I’d Rather be Riding

I think most equestrians would rather be riding, or at least milling about around horses.

Riding in the summer would be even better

The end of school semester crazies have started, and I’m finding that I’m getting bogged down with final assignments and essays, group projects (only one left!), and contemplating about studying for final exams.

I finished my last midterm this past week, which was horrendously late in the term for a midterm. At least they are all finished now, and I’m feeling quite confident with how I did on this last one.

As hard as it is to believe, there are only 4 weeks left of this semester, which means that I have 8 days worth of classes left. Not that I’m counting or anything.

As it’s finally starting to look like spring, with the last mounds of snow slowly disappearing, and blue sky speckled with white fluffy clouds, and birds making a symphony of sounds, I’m only too glad to welcome its arrival. Of course, I’m now yearning to ride more, to be outside longer, and to not be cooped up in windowless classrooms (honestly, why do they not put windows in the classrooms?).

With the nearing of spring, daylight savings brings sunny evenings and late stays at the barn

I’d much rather be riding than working on assignments. Just “horsing around” – as my brothers say anytime I’m going to the barn, with a look that seems to inquire when will I lose interest in them – would be a vast improvement to sitting inside.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy school, I love learning and meeting new people, but sometimes it all gets a bit much. I can’t wait for this semester to be over, and for the only thing to be on my mind is horses and shows (and work, I suppose. I can’t get out of that).

For now, I’m still in school, I still have assignments to do, and exams to study for. But, I’d still rather be riding.


Not Taking for Granted

What do you do to make sure that you don’t take your horse for granted? Remembering the simple aspects of our horses that we love, and can sometimes take for granted, is something that I think we should all take some time out of our day to do.

I was reminded yesterday of a certain trait that Hope will do that I realized I was taking for granted. When I was riding yesterday, Hope had a rather exuberant spook and bolted forward. Bolting is something I am used to. It is the one vice that Hope has. She has gotten much better though, and rarely bolts at all now. When I first started riding her it wasn’t unusual for her to bolt on me once a week.

It wasn’t unusual for us to look like this

There was nothing alarming about her bolting, but what was slightly nerve wracking was the direction in which she bolted. The doors in the arena don’t have gates, and they open directly into the barn. The height of the doors are probably tall enough that a horse and rider could fit through, but on the other hand, I have never checked if they are in fact tall enough.

Since Hope spooked right beside the doors, there wasn’t enough time for me to steer her away, even if there was enough time, I don’t think I would have been able to because she was in one of her “I can’t hear you” bolts.

As we neared the doors at a somewhat alarming pace, and I was envisioning us coming out the other side as a reincarnation of the headless horseman, I suddenly felt something click in Hope. She slowed down to a walk before we had gone shooting through the doors, and allowed me to turn her away.

She has momentarily lost her brain, and had forgotten that I was on her. As soon as she realized that I was still on her, she stopped. She could have bolted through the doors, or done a sliding stop in front of them, sending me quite possibly flying into the barn’s concrete, but she didn’t.

Hope knows that her job is to take care of me. I know that she would never intentionally put me in harm’s way, and this isn’t something that I can trust every horse to do. I love how I can count on her to not be so stupid as to potentially hurt me or herself. I feel like this was something I was taking for granted. Not every horse is going to look out for their rider, but Hope does.

Just look at that sweet face! Of course she means no harm

Not sending me careening through the barn wasn’t the first time that Hope has looked out for me. She’s done it before. If she ever accidentally does something that might cause me to have a rather undignified departure from her back, she always corrects herself and makes sure that I stay on (if she intentionally does something stupid then she doesn’t care if I have the aforementioned dismount).

This is something that I shouldn’t take for granted, as I am very fortunate to have such a kind horse. I realized that there are parts of our horses that we can unwittingly take for granted. No horse should have their special attribute taken for granted, no horse should ever be taken for granted. Every horse is unique in that they all have that special something that only they have. We should acknowledge this trait in our horses, and thank them for it. Thank them for being them, and for always looking out for us.



All Critters are Out of this World

Animals are the one thing in life that I think everyone, mostly, can agree are “out of this world“. Not literally, of course. But, they do offer us peace and enjoyment, comfort and love, and the ability to make us feel safe and somehow separate from the rest of the world. It’s a unique gift that animals have, and one that I feel is all too easy to take for granted. To love an animal, and to be loved in return, is truly an experience that is out of this world.

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“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”

 -Anatole France

We’re not Immune

You never think that it will happen to you, or in any way affect your life. At least, I didn’t.

Gwyneth was diagnosed with cushing’s. This is hardly a death sentence, or a huge surprise. She is a 17 year old Welsh pony, which essentially predisposes her for cushing’s at some point in her life.

Gwyneth 099

Cushing’s disease (also called Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction, or PPID) is a condition where a tumor develops on the pituitary gland in the brain, which causes it to malfunction. It ends up secreting excessive amounts of the hormone ACTH, which in turn triggers the adrenal glands to produce too much cortisol. The increased cortisol results in the stereotypical cushing’s symptoms, namely a long, shaggy coat that doesn’t shed, strange fat deposits, muscle wasting, and excessive sweating. Although this condition is treatable, it’s incurable.


I had been suspecting that Gwyneth might have cushing’s because her fat deposits had changed and she was starting to lose muscle. Sure enough, her blood test came back positive for early cushing’s.

She started on half a pill of Prascend yesterday, and so far, she seems to be eating it fine, which is a huge relief. Gwyneth is selectively picky, and anything that has an overly strong smell or taste is usually rejected (unless it’s a de-wormer, she’ll lick that stuff out of my hand. Strange pony). She is an excellent sniffer, and always makes sure to inspect her beetpulp before she eats it, just to make sure that I didn’t sneak in any new supplements. She currently seems oblivious that she has been eating a pill with her food for the past two days though. This certainly makes my life easier.

Oblivious pony

Because I like to obsessively research anything that my critters develop, I now have a much better understanding on cushing’s in horses, and the plethora of supplemental treatment options. I already had a good understanding of the hormones involved, and how cushing’s in humans worked (thanks, college biology classes!), but there was still more to learn.

I am probably going to try her on a chaste berry supplement, which helps regulate the pituitary gland by balancing its dopamine levels, as well as upping her magnesium to help lessen her fat deposits. Hopefully she doesn’t object to the extra stuff in her food.

She doesn’t appear to be saddened by the fact that she has cushing’s. She’s still acting the same and has her same pony personality, complete with begging for treats and temper tantrums.

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For Gwyneth, the biggest concern will be preventing her from developing laminitis, which cushing’s increases the risk for. I don’t turn her out on grass, just because she has always been an extremely easy keeper and gains 10 pounds just by looking at grass. So, her grass-less diet will continue. She keeps herself busy by nibbling away at her free choice timothy in a small hole haynet, which appears to keep her sufficiently occupied.

Hopefully she’ll continue to be oblivious about eating the Prascend, and won’t mind if I add any additional supplements. I’m just glad that we caught the cushing’s fairly early, and should be able to get it under control quickly. Now that we’ve discovered it, I have my fingers crossed that we can only go upwards from here.

Raindrops and Dogs

Its been a little over a week since Ayla got spayed. She was feeling pretty sorry for herself the first couple of days, but she perked up fairly quickly and no longer seems to begrudge me for taking her to the vet.


She absolutely hated the traditional plastic cone that she was sent home with to wear, and basically just sat in a corner and sulked. The poor little thing. I got her one of those blow up tubes that go around their neck, and she was much less disturbed by wearing it.

A much happier Ayla after getting a new tube-cone

The hardest part of getting spayed for her was that she had to be confined. She loves being outside; sitting on the little hill beside the mini’s paddock and looking thoughtfully off into the distance is her favorite pastime. Being stuck inside and only being allowed outside on a leash drove her slightly insane.

Leash walkies only

As the days went by, I started to give her short periods of supervised off leash time outside, just so that she would be manageable inside. She was overjoyed to have a bit of freedom.

She was so happy, she even felt the need to try snorkeling in the snow
The aftermath of her snorkeling adventure

Now, she is officially cleared to be outside as much as she wants. As it happens, however, the weather has decided to be horribly unpleasant, a mixture of rain, sleet, and snow on top of our very soggy foot of snow. She doesn’t really seem to mind though, and still likes to go out in it.


I won’t leave her out in it all day though, to her dismay. I’m sure she’d probably like to be in it all day. Even though she may not currently be outside as much as she’d like, she is much happier now that she is at least able to spend most of her time outside.


Hopefully the weather clears up soon and she can spend as much time as she wants outside. Until the time that we have grass, blue sky, and sunny days she may be confined a little more than she likes, but she’ll survive. Just as long as she isn’t completely forbidden to be outside at all, I think we’ll both be happy.

We Got It

Hallelujah, for I think we’ve got it.

It’s been a little under two weeks since Hope had her right hock and hind fetlock injected, and the improvement in her movement and willingness to work has been heart-liftingly huge.

It took a while for her to feel consistently good, and now, she finally is. Today was the first ride where she really felt like she had no limit. Not literally, of course. She is still Hope, and she still has her quirks, and there are some things that cannot be eased away with a steroid injection.

“Smile for the camera!” Some quirkiness is here to stay

She felt great to ride, and was more willing to come round and accept the contact, which, for Hope, is one of the biggest roadblocks to get through.

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We are certainly far from perfect, and in all honesty, will probably always remain an immeasurable distance away from perfection. We are, however, improving. That’s the best we can foresee to be, the best anyone can foresee to be. We can all aspire to be perfect, but we’ll probably never reach it. Even Charlotte Dujardin has never gotten 100% on a test.

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It’s alright though, that none of us will ever be perfect. We try our best and work towards touching the impossible, while always understanding that we have our limitations. In spite of this knowledge, we still reach for the stars. And why shouldn’t we? Even if we may never be perfect, we can certainly try to lessen the gap between us and it.

Hidden Secrets

What secrets do the souls in our life hold? What secrets do they not tell? What secrets can’t they tell?

We may try to be just one in a crowd, but the truth is, we all stand out. We’re all different, and we all have concealed secrets that make us without equal. Try as we might, we can never just be a face in the crowd.

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