice had tried to go down and roll twice.  His nostrils were flared from pain and he was pawing at his belly and swinging his head.

The vet listened to his gut.  One side sounded normal.  The other side sounded inconsistent, which is about what you'd expect from a horse that has had diarrhea for seven days.  So, he sedated Licorice and stuck his arm up his behind to find out what's what.

The good news:  he found nothing.  The frustrating news:  he found nothing.  There was some expected inflammation (again, after diarrhea for seven days that's not surprising) and a few slightly dryer than normal stools, but no red flags.

So, then he got a half dose of Banamine by injection.  Banamine acts an anti inflammatory and a pain medication to help keep Licorice uncomfortable.

Next up, Licorice got a tube up his nose and down to his stomach and was pumped full of water and mineral oil.  My vet said he normally uses milk of magnesia but he was concerned about the level of inflammation inside Licorice.  Especially since he went from cow pie diarrhea to normal to diarrhea to dry.  If there were some extra dry stools in there, he wanted to flush them out gently.

The vet said to keep him off dry foods entirely and give him warm mashes.  We were also cleared for grazing as long as he continued to look okay.

I went home and got my stuff for the long night ahead, had a hot dinner and a hot bath and came back ready.

The first thing we figured out is that Licorice doesn't like warm mashes, or cold mashes.  He does not like bran mashes.  Or oat mashes.  Or alfalfa pellets soaked in warm water.  He does not want beet pulp.  Licorice wants hay.  He was increasingly crabby as all the other horses got hay and he didn't.

It was pouring down rain when I took Licorice out for his first graze.  I let him graze for thirty minutes, then took him back to his stall to see how he fared.  He took a nap and a poop and I huddled under two down sleeping bags, failing at catching some sleep.

Two hours later, we were back out in the pouring rain and he was grazing again.  He was happy to graze but I was cold and tired.  After thirty minutes I called it good and put him back in his stall.

I didn't sleep at all last night.  Partly because I was cold and sleeping on a lawn chair and I'm just not good at that.  I would not make a good adventurer.  I don't like being cold and uncomfortable.  Partly I didn't sleep because the other horses were so loud.  I didn't realize that horses are like cats and like the have parties at 3am.  And the snoring.  Oh. My. God. The. Snoring.  Oxford was across the aisle from Licorice and I and I checked him three times before I realized he wasn't dying, he was snoring!

I ended up leaping out of my sleeping bags about every twenty minutes because one of the horses would shift, lay down, get up, kick something and I would be sure it was Licorice going down and rolling.  Every two hours, I took Licorice out for thirty minutes of grazing.  By this morning, he was looking much better and I was looking much worse.

At seven a.m. I rolled on home and into bed for a few hours.  Last update was that he was beginning to pass the mineral oil, and he ate his mash breakfast.  Will probably head back out this afternoon for more hand grazing.

So....lesson learned about horses.  It's not over until it's over.  I'm not calling this until it's been gone for a few weeks.

Also, despite my bone aching, head pounding, dry mouthed tiredness, I would do it again.  It's my pony and I'm starting to suspect he might be that heart horse everyone talks about ('s too early in our relationship to drop the HH phrase!).  He was worth every lost hour of sleep, every dollar spent on multiple vet visits (I haven't gotten the bill yet.  Merry Christmas family, we bought ourselves a well horse!) and every new worry line on my face.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Steady Uphill Climb

Licorice had a dramatic weekend full of vet visits every day.  The good news is that his blood work came back negative.  His current diagnosis is that it's a viral issue.  He was very lethargic this weekend, with a fever and bad diarrhea.  My barn and trainer have been wonderful about taking care of him.  His stall got cleaned out every few hours so that he didn't have to lay down in any poop piles.  His temperature was taken regularly and everything was closely monitored.

Saturday afternoon he started to turn around.  His fever went away and when he came out to be looked over by the vet, his bad manners had returned.  I've never been so happy to hear that a horses bad manners are back.  Some day this won't be the issue, but he can still be a bit of a moose and will just keep walking to where he wants to go, dragging the person along with him.  When he was sick, he wasn't interested in his friends or that extra pile of hay in the corner.

Sunday, I was cleared to let him out on the lunge line.  He hasn't had turnout and has only been hand walked since Tuesday.  I was only to lunge him for a few minutes to see how he's feeling.  If he offered to canter that was fine, but I was told to just let him trot around a bit.

Despite the quarantine and five days without work or turnout, Licorice wasn't super interested in being on the lunge line.  He trotted for a few minutes and at one point got excited when a horsey friend of his walked by the arena.  That resulted in about thirty seconds of cantering.  After which he had a very messy (and disgustingly smelly) poop in the arena.  Then he looked worn out.  I made him walk on the lunge for another few minutes just to stretch his legs out, but he was obviously not feeling fit and sassy yet.

I gave him a quick grooming and tucked him in for the night.  I'm back out today for some more lunging and to see how he feels after yesterday's excursion.  Now that he's turned the corner (I think) we can put him on some probiotics/gut supplements since it seems he may have a sensitive digestive system.  To my knowledge, though he got a virus, no other horses have gotten sick.

Thanks for all the well wishes!  I do believe my pony is on the mend.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Biohazard Pony

I had a couple posts about how amazing Licorice was, how I did my first body clip on Licorice, how much I looooove my pony and all that good stuff, but they all seem trivial now.

Licorice is sick.  Monday night during my lesson he pooped a lot and by the end of the lesson it was flat out diarrhea.  Tuesday he was in good spirits, but still had runny poop.  Wednesday he had a small temperature and runny poop and it was decided that we would check in the morning and call the vet if necessary.

Though he's not completely off his feed, he was not eating voraciously at lunchtime today and his poop was runny.  His temp came in a bit high for a morning temperature so the vet was called.

A little back story that I can't remember if I've covered.  When I bought Licorice, they told me he had gotten very ill about six months ago.  He had a temperature and went off his feed and ended up in the hospital for two weeks.  They pumped him full of fluids and kept him there and he got better.  They never did figure out what was wrong with him and just wrote it off as 'mystery illness'.  I think the vet called it a kind of founder if I recall correctly.

When I had my pre-purchase we talked about this with Licorice's former owners and my vet.  My vet showed me where you could see that he was sick by looking at his hooves.  But he pointed out that the new hoof was growing straight and strong and that since Licorice had never been sick any other time in his life, that it probably wasn't an issue.

Fast forward to today and we were a bit concerned that he was having similar symptoms.  So the vet came out, took some blood and pronounced my pony a bio hazard.  He will get his stall done by someone who will change clothes after doing it.  He will likely be kept inside or turned out into one of the small, individual turnouts.  He is getting Bio Sponge today and they gave him a dose of Banamine.  Tomorrow he will get re-checked and we will get blood results back.  From there, we will know what to treat.

It's scary on two levels.  The first and by far the most challenging, is the emotional level.  I know it's only been a month but dammit I adore this horse.  I connect with him in an entirely different way than I did Tessa.  I don't want him to be sick.  I don't want him to feel bad.  I went out and just hung out with him for a few minutes today.  Sadly, I'm going out of town this weekend and won't be able to just go sit in his stall with him this weekend.  The second scary thing is just the financial level.  Tessa didn't sell (though she is on a lease) so we still haven't fully recovered from purchasing Licorice and all the costs associated with a new horse.  If Licorice is really ill, it could be incredibly costly.  It's too late to get insurance at this point (note to self:  look into insurance!!!  if they'll even cover us after this....) so everything has to come out of pocket.  It's not that we can't afford it, but horse stuff so quickly goes into the thousands when they're ill.

So, please send Licorice healing vibes and let's keep our collective fingers crossed that the vet comes back with something straightforward and easy to handle.  Maybe I'll get back from the weekend to a recovered, happy pony.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Shortest Ride Ever

Yesterday there was sunshine.  In this area, sunshine does not come around much from the months of November through May.  So when it does, you do what you can to get outside and soak it up. 

My daughter had stayed home sick from school, so my husband came home early to help take care of her so I could get some work done.  But when I saw that glorious bright light, I opted to ditch work and head out to the barn instead.

I got there as the light was starting to fade, so I decided to ride in the arena.  Despite having four days off, Licorice looked half asleep in the cross ties.  I got him tacked him up and was getting ready to head into the arena when my trainer reminded me that he had his teeth done that morning (and a sheath cleaning while he was drugged up)

"Will he be okay to ride?" 

"He looks alright, but pay attention.  It's been a while so he should be fine."

I got on and we walked around the arena.  We tried two steps of trot.  He stumbled both steps.  I patted his neck and got off.

Back in the cross ties, I could see signs of being a little out of it.  His front legs were a little wider than normal.  He was resting a back leg so hard that his fetlock was practically touching the ground.  He got lots of praise and put back in his stall to sleep it off.

It's only been 30 days, and this was a good reminder that we only barely know each other.  I still absolutely love him, but I need to pay closer attention so I have a baseline of normal.

In other news, look at his gorgeous new saddle pad!  I love, love, love this color on him.  I bought the pad from Tack of the Day and am a little disappointed in how thin it is.  It wrinkles up super easy.  But the color is perfect.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Best Intentions

This morning started off super stormy, with a crazy squall blowing through with high winds and sideways rain.  Though I was dressed for the barn, I decided to wait and see what the weather did.

It did finally stop raining and the wind settled into a breezy day, but not a crazy windy day so I geared up and headed out to the barn.  Only to find the barn completely dark and quiet.  A horse was turned out in the arena and all the lights were off.  The horses that were in stalls were all taking their mid-morning nap.

My pony was outside.  I contemplated bringing him in and riding him, especially since I haven't ridden since Monday.  But without a soul around, I just didn't feel comfortable.  I also didn't know the horse in the arena, so I wasn't sure where I would put him so that I could ride.

I ended up going out and giving my horse a carrot and some scritches.  He was turned out with his new buddy, Fallon.  At one point, Fallon kept trying to get in my space and despite my waving my arms at him, he wouldn't back off.  He would put his ears back and move his head to the side, but wouldn't get out of my space.  I was starting to get nervous.

Until Licorice stepped in and told him what for with a quick bite to the neck.  I know, Licorice probably wasn't protecting me, but it felt nice anyway.  Fallon immediately backed off and every time after that when Fallon would come to close to me, Licorice would shoo him away with pinned ears and a wrinkled muzzle.

I stood outside the gate for a few minutes to say goodbye and managed to get a few pictures of the two of them.  Fallon loves Licorice and wants to do whatever he's doing, including drinking water at the same time.

I'm sad to see the mud back so quickly.  It's only early November, but we've had some major downpours of rain.  This is the mud before it gets bad.  Welcome to horsekeeping on small acreage in the Northwest.  Mud, mud and more mud.  I know some places do gravel turnouts, which does keep down on the mud.  But then in the summer, there's just gravel.  We at least will have some grass in the summer.  Oh summer.  Why are you 9 months away?

Sunshine Award

Sunshine Award.  Better late then never, right?  Thanks to Equine Snob and Kelly at PrincessDiva Diaries for nominating me.

I'm skipping the part where you nominate other folks because I'm pretty sure it's already made the rounds.

1. Mares or Geldings?

I've always owned mares.  I've enjoyed the deep bond that you get with a mare.  When you get it right, a mare will turn herself inside out for you.  Now I'm on the gelding team though and I'm enjoying his steadiness and his ability to forgive mistakes.  Looks like I play for both teams on this one.

2. English or Western?

I currently ride English and it's what I'm most familiar with.  But I've also ridden some Western and really enjoyed it.  I'd love to do some reining events and some cow events.  I'd also love to go on a dude ranch vacation!  So, yeah.  Again, I choose both.

3. Do you prefer younger or older horses?

I like them right in the middle, but probably more on the older side.  I really appreciate Licorice's tolerance and his ability to retain information.  He's not prone to testing boundaries the way a young horse is.

4. Have you trained a horse from ground zero?

No.  All of my horses had basics when I got them.

5. Do you prefer riding or groundwork?

Obviously I don't have huge preferences in my horsey life, because this is another one where it depends.  If you are really, really working on groundwork it can be super satisfying and carries over into the riding work.  There's also something to be said for working up a sweat on horseback or flying around the arena on your horse, the wind on your face and a big grin from ear to ear.

6. Do you board your horse or keep him at home?

I board.  I bought a house once with a little barn and pastures and brought my horse home.  The year that I lived there I only rode a handful of times.  I was too busy mending fences, picking out pastures, cleaning stalls and water buckets and other chores to actually ride.  Also, where I live it rains and gets muddy for a good chunk of the year.  You need an arena with decent footing if you want to ride year round.  And that would require more maintenance and more money.  Plus, I like the social aspect of boarding.

7.  Do you use all natural products or commercial?

I use commercial natural products and some chemical products.  Mostly I want stuff that works that isn't going to give anybody cancer.  

8. All tacked up or bareback?

All tacked up.  But bareback is on my bucket list with Licorice.  I want to get to know him a bit more before I try.  

9. Equestrian role model?

Younger girls and their horses.  They ride without fear, without worry.  They dress their ponies up.  They ride backwards and bareback and sometimes get bucked off for riding bareback and backwards.  They laugh, dust themselves off and get back on.  They play games.  They go on trail rides.  And they can kick my ass in the dressage ring, but still find plenty of time to just mess around with their horses.

10. What's your one main goal while being in the horse world?

To keep enjoying my horse and to get to a point where it's not a question of being scared.  I'd like to just be excited to ride, without the extra edge of fear.  

Monday, November 4, 2013


Licorice had four days off this week due to work stuff and then the barn lost power in a big windstorm on Saturday.  Not that I would have ridden in the big windstorm anyway...

I decided to lunge him on Sunday before I got on.  I'm not sure that he needed it, but it went a long ways towards calming me down.  While I was lunging him, he had a very hard time focusing.  He would whinny to his friends outside, he would spin his head to look out the open door to see what was happening there.

This happens, to a lesser degree, under saddle.  If we're really working hard and focused I can keep him with me, but it's a struggle whenever another horse enters the arena.  He's just very horse focused.

On the ground, if I do very specific exercises with him (yielding of hindquarters etc.) he will pay attention, sort of.  I'm not as confident with these and I don't want to just yank on him.  But I'm losing his attention constantly.

What are your best exercises for getting a horses attention back on you while you're on the ground?  He will move his hindquarters while his head is completely away from you and he's whinnying to his friends!  I want his focus to be in the arena and on me.  Same thing when we're walking and I'm leading him.  He's not naughty, just oblivious.

Who me?  What?  I think I see my friend over there....

Friday, November 1, 2013


Today was sunny and warm-ish and a perfect day for a fall trail ride.  Sadly, there wasn't anyone out at the barn to go with me when I got there.  So instead, Licorice and I worked on our sitting trot and canter transitions.

After a short but effective workout, I took him outside to ride around a little bit.  By this time there was a lesson in the arena and Licorice's buddy was getting tacked up in the aisle way.  I got on outside and was walking on a loose rein towards the barn.  Our barn is small, so it's like riding in the front yard.  Something spooked Licorice and he jumped a little sideways.

We moved on and kept walking.  We went around the side and then came back down.  Licorice was definitely more up than he has been previously.  Then, as we were heading back to the 'front lawn' Licorice suddenly scooted and took off.  And by took off, really he trotted two steps, flung his head up and cantered one step.  I pulled him to a halt and looked around.

One of the teenagers at the barn was walking up the driveway.  Licorice and I walked over, said hello, she gave him a scratch.  We walked around a little bit more, but he was tense and I was tenser.

The upside of this is that Licorice is a different spooker from Tessa.  He still does the scoot and bolt, but he's just not as athletic as Tessa.  His body can't get out from underneath me the way Tessa could.  She's got that Arab athleticism on her side, but Licorice doesn't.  It was much easier to sit and though he was tense afterwards, he was willing to go right back to work.

I really need to make a plan to get him out more.  The key is going to be getting him outside and on the trails more often, not less often.  My barn just doesn't have a lot of folks (ie: there are NONE) that go out unless it's to shows.  And since it's not show season, well....people just aren't going anywhere.

I'm going to email my trainers and ask if we can put together a plan to go out at least once a month.  I want to do it now before it becomes more of a THING in my head.

Edited to add:  I wrote this on Tuesday.  It's now Friday and I haven't been out to the barn since.  I definitely need to not let this get underneath my skin.  Man, it's hard to be a worrier some days.