Wednesday, June 29, 2011

European Update

Well, Phase 1 is completed in Salgen, Germany. the horsemanship clinic went quite well and they want him to come back!! (next time with wife ofcourse). He and his travel partners rubbed shoulders with royalty, having stayed on the grounds of the Castle of the Princess of Bavaria. Granted they stayed in a yurt on the castle grounds but they showered in the castle!! How many people can say they have done that??? They also got a private tour of the castle. Tom reports it was unreal to see. So cool...(kicking self for not going!)

Then, the travelers were off to catch a train to Budapest. After a few hairy moments of being on the wrong train and almost heading to Croatia, they figured it out and got on the right train. It was an 8 hour all night train ride, in which they had to stand up for most of it as they were last to get on and couldn't find seats, until about an hour before they were at their destination.

Tom is now safely in the Valley, in Hungary, although "safe" could be the wrong term. He has done some training, riding in armour , herding pigs and oxen, and apparently drinking wine and Polinka(hungarina brandy) based on the texted phone pic he sent me today. He takes his warrior test on Monday which involves running 6 miles with hills, shooting 500 arrows in 90 minutes or less, and riding bareback for two hours.

Hopefully he will hold off on the Polinka until after he has completed his test...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Trails, Trikes, Horses and Dogs

I loaded up yesterday and met a friend at the State land for a day of riding. The weather was good enough, it wasn't a downpour and it was above 40 degrees. We dosed up on mosquito repellent and the same for the horses and headed out. This was the first time I had been out on the trail since getting my Specialized saddle so I was interested in seeing how it felt for myself and Maggie in terrain other than my arena. Steph brough along her little Springer Spanial , Molly who is pretty well behaved on the trail, exept for the occasional chasing of a squirrel or deer. Normally I prefer not to have a dog along in this area because there are lots of other people with dogs and it's just one less thing to have to deal with in my opinion , but Molly seemed well behaved enough. They have recently logged this area so the "old" trails that I once knew very well are all but a memory now, so we put on our adventurous hats and just rode out onto various trails to see where we ended up. The thing about this area is that most trails eventually get you somewhere you are eventually going to recognized. As we came off one such trail, we realized we had been riding for 3 hours already and it was about an hour back to the trailer so we headed back down a trail that would take us back to the trail head. Along the the entire ride we had run into several mountain bikers and for the most part, they are generally willing to be courteous when they see a horse but they often aren't familiar with horses or comfortable around them. Mountain bikes coming down the trail at a high rate of speed toward your horse will tell you quickly how well trained your horse is. Unlike horseback riders who are always looking around checking the scenery, mountain bikers are so busy watching the terrain right in front of their wheel , they often don't realize they are coming up on a horse until it's almost too late. Horses often can't figure out what a person on a bike is. Even more terrifying to a horse, is a child on the back of it's parents bike! The other problem is that this area is heavily wooded. You can't always see the bikers coming but your horses is usually a good indicator that something is coming at you. Having to deal with bikers is just a reality where I live. Have to share the trails. The key to keeping the situation safe for everyone is to get the bikers talking. As soon as they say something, then the horse can recognize that it's just a person with really weird legs..However, if the bikers happen. Steph and I had run into about 4 sets of these mountain bikers and all were very friendly. If they happen to be coming up behind you that's almost a bit more difficult. yesterday we were only a short distance from the end of th trail head and there is a steep rocky decline to get down. Maggie seemed to be a bit tired so I jumped off of her to walk her down the steep hill. We were just about to the bottom when Maggie's head popped up , laid her ears back and wheeled around. 3 bikers popped over the top of the hill and were coming at us very fast, along with a vary large Chesapeake dog. I pulled maggie out of the way to the side of the trail because they still hadn't seen us, again trying not to crash on on a bike while going down a steep hill takes alot of concentration! With bikers, they are supposed to yeild to horseback riders, and most times they do but I always opt to get out of their way and let them go by, for obvious reasons. Most will yeild and stop and cautiously go by. This group hit the brakes as soon as the biker in the front saw me, which by that time he was only 10 feet from me but his dog was a different story. His dog came at Maggie and I , barking and growling. I guess it was just a reaction but had my lead rope in my hand and the dog caught the business end of it right in the nose, right about the time he was about to get way to close for comfort. I am not sure if he would have just sniffed me or Maggie but he was showing way more aggression than I thought was necessary so I just reacted I guess. It startled him but he got pissed and came back , more towards Maggie's nose. The owner, who was telling him "No" wasn't being effective in the least. At this point, the dog barked and growled and was trying to figure out how to get around the crazy lady with the rope when the owner finally had enough sense to ride off so the dog would follow him, meekly apologizing.

I climbed back in the saddle once we got to the bottom of the hill and kept heading for the parking lot. We got to the end only to find that these bikers were still there, in the biker/hiker parking lot (which is separate from the trailer parking) and so was the dog. I had to get past them one more time, cross the road and go another 1/4 mile to get to the trailer. As I passed through, the dog ofcoruse, came towards us again. They were able to grab him in time before he followed me across the road.

So, another adventurous day on the trail . Maggie is pretty tolerant of things like this, for which I am grateful. She wasn't rattled afterwards,, but it did scare her a bit. I couldn't help but wishI had been riding JB at that moment the dog came at us. JB gets down right "stallion" like and would have tap danced all over that dog had he come at us like that.

I don't mind sharing the trail with bikers, hikers, dogs, and other non-motorized recreators, but it seems that maybe there is some opportunity there to educate one another since we both have to share the trails.

Anyone else run into these situations? How do you deal with them?

On a the flip side, the saddle worked out great. I was very happy with how it fit Maggie and I was comfortable as well.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lettuce Gone Rogue

Okay, I couldn't help it because Funder's post about her one spinach plant reminded me that I have been meaning to post a few photos of our garden. I took photos last week and that was as far as I got.

It's been so wet and cold here that being in the gardening mood has been a bit of an uphill climb. The weather is really starting to wear on people's tempers. We had a rough winter , like so many other parts of the county and Spring time in the Rockies has been tempermental to say the least. I think I can count on one hand the number of days we have had over 60 degrees. We spend our weekends playing cat and mouse with rain storms , splitting our day between attemptimg to get our necessary weekend chores accomplished,like mowing, and lazying around inside with a cup of tea and good movie or book.
Sadly, we are quickly approaching full saturation.We are in the 500 year flood plain. We check our crawl space every day to make sure water isn't coming up. So far, so good and keeping my fingers and toes crossed it will stay that way. Several houses in the neighborhood have had sump pumps running for weeks.We haven't so far.. ofcourse, I have probably just jinxed myself... Sigh.

You know, it just figures that the year we decide to put in a garden happend to be one of the coldest , wettest springs on record. We started designing our garden boxes last fall and worked like dogs all spring to get them in. Finally, the seeds we sowed over Easter for cool season veggies are starting to giving back.

My lettuce has gone rogue. It's out of control. I have lost patience with trying to harvest "properly" and only nipping the outer leaves. Tonight , I couldn't even tell what was what so now, the lettuce and mesclun section looks as though a herd of rabbits got after it. I just went at it with the scissors. (Tom would be appalled I am sure but by the time he is back, it will have grown back atleast 6 times!) I couldn't help it. I now have 4 gallon bags loaded with greens and there is still more to pick. I have one other third of a garden box with more greens. Note to self for next year, plant less lettuce!

The tomatoes , peppers and herb garden are maintaining at this point but barely. If we don't get some heat soon, we may lose alot of them.

Okay Funder, unlike you, I absolutely can slaughter and consume what I reep.. so this one is for you...

Happy Gardening

When Opportunity Knocks

You better answer...

That's exactly what my husband is about to do. Tom just headed off to Europe this morning. I wish I had been on that plane with him but for various reasons, it didn't work out logistically.

This is a huge opportunity for him and I am very proud of him. It's really one of those situations that kind of fell into his lap but sometimes those are the best way for things to happen.

For those of you that don't know, I am lucky enough to be married to someone who is as crazy about horses as myself. He's also pretty darn talented in the horse training department as well and I say that as objectively as possible. Tom has been breeding, training and riding for ...., well, forever it seems. Most recently, he got involved in a bit of a unique equestrian sport called Horseback Archery. It has become his ultimate hobby and passion. No, it's not the Native American genre of horseback archery. It pre dates that by may years, back to the culture of the Steppe warriors.

In the village of Kaposmero in Southern Hungary, Master Lajos Kassai has founded a school of archery and has dedicated his life to recreating the ancient traditions and culture of his people. He also holds a few noteworthy world records, shooting over a thousand arrows in twelve hours.
and the second world record was in 2002, out of 286 gallops, shooting about three thousand arrows in twelve hours. I think there is a third world record as well but anyone can look it up on the Internet if you are really interested.
let me just say this, the man is impressive to say the least.

I can't do the sport justice in trying to explain what it's all about, but just imagine taking a horse in full gallop , with the rider shooting with the bow, (so no reins) hitting target after target, front, side and the "parting " or back shot. The horseman has to be in sync with his horse and and in total control of himself. The power of the galloping horse combined with the total concentration of the archer. It is a reflection of a complete harmony between man and horse.

The main school resides in Kaposmero,Hungary but there are many other subsidiary schools; Germany, Austria, the USA, Canada, Slovakia, Greece, New Zealand, and Norway.

I have watched my husband train for 5 years now, coming up through the ranks of the various levels through rigorous training and testing for this mounted martial art, and now, all his hard work has come to a point where he has an opportunity to go to the main school, aka The Valley, in Hungary, and partake in an international festival and training with Lajos Kassai himself.

But, before all of that, as luck turns out, Tom will be involved in another unique opportunity.

Tom is first headed to Munich , Germany where he will be putting on a 4 day horsemanship clinic for German Horse Expo. This all very overwhelming and came on the heels of the German Archery school. with Pettra Engelander. Pettra is the leader of the German Archery school. With the encouragement of Tom's own teacher and leader of the USA Archery school, Todd Delle, Pettra and Todd arranged to get Tom to Germany to put on a Horsemanship clinic. It's kind of complicated how it all came to this (and I am trying to shorten it for brevity purposes) and almost unreal when I think about it all! . So, Tom , who is quite modest about his training abilities and never wants to be in the public eye, is going oversees to try to help some Germans learn something more about horsemanship.

Something like this doesn't always just come along. I am very proud of him and all of his hard work that has brought him to this point. I can't wait to hear how it's all going.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hoof Abcess

A few days ago, I went out to do morning chores only to find JB very very lame. At first, I thought it was his front right, and my heart skipped a beat but when I asked him to move off he looked lame on both fronts. His paddock was very muddy and he was slipping around so it was hard to tell exactly which leg he was lame on. I checked him over, no swelling, no cuts, no heat. If I had to give the lameness a grade, he was probably somewhere between a 2 and a 3. The mud and bad footing made it hard to detect much of anything definitely and since he didn't act like he was in any large amount of discomfort, I threw him his hay and headed into work for the day. I would have to address it more closely later. That was Wednesday.

That evening I checked him over more thoroughly and was able to determine it was not his front right, but instead his front left. Still no swelling, hheat or cuts that I could fine anywhere, however, he was holding his heelup, keeping his fetlock cocked so as not to put weight on the back of hhis foot. At first, I thought well, he must have slipped in the mud and ttweaked something. I had a vet appt scheduled on Saturday so I decided to jjust keep a close eye on it and if he got worse, I would have to vet check the leg out. Ofcourse, he got worse.

On Saturday, JB had a pretty strong pulse in the front left. The vet hoof tested him, checking for a bruise, inflammation (laminitis) or indicators of an abcess but nothing revealed itself in those areas. We ended up doing xrays to check for a broken coffin or navicular bone. Nothing, which was good news. We decided that the only possibility was that it could be an abcess in the coronary band or a bruise in the heel that was fairly deep and undetectable. We wrapped his foot in a poultice and they sent us home with instructions to keep him contained (in case it was a soft tissue injury in the hoof or leg), keep his foot wrapped for 48 hours, give him bute that afternoon and see how he did.

By the next morning, JB was even more lame and the back part of his lower cannon (just above his fetlock joint) was hot and swollen. I gave him 1 gram of bute for his discomfot and spoke to the vet late that morning. He wanted us to pull the bandage off and repack it because he was certain it was an abcess. Ofcourse, my med kit had everything but what I needed to repack the foot properly. I had to run into town anyways so I planned to stop at the vets to get some Magna paste (way better for a drawing salve than Icthamol)and wrapping material and then get the foot rewrapped later in the afternoon.
By the time I got home, JB seemed to be feeling better so I let him out into his pasture to graze for a while. He took off running and bucking, sans a bit lame yet but he seemed better. I planned to repack the foot after a while when he had a full belly. When I finally got the bandage off Saturday evening, I noticed a strong putrid smell, something I recognized as pus. I looked the foot over and sure enough, there it was. The abcess had obviously erupted, which would have explained JB feeling better earlier in the day.

The abcess was on the left heel bulb and things were still looking a bit swollen and tender. I soaked his foot for 15 minutes in Epsom salt and then repacked the area with a bit more Magna Paste, in case there was still some drainage. I rewrapped everything to keep it clean(with all the mud around) and will pull it off again tomorrow.

It's been a while since I have had a horse abcess and have never had one at the heel bulb . Not sure what could have caused this , possibly he caught himself with his hind foot or it is simply just the fact that it's been so muddy. Either way, JB is already feeling 90% better since it released and I am so relieved that this is all it was...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Saddle Update and other news

After returning the 15” specialized saddle, the 16” finally arrived last week. Short story- it’s definitely a better fit for me. No more pain in the places where there shouldn’t be pain!! I have only ridden in it at home and haven’t had a chance to get out on the trail with it but it looks like I will be keeping it. I love how close contact it is. I can actually feel Maggie’s back lifting when she softens. No more hauling my 30 lb Wade tree onto her. Now, I just have to do the final fitting tweaks for Maggie’s back. I think I have it pretty close and Maggie seems very comfortable but I plan to have the dealer come out and give it a look over. I like a lot of things about the saddle, the look , the lightness, the adjustable stirrup position and the adjustable fit but honestly, I think Specialized can come a long ways in the area of quality and craftsmanship. I think they compromised quality in order to get a lightweight saddle. One thing I will be having modified is the D ring attachment for the breast collar. Right now, they are just stitched to a concho. There is no attachment into the actual tree of the saddle. One tough uphill pull with a little strain on that breast collar, and I could easily see that D ring popping right off. Not sure what they were thinking on that design. I was wondering if anyone else with a Specialized has modified this D ring for the breast collar? Has anyone had issues with it pulling out or breaking?

So, now that I have a saddle that is comfortable for horse and rider, maybe I can get motivated to ride a little more? Let’s hope so. For whatever reason (stress??) I have been dealing with several weeks of not feeling well. I had the flu, then bronchitis and now finally recovering from some other virus that didn't test positive for strep, but felt like it. I think I am climbing out of it and getting myself healthy again but the weather hasn’t exactly been conducive to hours in the saddle either. We have had a few teasers of nice 70 degree (mostly during the work week) in between the torrential downpours. We are setting flooding records and with all the rain and as of last week, we were still adding snowpack in the mountains. It’s been a crazy year weather wise. Riding in summer rain is one thing, riding in heavy downpours at 45 degrees? Not really my idea of a good time.

So, there is that.
The other big news , atleast for us, is that I am getting ready to send my husband to Europe in just a short couple of weeks. He is headed to Germany to put on a 4 day horsemanship clinic and then onto Hungary to train and compete at the Kassai Horseback Archery school. I am very proud of him. He has worked very hard to get to this point. Stay tuned for more details.