Friday, 6 September 2013

In Which I Have Absolutely Nothing To Say

So. Life with a somewhat broken horse continues, and any charm that was initially there (if there was any at all) has completely worn off. To avoid a really cranky complainy post i'll just sum it all up by saying that my patience has gone into the negative and I'm having absolutely no fun. Blah.

I shouldn't say NO fun at all. I've hit a streak of going to the barn at the same time as all my favourite barn people and have spent my time socializing with fellow boarders and playing the "Who's horse has done the stupidest thing" game. The other night I even managed to watch an entire lesson taught by my BO to one of our western gamers. Despite the lesson being a) western and b) designed to improve skills for a barrel horse to cut time, it was actually really informative. The more time I spend with good western riders, the more I realize the similarities between dressage and western. In fact, I have more in depth conversations with serious western pleasure riders than I do with the few hunter/jumpers we have. Western riders kick ass. So much so that I've been having strange delusions of training Cara western (because she WILL be sound enough to do that). The only problem I foresee is finding a saddle narrow enough and light enough. I've heard rumours of a much despised Wintec western pleasure saddle kicking around, so maybe that'd do the trick.

Cara, on the other hand, has been living the life. While I sit frustratedly day dreaming all my horsey fantasies, hers are actually coming true. Just yesterday I hand grazed her for over 2 hours. 2 HOURS PEOPLE! We've been going on walks (think dog walks) and exploring all the nooks and crannies that she feels need investigating. Best of all, she's been dicking around in the field doing everything from fancy prancing to rearing to squealing to in sync bucking/farting.  In her opinion this is the most fun activity and of course never ever leads to consequences like year long injuries. Ever. Why would I even think that?

Look at this face. This face knows everything. This face is always right.

In other news, school is back in full swing. This means that I am gifted with the opportunity to spend my entire weekend reading about lactation in dairy cattle. It also means that I have to spend more time commuting to the barn (campus is 30 minutes from the mare) which I really, really hate. While the barn is a welcome change from the school environment I am finding it harder to justify driving out there without the reward of at least a walk hack. Then again, if I start skipping out on the barn and ignoring the mare too much she'll probably devise a way to cut off all her limbs or eat her own tongue. I suppose I have to weigh the pros and cons. After all, her legs seem to be the cause of many problems anyways.

Then again, if the mare is leg-less I would be out of reasons to buy a set of these:

Realistically, this will be used more than any other piece of tack.

Thats right. They're leg soakers. You attach them to your hose and wrap the ends around the affected leg(s). Then you turn the water on and watch as your horses leg(s) are cold hosed from 4 sides. They are kind of amazing to see in action. I love how they give you the ability to not waste 40 minutes of your time by giving you the option of grooming etc. while cold hosing. Oh yeah, and they prevent crippling back pain garnered from bending awkwardly while dodging angry kicks. Brilliant. 

So that's my life right now. Be sure to sit back and digest the thrill and adrenaline that I am living. I may even head to an antique show this weekend, that is if I can stomach all the excitement. 

Friday, 30 August 2013

Houston, We Have Hocks

On Monday I finally bit the bullet and had the vet out to do hock injections. Cara had hyaluronic acid and cortisone injections done. Admittedly, I'm a newbie to hock  injections so it was a good learning experience. The first thing I learned was just how expensive the procedure is. Damn. I had a good estimate of the cost, but I guess it always hits a bit harder when you are staring it directly in the face.

Regardless, it had to be done. All in the name of Cara's comfort. Besides, I don't need new anythings for ever, right?

Since this was my first time being privy to observing hock injections I was quite intrigued by watching fluid leak out of the Mare's hocks. Since her hocks weren't ever swollen or full of fill there wasn't a whole lot of drippage, but what did run down her legs was pretty runny. Definitely not viscose enough to properly lubricate, well, anything. After seeing this it confirmed that we were doing the right thing and that it would be money well spent. I sure hope Cara feels better, because I don't get to confirm how she feels undersaddle for another 3-4 weeks or so. Thats right, more time off. Really, horse?

It seems that her RH is still bothering her, despite being cool and tight. Due to the suspected suspensory strain Cara is now on another highly pampered vacay. The timing isn't so bad, considering that school is starting up again next week and I'll be panicking about not remembering anything (summer is kind of like a mind flush) so the mare will be lacking in every day attention anyways. Still, I can't help but feel bummed that I don't have riding as a stress release when I need it most. I suppose I can always figure out new things to teach her on the ground. Cool trick ideas anyone?

We've already achieved professional status for in-hand eating.

In other news, a certain fluffy puppy has been feeling a lot better. Fletcher's recovery seems to be in its final stages. He still seems stiff when he gets up from a nap and does gimp a little when he's tired, but overall he's back to his old exuberant self. Squirrels be warned: he's coming for you. 

As any horse person does, I've been rebuilding Fletcher's hind end muscle as if he were a horse. Since we used to do agility (non-competitively) I fashioned a lot of his old jumps into cavelletis. Fletcher has since been enjoying endless walk and trot poles. I could tell he was feeling better when he started to try and jump the raised poles as a spread jump, so the other day I put up a tiny little jump for him to go over. I couldn't find my proper jump pole, so I had to use a stick. It made it a little more cross country. Silly puppy was so excited that he took off a stride before the jump, landed, did a roll back and took off the stick/pole. 

Happy puppy
At least I have a newly capable puppy to distract from my horsey woes. 

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Trying to Stay Positive

Whoever said that the horse you have on the ground is the horse you have undersaddle clearly never worked with high energy, intelligent mares. That, and they definitely were not a vet.

To start, the mare looks pretty damn good on the lunge. As much as I hate to say it, her shoes have done wonders for how she moves. She hooftests not at all sore and is tracking up much, much better in her w/t. Her canter is slightly unbalanced due to muscle weakness (thank you winter groin injury) and because her hocks still need doing she's not as uphill as I'd like but, overall, looks sound. Her back looks great too. No more squirmy muscles, no more dropping down as soon as I got on and no more walking around like a chicken unable to support even a saddle. She totes me around like a tank now and is even starting to look like one. After almost a year of trying many combinations of feeding, the mare has finally found her feeding 'niche', and kilos and kilos of hay cubes later she is no longer the skinniest horse in my barn (of foundation QHs.) What i'm trying to say is that on the ground she looks fit and ready. Not show ring ready, but capable of some serious work type ready. Under saddle though it's still a different story.

I should preface by saying that a couple of months ago her RH swelled up quite a bit, mainly through the tendon sheath. The mare is normally quite windpuffy on that leg (thank you gruelling blue collar racing career) but nothing alarming, just consistently filled around the fetlock joint. I'd noticed in the week prior that she was developing some shortness on her LF, but the ground was hard and she was still barefoot, so it manifested as more of a foot soreness than a diagonal lameness. After a couple days of cold hosing and wrapping the leg looked much better, although the fill was a little too solid for comfort. The vet poked around, then watched her lunge. She noticed the *tiniest* difference in the angle of the drop of her RH fetlock versus the LH. She concluded that it was likely that Cara had strained her suspensory, very mildly, causing the swelling and the shortness up front. She had a month off, lots of cold hosing and some longing to maintain her still newly recovered back muscle. Fast forward to this week and despite her apparent good health she still feels as off as she did in June. Some days its barely noticeable, others its painfully obvious. She's not in any detectable pain and her leg is still cool and tight (thank you countless hours of cold hosing) but yet her soundness seems to flip flop. The vet says that it's still a good sign that she does seem to improve, and states that the angle difference between legs is less than before, so I am to keep up with our exercises on the ground and undersaddle, as they won't hurt the healing process. Anything my wonderful vet says I value, but I'm having the hardest time trying to stay motivated and ride her through this. Feeling how unfit and unbalanced she is undersaddle, and just how far that is from how she felt a year ago, I've become quite discouraged and have lost most faith that she'll ever be able to show, or even train, dressage again. I've worked so hard this past year to get her to a point where she's comfortable and sound again, only to be blindsided by this unfortunate twist in our plans. I'm really starting to question where this ends and how much the both of us can keep pushing. Neither myself, nor Cara like to do anything half-assed; is ambling/tripping around a ring at a stretchy trot really fulfilling either of us? She can't trail ride unless she's in proper work, but will she ever be in proper work again?

Originally I had planned to get her hocks done after school started so that I'd have to time to adjust to my schedule and not worry about leaving freshly injected hocks alone, but i've since decided that I want them done ASAP. I'm sick and tired of waiting, as selfish as that sounds, and I don't want her in any avoidable discomfort. If I can make something better sooner rather than later then sign me up because god knows I cannot spend another winter lunging.

The only good thing to come out of this soon-to-be a years worth of time mostly off is her ground manners. She ground ties anywhere now and is even able to be tied to solid things (this is quite a feat, as she panics with too much face pressure). Cara follows me around like a lost puppy and has a whole arsenal of verbal cues, including counting from 1-4 for the amount of steps to back up. This brings me back to the old saying.

Here is Cara on the ground, standing quietly beside 2 truckloads of fresh second cut hay while all the horses in her field are galloping like mad women:

Contemplating a nap.

Mere minutes later we set off for a hack down the very familiar tractor path at a walk only. The sunset was beautiful, so I wanted to get a picture of the deer in the hay field. Cara loves staring at deer and even herding them, so I let my reins go slack and I tried to take a picture:

Hayfield at sunset. AKA when your horse's neck makes contact with your camera.

She decided to lose her shit and prance around. The prancing led to tripping which led to anger and frustration which led to her trying to spin around and run home. I tried to school her out of it, like I would do on the ground, but all that came of it were some fake-frantic sidepasses up a hill and a lot of shoulder-ins along the roundbales. I recognize that this is Cara with too much energy, but her energy levels don't change the moment I get on. She's not a freaky equine succubus that steals my energy and becomes really high (although I have no proof of this) so there truly isn't an excuse. She's a loveable 25y/o QH on the ground and an absolute hellion of a slightly lame track horse undersaddle. Old sayings can stuff it. 

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Pimp My Ride

Make: Thoroughbred

Year: 1997

Model: Sprinter

Colour: Red Bay

Fuel type: Premium (High Fat/Low Sugar/High Fibre)

Drive: Manual, 4x4

MPG: Grain Guzzler, Refuel as often as humanly possible


       Overall Awesome-factor:                               



          Exterior Styling:

   Economical Maintenance and Repairs: 

General Notes:

  • Has achieved symmetrical battle wounds on all sides. If any future accidents happen, know that it will leave a mark. 
  • Brakes can be faulty. Does not seem weather dependent.
  • Suspension has degraded due to the extensive period of time parked in the shop.
  • Grip is poor on hard and pebbly surfaces, tires are too soft.
  • Chassis is in very good condition. Has made significant improvements.
  • Despite needing work, is able to maintain original acceleration stats.
Work done:

New, overpriced, German brakes installed.

Added protection and increased circulation.

More extensive pressure and protection for most recent scrape up. These were found removed, trampled, buried, and covered in shavings. It appears it was also urinated upon. Replacements will be necessary.

A set of four brand new, all season radials. 

General bodywork and adjustments also performed, with the help of Ace, as this model requires extra assistance to maintain sedentary at early hours of the morning. 

Future appointments: Recommended HA injections in the hocks to improve overall ride and suspension. 

Total Cost: ALL THE MONIES! 

Please, someone remind me of the point at which this all gets relaxing again? It's gotten to the point where I feel like i'm reading out of AutoTrader when I discuss what parts of Cara need fixing.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Have Your Cake and Eat it Too

I'll admit, I don't like traditional cake. Actually, I hate the standard sugary sweet chocolate layer cake topped with frosting. Just the sight of it and I can feel a cavity forming. That being said, I love to bake cakes. Theres something about frosting and icing cakes that is soothing. Plus, if you mess up, its no big deal. Mistakes are edible.

My cakes never looks overly spectacular, and don't even look related to the crazy cakes you see on tv (who ever would've guessed that cake making would be a reality craze?). I don't have the patience for fondant....that, and I think it tastes like armpits. But that's just me.

Then, one day, I had a revelation. My eyes were opened to a wonderful cake recipe that is actually tasty (ie it tastes like real food). Its light enough that you can have more than one piece, but still contains enough sugary creamy goodness to make you feel like you've had a satisfying dessert (or breakfast, because I'm healthy like that). Three layers of lemon sponge sandwiched with lemon cream, made with tangy lemon curd and filled with fresh raspberries. The only catch? Gelatin. Now gelatin is what's responsible for making this cake look so sturdy and clean, but it also makes me a very, very guilty vegetarian. That being said, I know veggies who eat gravy, so I'm documenting this as a minor slip up only.

One thing I will recommend is using a very powerful mixer, preferably a stand mixer, like a Kitchen Aid. Thats not saying you can't whip a sponge cake or lemon cream with pure arm muscle, but stand mixers are a real sweat saver for this recipe.

So, without further ado, Lemon-Raspberry Cream Cake!


For the Cake:
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp of vanilla (I used tahitian)
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour, unbleached
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup of unsalted butter, melted

For the Lemon Cream:
  • 1 package of unflavoured gelatin
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/3 cup of whipping cream (I used lactose free)
  • 2 cups of raspberries

First, grease a 10 inch springform cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 325˚F.

For the cake:

Let the eggs come to room temperature. In a bowl of a stand mixer beat the eggs on medium-high until the eggs are foamy. Gradually add in the sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and falls in ribbons (this can take up to 10 minutes). Fold in lemon zest and vanilla.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Sift one third of this dry mixture over the egg mixture and fold in. Repeat 2 more times. 

Transfer 1/4 of the batter to a separate bowl and fold in the melted butter. Fold back into the remaining batter. Scrape into the prepared pan.

Bake in the center of the oven for 45-50 minutes, until the cake springs back when lightly touched. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Then remove the sides of the pan and continue to cool on the rack.

For the lemon cream:

In a small bowl sprinkle the gelatin over 3 tbsp of water. Set aside.

In a heatproof bowl whisk together eggs, egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and juice. Place over a saucepan of simmering water, cook, stirring frequently, until translucent and thick enough to mound on a spoon. This takes about 20 minutes.

Strain into a large bowl (to remove any bits of cooked egg whites). Add gelatin mixture (it should be more like a gelatin puck) and stir until the gelatin is melted. Place plastic wrap on the surface of the lemon mixture and refrigerate, stirring every 10 minutes for an hour.

In a large bowl whip the cream. Fold 1/3 of the cream into the lemon mixture. Fold in the remaining cream. Fold in the raspberries. Set aside.

Cut cake horizontally into thirds. This is easily done by measuring out the thirds and placing toothpicks around the circumference of the cake to mark out each third. The toothpicks will help guide the knife evenly. Once cut, place the top cake layer cut side up on a cake plate/serving plate. Spread 1/2 of the lemon cream on top. Place the middle cake layer on top of cream, and spread on the remaining lemon cream. Top with the remaining cake layer, cut side down.

Dust with icing sugar and adorn with extra raspberries.

This cake is best eaten within a day or two of making it. Store it in the fridge before you present it to keep the cream from melting in the heat.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Canuck Hawley Bennet on OTTBs

Canadian event rider Hawley Bennet Awad appeared on CBS to help promote CARMA, a California organization that helps give OTTBs second careers. Thought it was a nice tidbit to share!


San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 -

Thursday, 11 July 2013

How To Spend Your Horse Show Budget When Your Horse Is Broken

Recently, my summer has been a whirlwind in a very good way. I was beginning to get quite down hearing about everyone's show season, wishing I was out being part of the action. Thankfully, my past self though ahead and predicted my lack of showing (and wrongly predicted the vet bills to stop) so I went ahead and spent my show money on concerts galore! Yay for good past-self decision making! While concerts may lack the perks of winning pretty ribbons, they come with all the heat, expensive food, smelly port-o-lets and great memories that horse shows also provide. What's not to love?

I started with a one day mini-festival the weekend before Canada day. My friend and I made the trek to the beautifully historic Niagara on the Lake so spend our saturday with Yukon Blonde, Serena Ryder, Jimmy Eat World, METRIC and City and Colour. I'd seen METRIC and City and Colour numerous times before but they both put on amazing shows and I just couldn't resist seeing them again. The concert was held at Butler's Barracks, in a beautiful (but unfortunately unshaded) field. The concert ended up being sold out with around 18 000 people in attendance. The atmosphere was incredible as many people were celebrating being done school, and it acted as a great kick off to Canada Day. 

All of the acts put on great shows, although I admit I was a little too hot  to appreciate the first three, who I care for less. As the sun began to set METRIC came on, followed by some very gloomy rainclouds. Despite periodic torrential downpours they put on an amazing show, playing a lot of new material along with old favourites from their first albums.
Emily Haines of METRIC. Always a great stage presence.
City and Colour did not disappoint either. He played some of his new album as well as some of his very old material in lieu of the concert being so close to his hometown of St. Catherines, Ontario. His music was even more emotional than usual and the crowd had an amazing electricity achieved by all 18 000 fans singing along word for word. I love how music, no matter what kind, can unite people. Nothing beats that for me. 

Dallas Green

Then came this past weekend, where a friend and I attended a four day festival running from Thursday to Sunday. This year was the first ever year for this festival, called Toronto Urban Roots Festival, held at the historic Fort York. This festival proved to be unlike anything i've ever been to before, with the most incredible atmosphere and an amazingly diverse lineup of music. Thursday featured Nova Scotia natives the Joel Plaskett Emergency, whose unique style of indie folk rock started the weekend off with a great vibe. My friend and I ended up being in the front row and were captured in a photo right before the concert started. Some very lovely stranger came up to us the next day and pointed us out, then lent us his iPhone so we could read the article. I love how awesome concert goers are. 
I'm the one in the white top scowling after the crazy people behind
me spilled beer all over me. I'm so fun.
The only disappointment of the weekend was the Thursday night closing act: She and Him. M.Ward is a great musician, but we barely got to see any of him. This was also unfortunate as Zooey Deschanel has the MOST AWKWARD stage presence I've ever seen. Her voice is great, but her lack of enthusiasm made the whole performance rather forgettable, which is too bad. That, and she threatened to walk off stage if she saw someone taking pictures, which I understand, but find it sad that she would ruin it for thousands based off of one bad apple.

Friday night my friend and I were both quite busy so we only went in to see one band; our hometown heroes, The Arkells. We headed straight to the front of the crowd, just behind the barricade, while the other band played on the opposite stage. We thought we already had amazing spots but we were surprised when the organizer upgraded us to VIP (which put us between the barrier and the stage). A lot of VIP ticket holders hadn't come out due to the impending rain (that never came), so since we had 4-day passes we were handed free upgrades. The Arkells were amazing, as always (it was my 8th time seeing them). They had their usual upbeat, fun and involved stage presence, played very well and gave us a number of hometown shout outs which we relished in. After about an hour and a half they brought out two of my favourite local TO musicians along with a saxophonist and played their rare, but acclaimed, Motown set. The vibe was incredible and it was nice to sing and dance along to songs that, due to my age, I never got to experience in concert. 

Not my photo, but we were this close. Nothing like getting
sweated on by your favourite local band.

Saturday was I day with acts less familiar to me, but was still an incredible experience. I fell in love with Frank Turner, who turned out to be the biggest Hold Steady fan (he was truly adorable in his excitement) and then danced like crazy to Flogging Molly. I quickly learned that most of Flogging Molly's songs are all in the same key, but hey, it made for a great party and I even learned some Irish history from them. They also showed me that you can truly rock out on the mandolin. Who knew?

Flogging Molly

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls

We finished the festival off on Sunday with another hometown duo, Whitehorse, Australia's Cat Empire, Xavier Rudd and Belle and Sebastian. The skies had been looking a tad ominous throughout Whitehorse, and we had some small showers, but we had no idea what we were in for. During Cat Empire's first couple songs the sky began to open up and the rain poured down endlessly. My friend and I decided to enjoy the weather, packed out shoes into our bags, checked them in with the festival and returned to Cat Empire to dance along barefoot in the rain. Cat Empire are a wonderful, eclectic mix of blues, folk, rock, synth and jazz. Their music was perfect and embodied the vibe of the concert perfectly and everyone danced together, splashing through the mud. Eventually the rain subsided just as Xavier Rudd came on. An Aboriginal Australian, Xavier Rudd paid respect to the Six Nations, as well as the Mohawk Nation, which pleased me more than I can ever convey. He opened up with some drum/synth/didgeridoo which was nothing short of amazing to watch. His drummer then came out and they played some fabulous folk, as well as some reggae. His recordings don't do justice to his live performances, and the calming earthy sound was exactly what everyone needed as we stood together in a field barefoot. As soon as his set finished the rain returned and continued on for the rest of the night. We stood on the barrier at the front of the crowd to avoid sitting in the flood of water rushing through the field. Belle and Sebastian ended up being the perfect closing band, adding much needed sunshine to  the wet and cold crowd. Despite being soaked to the core for 5+ hours, I don't think i've ever had so much fun. I discovered new bands I love, felt a deeper appreciation to the city of Toronto and danced my face off. 

Belle and Sebastian reppin' Fred Perry in support of Andy Murray.

Cat Empire

My lovely neighbours, White Horse

Xavier Rudd

To finish off an amazingly long post (sorry), I just have to express my gratitude to the organizers of this festival. Never have I been in such a loving, welcoming atmosphere. Photographers were only allowed for 2-3 songs, and videotaping was discouraged, allowing to audience to watch the concert in realtime, not through someone's iPhone. It was refreshing to just log this experience away as a memory, rather than only remember it from photos I took. While I may have come away with only wristbands instead of ribbons I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed myself that much and dearly hope this festival becomes an annual event.