Saturday, March 26, 2011


McKinna has developed a sad little case of scratches on her right hind fetlock/pastern. She doesn't seem to have it anywhere else, which is interesting - I'm wondering if it came up because she got a small cut in the area a couple weeks ago. Maybe that opened the door to the fungus?

It's not too bad, just pink skin that develops those crusty little scabs and some hair loss. It doesn't seem too painful. We've been washing it very well with betadine scrub every day, using a blow-dryer to get rid of all the water on her fur and skin, then smearing it with antibiotic ointment and vaseline. Last night we bought all the good stuff to mix up and put on it: an anti-fungal cream (since that's what scratches is, a fungus), antibiotic ointment (because apparently secondary bacterial infections like to piggyback on scratches), and desitin (to act as a water barrier).

Yesterday was a mega-score in terms of new apparel, thanks to Tack of the Day and eBay. (I am hopeless.) A few days ago I received my Mountain Horse Sportive High Rider II tall boots. They are zip-up dress boots and they are perfect.

I love the chunkier footbed, and have realized this is important to me in my boots. They're just a tad bit snug, which means they'll break in perfectly, and in general they fit me WAY better than my last pair. They're quite comfortable to wear already, though my right foot is apparently bigger than my left and starts to feel a bit squished after awhile. I'm planning to wear them to the Pony Club jumping lesson tomorrow, though I'll bring my paddock boots and half chaps just in case I'm dying halfway through.

The next item to arrive was: my very own pair of FITS breeches!!!

Yes, they are the dreaded monkey-butt breeches, and no, I don't care how ridiculous they look. I tried on a pair last summer and they are THE most comfortable breeches I've ever worn. It's like wearing pajamas, but with full-seat awesomeness. They've also become pretty much ubiquitous on the eventing scene, so at least I'll fit in ;)
I am also wearing these to the lesson tomorrow. So excited to FINALLY have a pair of these! I have wanted them approximately forever, but they retail for over $200 and that is way too much. But, I found a pair of the beige color in my size on eBay for $99 buy it now, and I was all over that like stripes on a zebra. Now I just need to find deals like that another time or two so I can have some schooling pairs in black and brown...

Finally, I got a package of some Patagonia tops from another eBay seller. Those I actually bought for hiking and other fun outdoor things, but they are definitely getting commandeered for lessons and clinics. They are form-fitting, warm, and sooooooooooft.

So yes. I essentially received a whole clinic's worth of riding attire yesterday, and it was awesome. I think this may do more for my riding motivation than anything else! (I kid. Mostly.) I have been having some good rides on McKinna in the outdoor, but keeping my energy up has been a bit of an issue. A bunch of things have kind of hit me in a row, from putting those 30 days on my barn owner's mare which took lots and lots of daily work, to getting sick, to hitting finals week, and finally this week the (loving and necessary but still very difficult) end of my long-term relationship.

Most times I head out to the barn, I'm just tired and don't feel like riding. Sometimes I make myself do it anyway, and I usually go on to have a good ride and be glad that I did. But that doesn't make it much easier to motivate myself the next time. When I think about all the stuff I have planned out for my competition season - the goals, the unrecognized HTs, the smaller shows, the recognized HTs, my C3 rating - I just don't get that excited, must-plan-things-now feeling.

It's not all bad. A big part of my horse-related reluctance is how much fun I've been having working in my advisor's lab on campus this term. I've been getting very excited about the science we're doing, I'm working on my very horse-related thesis project (which is going to be AWESOME), I've just started on another project that will hopefully wind up with me presenting a poster at a scientific conference next's been a lot of fun and it's all happened very fast. Exciting, yes - but it's hard for me to maintain super high levels of motivation for more than one major thing at a time!

On the other hand, the new term starts on Monday, so I'll get a little reprieve from academic overwhelm (hopefully I can stay more on top of the studying this term). And I did just get all that fun new gear, which will help drag me out the door and onto the horse. My plans for the summer are flexible. Nobody says I have to move up to Training! My #1 priority is that I never ask McKinna to do anything for which she is physically or mentally unprepared. My #2 priority is to have fun. So I am free to shift my plans around as much as I want to accommodate what I'm feeling, as long as I never try to do something we're not conditioned for. Just deciding this has taken a weight off my shoulders...I think I built up all these expectations for the season and I was pre-emptively worried about it.

We'll get back in the swing of things. Leslie is back in town soon, so I can start taking dressage lessons again. And I've got a few things coming up, like the SJ Rally in two weeks and then an Upper Level Prep with Jen Verharen. Those should be fun.

Plus, the weather will eventually get nicer, and that always helps.

Thank goodness I have a horse who doesn't need to be worked 6 days a week for an hour. Though unfortunately she DOES need to be bathed in order to look presentable in public, which means today is bath day. Sigh.
It's worth it, I suppose. She is pretty much perfect in every other way, after all.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I Made It!

Whew. That was a rough finals week.

I made it out alive, though. No grades are up yet, but it's the usual situation - I'm not 100% sure I got straight A's, but it's pretty likely. I didn't end the term as strong as I would usually prefer fact, I ran up against pretty much all the deadlines and didn't put as much time into studying/final projects as I would like to. But that's the way it goes sometimes! All I can do is work to be better next term. (And hope I pulled off my A's.)

McKinna is doing well. I've recently discovered that the outdoor arena footing situation has improved to the extent that I'm comfortable riding out there! It had been a little deep over the winter. It's still deep-ish, but not bad, and the arena is big enough that I can do lots of canter work, so hooray for that. My mom and I had a lovely ride this morning in a brief window of sunshine, and then the rest of the day was rain/hail/general nastiness.

 Mom having a very nice ride

I'm still working on recovering from the sleep deprivation and mental tiredness of last week, so you'll have to pardon the short post.

Fun fact: today we went to the horse evolution exhibit at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History. Lots of cool stuff there. Also, they have a station where you can put your hands into knitted horse feet (!!!!!) from early, three-toed ponies all the way up through modern Equus caballus, and test them out on different "grounds" from soft, squishy forest to hard, flat grasslands. So cool. The one where your fingers are all spread out in the toes feels very nice on the squishy stuff but weak on the hard ground, while a hoof (which only has enough room for one finger) feels unsteady on squish but awesome on hard ground. Way cool.

Man, I am SO glad the term is over. It's slowly sinking in, but it always takes a couple days for me to decompress. The thing I'm most excited about is finally getting my brainspace back to myself. I can use my mind to think about things I actually care about (thesis research! fossils! ponies! grad schools! thesis research!) rather than things I don't want to do (projects projects projects why are there so many projects).

Look, we can canter!

Right, so. Now that I'm free, you expect a quasi-regular posting schedule again, and by quasi-regular I mean no semblance of regularity except that P(1 post/week) > 0.5.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Okay, I'm Back

That was quite the absence, wasn't it? Didn't mean to disappear for so long. I was in a little bit of a funk for the whole horse thing. Still going out to the barn and riding a few times a week, but I just wasn't feeling it.

Never mind that, the energy's back. I think I was just at a low-motivation point in the term. Right now I'm about halfway through dead week - have a lot of writing to do, but finals week is shaping up to be not so bad, and I'm riding a lot again.

I decided to lop McKinna's mane off and make her look like a real sport horse. Cut it last night, and then tonight started in on the pulling. Already it's looking pretty good. Her mane is SO dang easy to pull, and of course she is so polite and patient about the whole thing. It still needs to be shortened up a lot, and more thinning done on the upper part of her neck, but I have lots of time. She is going to look so damn awesome with braids in this summer, I can't stand it.

Photographic evidence:

So cute.

What else? We've added a bit of alfalfa to her diet to make sure she's getting enough protein, since the grass hay she's on is fairly low-quality (fine by me - she gets nasty diarrhea on orchard grass). She is going to be working hard this season, and things start ramping up next month. Surprisingly, no digestive upset whatsoever associated with the introduction. Cool beans. (Ha...ha...get it? Because alfalfa is a legume? Right.)

I took the stirrups off my jumping saddle and have been riding in it more often. This is a good thing for me, because stirrupless work was one of my weaknesses at the rating prep and I have another one coming up in April. It's been miserable work until tonight, when it was still extraordinarily painful (posting and 2-point, that is; sitting trot is pretty easy) but I felt like my position finally 'clicked' and held stable through the whole thing. Also, I have discovered that McKinna is capable of cantering in the indoor arena without totally losing her mind. She still doesn't approve too much, and she's more tense than she would be in a big arena, but it is very nice to know that I can actually school the canter at home.

What else? I'm working on a report for the ABC retreat. Wrote up an outline for the PC newsletter about it, but I know you guys will want more detail! It is also the 8th of March today, which means I need to get my butt in gear analyzing my February goals. I'll work on that one, and at least have it done by next weekend after finals are over. Probably sooner. Writing blog posts suddenly becomes very attractive when you have a mountain of OTHER writing to do.

McKinna is awesome and very fun to ride. I bought one of these lovely quarter sheets because I found it on super-sale, and earlier this winter when it was ridiculously cold out I felt guilty while warming up because I think her poor shaved hindquarters were cold. Also, I bought a pair of these from Tack of the Day today - I came to the conclusion that I dislike my Dublin Aristocrat tall boots because they are too big and the footbed is very thin. I do not like thin footbeds and I do not ride well in those boots. The Mountain Horse Sportives are perfect because they have a slightly chunkier footbed (perfect!) but are still dress boots and can be polished up all nice and pretty, unlike my tried-and-true paddock boots + full-grain leather half-chaps. Pretty polish is good when you're at a Pony Club rating.

Quick review of upcoming excitement: jumping lesson at the end of the month, Show Jumping Rally (yes, I decided to go!) and upper-level prep with Jen Verharen in April, dressage show and/or hunter jumper show + Inavale eventing camp + Inavale unrecognized HT in May.

And after that, things start to get really crazy.

That's all for now. Gotta make some progress on that pesky schoolwork.
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