Monday, April 15, 2013

Playing Catch-Up

Oh the catch-up game, I'm not a huge fan of it, but life gets busy sometimes all the time. I was away for work-related training all last week (So, so fun! I'll never look at a stream the same way again.) and I thought I'd have time to update in the evenings... But, yeah. We had a lot of homework to do. And then we had a lot of social science lab activities to attend to. And thus, things I wanted to write never came to be!

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Friday April 5, the vet came out to give Griffin his vaccines/Coggins and float Q's teeth. I was a little apprehensive for multiple reasons, but both horses soared through their exams. It was a relief for the vet, I think, to have two very easy, well-mannered patients.

I'd not vetted Griffin since owning him. He changed hands so frequently the 6 months before I got him that there was no need for me to do anything. He'd been castrated, vaccinated, wolf teeth pulled, wormed and had a fecal done for good measure. All had been done by the vet I use, so she is familiar with his history. I'm proud to say that for his shots and blood draw he barely moved. He was a very, very good boy about it all.

Q had seen the vet a month ago for her vaccines/Coggins/health cert/yearly exam - I wasn't there for it but they reported she was a very good girl. It was noted that that she should get her teeth floated - especially if I planned to compete this year.

The last horse I had floated - Orion - was an interesting experience. A different equine vet from my current one power floated him. Upon further inspection not quite a month later by an equine dentist, he still had a lot of issues. So then she floated him by hand. It was a huge difference immediately after. This led me to be a little skeptical about power floating. I'd actually planned to have Q's teeth done by the same dentist, but with some information regarding the questionable practice of this person within my state legally, I opted out.

I trust my current vet  a lot. I know that she is a very intelligent person and a very talented veterinarian. She evolves her methods with the most recent developments in the field. She goes the extra mile where many won't. Others I know that use her love her. Additionally, she's been a good friend and mentor to me for years now. As a result of all of this, I wasn't super concerned about Q's upcoming power float experience.

We had to give Q two doses of sedative pre-float. She's so damn attentive to everything all the time. D has told me that while all the other horses will be grazing in the field Q will often be looking off into the distance very attentively studying god-knows-what. I was very bemused watching her under sedation. She was still very alert to the power floater during the process, but beyond that she was drowsy as all get out. Very, very unlike my little mare. I sort of enjoyed it.

Q had no issues with the speculum. Its a newer model made from a very light-weight metal and the joints when opening the horses' mouth flare away from the face instead of toward it like older models. Overall, her teeth were in pretty good shape. She just has some sharp points forming in a few places that the vet was able to fix in quick order. I think the whole process took 5-8 minutes or so. It was really quick.

As the vet was walking me through the inspection of Q's incisors and explaining that they were in good shape, that most horses are, she asked me again how old Q was.

Me: Ten. The Coggins from cowboy man stated that she was 9 last year. So she'll be 10 this year.
Vet: There's  no way she's 10.
Me: Oh? * a little concerned she's way older and I'll have less time with her*
Vet: Nope. Look here *points at grooves and points on her incisors* see the dot there *somewhere near center of tooth*.
Me: Yeah?
Vet: Well (and now I'm paraphrasing because I can't remember precisely), you can see that on these teeth but its just forming on this one *points to outer-most incisors*. This one that is just forming crops up at around 7 years. Additionally, see the hook on this top incisor? That forms at 7 and 11 years. There's no way she's 11 so I have a very good feeling she's probably just turning 7 this year.

OH! Seven years is a BIG difference from ten years old! We've got so much more time to play now! I was absolutely giddy about this information. It means that her mystery-history isn't so long. Its reported that cowboy man trained her on and off the three years prior to me buying her. And before that she was just a baby growing up. So most of her solid experiences under saddle probably came from cowboy man. This connects a lot more of the dots for me. (I was absolutely giddy about this information for the next three days basically. My climbing friends weren't as enthralled judging from their reactions every time I tried to express my excitement the weekend following, haha.)

While Q's sedation wore off I took the time to soak her front hooves again. It was nice not having to worry about her freaking out over the bag this time. She did fairly well the first time, but it was so nice to be able to move around and not stand right with her the entire time. She basically slept through it this time. Warmed by the sun and a light breeze, she let her eyes droop closed (they'd been open prior, despite the sedative).

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I think I briefly mentioned awhile back about having access to a trailer finally. I was uncertain about it then, but can share more now.

D's husband knew some folks selling their small 2-horse bumper pull trailer. They'd always pulled it with their 4-Runner - that's what I drive! Steve jumped on the opportunity and snatched the thing up. He told me to get a brake controller installed on my car and then confirmed that its purchase was so I could have a little more freedom!

Now, I know there is controversy about pulling a trailer with anything that isn't a huge truck, and I understand the concerns. My car is a 2001 model. It has a V6. Dad used to pull our boat/trailer with it prior to it becoming my car. It has had more maintenance in it's lifetime with our family than most cars other people own over 20+ years. Its in incredible shape. I'm complimented on that all the time. I inquired with many, many (redundant, yes, but must be stated for emphasis) folks with vehicles large and small who have pulled trailers (from horses to heavy equipment) for years. Of those with the most experience hauling, they said I would be more than okay for what I plan on doing and probably far more as long as I'm not gunning around like a maniac.

I will primarily be using the trailer to bop back and forth within the valley to go to our new covered 250' x 150' arena, meeting friends without trailers nearby to trail ride, and to access some nearby Forest Service trails. For those activities there are virtually zero hills involved between point A and B. Additionally, I won't be gunning it because I don't want to toss my animal around like a chunk of meat. And while the capacity of the trailer is 2 horses, I doubt I will ever pull more than one.

My first "lesson" at driving a horse trailer (opposed to a boat) occurred Friday evening when I returned from training. Steve and I hooked up (no horses) and headed out. He explained the technical details and safety details to me. He drove my car for awhile, too, because I didn't feel I was answering his questions about how things were going well enough. He was very, very impressed with how my car handled. He said the empty trailer wasn't challenging it at all. He noted that this could/would certainly change with an animal aboard, but in its empty state it was fine. He was very impressed with how it pulled. His biggest piece of advice that he emphasized multiple times was that I must be more attentive about my speed when I haul. He noted how easy it is to get distracted or forget that you're hauling. He emphasized the brake controller and its function. It makes such a huge difference.

He's going to get a jack and lug wrench to put in the trailer, and it could probably use more WD-40 just to make it easier for me. But other than that, we're good to go! We hope to do another dry run this week and then probably a run with a horse, too. I've got lots of work to do practicing my backing up skill, but fortunately two of the three places I will be taking it don't require any backing up at all, and the third isn't absolutely horrid, I just want to be a boss before going. I'm super psyched to be able to go to the arena though. That's the only thing I don't have access to at the barn.

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Final tidbit of information for this catch-up post, I'm officially entered into the No Frills ride. Its in a little under 2 weeks! I'm formulating preparatory lists now for food supplies, camping supplies, and horse supplies. I'm going to purchase an electric corral next week. Q seems pretty strong and I think my goal of finishing as the turtle is more than obtainable! But more on Q and her training in another post....


  1. I'm glad all went well during Q's floating! I'd been wondering how it went. :) And so awesome that she's only 7! I think I'd be as excited as you. Terrific news on having regular access to a trailer- it makes everything so much easier.

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