Sunday, 29 July 2012

Battle Scars

Okay, so I finally decided to stop being lazy and actually write about soome updates.  First, and probably the biggest, there are a whole bunch of new boarders and horses at the stable.  A trainer brought along her horses and students a few weeks ago.  Understandably, a lot of the older boarders were a little concerned about this.  Our stable has always been really quiet, not much goes on, and it's so much busier now.  So far it's all going well though and hopefully it stays that way. 

As I said in my last post, Jimmy has a new paddock mate, Zaine.  They're getting along very well.  We've been focusing on ground work with Jimmy, mostly to do with the mounting block.  He's been doing great.  We were also complimented on him and my mom was left speechless.  One of the new boarders said he's a very beautiful horse and my mom had no idea what to say.  Now both of us think he's beautiful, but no one compliments on Jimmy, ever.  In fact, it's usually the opposite (granted that's usually just from family members). 

Socks is good.  Not much to report on her.  Her and I are going to start taking walks around the farm.  I can lead her but not like I used to.  I have to lead her on my left side now so the walks will help us both get used to it.  I always led her on my right side, which would be her left side.  Now with it switched, she doesn't really believe me that she has to stay behind me.

Artemis has been doing great.  Her new big thing is fly spray.  Apparently it's going to eat her.  She's getting much better after it, we make a point of spray her every time we see her.  She's leading much better now.  And growing.  She's just under 14 hands, or she was last time we measured her and she already looks like she grew again.  Her withers are almost as big as I am.  The new trainer said it's crazy to think that in a year her two month old Holsteiner colt could be as big as her.  I think it's crazy that she thinks Artemis could be the same size as a Holsteiner yearling. 

I had another doctors appointment and while it was good, it was very disappointing.  I won't be able to get on a horse for at least another two months, probably more.  I honestly didn't think that'd upset me but it did.  There's no telling when I'll be able to get back on and even then, I won't be able to do much.

We also found out that I actually broke my elbow in three places, not one like I thought.  And the doctor had to break it in a fourth spot to get at the intial breaks.  So counting my wrist, my arm was broken in six spots, five from the fall.

I've been trying to get out more, wearing t-shirts because I came to the conclusion I just cannot wear long sleeves for the rest of my life to cover my scars, no matter how much I would like to.  So, for the first time, and probably the last, I'm actually going to post the pictures of what my arm looked like.  If I can deal with the fact of who knows how many people on the internet seeing my arm, I can definitly deal with a few people in the store seeing it right?  At least that's what I tell myself.

That was the bruise I got from falling off.  This was about two weeks after my fall.  It went all down my arm almost to my wrist. 

That is the scar on my elbow.  It doesn't look that bad anymore, it's not bruised and swollen anymore.  Although because it's not as swollen you can see the screws on my elbow much better.

That's the cut on top of my wrist.

And that's the scar on the bottom of my wrist. 

The moral of this story, don't put your arm out when you fall.  It's not worth it, trust me.  They all actually look better than that, my sister hasn't taken any pictures lately. 

We'll be out at the stable tomorrow and I'm very excited to go take Socks on a walk.  I'm just happy I can at least lead her again.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Horse Psychology Part One

Horse live in the moment.  They don't sit around their paddocks, thinking about what an awful ride you had last night and how they wish you'd stop your lower leg from moving so much.  They don't wonder about the future (although honestly, that's debatable.  Just ask anyone whose gone to the stable near feeding time.  You can't tell me they're not standing around waiting for food).

That's what I've always been told at least.  And I do believe it, to an extent.  I mean I really don't think Socks sits around thinking about how I didn't give her treats the last time I saw her.  However, I also think she has some concept if time and past, because trust me, if I go a week without seeing her, I pay for it.  On a normal day, she calls as soon as she sees me and comes over to the gate and waits to get caught.  If I haven't seen her in a while she stands at the bottom of her paddock, back turned to me, and won't even look at me until I'm beside her.  Then she'll walk slowly up the hill and act like I'm just any other person.  She's great at the silent treatment, she really is. 

A few things have happened lately that got me thinking. 

First is Jimmy.  Up at my dad's he was definitely the low guy on the totem pole.  He wasn't allowed to eat, drink or sleep near the others, they'd chase him off.  He was always off by himself, except for the odd time when Cas decided to hang with him.  Then when he came down to the stable, he was put in a paddock with Socks.  They never had anything to do with each other at my dad's but they grew very close very quickly.

Once Artemis was born, Jimmy was in a paddock alone.  Then after a few months he was put in with a horse named Devon.  Devon was the dominant one.  Jimmy was soon covered in bite marks.  E kept a close eye on them and this is what he observed, the reason Jimmy kept getting bitten was because Jimmy wouldn't back down.  Devon would warn him off and Jimmy would ignore him.  The ears back would turn into a warning with teeth and then eventually a bite.  Nothing would make Jimmy back away.

He wasn't in with Devon for long and after that he was in with little Eli.  That also didn't last long because this time little Eli's owner was concerned about the bite marks on his horse.  So little Eli was moved and Jimmy was alone in a pen again.

A few months later and Jimmy was put in with big Eli.  In no time it was established that Jimmy was in charge.  The tiny, 14.3 hh horse bossed around the 16 + hh horse.  Jimmy started to get a reputation as being a mean horse.  (I'm actually going to have more about that in another post).

Just this past week, a new horse, a pony actually, was put in with Jimmy and big Eli.  Big Eli is leaving at the beginning of the month so this pony, Zaine, will be Jimmy's new paddock mate.  E and T were waiting nearby to rescue Zaine if they had to.  Everyone was sure Jimmy was going to chew him up and then spit him out.

Jimmy had other plans.  Apparently him and Zaine love each other.  They rub on each other, stand together, Jimmy doesn't seem to have an issue with him.  Dominance issues did come out at meal time but they were resolved quickly and peacefully (Jimmy's still in charge, no ones surprised).

So E brought up an interesting point.  Maybe Jimmy just doesn't like big horses.  All the other horses he was in with were all bigger then him, by at least a hand.  With the exception of Cas, every horse at my dad's, including all the ones who were mean to him (and I do mean mean, it went beyond mere dominance, I love Pawnee but he is a jerk) were all taller than him. 

The only horse taller than him that he doesn't have a problem with is Socks.  And yes, I have an explanation for that.

When we bought Socks, we bought her along with another horse, a Paint Horse named Target.  For nearly two years, until Target died, it was just the two of them together, every day.  They were tight, to say the least.  After Target died Socks stopped eating, lost a bunch of weight and would run around the property.  She never really got over it, or so I think at least.  We bought Pawnee, and then Jimmy and the others but she never bonded with any of them.  Cas was born and although Socks was a great mother to her, she was never really attached to her after Cas got older.  The only reason they would be together in the field was because Cas followed her.  Socks did her own thing on the edge of the herd.  Her and Jimmy pretty much had zero interaction before coming to the stable.

After coming to the stable, a very strange and new experience for them.  Socks being a trail horse and Jimmy hadn't been off my dad's farm since we bought him.  The barn, the people, the activity, it was a lot to take in and they stuck together.  They're on opposite sides of the farm now but they still call and get excited when they see each other. 

I think because he was in that situation with Socks though, might be why Jimmy never had an issue with her.  She's also not an in-your-face kind of horse.  She's dominant yes, but if you leave her alone, she leaves you alone.

So maybe it is possible that because of how the other horses treated him at my dads, he doesn't like big horses.  It's something to think about at least.  If a horse that's been abused by humans in the past still have fear issues over it, why couldn't a horse that's been mistreated by other horses?

Next time it'll be Socks and her abandonment issues!  If a horse can have them, she definitely does.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Kids and Foals Don't Mix

What isn't cute about that, right?  Kids with foals are adorable, I think we can all agree on that.  However, I don't think a lot of people really realize the dangers of letting a kid mess around with the foal.  And I'm not talking about a foal, I mean the mare.

Mares, like most mothers, are extremely protective of their babies.  They will defend their foals against any percieved threat. 

I've owned Socks since she was a yearling.  I like to think my horse trusts me.  She trusts me, and I trust her.  She also respects me.  She gives me space.  She's had two foals of her own, Cassidy and Artemis.

It doesn't matter how well trained your mare is, or how long you've had her, she is never safe when she has a foal.  Her mind is no longer on you, it is solely on her baby and her baby's safety.  I personally don't think we can expect anything different.  We can only ask them to go against their instincts so much.

Mares with foals are basically unpredictable.  You don't know what they will percieve as a threat.  And you never, ever get in between them and their babies.  Honestly, think of them as Grizzly Bears but slightly less carniverous.  You wouldn't get between a Grizzly and her cubs would you?  So don't get between a mare and her foal.  Chances are, she'll be fine.  But at the same time, she's just as likely to panic and hurt you trying to get back to her baby.

Enough adults get hurt when dealing with mares and foals, so I don't think it's right to allow a child to mess around with a mare and foal.  As mature as a kid may be, you can't always expect them to remember to always pay attention to the mare.  You can expect the cuteness of the foal to help them forget about watching out for momma. 

Children should never be left unsupervised to handle, even pet, a mare and a foal.  And by unsupervised I mean that the parent standing outside the fence doesn't count.  The parent should be right beside them at all times.

Socks was great about allowing us to handle her babies and work with them.  She always just stood, watching, but never was a problem.  That didn't mean I trusted her.  I always worked so I could see where she was.  If she got upset then we stopped what we were doing, just as we did when Artemis or Cas would get upset. 

The stable owner's kids were very rarely allowed in the pen with Socks and Artemis, and only when their parents allowed it.  Then they had to stay right beside us at all times and be subjected to us dragging them away if we felt that Socks or Artemis were not alright with the situation.  It only happened the day Artemis was born because I was not comfortable with it.  After that they were only allowed to pet Artemis if she was in the barn and Socks was tied up, a safe, controlled situation.

I'm not going into details, but this comes about from someone suggesting a child go into a pen with a mare and a foal.  I truly do not believe it's safe for them.  Especially if the mare isn't familiar with the child.

The day Artemis was born, Socks struck out at the stable owner, a man she knows quite well as he'd been checking on her multiple times a day for weeks.  He wasn't hurt, but would a child have been cautious enough and quick enough to escape unscathed?  Socks never had a problem with the stable owner's children, but then again, we never let there be a chance for her to be upset or feel like she had to protect Artemis from them.

That makes a cute picture but I can't help but cringe when I see it.  Did you know that many mares will bite the foal on the back and tail while they nurse?  I do.  I learnt that standing in between Socks and Artemis as Artemis nursed.  That's the only time my horse has ever bitten me and I can't blame her.  She went to do what came naturally and I was in the way.  I also hate that, as far as we can see, there isn't an adult standing beside her.  It doesn't matter what horse it is, Socks, Jimmy or Artemis, the kids are not allowed to stand near them without us there.  I don't want them to get hurt.  The quietest, calmest horse can always panic at something. 

Supervision is something I didn't have a lot of, growing up and training Socks.  I have a lot of falls and injuries to show for it.  Maybe I'm a little crazy for it now, but I think kids absolutly need to be supervised at all times when dealing with any kind of horse, but especially mares and foals.  And supervising from over the fence never counts.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

A Dark Day

Today has been a day filled with tragedy.  First I was given the news that my dad's boss/friend was killed in a plane crash.  It's crazy to think of, he was one of the nicest men I'd even met.  He was always so kind when I met him, and often went out of his way to do things for my family.  He was flying his own plane when it happend.  I just can't believe it and my prayers go out to his family. 

There was also an accident during the Chuckwagon races tonight.  During Heat 4, Chad Harden's left lead horse went down due to a, for now, unforseen event, which caused the rest of his team to go down as well.  An outrider and horse who were not able to miss the wagon, clipped the side of it and also went down.  Three horses were euthanized afterward and one is in surgery but expected to win.

It is a horrible tragedy and already people are calling for the ban of the Chucks.  Chad Harden was interviewed after the crash.

Click on the video of Chad Harden on the left to hear the interview.  How can anyone listen to that and still say that they don't care about their horses?  As he says, the horse was 18 and going to be retired next year to be his children's horse.  Once again my prayers go out to him.

I was at the Stampede again tonight to watch their horse show, Tails, but I will tell more about that another time.

Stampede Time

I haven't been out to see the horses much this week.  Last time my mom and I were out she decided to try riding both Jimmy and Socks.  Jimmy had other plans.  He wouldn't let her get on so he went straight out to the round pen.  She didn't end up riding him that day, by the time she was able to get on him, he was too hot and sweaty and we couldn't in good concious make him work when he was like that.  So instead we (meaning my mom) stripped off his gear, walked him around the indoor arean to help cool him off, let him role, and then washed him off with some buckets and sponges.  Then he got to stand for a while in the barn until he was completly cool. 

The last two times I've gone out have been with my grandparents.  My grandfather especially likes to come out to visit with the ponies.  The ponies didn't have to do anywork but I think they enjoyed all the attention.  They got put out on the grass, which Artemis didn't really care about since she's on grass 24/7, but Socks and Jimmy sure enjoyed it.

I went to the Chuckwagons and Grandstand Show at the Stampede Monday night.  I always love going to see the Chucks.  We try to go at least once during the Stampede but it doesn't always happen.
Here is the flag they fly during the National Anthem.

I have to say, taking pictures is not easy but I've forced myself to do it.  It's very awkward since I have to hold it all with my left hand and very awkwardly press the button with my right hand but I do it.  It's one of the few things I love that I can still do.  Hopefully I'll get to go to the Stampede rodeo one day this weekend, my brother and I always try to go.

The Grandstand show was great, Paul Brandt was amazing as always.

Later this month when things calm down, the ponies are going to be put back into real work.  Artemis is going to learn how to go on the trailer.  I would have worked on it before but my arm has forced most of my plans onto the back burner.

One last thing, here is an article posted on Yahoo about one person's list of the hardest Olympic events.  I quite enjoy what his number one hardest event was.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Rest in Peace Scamper

July 4th was a sad day for Barrel Racing.  Charmayne James' great bay gelding, Scamper, died at the age of 35.  Together Scamper and Charmayne won ten consecutive NFR championships, one of them, pictured above, with a bridleless run.  Having been retired, Scamper spent the last 19 years or so living the life a horse should, beside his trusted partner. 

Charmayne James and Scamper were two of my inspirations for barrel racing.  I remember recieving a copy of Western Horsemen magazine and there being a story about them.  Their bridleless run was the coolest thing I'd ever heard and I can only hope to be half as good as they were one day.

Rest in Peace Scamper.  You'll forever be remembered as the greatest barrel horse who ever ran.

Ramblings from an Invalid

I've been saving up posts in my head to write.  I've had to talk myself into typing though, it's good exercise for my hand but one of the most frustrating things to do.  I get frustrated quickly with it and just end up stopping so let's see how this goes!  Also enjoy some rare pictures of myself, I'm like pretty much every other girl alive and rarely like a picture with me in it. 

Jimmy and I, he was getting a hug whether he wanted it or not.
I'm not going to get into the whole hospital experience I went through in detail, because frankly it's very long and I don't remember most of it.  T and I ended up at the hospital and I didn't have to wait long to be admitted.  It was pretty busy, a lot of quad accidents, and I remember my nurse telling me it was a relif I wasn't a quad accident.  She used to ride herself, and actually is orginally from the place I live with my mom.  She was super nice. 

They slowly broke in the news to me, not on purpose, but they kept thinking it wasn't as bad as it was.  First they thought it was a dislocated elbow, then maybe a broken wrist.  Then after x-rays (I think I hate x-rays more than anything on the planet) the actual doctor came in to tell me how badly it actually was broken.  He didn't want to do anything for me, other than control pain, because it was so bad.  He sent my x-rays to Red Deer, where they usually send patients, and the doctor there took one look at them and told him he couldn't help me.  Yeah, that was encouraging to hear.

Long story short, they transferred me by ambulance to my home place and I had my surgery the next morning.  All I'm going to say about that is I hate surgery and I hope I never have to have another one.

One thing that has been extremely frustrating is the amount of people telling me to quit riding horses and just generally being around them.  I've been to the emergency room three times, first time when I fell off Socks and broke my pelvic bone, second was for my concussion from Artemis and now my arm.  So yes, I've clearly had a few mishaps with horses but is that truly anymore than anyone else who plays a competitive sport?  My cousin has been in and out of the emergency room more times than I can count for injuries related to soccer and snowboarding.  No one has ever told him to quit soccer or snowboarding.  So why is horses any different?  I've had much less injuries, I mean considering the amount of times I've fallen off and questionable situations I've been in, three trips to the emergency room really isn't that bad.  I'm also well aware of the risks of horses and I've accepted that part of being involved with them means that there's the potential to be injured.

At the hospital they moved me to almost every nurse or doctor I met told me I should quit horses except for two, my main surgeon and one of his doctors who is a rider herself.  When a nurse told me to quit horses in front of her, the doctor just laughed and told her that'll never happen.  I greatly appreciated having her around.

I still have no idea when I'm going back to work or more importantly, when I'll be able to ride again.  People keep asking but I have to wait until my doctor gives me the okay.  It'll be at least until the end of July but I think it'll be longer.  I can't bend or straighten my elbow yet and he doesn't want me starting until the end of July.  That's kind of important for either working or riding. 

We at least have a regular schedule for going out to the stable.  Once during the week and one day on the weekend.  I've become a regular drill sargant and I'm still waiting for my mom to tell me she's had enough and stop taking me.  I'm crazy about Socks being ridden.  I've worked hard this past winter to bring her back into shape after having Artemis and now it feels like it was all for nothing.  Plus for my horse's sake of mind she needs to be ridden regularly. 

Jimmy's main focus is still ground work.  I help out as much as I can but that isn't much.  Artemis is a little brat but I love her.  We're working on her groundwork as well.  Also, have I ever mentioned how I have the best horses?  Okay, probably every horse owner says that but I wouldn't trade my guys for anything.

Socks, my horse with a horrible reputation, is the gentlest horse I could ever ask for.  She'll politely sniff my arm in the sling (I'm convinced she thinks I keep treats in there) but she won't push on it.  When I lead her she follows beside me like a perfect little lady and won't move a muscle as I brush her.  She's always been good but I swear she knows I'm injured.  On the other hand, whenever I got into her pen or Jimmy's, their paddock mates are all over me and it's all I can do to protect my arm from them.

Oh one last thing.  I can't say this enough, I don't blame Thor for me falling off.  People keep asking me that.  No, he was just being himself and I happened to fall off.  Yes, it was a stupid spook and pretty needless but that's life with horses.  I don't hate him, I'm not angry with him  It happens.  I've had stupid falls off of Socks too, I just happened to land wrong this time.

Don't worry, my next posts will be less rambly and more organized.