Tuesday, July 15, 2014


You'll have to forgive my radio silence for the past several days. My elderly greyhound (who you've seen on and off through my blogging experience over the years) had a really terrible week last week. Unfortunately she was crashed by a vet who decided to take a certain route of care without consulting with me first, and now she is in outright kidney failure. We're not really sure what is going to happen, but this is terminal and at some point it will kill her. Whether that happens in a few days or in a year, it's impossible to say.

(Gogo and Ti in 2010)

She had a really good day yesterday after a few really bad days, but today she's not looking so great again. Lots of meds, sub-q fluids, and an emergency diet change after she stopped eating altogether seem to have helped until now, but we don't really even know if she is going to make it long enough to retest her bloodwork in a few weeks.

Ti is my first dog, and I've had her since she was 3 and freshly retired off the track. She has been in my life through college and all of my subsequent moves, jobs, relationships, and so much more. It is very hard to watch your companion age and start to wear out. I trust her to tell me when she's ready, and I'm ready to make that choice for her when the time comes... but I hope I get a little more time with her.

If you could send along some good thoughts for her, it would be much appreciated. I am very, very attached to my old doodle and I'm really not emotionally ready for her to go.


In much brighter news, O had several days in a row off while I was attending to Ti's medical needs, but she also drove down the road in the long lines for the first time, AND she wore a harness for the first time!!!

I've ridden on this road 892910873392021938 times, so I wasn't worried about going off property and down the road, and true to form she was fantastic. For a horse that is so new to long lining - and SO hot under saddle - she is incredibly quick to pick up on an idea and is incredibly mellow in its execution. We walked and trotted down the road back and forth, and she walked out away from the property without hardly any of her usual barn sourness (which manifests as walking super slow, looking back over her shoulders, walking in really crooked lines). We trotted along quietly up and down the road with me jogging along behind her, and she is so very chill about this that I have absolutely no trouble keeping up at a wheezing jog (note to self: maybe try running a little more).

She was so good that I dared take a short video while we were trotting along on the way home. Don't try this at home kids... also please ignore my wheezing. I'm not very in shape!

Yes, that is my crazy redhead being decidedly un-crazy. I have a theory on this: she has a lot of bad associations with riding, and carries all of that baggage around with her all the time. She has no bad associations with driving of any sort, so she just jumps right in without any problems or evasions. I want to continue to cultivate this in her, and make sure everything progresses smoothly, because I've seen just how bad she can be when she has a bad association with something.

 We also progressed to our next step: an actual harness! I managed to get my hands on this one and I'm pretty happy with it. It's actually quite nice for what it is and will serve us just fine for now. The one thing about it is that it is sized for regular horses, and O is a very small horse (don't tell her I said that). I had to punch a lot of holes in everything, and will need to punch even more. Even everything on the bridle is too big - the blinders are huge on her and I had to punch all sorts of holes to keep her bit from falling out of her mouth. She's a big bodied horse for her size, but she is only 15.1 after all.... about cob size. I'll have to keep that in mind for sizing in the future. 

 Driving people, what do you think? Does it look ok or do you see something glaringly funky? Something I should change/fix?

The traces on this harness are removable, so I ran the breeching straps up through the breastcollar and back again to keep them out of the way. Since the harness is a little big all over, that worked just fine, although the straps might have to be cut shorter in the future. They are loooooooooong.

True to form, she went, "Ok more stuff on my body... whatever." She goosed herself once with the crupper, and then forgot about it, but I left the crupper really loose (way too loose really) just in case. I'll punch more holes and tighten her backstrap up with care. She had never worn a crupper before today and I think that will be the one thing so far that she'll object some to. I lunged her for a little bit in harness at the walk and trot, but not the canter yet - which is probably when she'll be goosey about the crupper, if she is going to be goosey.

She was not very amused by the blinders. I can't blame her for this - she is a VERY visual horse, and she has to look at things and be able to see in order to process. I led her around for awhile, and she got the hang of them, but they were confusing to her. She figured it out, true to form, and was lunging within short order, but I'm definitely going to continue to do most of my work in an open bridle. She needs to be able to do both, but since she learns new things better if she can see them and process them, I expect I'll do everything in an open bridle first. There seem to be conflicting opinions on this, and there are reasons to have your horse in blinders later on when they're broke, but since O is a very visual horse I'm pretty sure that I'll do everything in an open bridle first until she learns it, so she can see and process things. I never really thought about the pros or cons of blinders (or even why you'd use them, really.... I never thought about them at all until now!), so I'm doing my research and asking my resources for guidance. What do you guys think?

I also spent a long time this evening chatting on the phone with the driving trainer I was able to locate! She is sending me some more information about continuation with stuff that I can do on the ground with her until we can proceed with some lessons!


  1. Ideally her eyes should be centered in the blinders to keep her from looking over the tops/behind them, of course with the sizing issue you may just be better off going open until you are close to hitching time because no blinders is better than poorly adjusted ones!

    My two thoughts on blinders: they are there so that the horse focuses better on the track ahead (out of sight out of mind) and also to prevent the horse from acting on whip cues before the driver actually uses the whip. This is especially important in a team/pair where you might want to correct one horse, but leave the other one alone. As someone who has done it before, you don't want to be adjusting the lash on your whip (I.e. twirling it around so it gets untangled from the shaft of the whip) and have it spook or "activate" your horse!

    The harness looks like a Ron's or Amber Hill harness. I had one and have a client with one. They are servicable, but the leather is VERY thick and hars to work witb in some spots (namely the belly band). They also put the shaft loops up so high as to render them unusable and you have to punch extra holes in them to drop them down to a reasonable level.

    By the way buckling the holdbacks to the breastcollar to keep it all in place is a good thing to do. It also gets her passively used to pressure there.

    the breastcollar may be a little low, but I understand why you may have it there as it does not appear to be contured to accomodate her windpipe.

    I hope your dog does better. My girl is 15 and I keep wondering how much longer I'll have her.

  2. Sending you and Ti LOTS of positive thoughts! I know exactly how attached you are to her, I was in a similar situation last August when we had to put my first dog down after having him for 16+ years. I think he told us for a while he was ready to go, but that didn't make it any easier. Dogs become such a HUGE part of our families, and it's very tough to watch them decline, especially since you've been through so much with them. ((hugs))

    On a more upbeat note, glad to hear that O seems to be liking this driving thing! I don't know anything about driving at all, but she seems to enjoy this new experience and new tack setup :)

  3. I'm a praying person so if it doesn't bother you to have prayers your way, I'm sending those! Otherwise ignore them (I never know how to approach these things since my "jingles" and "positive vibes" are in the form of prayers and that can rub people the wrong way, please let me know!) Here's hoping you have more years with Ti.

    O looks great - love how you are exploring all avenues available to have fun and learn with her. She's such a versatile girl!

  4. Sending lots of good thoughts and well wishes xxx

    I know nothing about driving other than O looks adorbs!

  5. Super equestrian blog! Why not come and post it at Haynet for more horse riders to follow - please visit www.hay-net.co.uk

  6. Sending lots of good thoughts for Ti.

    And love reading about O's adventures in harness.

  7. My understanding of blinkers is to keep them focused forward and less able to see (and react to/spook at) things from the sides, since going sideways in a cart is very dangerous.

    Sending Ti positive vibes!!

  8. So sorry about your sweet pup. I've been watching on Facebook and know how hard it must be. Lots of good vibes to her from Austin.

  9. Good vibes to TI... <3
    I was fascinated anytime you mentioned her because my family ended up adopting 3 retired greyhounds - our first is a brindle and she's 9 years old now. Seems like forever ago she was placed in our home - wondering around poking at stuff because she was used to houses. (or people coming home late as I found out with a start one night) They are very interesting dogs and it's awesome to see yours off-leash and running around with Gogo in that pic! (the parents are strict "leash only" believers)
    Anyway, I hope she still has some good quality life left with you!

    Awesome on the O front too with the driving. :)

    1. I was always told that Ti had to ALWAYS stay on a leash ALWAYS! Until I discovered that she literally has zero prey drive... we even shared a house with a bunny and she had no interest in her. She literally has the least amount of prey drive I've ever seen - squirrels can run right in front of her nose and she doesn't do more than look at them. I can't remember the last time I even ever had her on a leash, not even at the vet most of the time - she always comes when called and follows directions, literally 100% of the time. She never does ANYTHING wrong. She never approaches a stranger or a strange dog. She just stays close at hand and does whatever I tell her to do. She's a very good dog!

  10. I've been following Ti's progress on Facebook but I haven't logged on in a couple of days. I hope she's doing well. Still sending good thoughts her way!

    O looks awesome in her harness!!!!! I can't wait to read about her driving lessons and I loved the video! I can't wait to start doing this with Chrome. I think I'm going to train him in an open bridle too.