Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hear it from us: HELMETS!

All of us here at Nayborly Farms wear helmets when we ride. Always! We don't need to read safety articles or check out horse accident statistics to know why it's important to wear a helmet, we've all had experiences that proved the point.

One day back when Nayborly Farms was located in Olympia, we were all riding alongside the Chehalis Western bike trail, a concrete pedestrian path. Kelsy was riding Arron, who at the time was 20 years old. Arron doesn't buck, he doesn't often spook, and as far as horses go he is the safest one on our property. Grandmas, children and dead beginners can ride him. Anyways, we were trotting single file on the grassy area next to the concrete and out of the blue Arron tripped and fell over. Kelsy fell next to him. Cheryl was riding next in line behind Arron on Gus, her 16.2 hand Thoroughbred. Everything happened so fast that Gus (who was in a forward extended trot) had absolutely no time to steer around Kelsy. I watched from behind as he trotted directly over the top of her, trying his best not step on her.

Miraculously, both Arron and Kelsy got up off the ground apparently no worse for the wear. It wasn't until a few minutes later that we all noticed the big hole in the back of Kelsy's riding helmet. At some point during the accident one of Gus' hooves must have smacked directly into the back of Kelsy's head. If she hadn't been wearing the helmet, the hole on the helmet would've been a hole in her head!

All three of us have had experiences where helmets helped or saved us. We have all fallen off, and we have all had horses fall under us on more than one occasion. It doesn't matter if you're jumping, riding in the arena, or out on the trail, unpredictable things can happen. You may be the most experienced rider on the most experienced horse, but that doesn't guarantee you will be 100% safe in every situation. Do yourself a favor and put on your helmet!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sewickley's Mystery Lameness

In 2006 I bought a tiny two year old, chestnut, Thoroughbred stud colt. Since then he has grown considerably, been gelded, trained, and renamed Sewickley. He is a fun, sweet, athletic little horse often mistaken for a Quarter Horse. Last year I competed him as a four year old alongside his best friend Huxley, and he placed first and second at his first Beginner Novice events. I was hoping to continue his event training this summer, but he had other plans!

Late in the spring when I was still boarding in Bellingham, Sewickley came up slightly lame on the right front. It was so subtle that Kelsy and I wrote it off as a mild stone bruise or emerging abscess. A week later he ran hard in the field and came up a little lamer. Strangely though, he was only lame on a right circle and perfectly sound in a straight line. He seemed worse on hard ground, but we could not find a sensitive spot with the hoof testers. He had no swelling, heat, cuts, scrapes, or areas of concern on his leg or shoulder. We continued to think it must be a hoof issue and left him to rest.

Once he was back at Nayborly for the summer his lameness was unchanged. We decided to try bute and also try isolating him in a small paddock (away from Huxley, who he loves to run and play hard with in the field). His level of lameness stayed about the same, which thankfully was nowhere near severe. Several weeks ago we called out our vet, and he flexed him (with no result) and then blocked Sewick's heel and hoof. When Sewick's hoof was blocked he trotted sound on the right circle, meaning we had successfully located the source of his lameness. Our vet suggested isoxsuprine (to increase circulation in the hoof), and we also started booting him with a padded boot each night.

The isoxsuprine and padded boot helped, but Sewick was still lame. Our vet recommended a digital x-ray for further diagnosis, so today we hauled him over to another local vet for the images. Low and behold the third x-ray image showed us exactly what was causing this mild mystery lameness...

Sewickley has a small fracture located on the right wing of his coffin bone. Thankfully it is nowhere near the coffin joint and is quite small. According to the vet fractures like this can heal without invasive surgery. With months of rest and proper care we are confident he will return to soundness, at least for flatwork, so his prognosis is as good as we can expect at this point. However, in the meantime it's a boring waiting game with unfortunate timing. Looks like old Mikey is going to be getting a lot more riding in while Sewick works on healing up!

If anyone has any sort of experience with broken coffin bones, especially wing fractures, we would love to hear from you in the comment section or via email: Thanks.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Skooter Gets a New Home

Congratulations Cindy on purchasing Skooter! We hope you two have a great time together and can’t wait to see you out on the trail and in the show ring! Even though we will miss Skooter, we know he's found the perfect home with you.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Show Update

On Saturday, July 18th Kelsy and I attended the *Chehalis Valley Pony Club One Day Event at Caber Farm in Onalaska. For those who may not be familiar, events include three phases: dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. The horse and rider with the lowest score (penalty points) at the end of the three phases wins. We love eventing because it's exciting, challenging, and fun; plus you get to run fast and jump. The weather for this event was sunny and hot, the show had a good turnout, and there was no traffic on the way there or back. We had a great time and the boys were awesome!

Huxley competed in the Senior Novice division with over twenty other competitors. He had a respectable dressage score of 31.5 which tied him for fourth place after the first phase of competition. We were pleased to see how much his flatwork has improved since his four year old season.

BELOW: This event chose to run show jumping before cross-country jumping. Last season Hux had very little jump experience since he had a late four year old birthday (we don't jump our horses until they turn four). Even though he was a clean jumper last season, this season he looked much more composed and did not hesitate to canter over all his fences. He and Kelsy's jump practice through the winter really shows. Thanks to his clear round, after show jumping Hux moved up to second place.

BELOW: Huxley and Kelsy blended into the sea of bay and chestnut horses jumping around the warmup ring. However, Hux never fails to stand out thanks to his big white nose, aka "the beacon." Hux was very calm and relaxed at the show and this carried through to his cross-country round. He did not have any major bobbles over the Novice course, easily putting in a clear round. Hux maintained his second place position and finished the competition with a red ribbon!

BELOW: Hux shows off his second place red ribbon. He also won a lunge line and some Cowboy Magic Detangler and Shine which he will have to share with his Haflinger friends back home.

By far the smallest competitor in his class and representing ponies everywhere, Pippin competed in the Senior Training level division. After dressage Pippin was in third place on a solid score of 29.5. We were especially happy to see he got an eight on his gaits, not bad for a Haflinger!

BELOW: The training level stadium course was fair sized and somewhat challenging. It included a fan fence, a triple bar, lots of turns, and two combinations (the triple combo was a one stride to a one stride). Despite being 14 hands tall, in a forward canter Pip never has trouble making the horse-set distances in competition. He's also a naturally gifted jumper, so it was no surprise when he made all the jumps look easy with a clear round. The two riders placed before us after dressage had some faults jumping so Pip moved up to first place!

BELOW: The training level cross-country course was fun to ride and Pip put in another clear round. The course included a coffin combination, water complex, and a few big oxers; fifteen fences total. Thankfully, I school Pip over larger Preliminary and sometimes even Intermediate fences to "over prepare" for Training level. His only fault at cross-country is that he sometimes likes to look at ditches and trakehners. Since I know this about him, any time we approach a fence with a ditch (or even a ditch-like shadow) I ride him firmly to the base of the fence and don't let him drop his head to look. Otherwise, he's a cross-country machine! His clear round meant he finished first in his division.

BELOW: At the end of the day Pip shows off his winning smile and first place blue ribbon at Training level. He also won a fleece exercise cooler and a sponge. Though he has won at Novice level, this is the first time Pip has won at training level. Last season he placed second.

* We attend the pony club sponsored one day events instead of the approved two or three day events because the one day's are a fraction of the cost. The one day events have the same requirements, the same courses, and often the same judges, but you don't have to pay to be a member of USEA and you don't have to pay to stall your horse overnight. Instead of spreading the three phases (dressage, cross-country, and show jumping) out over two or three days, at the unapproved events you do everything in a single day.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Week Three & Four Update

This post is terribly late in the coming, but better late than never. We have lots of photos to share and some updates.

Daisy's one month of training was up last last weekend. She has a great foundation of skills and is ready for more riding back home. We tell everyone with greenbroke horses that the only way they will truly be trained is if you continue to work and ride them, they need the experience. We know Daisy is going to do very well!

Belle has also finished her month of training. She too knows all the basics and has made fantastic progress from where she started. Even though she is much more comfortable with people on the ground and under saddle, she still has confidence issues that require time and dedication. Over the course of her month in training we did loads of groundwork with her to overcome her skittishness and teach her to give to pressure. One activity that greatly reduced her over-reactiveness to leg under saddle involved using an orange barrel on the ground. We tied a rope to the barrel and looped the rope around a Western saddle horn. Then we let the barrel drag behind her AND come up and bump into her sides. The first times we did this she reacted by flying sideways, but after many rounds of repetition she got better and better. This helped her respond less fearfully to my leg under saddle. We also made sure to always end Belle's training and riding sessions on a positive and relaxed note, even if it took a couple of hours to get to that point.

Cowboy went home after a month of riding here at Nayborly. We are pleased to have already heard from his owners that he's doing great! We look forward to hearing more about this future pony club star.
All the horses on our farm practice going through the Skookumchuck river at some point. For any eventers out there, trail riding through water is excellent cross-country water jump preparation. If your horse will enter a moving river with deep water via a muddy embankment through the brush, then a shallow, manicured, easy entrance water jump doesn't seem like that big of a deal!

In other news, we have delicious 'organic' berries popping up around Nayborly Farms. The local cherries are especially perfect for a mid-ride snack.

We have seven chickens who produce eggs and add character to the farmyard. On hot days they like to explore the barn area and eat any stray kernels of grain.

Our new roommate, Carl, joined us two weeks ago and settled right in. He enjoys looking out the windows at the wildlife, taking naps, and rubbing his face on things.

A litter of little wild bunnies hatched in one of our gardens this spring. We are a bit nervous since they roam very close to our dog yard fence, and we have two cardigan welsh corgis that would love a rabbit snack...

Lots of flowers out this year. These are weeds, but the rule of thumb around Nayborly is that if it looks pretty it can stay.

Pip hates bath time, but his long white mane needs attention before we go out in public. After owning Haflingers we have a fear of owning grey or white horses; white is too hard to keep clean!
Katie, on the other hand, enjoys her baths. If you have a horse who doesn't like water, try to make bath time positive for them. For example, wash them on a hot day after a long ride. They will appreciate getting the sweat off. If it's cold, hook up the warm water for them and throw a cooler on them afterwards. Also, if they have scratchy spots, try to scrub those areas during bath time.

Two Wednesdays ago Kelsy, Eric and I went to three man ranch sorting at the Trails End Arena. This is a fun, inexpensive, low-key event and a great activity to try with any horse. It was Skooter's first time working cows, but he went perfectly for Kelsy. It was also Eric's first time sorting cows, but Pippin helped him get the job done. We had two clean runs out of three. Go team!