Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Day 326 - Welcome Baby!!


It's a filly!!

After two long days of agonized waiting, I settled down on the couch to watch O from the window. At around 9:20pm, she started walking around curling her lip a few times. She doesn't normally do that, so I assumed it was probably time to go check on her. I figured labor would take awhile - first stage is usually 1 or 2 hours. I walked out the door to see her curl her lip again, and her water broke. She had been eating hay quietly not even 5 minutes before that. She was still on her feet when the sac appeared about 5 minutes later. Thankfully, she had the sense to go lay down - I thought for a second I was going to have to catch!

(I do have lots of birth pictures.... they're not uploaded yet!)

She had a normal presentation although I did have to help her a bit. The baby is HUGE. HUGE. I can't believe this giant baby came out of a maiden mare!

My super sexy foal watching outfit complete with head lamp

Her legs are SO long that she took a little while to get them out from under her. She is big and strong, but those legs gave her a lot of trouble. Pax jumped right up and stood the first time she tried. This new filly fell, and fell, and fell, and fell. And finally she stood, and could get up and down by herself.

And then she took AGES to latch. It was three hours before I felt like she really had gotten a good latch, and longer until she really could do it by herself. I gave her extra colostrum just in case. She's so tall that she just couldn't get the hang of everything for long enough to make it happen. Pax latched the first try and held on like a leech. She was already jumping around within the hour.

But, Pax was also a violent foal. She would buck, leap, strike, rear, kick, and thrash around every time you touched her, for at least three weeks. This one is docile as a lamb. Less than 24 hours in and she lets you walk up to her, pet her, put a halter and blanket on, and stick your fingers up her nose and into her ears. Every little bit of resistance melts away in moments. I was NOT expecting that!

O passed the placenta within a half hour, the baby passed meconium pretty easily after an enema, I dipped her naval stuck a blanket on her for the night. It wasn't too cold but it was dewey in the morning. O got her dewormer, I fussed around for awhile longer just doing nothing, and then passed out at around 2am.

How did all that baby fit into that tiny mare!?

She weathered the night well, and got a good checkup with the vet today. Her IgG was good, and was drinking well, pooping, peeing, and acting normally. The placenta looked great, everything was normal. The baby is a little bit windswept behind, but it's pretty minor. She should continue to straighten out over the next few days!

I have so much more I want to write about - how O is such a good mom, how Dylan is behaving, and not to mentiomn the show last weekend AND the chiro today! - but I am EXHAUSTED. I must sleep!

The new baby is taller as a newborn than Pax was at 4 weeks old! And O is a solid hand shorter than P, AND a maiden!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Day 326

Day 326 is here and gone - and no baby!!

She rested comfortably for most of the night while the storms whirled around us. We didn't get anything too major, but other bloggers did... I'm sure you'll hear those stories too. We are lucky today. We may not be next time. 

This morning O acted funny again around 7am, but quit shortly thereafter and took a very long nap. So long in fact that I finally just gave up, turned her out with Dylan, and went back to sleep. When I woke up they were both in the foaling stall together, just resting. I kicked Dylan out, locked her in, and decided to trot to the feed store to get hay. By the time I returned, it was sunny and beautiful out, with the foaling paddock area dry and nice, so I moved the entire panel system back AGAIN and rehung my lights. One light is already burned out.... Comedy of errors. I bought the dumb thing two days ago.

She now has bright white milk and literally nowhere else to go on the milk testing chart. I am done testing because I would rather leave her colostrum alone rather than risk losing any amount. She dripped some today so I want to keep the rest in as much as I can.

Surely tonight.... Surely!?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Day 325, Comedy of Errors Style

Well wouldn't you know my luck. Last night O was testing very close to imminent, and I fretted all night about whether or not I should stay home, or go to the show. I pretty much knew my answer by 5am - safer to scratch and watch my mare than to risk driving off and having her foal alone.

At 7am, she started to get restless. She hadn't eaten much all night, and was stretching out like she had to pee, but wouldn't. She then went right into pawing, sweating, and trotting around. Yes, literally trotting in circles. Around and around she went, only stopping to paw. This is it, I thought! This is labor!

Aaaaaand two hours went by. Three hours. She stopped and took a nap. She started up again. Then she stopped. Started. Stopped. It was impossible to tell how much of her irritation and tail swishing was due to the flies that had come out by this time. But after six or so hours, I felt pretty confident that the baby was just repositioning. 

Damnit mare. I scratched from a series show for this! Did I mention we were supposed to be at a WE show? I will have more on that soon, because we did go for our dressage on Saturday! EOH and speed were today but obviously I stayed home. Because my life is a comedy of errors.

So late afternoon comes around and the sky gets black. I check the forecast - oh great. Tornados. Yes, tornados. We are supposed to have hail and tornados. Fml. Comedy of errors. 

With much grumbling and heaving, I dismantled the pen and moved the entire thing into the front pasture so that it could be placed in her shed. I sectioned it off half for her with a run, and half for Dylan. At dinnertime, I checked her milk again, and she is even closer than she was before - now decidedly in the 95% category. We should have a baby within 12 hours but since my life is a comedy of errors I guarantee nothing!

So once I have done all of this I realize that I can't see her in her shed. I didn't even think about putting up a camera but it orrcurs to me that I can run to the store and get a baby monitor easily enough. I drive off with the clouds hanging low, picked a suitable monitor, and came home. I set the whole thing up, turned on the screen, and... The screen is cracked. It's faulty.

Comedy of errors.

Back to the store.

The second time was the charm... The monitor is up and working. And now.... We wait.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Day 324

It's day 324! O finally has some fluid to test and.... It's testing VERY close to foaling. Her bags are popping full, but they have been for a little while now. Her back end is flopping, and she seems a bit tired. Up until two days ago, she was inhaling everything in sight. But yesterday and today, she ate her bite of grainfood but not much else.

She is up in the foaling paddock for the night. It's warm, in the 60s, and dry, so I want her to foal out in the soft grassy paddock if she can. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Day 319

The internet situation at my house has reached an all time low, save for the month or so when we literally had no internet provider. Right now I am sitting in my truck writing on my phone, which is impossibly hard to do due to my giant fat fingers, because my internet won't work and my phone has no service inside my house. Ugh. This sucks.

But anyway. I do have a quick O update!

Day 319 has arrived! O looks much the same, huge and holding. Her udders are getting bigger very, very slowly, and her hind end is softening little by little. She still has great control of her tail even though the area around it is getting mushy. I still can't get any fluid to express. We will clearly make the 320 day cutoff, and then it's anyone's guess where we go from here!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Lessons, Lessons Everywhere

I've been having a ton of trouble with my internet lately... we have crappy satellite internet here and most of the time it won't connect at all. Kind of hard to post when I have no internet! So this post has been really delayed because it has been written but not able to be posted. It's driving me nuts and unless I go to a local spot with WiFi, I'm out of luck. Anyway...

I WAS lucky enough to have not one but two lessons last week with both of my favorite instructors! How awesome is that!

On Thursday I trailered out to lesson with L. It was 80 degrees on Wednesday, but 35 degrees with howling wind on Thursday morning. (Why? Because Texas.) I actually had to break out my quarter sheet for the first time all year - I used to use it for every ride when I lived up north, but in Texas it only makes an occasional appearance. It's a bit small for Dylan - looks kind of like a mini skirt really, although don't tell him I said that - but it does what it needs to do. 

Does this sheet make my gut look fat

Same quarter sheet, same height of horse, but decidedly daintier animal!

L and I discussed show season and where I want to start. We both think that going out at Third is a wise choice, since I've never done it and it's all easy stuff that isn't a problem for either of us. It should be confidence building before we step out at 4th. The main thing is keeping both of us relaxed - if we can do that, it's no problem. If we can't, everything falls to pieces. 

Most of our warmup work tends to be doing lateral stuff, unlocking Dylan back and front. It really gets him thinking outside of his body, and warms him up with stretching and strengthening work. We went both directions on a 15m circle at the trot, alternating between spiraling in and out, and doing travers and renvers on the circle. That's especially hard for me, as I can't always remember which is which, and doing them on a circle is doubley as hard. I can't physically do much if any posting at the trot, so we try to make sure his back is supple before we start up working. (Side note: kind of concerned about how little posting I am able to do without wanting to fall off and die with pain. My leg cramps up and I'm totally screwed if it does. I am not sure what to do about this.) Either way, my leg was really bothering me during this lesson. Lengthening my stirrups another hole really made a difference for me, but it still hurts sometimes. 

We went from there to doing some lengthenings and mediums down into almost half steps. Dylan knew exactly what the half steps were even though I haven't had much experiene with them - I asked K later and she says he has piaffe started, so he understands the concept well. (Another side note: play with that during lessons.) We were thoroughly warmed up at that point, so we moved into test work, practicing Third 1. Third 1 is simple - it has shoulder ins and fairly shallow half pass at the trot, half pirouettes at the walk, and flying changes, along with some other various things. We ran through the test without issue, with L calling out various things that needed improvement. One of the main things I need to focus on is making my half passes shallower. Dylan is completely capable - and willing - to throw in Grand Prix steepness into his half passes. He is like a freaking crab that can scuttle sideways. For Third level though, you only do very shallow half passes - and that's hard for me to judge. I need to get into a full size arena and just practice practice practice! I was really pleased with the lesson, even if it was freezing cold. 

Dylan after his lesson.... hanging out with his old man friend. This old guy wanders the property loose and likes to come share Dylan's hay. I think it's good for Dylan to have to deal with these kinds of distractions, as long as they're done safely. He knows this is an old gelding, so he's not really bothered by him. 

On Friday, I worked all day long, and came home just in time to hook up my trailer and run off to my lesson with Tarrin. She comes up to our area on a somewhat regular basis, and every time she does I try to get on the list with her. By the time I got there the sun was setting, so we had another lesson in the light of the arena, which I wrote about last time. We started by talking about the changes made to the new Confederation of Working Equitation.... or something like that. I am slightly less confused about all of these organizations after she explained it to me, but it's still crazy. Apparently, WE United is still doing its own separate thing, but WEIAUSA and whatever the other organization was came back together and created this conjoined Confederation. I got a membership card in the mail recently - I'm apparently already a member automatically, because I was a member of WEIAUSA. The Confederation is going to be running most of the shows around here, while WE United is doing most of the shows on the west coast... or something like that. It's weird and complicated. I admit I can't altogether make it out still. 

Anyway. The point of all of that is that the levels have changed now. All of the organizations have come together under one set of rules, and they also changed the levels when they did that. There is now Intermediate A and Intermediate B, instead of just one Intermediate. (There are still Amateur and Open sections of each one). Intermediate A has all simple changes in it, and Intermediate B has all flying. That's right.... no more simple changes through the walk at ALL. Before, Intermediate level riders had a choice - you could pick the simple or the flying, depending on your horse and their strengths. The more difficult flying change would score higher if executed well, but it had to be executed well. Now, the changes are separated out into the two sections. Dylan is clearly in the Intermediate B level, but the flying changes are sometimes really HARD for me! In the EOH phase, there can be up to like 30 odd flying changes, which is crazy. 

We started the lesson by going over the new dressage test, which is virtually the same save for the fact that the simple change in the middle is now a flying change. Tarrin and I talked about how I feel like I've really sort of figured out how to keep Dylan relaxed, and how to sit him better so as to keep him engaged. It has really been an amazing learning process, figuring out how to sit back just a little more, or lengthen my leg just a little more, or raise my hands just a little more, and he just comes right up in front and is ready to go. I think he was as relaxed as she had ever seen him be. After we schooled our test a bit, and repeated some of the flying changes, we went and schooled the cloverleaf barrels. Before, I chose to do simple changes through all of those. Now, I have to do flying changes, and according to Tarrin, the best execution is to do a 3m circle around each barrel. 3m. That's less than half the size of a regular volte. At the canter. With flying changes! It was REALLY hard. I was able to get the first circle and change without issue, and the second one too, but the third change and circle eluded me every time. He would swap behind when going around the barrel, then swap back as we exited. 

We talked about why that was as we moved onto the next obstacle, the double slalom. To me, this is absolutely the hardest thing in the EOH phase. Dylan is this huge moving and powerful horse, and it takes a lot of skill to keep his enthusiasm under control. Which is not to say that I am a skilled person - quite the opposite, really - but I have an idea of how much strength and power it takes to keep him under wraps. He's different than you would expect though. He rides like as a feather in front if you just sit back far enough and lock your seat in. It's like he is so powerful that his power just has to go somewhere, anywhere, when he's moving. When you drive him upwards in front, his engine powers up, and he keeps his hind end engaged, and his front end light. If you're not riding him up in front with every single stride, then the power shoots out the back, because it has to go somewhere. This is why he swaps behind. When you lose the hind end, it just spins out on those tight turns. It's like he fishtails almost. 
In the double slalom, you have to do what amounts to canter pirouettes around each pole, then do flying changes between each one. With Dylan especially, I really have to think pirouettes, because if I just turn him around the pole, he fishtails and swaps behind. There is no simple turning with this horse... it's all riding, all engagement, all the time, every stride, or else you can't keep his power under control. It's like I have to forget that I even have reins. If I just pretend like I don't have reins, I can't be tempted to use them. If you pull on them backwards, even just a tiny little bit, you'll lose the opposite hind leg and he'll swap behind. Instead, I have to think about moving my hands up instead of backwards. This is something I've felt intuitively for awhile, but it's really hard to let old habits go. 

We had several good passes through the beginning of the double slalom. As long as I ride him up, up, up, every single stride, we do really well. Riding every. Single. Stride. Is really difficult to do, and the second I stop doing it, he tells on me. In that way, he keeps me accountable. 

By the end of the exercise, we were both tired. I told Tarrin it was really hard work, but it's only because we haven't done it before, and this is just leveling up. I think she likes my positivity. The last time I rode with her, she told me we would do really well, because I wanted it badly enough. And she's right. 

There is a show on the 18th that kicks off the yearly Heart of Texas WE series. I intend to go, if I can get everything in order! 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Darby, One Year Later

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of Darby's death. Even though she was only technically mine for 8 months, I had known her for a few years prior to that, and had always felt deeply connected to her. 

The question of, "why did you bring that useless old cripple home when she was just going to die?" was asked a few times. To that, I still have no answer beyond, "because I could." And I would do it again, and again. I would rescue a Darby a million times over. It was worth every day to see her out enjoying life. 

I miss her very much. And I did the right thing to let her go when I did. I'm not sad about it, not anymore. 

Darby on her last day

We miss you old girl, but we know you're in a much better place.