Sunday, May 23, 2010

It's all worth it!

After a fantastic morning trail ride with Nina and Milo , I spent the afternoon working on Grace's pasture. In typical Pacific Northwest style, it's been raining most of this week. Grace likes to sleep just outside her shelter. With all the rain, plus her tendency to urinate where she sleeps, her sleeping spot was soaking wet. I spent an hour digging drainage channels and stripping out the soaking wet layers of wood chips I had put down for her a few weeks ago. I then hauled in 5 new wheelbarrows of fresh wood chips, and bedded her stall with fresh shavings. When I was done, I brought Grace in from her grazing time and started to wash the truck up by the pasture. While I was rinsing off the truck, I glanced over at Grace and saw this:

At that moment my back was no longer tired and my hands stopped hurting. This was Grace's way of saying "Thanks Mom!" Any time Grace, any time!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A few of our favorite things

I am without a camera for the time being so Grace and I thought we would take this time share with you a few of our favorite products. I have always supported my horse life on a shoe string budget, it is the number one reason that Grace is my only horse. I know that I can give her the best care, but if I added another horse to the mix, I would have to compromise to make it work. I am always looking for deals on my favorite products, so here they are with where I purchase them:

Sore No More Gelotin - This is Grace's favorite liniment. I have tried Absorbine and Vetrolin on her as those were the ones I always used on my past horses. Princess Grace has sensitive skin and she does not like having anything with menthol sprayed onto her legs. I thought she was overreacting until I used Vetrolin and her legs broke out in little bumps. The Sore No More is all natural, and doesn't have that liniment smell to it (which I actually miss). I love it in the gel form, I just rub it into her legs after every ride, with little to no waste of the product. I have used it on my own sore muscles and I was suprised by how quickly the pain went away. Since I am using it every day right now, I just ordered the gallon size from for $65.00. I have seen the gallon size range from $79.00 to 98.00 on other sites.

This brush is a life saver at shedding time! It is the Fur-Be-Gone. Yes, it's a knock off Furminator. I purchased mine at Superior Pets, a local pet supply store. I paid $20 for the 3 inch blade. It pulls out the winter coat, without damaging the new summer coat. The blade even helps to get that dirt that is way down deep in the coat. Grace seems to enjoy it especially during those itchy shedding out moments. It works great on the dog too!

Next is the Quick Fix Halter Snap from Schneider's.

This falls under the category of "Why didn't I think of that?" I know the idea behind a leather halter is that when a horse pulls back to the point that something is going to break, the leather will be the thing that breaks. That was not the case with my last two leather halters. On both of them the snap at the throat latch broke. I must not be the only one, or there would not be a need for this ingenious product. See the little screw at the bottom of the snap? It unscrews and the pin comes out. For $1.95 I was able to save a leather halter.

So those are 3 of ours, what are your favorite products and why?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Corey's Day on the Farm

The Monday and Tuesday after Mother's Day are my two favorite days of the year. Those are the two days of the year that are known as Corey's Day. Corey's Day on the Farm for Special Needs Kids started over 40 years ago. Nick and Coleta Corey invited their special needs son's classroom to their farm for a day. The Corey's saw the impact the day at the farm had on the kids. As the years went on they invited more special needs classrooms. Now the event is so big that it takes place over two days at our local fairgrounds. Over 900 special needs kids are bussed in from local schools. For those two days they get to be a cowboy or cowgirl. They do everything from learning to rope, going on hayrides, a petting zoo,tractor rides and the biggest highlight of all, riding the horses.

The horses (and all other animals) are all provided by volunteers. Grace stayed home this year, but she has been there before. The first year I took her I had no idea what to expect. She exceeded all of my expectations. I love volunteering at Corey's Day, I'm pretty sure I get more out of it than the kids do. One of my favorite kids over the years was a young man named Kenneth. He was one of the high school kids. He was 18 and he had never been on a horse in his life. As I led Grace up to the chute, where the kids get loaded onto the horses from a platform, I could hear Kenneth say "I'm scared, I'm too scared". The gentlemen helping him kept assuring him that he would be just fine, that Grace would take care of him. It took Kenneth several minutes before he was willing to be lowered onto Grace's back, all the while he kept telling everyone how he couldn't do it because he was just too scared. Grace stood stock still while Kenneth was lowered on to her saddle. As we started walking forward with a side walker on each side of Kenneth, he was now yelling "I'm too scared!" He was looking down at Grace's mane. One of the side walkers told Kenneth to look up. He became quiet as he looked around. I looked back at him and said "Your on a horse, look at all you can see from up there." A big grin spread across Kenneth's face and for the rest of the ride he yelled "I'M RIDING A HORSE, I'M RIDING A HORSE."

I had a little girl the following year that chattered the entire time. She looked to be about 8 years old, but had the vocabulary of a 3 year old. I had a hard time understanding the rush of words, so I just kept nodding my head to her story. He mom must have saw it, because when I got back to her she asked "Did she talk your ears off?" I said yes, and her mom said "She is mostly non-verbal, the only time she ever talks is when she is on horse." My eyes welled up with tears, and mom said "Oh, don't worry, her aunt has horses she gets to ride all the time. I'm pretty sure that little girl rode all day long at Corey's Day.

Do you see those two kids standing on the hill across from the tractor ride? They are one of the best parts of Corey's Day. They hide out on the corner of one of the barns, when the tractor ride comes by, they jump out pretending to be bandits.

Every year the cast changes slightly as the older kids volunteer in other areas of the Fairgrounds, and younger kids finally get to take their turn at playing bandit for the day. I love watching these kids, they never tire of the game. They seem of feed off the squeals of delight of the surprised riders on the wagons.

Corey's Day on the Farm are my two favorite days of the year because for those two days I see kids accomplish things that they may have never had the opportunity to do. For those two days I am reminded of the magical touch horses have on both children and adults. For those two days I am blown away by the graciousness of an army of volunteers. After those two days, I swear to myself I will never take the beautiful mare who lives in my back yard for granted. She provides to me everyday the magic that those kids wait all year to enjoy over those two days.

May Update

Now that the blog has more than 2 people reading it, it's time for an update. Grace is feeling MUCH better! Dr. Hill's injected her left hock on April 20th. He told me to keep her quiet for 3-5 days and then start working her again. He said trails would be fine, straight lines, no turning or tight circles. He recommended bringing her back slowly, working up to a few steps of trot at a time. Dr. Hill's said I would know in two weeks if the hock injections would work, if not we would talk more about plan B, injecting the hock with alcohol to get it to fuse faster.

On day 4 if I as much as made eye contact with Grace in the pasture she would squeal and spin. She was starting to feel better. When I pulled her out to brush her that day she was snorting and blowing like something was going to eat her. I haven't seen this side of her in years. I planned to ride her the next day. She was a cow when I tacked her up! She would hardly stand still. I was ready for the worst on our walking trail ride. As soon as I swung a leg over her she settled right down. Even on that first ride I could feel her stepping up farther underneath herself. Her foot falls sounded different, she was no longer dragging her left hind toe.

Grace is very content to be back under saddle. She doesn't care that we are not running barrels, or going to flag team practices. As soon as we head out on a ride, her ears prick forward, and she gets that spring in her step. I began trotting her 1 week after I started riding her again. I came home one afternoon and I could tell she had been running in the pasture. The neighbors had been rebuilding their fence, she must have been showing off for them. I realized that if I didn't take the next step, she would do it herself. Her trot is wonderful! She no longer stabs her hind legs into the ground. It is much better on my lower back and her hock.

Since our last vet visit I have spent way too much time on the Internet talking to anyone who will talk about hocks. I have gone the spectrum from people who think horses hocks should never be injected to those that inject every six weeks so they can keep their horses going for competition. I have talked to barrel racers that will inject on Friday and compete on Saturday.

What I know is that my horse who I love like a child was in a lot of pain. I had her hock injected with steroids under the advise of my vet who I trust. The injection alleviated the pain and inflammation and my horse feels much better. At the same time I understand that her hock still looks as bad as it did on the x-ray 3 weeks ago, which is why I will not be out running barrels this summer. I will spend the summer doing everything I can to help Grace get stronger, and to utilize her hind end more efficiently. I promise to keep you all updated on her progress.