Inspiration-by Jo Ann (sounds like a line of greeting cards)

Jo Ann and Mickey- a pretty good lookin' pair.

Jo Ann and Mickey- a pretty good lookin’ pair.

I met Jo Ann when about five years ago when Jordyn was two. I had gotten talked into helping out announcing at a horse show and if I did, they would find little Jordyn a horse to ride in the leadline class. So one of Jordyn’s first horse show experiences was with Jo Ann’s then  27 year old, black, OTTB named Hershey.  He was perfect for her.

Later when Jo Ann was looking for a place to board her old man, Hershey (then 31) and her superstar Quest, our vet Lynn, recommended our place to Jo Ann.  It has been a good fit.  Due to a series of adventures, good and bad, Jo Ann has been left without a regular horse to ride, Hershey was saddly too old and Quest moved on to greener pastures.  She came back to riding dressage with Nancy Lindsey and my go-to pony, Snowboy.

Not to give out state secrets, but Jo Ann is older than I am by a few years.  And we all know I am really old.  Jo Ann and I have had some serious run-ins with medical professionals but while mine have been orthopedic hers have been some fairly critical medical issues.  In fact it seems a little more than a month ago Jo Ann had some pretty important surgery.

I am a fairly competitive person.  That may be an understatement.  I used to be a competitive horsewoman and spent my childhood in lessons and shows.  By the time I started college, I was pretty done with all that.  I rode because I enjoyed riding.  I did some shows off and on through the years but usually to prove I could or to help Ally or Lauren out by riding their show horse prior to them riding.

I have been watching Jo Ann as she has continued to ride, in spite of not having a horse right now, in spite of the heat, in spite of her medical issues and had a little “A HA” moment.  Jo Ann has worked her way up to riding Lauren’s jumper, Mickey.  There is something dynamic and exciting about watching this cow-bred Paint, excel at something else he was not bred to do.  He was never bred to jump and he has soared.  He was never bred to bend and float and now Jo Ann has him doing dressage.  What a special guy he is!

I have been riding my new horse Nova pretty consistently and wanted to take a lesson with Dev once I got her going pretty well.  Of course, part of it was me-the getting going part.  Coming back from the hip replacement surgery and my nine other orthopedic surgeries in this decade have made my muscle tone and strength not what they were. So, that was a good excuse as well.  I had told Dev that I would do a lesson this last weekend, but wouldn’t you know it-Nova came up lame.  Reason enough to put that off until she was better.



But watching Jo Ann on Friday night, Competitive Cindy (that is like Malibu Barbie), said to herself, “You know I could do this!  This lesson thing-I could be open to criticism, praise and getting to be a better rider.  I could do it!”

Mickey and I doing just fine.

Mickey and I doing just fine.

Sunday, for the first time in 40 years, seriously, 40 years, I took a horseback riding lesson.  And I did just fine.  And I did it on Mickey.  Who did his best for me (at least mostly).  So, what is the big deal?  For 40 years, I have been content to listen to other riders, to read books and articles about riding, to watch clinicians and videos but I have not be willing to put myself out there where the focus as direct and on me-specifically.

Canter, please.

Canter, please.

I had watched my friend Jo Ann take lessons.  Honestly, at first I really thought she probably couldn’t ride that well, I mean she was old like me.  But then I watched her turn in better and better rides on a variety horses and I had learned that if I wanted to get better and get serious, I had to learn more.

We never quit learning or getting better.  Sometimes we have to be brave enough to face the criticism that may occur when we step out into something new.  I did not even get criticized during my lesson (George Morris was not available for a crtique).  Instead I got nice words about my position and quiet hands along with suggestions for doing things even better.

And to you- Jo Ann-Thank you for the inspiration.  You will see in these videos what a lovely rider you are.  Bravo to you, for hanging on and moving forward.  I believe you showed these kids around here a few things as well.

As John Wayne reportedly said, “Courage is being scared to death and climbing up into the saddle anyway”.  I am glad I climbed up in the saddle again to learn.

As always thanks for riding along!

Lauren and I taking a lesson together-first time ever.  She is on Owen.

Lauren and I taking a lesson together-first time ever. She is on Owen.

Summer Working Students

Isabel, Lauren and Mia looking like professional equestrians headed off to learning event.

Isabel, Lauren and Mia looking like professional equestrians headed off to learning event.

Many barns with top trainers and riders have summer working students that come and essentially work for free in return for proximity to such amazing learning opportunities.  Okay, so our little backyard barn does not house a resident trainer or a hot-shot rider to motivate the working student to spend grueling hours under the hot Texas sun, but apparently we have some draw as two students joined us this summer for a four-week program.  The program (I am being generous here) was designed (thought up one night in response to the impending arrival of the students) to aid the students in learnIng multiple facets of the  equestrian business, from running a barn smoothly to greater insight on the horses they ride.

Mia on my horse, Investment Art (Nova)

Mia on my horse, Investment Art (Nova)

Mia, formerly of Houston, returned from her current home in Malaysia (I bet my working student came further than yours did) to spend the time under Lauren’s tutelage and took up residence in our home.

Isabel and Prosecco Classico on course.

Isabel and Prosecco Classico on course.

Isabel, a boarder, from Katy, Texas, came daily to work, learn and sweat with the group.

Both girls have trained with Dev Branham and continued riding multiple mounts for him during the summer program.  Timing was such that everyone got a shot at showing as well.  The Greater Houston Hunter Jumper Show conveniently was scheduled mid-program.  Dr. Lynn Criner helped out with offering up her pony-Just George for Mia to show.

It wasn't all work!  From left, Alex, Isabel, Mia and Jordyn having some fun at the GHHJA show.

It wasn’t all work! From left, Alex, Isabel, Mia and Jordyn having some fun at the GHHJA show.

Next year, if we do this again, I have advanced plans of much better ways to incorporate time and teaching to the working student.  But for this year, I put together some opportunities interspersed with amble time for riding, barn management and hopefully some fun.  Several days a week the girls had responsibilities for horse turn-out, cleaning stalls, barn management and arena perfection.

Discussion was had over variety of feeds, hays and type of work that the horses were doing (or not).  Pasture management including important things how/where manure is dumped and pasture rotation was an ongoing subject.  Certainly there was never a shortage of opinion or feedback about pasture assignments (horses, just like people {or dogs}) like and respect others in varying degrees.

We set up some other educational sessions as well.  Dr. Kendrick Govan did a tremendous job helping the ladies build a perfect barn first-aid kit.  Additionally, she walked them through what a lameness exam in a horse is meant to show and basic first aid tips.  The group was very complimentary of Dr. Govan and what they all learned.

Likewise, the girls spent a day auditing the Emerging Athlete’s Program sponsored by USEF at Katy Equestrian Center.  After listening to American Olympic Gold Medalist Joe Fargis work with the riders in the program the students and Lauren raced home to recreate his course in our arena.  When trainer Dev arrived and questioned the unique course, I told him to ask Mia or Isabel to explain the point to of this particular course.  Without hesitation, Isabel clearly articulated to Dev what the horse and rider would gain from riding it.  I call that a big win.  (I would note that course pretty quickly got changed-it was pretty tough to handle.)

Tony's Timber Ridge Farm

Tony’s Timber Ridge Farm

A trip north to the beautifully built and appointed barn of Tony Font was a fun educational outing provided by trainer Trapp O’Neal with the help of Caitlyn Epperson.  Trapp,  a rider and trainer of Grand Prix horses, aided the girls in understanding basic horse anatomy and how it plays out in the jumping ring.  The girls were asked to evaluate several horses based upon the criteria they had just learned.  Caitlyn also did some jumping demonstrations which were case in point.  It is doubtful that any of these students will be jumping around a Grand Prix course any time soon (or ever) but it is always fun to see inside the world where you have been a spectator in the past.

Mia modeling the new helmet visor.  A lot of shopping was included for the students-just ask their parents.

Mia modeling the new helmet visor. A lot of shopping was included for the students-just ask their parents.

Four weeks of summer fun which included a lot of laughter, fast food and shopping when the group was not hauling dirt to fill the rain-soaked pastures, working another horse in the hot, humid environment of summer in Houston or dragging the arena yet again in the endless circles of perfection. A heartfelt thanks for all that you accomplished this summer.   I would call our first working students, Mia and Isabel, amazing, intelligent, and hard-working. I saw them get tougher, stronger and become better horse-woman.   I am grateful they came to learn, to work and to grow with Six Meadow Farm.

And to all of you, thanks for riding along!

Day 300-A Bruno Story

Strong hooves, strong shoulders and a newly found strong horse, Bruno takes flight.

Three hundreds days ago
TAMU Vets did surgery to clean and cure
Giant Bruno’s infected hoof.

Over one fourth of his left front hoof
Was cut away with surgical precision.
Antibiotics pumped directly into the bone
Day after day until it was finally time
To come home.

Over five months he spent jailed in a wooden cell
No way to fill the long hours or the boredom
Just a view from the top stall rail of the world
Passing by, cows, trucks, tractors and more.
A literal tv screen of slow entertainment.

Finally summer and a release from Dr. Marsh
Allowed Bruno to run free again, the racing
Blood of his ancestors coursing through his veins.
Back under saddle, controllable, but only because
He desired to be controlled, most of the time.

Finally ready, after plaster casts were molded to protect
and support his soft, fragile hoof walls
did we get an okay to launch the big guy
Over his first fences. Of course, he could soar!
But boy, he did not want to jump. No way!
His workouts on the flat got better and better.

His jumping over fences became more matter of fact, as we continued
Lap after lap, walk, trot or canter but always with a small fence to cross.
As days became weeks, we thought there might be some
jumper in the big horse after all. And still he got stronger, better
And anxious mentally to fly for Lauren. Houston, we had lift-off.
One day he just started to get it!

Today is day 300 from surgery and the mighty thoroughbred Bruno,
Is as good as he once was and maybe better than he ever was.
Today with these short months under saddle he would already make
A great dressage mount. Each ride is smoother, more fluid, than the last
yet emits strength and fitness in every step.

We were told he would not be rideable for one year after surgery.
We earned some extra time with him growing back his hoof so fast.
We learned a lot taking on this magnificent OTTB. We learned about
Faith, courage and love. We couldn’t be happier to have our big man
Back to work with nary a hint that trouble ever brewed.

Thank you to all that have supported and cheered on the “startling beautiful” (According to off-Track Thoroughbreds) Bruno.

Three hundred days-look how far he has come!

Collected, flowing and moving like a dream!

Website Off-Track Thoroughbreds Reports on Bruno-

Today this article was written about Bruno (called Pilgrim) on the Off Track Thoroughbred site.  I do not know if I have ever had a horse described as “Darkly dappled and startlingly beautiful, Pilgrim grew to an eye-popping 17.2 hands in perfectly sculpted height, and tips the scales at close to 1,500 pounds.”  Startling Beautiful-it is so true and yet nothing I thought would ever be said about a horse of mine.  Anyway, please read this account about my boy!

A.P. Indy scion raring to go after 5 months in stall

By on August 26, 2013

Majestic as they come, Pilgrim stoically endured five months in the stall

Majestic as they come, Pilgrim stoically endured five months in the stall

In the visage of Fiddler’s Pilgrim is a horse that positively reeks of racing nobility.

Darkly dappled and startlingly beautiful, Pilgrim grew to an eye-popping 17.2 hands in perfectly sculpted height, and tips the scales at close to 1,500 pounds. And with two racing kings in the family—A.P. Indy and Hansel—everybody expected, no, they knew that someday, he too would be a stakes horse.

But as so often happens in life, and in racing, fate turned on a dime. And Pilgrim was no stakes horse. In four starts, he managed to turn in a second-place finish at Aqueduct before he was retired, while a mysteriously recurring hoof abscess hobbled his future career for another year.

Retired first to a major hunter/jumper barn in Houston, Texas, Pilgrim was pointed toward a new career as a Jumper when persistent abscesses and lameness dogged him, and he was eventually moved to a different barn and trainer, until at last, that didn’t work out either.

That’s when longtime Texas horseman Cynthia Davis was offered Pilgrim for free, and in November 2012 she leapt at the chance to obtain such a high-quality animal.

Fiddler’s Pilgrim

Barn name: Bruno

Sire: Jump Start

Dam: I’s Pretty Fast

Foal date: April 22, 2007

“My youngest daughter, who’s 20, rides and competes hunter/jumpers, and every horse in our barn has come from the racetrack, and is either a Quarter Horse or a Thoroughbred,” Davis says. “We try to buy the horse we think we can fix, and we’ve had some good success getting to US zone finals with them, where she competes against hundred-thousand-dollar horses.”

As a large stall was constructed to accommodate the very large gentleman, and Davis more than once said to herself, “Beware the free horse,” she and her veterinarian Lynn Criner got to work studying Pilgrim’s recurring hoof problems.

“She went through all his old X-rays in 2012 and compared them, and it became clear to her that his coffin bone was deteriorating,” Davis says. “Nobody else had looked beyond the abscess, but she’s a great diagnostician, and is the real hero of this story.”

Although Pilgrim’s demeanor didn’t hint at the excessive pain typically associated with a coffin bone infection, the pair contacted veterinarians at Texas A&M last December and scheduled a consultation that resulted in surgery.

“I think it was a little confusing before the surgery because he was walking with a Grade 1 lameness out of a possible Grade 5. But once he went for the surgery, surgeons found the bone was very clearly infected,” she says.

During a painstaking procedure on Dec. 19, the infection was cut out of the coffin bone and the edges shaped to encourage healthy regrowth, and approximately one quarter of his hoof was also removed.

Fiddler's Pilgrim romps like a dream horse after a long road back from cannon bone infection

Fiddler’s Pilgrim romps like a dream horse after a long road back from coffin bone infection

Following surgery, Pilgrim stayed at the hospital for nine days, receiving IV infusions of antibiotics directly into the hoof.

After he returned to his newly built stall, the big animal was confined for five months, while undergoing a series of hoof treatments, all while doing his best to remain entertained by the myriad toys and other distractions Davis arranged for him.

“I got him three salt licks and tied them onto a lead rope, and he would push those around all day, like he was working with an Abacus. We went through Jolly balls and buckets. It got to the point that he was throwing buckets full of water, and everyday, there was a new challenge,” Davis says.

There were funny moments to be sure, as Pilgrim became deeply involved in watching the “Cow Station,” her term for the daily activities of the bovine across the way. But the most rewarding came when they unscrewed a special plate covering his affected hoof and saw it had begun to heal.

There were days when Davis couldn’t imagine what she’d gotten into. And with $10,000 in veterinary bills, she often repeated her joke about “free” horses. Then there were others that were a confounding mix of trouble tinged with humor.

“We had to temporarily house him at the local vet one day, and they had him in a soft-bottom stall. When employees left to go to lunch, he was peering over the top of his stall door, and when they returned, he was peering up from a four-foot hole in the ground!

“Not only did he manage to dig a four-foot hole in that time, but he hit the water line and ruptured it. I think that was the day he had watched a rerun of Hogan’s Heroes.”

Finally, on May 29, 2013, Pilgrim was allowed outside for small-paddock turnout. In his zeal to be free to be outside and buck, he accidentally hit the back of the barn roof with his hooves— he was fine.

In the rural Texas town where she lives, Pilgrim has become a bit of a celebrity and people come by to take their pictures with the giant horse.

Pilgrim scoffs at the idea of lifting his back legs any sooner—he'll wait for a bigger jump first

Pilgrim scoffs at the idea of lifting his back legs any sooner—he’ll wait for a bigger jump first

Davis hopes that some day Pilgrim will gain an even bigger following as a sport horse worthy of pictures in the winner’s circle.

Under saddle this summer, he has proved an eager and scopey jumper, easily clearing a three-foot jump by an additional two-feet, without getting his back legs off the ground until the last second.

Though he has been a little hot at times, he has calmly and bravely taken all the new challenges in stride, from his extensive surgery, to new disciplines, like trail riding and jumping.

In the coming weeks, Pilgrim is scheduled to begin taking lessons with a trainer, to begin the process of becoming a sport horse. Davis can’t wait to see what he’s got!

“In our world, there are a lot of people competing on $100,000 horses, and we’ve always been on the OTTBs and rescues,” she says. “When we saw Pilgrim, he was just so amazing, so big and brave” that we knew he could compete against any horse.

So while he may not have had the stuff of his grandsires on the track, in the sport horse arena, Davis expects to see the razzle-dazzle of racing royalty come to the fore.


editorial comments-we have owned many other horses than race horses, but almost all have been rescues of one kind or another.  Also, while Lauren has surely competed against $100,000 horses, there are many, many fine horses who were not in that price range but certainly of that caliber.

As always, thanks for riding along.  A special day for the exechorseluver!

Bruno and Pixie Get Adjusted-A Bruno Story

Bruno's areas of adjustment.

Bruno’s areas of adjustment.

After all the high-tech, high dollar surgical intervention that has been done to get this OTTB back from an infection of the coffin bone, it is interesting that in addition to a change in shoeing, having my vet/chiropractor adjust Bruno has made more difference in his ride and movement than anything else.  It is a little startling.

Eight months ago this Sunday, Bruno, a six year-old OTTB had surgery at Texas A&M Vet Hospital.  At least a third of his hoof was removed including a portion of his diseased coffin bone.  Then months of stall rest went by.  Finally he was released to start back to work.  But honestly, he wasn’t moving well.  I expected him to be a little off with his hoof as the hoof walls continued to get stronger.  But he was also moving stiffly in his hind end.  It was a little disparaging to think you had won the battle with his foot but lost the war with him being sound throughout.  We added injections to support his overall joint health.

This week we had our vet, Lynn Criner, DVM, who is also certified as an animal chiropractor come out to look at Bruno (who of course she has seen many times, but never adjusted) and also our young mare Pixie.

The picture above illustrates all the areas that Bruno had issues.  Lauren said one of the most amazing adjustments, in terms of change, was in the space above his eye and below his ear.  I had noticed one side seemed swollen-or had fluid.  Also, it was difficult to bridle Bruno and not just because he is 17.2 hh.  He did not like his head touched.  Dr. Criner took his head in her hands, manipulated it and my head throwing, swollen faced horse was a thing of the past.  He dropped his head down and sighed.  Last night, for the very first time, he bridled easily and without issue.

His hind end was out at the hip and spine. He was also out in the shoulder.  All were returned to the normal position and again, the big horse sighed in relief.  It might take a couple of times for this all to hold together, as muscle memory is long and Bruno has been in bad shape for a while but we will repeat as we need to do so.

Last night when Lauren went out to ride, it was a different Bruno she rode.  We have had problems trotting Bruno at all.  He did not want to trot and we moved him into a canter early in each ride to keep him more comfortable.  Last night, he trotted as well as he ever has, most notably was his nice, even pace and lack of a head tossing, tail swishing fight.  He reminded me so much of my old horse Mac who is a hunter pro.  Around he went, balanced and happy.

When Lauren went on to the canter it was again the canter of hunter, as even and methodical as could be.  I even went so far as to say it looked like a hunter under saddle Quarter horse class. His head was down (okay not down that far!), his hind end moved fluidly, and his cadence was perfect.  It was a far cry from the usual off in gallop, dragging his hind end, missing his leads, horse of the past.  I just hope this Bruno shows up again!!

Pixie, the four year-old pony, has not liked us to tighten up her girth.  She has been less than enthusiastic about me putting my leg on her and pushing her forward.  In fact, she has been relcutant to really work at all.  Well, that certainly began to make sense as Dr. Criner evaluated her.

Pixie's areas of pain.

Pixie’s areas of pain.

Pixie had ribs out of alignment on both sides, two on one side and one on the other.  Can you imagine having someone draw a tight band around your ribs if they were out of place?  Would not be a good time.  I would not be very cooperative either.  Her hips and top of her head (her poll) needed alignment and her little knees were sore (probably from bracing against the pain of everything above them).  I had been lunging her more (to make her cooperate better under saddle) and that is the worst thing I could have done for her knees.  The vet prescribed straight work for her, no twisting or turning as she starts to heal.

Dr. Criner had suggested “ponying” Bruno down the hay roads so he could also work on the straight instead of having to turn over and over in the arena. Ponying is when one horse is being ridden and the second horse is brought along in a halter (seemingly under the control of the ponying horse).   At the time, I told I did not have a horse to pony him with.  Mickey is an all-star kicker.  Feather would just panic and run away with him.  Mr. Kid would want to run away with Bruno but might have a heart attack trying.

When she suggested ponying Pixie, I started to give the same excuse-no pony horse available.  Then it occured to me!  Snowboy was coming home and if he hasn’t changed he will be an awesome horse to take Pixie down the hay road. 

Now, Snow ponying Bruno, first, what a sight that would be! Second, I wonder if Bruno could start running really fast and just pull me and Snow into air, like we were para-sailing behind him.  Oh, I wish I could draw because I totally have a visual in my mind of the big, black horse dragging the fat, white pony and the old lady into the air!

Horse show this weekend and hoping to be moving Feather up yet another division in height.

Thanks for riding along!

Another Hot Summer Day

Getting Snow's stall all set for his return! If you look carefully you can see the poodle's reflection.

Getting Snow’s stall all set for his return! If you look carefully you can see the poodle’s reflection.

As the hot summer days continue (no rain since Fourth of Ju-LIE-as my momma would say), the heat index has tipped over 100 each and every day, Lauren has been readying the barn for the Snow’s return.  In some sort of manic phase of activity, Lauren has stripped the hay stall, cleaning out cob webs, moving hay, moving pallets from stall to stall, leveling the floor, adding dirt, adding rubber mats, and (are you ready for this?) changing out the gates herself.

I was actually, shocked!  More of her father’s genetic code must run through her system than what I thought.  I did not even know that she could possibly take down on six-foot gate and replace it with a four-foot stall gate.  We keep the hay locked behind higher walls and higher gates.  So, Lauren had to remove the boards from the stall that will be Snow’s and then cut (with a saw) the boards to fit the new hay stall.  I was just amazed.

I think Jordyn is going to be thrilled when we surprise her with Snow’s return to Six Meadow Farm. The stall is not done yet, we have a fan to install, plywood to set in the back of the stall and of course, shavings. 

Dev suggested that next weekend when we have a horse show that Snow is attending, that we just take him home then.  That will save an extra long trip to Dev’s to pick him up.  We had planned to bring Jordyn down for a lesson on Labor day weekend and just, SURPRISE! Snow was home.  Ally and her kids are headed to Denver to help Amber and kids celebrate their birthdays so Jordyn won’t even be in town when Snow gets here.  Hopefully by the 21st or so, we can get the big surprise done.


Meanwhile, I am continuing to work Pixie in hopes of turning her into an all-star hunter pony.  She has been a little reluctant to work hard with heat.  She has been getting extra time on the lunge line.  I decided to try her over a small jump.  She is young and never been jumped with a person on her back.  She jumped the first time I asked and each time thereafter.  We are going to get Dr. Criner out to check her alignment, back, and sternum.  She does not like her back feet worked with and is still mareish when I tighten the girth. 

Not perfect, but her first jump in Texas.  She was totally willing to do whatever I asked.

Not perfect, but her first jump in Texas. She was totally willing to do whatever I asked.

DC will look at Bruno as well.  We have scheduled Bruno’s first lesson at Dev’s.  Lauren was telling farrier Roland last night as he marveled that Bruno still had his cast and shoe on, that she had ridden him eight times in the last ten days-and that was more rides than we had ever had since we have owned him.  He seems to be getting physically stronger and easier to handle each time they ride.

Roland was watching him last night as he finished up with the horses,  “He really is a great looking horse, I hope he does great things”.   Ditto, Roland, Ditto.

Thank you for riding along.  Going out  right now (temp just dipped to a cool 99 degrees) to ride Pixie, Feather and Bruno.  Good night to all of you!

Pedicure and a bath

Pixie, all shiney and clean after her bath.

I had everything ready for the farrier last night; a bucket of water for him to use to form the cast, the mats swept clean, hosed down and dried, Bruno’s bell boot off, his hoof clean and Bruno, himself, worn out from a day in the hot sun. I was working so hard I never noticed my phone. There was a message that tomorrow morning would be better. Oh, well! When your farrier is making an over one hundred mile round trip for the third time in less than three weeks, you go with grateful, no matter when he shows up.

Bright and early this morning, with Lauren and Feather already seriously at work in the arena, Roland pulled in. He had been here with the vet just two weeks ago. They had hatched a plan to use a heartbar shoe with a pad between the hoof and shoe but then…there’s more, they used cast material (like on a broken arm) to wrap around Bruno’s hoof. The idea was to drive the hoofing nails into the cast instead of the fragile hoof wall. Dr. Criner gave it three weeks. Much to my horror, it lasted only ten days. But while it was on Bruno was 99% sound for the first time in 277 days (to be exact-that’s when he had surgery)! It was pretty amazing to see him go so well.

New plan today!! Shoe him with a straight bar shoe, add the equi-Pak (it reminds me of silicone putty you use to caulk a bathroom) to create some padding and then cast the hoof. We hoped it would last a little longer. Since Bruno needed his other feet done, Roland trimmed them all. Making it another first, as this was the first time since we have owned him he is being set with working feet! It is get over the surgery and move on, big guy, time. The long toes so many of you have commented about are gone.

He has a great pedicure, new shoes and I pray we have a Horse who is completely ready, willing and able to return to work! Do you have any idea my excitement when we actually jump this horse, this horse upon so many dreams we have built-all without EVER seeing him jump even once. I know I may be in for a big let down…but I so think he can do it!

After Bruno’s pedicure, I dragged lil Pixie out of the pasture for a bath. We have not paid enough attention to this one since she arrived from Florida. I washed and conditioned her long, beautiful tail. I scrubbed her body and legs. I was rewarded with pretty, silky pony!

Now, I am headed in to clean up from my day of pedicures and baths. Thanks for riding along! I see some trot poles and small Xes for these two soon. It’s going to be fun!!

His newly casted hoof, next to his untrimmed, too long toe on the other foot

This and That

Not your everyday site!  Cart horses from the Morris Ranch and Carriage House schooling today on the back roads of Wharton.

Not your everyday sight! Cart horses from the Morris Ranch and Carriage House schooling today on the back roads of Wharton.

I was off today for my follow-up appointments with my orthopedic surgeon and physical therapy.  I was eager to see the doctor hoping that he would finally release me from the giant black sling.  But no, I guess he knows me too well and dictated another three weeks in the sling.  I begged him that I was leaving for vacation and he cut it down to two and half weeks.  GEEZ!!  I was not looking forward to PT-and it was not memorable (at least not in a good way).

After that I thought it would be a quiet day but no, there were lots of things to do.  It rained early canceling Lauren’s trip to Dev’s.  We were off to get alfalfa hay which had been freshly cut.  When we arrived at my favorite green isles, we saw a cart with three beautiful horses hitched up.  The hay man’s neighbors are the famous (at least around here) Morris Ranch and Carriage House.  Top trainers from England, Paul and Suzanne were giving the horse’s a little morning workout down the quiet back roads.  What a treat to see them in action!

Our vet, Lynn Criner, showed up with student, Kirby, in tow to work on the new pony’s teeth.  They extracted two wolf teeth after some sedation and then proceeded to give the pony a teeth filing and cleaning.  Lynn still does equine dental work, the old-fashioned way without power tools, but the results are always awesome.

Say ahhh!  Dr. Criner extracting two teeth from Pixie's little mouth.

Say ahhh! Dr. Criner extracting two teeth from Pixie’s little mouth.

After we finished up with Pix, Dr. Criner checked out Feather.  As a vet and a chiropractic specialist, we wanted her to check out Feather’s overall structure.  Although needing some adjustment in the neck and shoulder (which makes sense with her job as a jumper-landing feet first off of big jumps), Feather was remarkably changed and relaxed after her adjustments.  Lynn commented on how well Feather’s back was muscled up now-with a nod to Lauren’s conditioning work.  And she did not have a sore spot all the way down her back!

No hands, ma!  Feather was so relaxed she stood quietly as Dr. Criner worked her over.

No hands, ma! Feather was so relaxed she stood quietly as Dr. Criner worked her over.

Jordyn, Kendyll and Ally came for their Wednesday ride but with the recent vet work, we decided no riding tonight.  Ally had a lot of pictures to show me that her husband Luke had sent from Moore, Oklahoma and site of the horrific tornadoes.  He is with the Houston based CenterPoint Energy helping restore power and lines to the many in need.  I think the experience will change him forever.  Ally is hoping he will make it home for Jordyn’s upcoming kindergarten graduation, but if he doesn’t he is doing the right thing for the right reason.

We continue to pray for all those affected by the tornadoes and the safety of all the volunteers and workers.


Leaving the arena.

Leaving the arena.

We had to leave the much-anticipated, much planned for horse show, days early on Friday when Feather unexpectedly and inexplicably became ill.  She had swollen legs and a bad stomach.  It was like a late blow in already tough fight, we were not ready for it and we could not withstand it.

But what has some time and distance given me in regard to this matter? Well, some retrospective insight, helped along by my friend Kathy.  Really, so much of the why we attended the Fiesta Classic horse show, had already been answered in Feather’s arrival to and participation in classes on Thursday.

We had some concerns.  Not the least of which was would Feather measure up against the horses in her division when we tried to show at this higher level of competition.  Already we had spent some time in these Great SW Equestrian rings courtesy of the schooling shows.  Not only that but Feather had entered the ring and shown against some top trainers and some nice horses-so this was not a huge stretch.  Still, Lauren’s nerves were likely to be bound a little tighter, which could affect the mare as well.

And what was going to happen to my schizophrenic mare who came to us scared to have her head touched, the clippers turned on or her face handled when we added the top down cleaning, clipping and braiding that goes along with a big show?  I was very concerned that getting her mane and forelock braided might undo the fragile balance we had constructed in this horse.

Additionally, making it all a little more challenging, Lauren had all brand new tack, a saddle and a bridle that she had never even ridden in before much less jumped a jump.

But oh, retrospect!  First, we learned that while it was lucky to have a braider that went slowly and carefully with my horse, she stood quietly as almost 50 tiny braids were laced into her mane and forelock.  We learned in our 24 hours at the show that Feather would go into the show ring, despite wind and rain, and jump every jump in front of her cleanly and easily.  While we did not win our rounds, Lauren and mare had respectable courses. It was clear the things we could do to be better the next time they entered the ring.

We learned that she settled quickly and easily into the stall like it was the one at home.  And further, I learned once again, that I am sometimes the luckiest person in the world, to essentially have my vet on speed dial no matter the time of day.  When I needed to talk to Dr. Criner, she was answering my call, personally, and with clear knowledge of my horse.  She had me off to the pharmacy for vet supplies to help the sick mare, before most vets would have even returned my call.  As usual, her advice was clear, concise and competent.  Her advice included “take Feather home now!”

Retrospectively, we proved what we set out to do.  To get Feather in the big ring with the top horses.  We will be back for more rounds in future-you can count on it.

Feather joining the big league with style and grace.

Feather joining the big league with style and grace.

Look ma, one foot!

Bruno out in the second pasture, bucking with all his weight on his newly healed hoof!  "Look mom, one leg!"

Bruno out in the second pasture, bucking with all his weight on his newly healed hoof! “Look mom, one leg!”

Bruno got to go out first thing this morning into the second paddock where I would not have to worry about him hitting  the roof.  It was a dreary overcast day but nothing was standing in the way of this big gelding, green grass and freedom.  He dashed back and forth running with the pure joy of his thoroughbred heritage-the one that includes Seattle Slew and the big Secretariat.  Many, many races were made back to paddock fence with sliding stops that would have caused envy to a reining horse.  I caught the picture above as he bucked and ran.  I am sending it Dr. Marsh and Dr. Criner to show them this guy is placing all 1350 pounds of his body weight on his newly healed hoof-AND it is holding up fine.

To watch him trot, canter and gallop without a single off-step was a miracle time for me.  I remembered feeling so helpless/hopeless when it was determined he had to have surgery but to see him run today you would never know he had a problem, surgery or been out for months.

Okay, we are still a long way from a successful ride in the jumper ring-he has not had much training as a jumper because he was always having trouble with his foot.  But this horse has totally enveloped Lauren with love.  I had to remind her that this horse was not a pet and if he pushed her around, she had to bark back at him and re-gain his respect outside the stall.  And we will have to see if the hoof holds up now that he is running and pounding on it.  Lots of things to do before this is a total success story, but it a pretty awesome mid-point!


My shoulder is healing.  I am doing the daily exercises.  It hurts.  Sleep is always hard.  My other shoulder aches all the time now as well, doing the work of both.

Lauren and Feather have a horse show this weekend.  Pictures and updates to come!

My daughters, Ally and Amber, met in Orlando today.  It will be a chance to piggy-back off Amber’s nursing seminar with some time alone with for the sisters.  I keep thinking of my son-in-laws, in Denver and Houston, respectively, handling two children each without their wives.  Wish I had a little nanny cam to watch how things are going but I know they will both have it under control.

PuppyGirl (the Yorkie) and Kona were having some fun times on the couch the other night.  Talk about cute!

Face off!

Face off!