Friday, June 26, 2009

Finding a snorkle to fit Brego

Thanks everyone for the tack advice. I've been reading the suggestions and doing some research. I've had plenty of time to do that because, despite a brief appearance by our favorite star yesterday, it is raining once again. And by rain, I mean thunderstorms with hail. Just awesome.

It comes as no surprise that the Hunter Pace for this weekend was canceled. My main horsey excitment will be going to Groton House to cheer Andrea on. I am hoping to borrow a little of her mojo for when I do return to the competitive scene.

I've had a few questions about the epoxy "shoes" I tried on Brego, so I thought I would answer them here instead of the comments. First of all, I have had one experience with them and it was positive, but I do not consider it an overwhelming body of evidence. I put them on a couple days before the hunter pace and removed them a couple of days after. In my experience, they would not have lasted for three weeks as they mention on the web site. But I did not use de-natured alcohol to thoroughly clean and dry the hooves prior to application. And I did run my draft horse over 12 miles of intense terrain at speed. So different applications, different horses, and different level of effort may have different results.

I was happy enough with them to use them again if we had the hunter pace this weekend, especially considering how wet Brego's feet have been from the rain.

Since I am on relatively light duty on the blog, I would like to request that if you have any questions for me, please ask and I will answer them. In the past, I have been too busy to respond to everyone personally, but I promise to be better (at least in the short term). I wish I could share more exciting news, but I am in a bit of a holding pattern, both with the weather, and with the other Big Things. Please hold... :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Upping the Bit

I apologize for the relative silence of the blog, but big things are still afoot and Mother Nature has decided my show season needed a hiatus. It's been raining copious amounts, 18 of the last 22 days. We are way beyond TWICE the normal amount of rain for June. Despite Groton House putting on a great show last weekend, I was secretly happy to have scratched.

Regardless, I have snuck in some rides between the breaks in the deluge and Brego is feeling really solid. I think he is also enjoying the time off enough to look forward to work. Yesterday, he was so stir crazy, I had to let him gallop around the pasture, as muddy as it was, just to take the edge off enough so I could safely lead him into the barn. If nothing else, the mud is teaching him to be sure footed over sloppy terrain.

I had the good fortune of finding a draft-sized jumping bridle, sans flash noseband, at a local tack show. Wonders never cease. I snatched it up before the mirage evaporated before my eyes. I also bought Brego a continental gag with a 7" waterford mouth piece to help with his running strong cross country. With the reins on the large ring, the bit will behave the same as our long lost, and much beloved, waterford Baucher. I've been a fan of the waterford mouthpiece to stop leaning into the bit. Moving the reins down the bit rings will add more gag action, but also more poll leverage. I think it's a good compromise. Since I have a dedicated jumping bridle now (bringing my total up to three), I will use the continental gag on the hunt bridle, the egg-butt snaffle on the jumping, and the dressage will continue to have the loose-ring snaffle. Whew.

Now, I only need to find that third saddle for foxhunting. Oh, and open-faced leather jumping boots to fit Brego. Oh, and that properly fitting dressage coat. Oh, and dress boots. Oh, and a tweed....

We have a hunter pace scheduled for this weekend. I have no idea how the footing will hold up, but I will likely apply the epoxy to his hooves on Friday. Good hunting, everyone!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Exciting News #1: Brego hits the airwaves

It's no secret, I've long been a fan of the Horse Radio Network. It's the best source for horse news, with fun commentary, for on-the-go horse-crazy peeps. So I was beyond delighted to be approached by Glenn to talk a bit about the Big Brego on the Eventing Radio Show.

If you've ever been wondering about the sound of my voice (and I know you have) or how often I can gush about Brego in a single, run-on sentence, wonder no more. Click the logo below to be taken to the show notes where you can subscribe to the podcast, watch a video of Brego, or listen online.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Back To Work

We got a break in the rain (3 inches in four days) and headed to the fairgrounds. Brego's feet are wet and he's definitely not comfortable over gravel, but he was perfect on turf. He was actually also mentally excited to work, very responsive, no resistance. We did a lot of trot work, working on straightness and correct inside bend, with just a little bit of canter. His canter departures were crisp and balanced. It was very pleasant to get on him after more than a week off and both of us be excited for the work.

So I would like to claim that he is over his stone bruise or whatever ailed him, although his feet are too soft from the rain for any long distance work. So the current plan is to get back into the grove in the arena or on turf and possibly revisit the Vettek SuperFast epoxy for the Hunter Pace at the end of the month (June 28). Even though the territory is not exceptionally rocky, the distance, coupled with the copious amounts of rain, leads me to be cautious. I will probably follow the same protocol as before: Put epoxy on a couple days before and remove it a couple of days after.

When it rains, it pours, and there's no getting around mud in New England. My choices to keep his feet dry are limited to keeping him stalled more often, something I am loathe to do. I truly believe that 24 hour turnout is best, barring extraordinary circumstances, especially for big, hardworking joints. When the ground is wet, his feet will get wet. Hopefully, we can get to a happy place where he is comfortable over most terrain, under most circumstances barefoot, even when wet, and I can use the epoxy to protect his feet for those times he's just not up to the task. As always, adjusting to the new climate will take time and I am constantly learning and tweaking my maintenance program to keep both horse and rider as comfortable as possible.

In other news, Brego has reached minor celebrity status with upcoming interviews in some wonderful horse-themed publications. I will post more information on these exciting developments as the content is published publicly. Most long time readers know that when I am quiet on the blog, big things are afoot. Hold tight, we have some fun times ahead!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

On the Mend

Brego appears to be on the mend from his foot soreness. There's been no abscess or other physical manifestation of healing, but he's been more comfortable playing in the pasture. It's been raining and his feet are soft, so he's not rock sound, but he was sound in the arena when I longed him today. In fact, he looked pretty darn good. He was naughty, of course, kicking up his heels on the longe after so many days off. But I think he'll be happy to go back into light work.

Tomorrow, if the rain stops, I will ride him in the arena and then boot him for a ride out. His feet are definitely soft from the rain and I don't want to set back any recovery by riding him over rocks. I can't wait to get back on him and see how he feels. It's been a long, distracting week and I am ready to be with my horse again.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Hits Just Keep On Coming

All last week, I logged my small farm. It was long, grueling, dangerous work and while I was busy wrestling with trees, Brego was safe in his sacrifice paddock. He was taking a break, a well deserved break.

I began to notice at the beginning of last week that he was foot sore in his front right. Since I was too swamped to consider riding, I packed his feet in Magic Cushion, booted him, and let him rest. By the end of the week, the pasture was logged and cleaned up, the fencing rebuilt and he was turned back out to walk around. He appeared better.

Last night, I attempted to take a lesson in the neighbor's outdoor jump field. Brego was not right. He was certainly not head-bobbing lame, but I could feel some harshness in his gait. He felt flat, resistant, ears back, stabbing with each stride. He was still sore. I checked him out thoroughly: no heat, no elevated digital pulse, no obvious injury, perhaps some softness on a spot on his sole. So I suspect he has a stone bruise or is brewing an abscess.

He was so subtly off that it took some serious convincing of my trainer that there was even a problem. Of course, she listened to me, but she questioned if he was just resistant getting back into work after a week off. But I could feel it, something not right, not his usual self. And it's important to listen to those little feelings, because pushing a horse who hurts will ruin his body and his brain. Mentally, he will grow to resent work which is supposed to be fun. Physically, he will start compensating with other parts of his body, maybe getting stiff and out of balance. Just a bad deal, all around.

Whether a stone bruise or an abcess is not catastrophic, especially in a year already so full of other responsibilities that I can barely find the time to ride. So I scratched Groton House at the end of the month. I scratched a small Jumper show this weekend. Brego will get more time and turnout to see how he feels, with maybe light trail work in boots to keep him moving.

Meanwhile, I have lots of distractions in my Other Life to occupy me: the farm, the job, the garden, the pasture, tractor maintenance, trailer maintenance, the list goes on and on. Brego is the horse I will be riding in 20 years, raising hell and having fun. He has the time now to heal and get back to 100%.