Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Kites, Acting Your Age, Professionals, and Dollars Saved

For the first time in years, I was able to attend the annual vaccine clinic my vet holds (discounted exam and vaccine costs). It almost always coincides with the No Frills endurance ride, which I have attended the past several years. However, with Q sidelined this season, and no immediate competition goals for Griffin or Stan, I was able to commit to getting vaccines at the clinic. I knew the day away from the barn at a local location would also be good travel practice for Griffin who has traveled less than the other two. Additionally, I planned to jump him in the arena to gauge how he'd handle working in a foreign environment that had a bit of atmosphere to it.

I borrowed one of my BO's trucks and 4-horse stock trailer to shuttle my three over to the clinic on Saturday morning. The weather forecast was atrocious, of course. Bad weather the day of No Frills / the clinic is almost always a given! Nonetheless, I donned my goretex and my muck boots and trudged out to fetch Grif, Q, and Stan from the field amidst pouring rain. (Lovely.)

Griffin uncharacteristically refused capture. I knew he'd follow Q and Stan to the barn and come in anyway, so I didn't let it bother me much as my time spent trudging about in a downpour was not something I wanted to lengthen. However, Grif's evasion would be foreshadowing for his behavior for the next 90 minutes or so. I'm not sure what kind of bee was in his bonnet Saturday morning, but I'm glad it escaped before he'd been too big of a shit.

Have some completely unrelated photos because I
didn't take any photos due to the rain on Saturday.

This is Q on Monday when I rode her across the creek
to access ramps.

I fed and groomed each horse and threw a blanket on a shivering Stan before loading them on the trailer. The trailer can hold 4 horses and has a swinging divider in the middle to separate them into pairs. Alternatively, one could pin open the divider and have horses in one open space. Because of Stan's attitude, I opted to put him into his own space and the other two in theirs.

Stan loaded first without issue; he walked right on like a gentleman of his age should and I easily closed him into the first compartment. Griffin was up next because Q's history of wanting to immediately back off trailers once she is loaded suggested it was the best line of attack. Griffin will typically pitch a minor fit (tries to walk to the left and/or right of the open trailer and will throw his head straight up in the air, plant his front legs, and often back away looking at me like I have 14 heads) about getting on a trailer, but once he's had his 10-second-moment (and one good smack from me), he gets on without any fanfare because he knows I'm not kidding around. However, the fit he threw this morning was more than usual and cemented in my mind that we will be working on trailer loading with more consistency in the near future.

Woman, why are you digging in the dirt and why am I tied to this tree?

Instead of the relatively passive fit I've come to expect, Griffin was a literal kite on the end of the lead rope. He back pedaled with impressive force and speed (horse, do you WANT to work cattle?!) away from the trailer and me repeatedly. I popped him a really good one once and trudged back toward the trailer a step at a time as he skittered around and launched into the air behind me in protest. I adjusted my tactics to first get him to merely walk toward the trailer without backing up at lightspeed. When that was a success, we walked almost to the opening and then circled around so he could refocus on me and what I was asking instead of fretting that I was going to put him in the trailer (where Stan was standing patiently observing all of these shenanigans).

A few years ago, I would have lost my cool completely in response to this kind of behavior, but now it doesn't bother me at all. My level of nonchalance and zen surprised even me as Griffin tried out his various evasions. When Grif had calmed a few degrees so I could get him near the trailer opening again (read: he had at least 2½ hooves on the ground), I trudged one step at a time and didn't let my body language or my voice betray any sense of annoyance until I was in the trailer and he was at the opening. Then, with a few more kind words on my part and some sniffing on his, he hopped on like nothing had happened.

This horse... He's basically like a little brother; he knows me so well and knows just what buttons to push to find out if I'm really serious or not.

With Griffin's shenanigans done, I let Q load herself, tied her, closed the door, and headed down the road to the clinic.

Being adorable.

25 minutes later, I unloaded all three horses, tied Q and Griffin to the trailer and headed to the registration booth with Stan in tow.

Fortunately, when I arrived there was no line. I was able to quickly get each horse registered for the appropriate vaccines - Griffin would be getting a full-blown show horse panel and required paperwork for travel out-of-state, Stan would be getting the same sans out-of-state paperwork, and Q got the bare minimum necessary to basically stand in her pasture and be lightly worked at home later in the year.

Last year, getting two horses examined, vaccinated for shows, and papered for out-of-state travel rang in at $584 without the farm call fee (I trailer 5-minutes to the hospital to avoid this). This year? This year's vetting of three horses for the things noted above rang in at $341. Hello, savings!! Even I had all three horses vetted and papered for out-of-state travel, I wouldn't have exceeded last year's expenses (I'd still be over $100 under!) Competition schedules don't align well with getting annual vaccines in late April, however, into the future, I think I will make my competition schedule such that I am able to do this vaccine clinic. Holy money-savings, Batman!

Every girl needs leopard-print paired with hot pink

While not as "up" as Q can be, Stan was what Dan would call a fussbucket throughout the registration process and his vaccines. He was NOT acting his age one bit. Instead, he was on high alert, screaming for his frienemies (Q and Griffin), and dancing around. While I registered, his first momma (who introduced us) held him for me. As he stood with her, he calmed enough to cease his dancing, but he was still screaming intermittently and looking around exhibiting his best giraffe expression. This continued through his vetting. I was grateful he stood still for each shot and his blood draw, but the screaming I could have done without.

Griffin was vetted second and unfortunately still had that bee in his bonnet. He fidgeted throughout the whole exam and protested every needle that poked him. Fortunately, we've done enough groundwork that he knew damn well he should not invade the space of any human so he mostly jigged in place. Still, it was a little nerve-wracking for all involved because he was acting like he could explode at any moment.

Finally, I brought Q over for her vetting. Her exposure,time and miles traveling, and being vetted really showed. She was quiet and calm but alert to her surroundings. She didn't flinch or flick an ear for any part of her exam or any needle prick. Afterwards, I trotted her out for my vet to see how great she's looking 7 months after her suspensory diagnosis (8 months after lameness presented itself). We did a standard trot out for a best condition exam with circles in both directions and Q trotted out like a dream. Such a little professional (as she should be). My vet was very pleased with her movement and noted to her new vet how endurance riders are some of the most willing to give horses the proper time off for injuries like this whereas many other disciplines are more liable to try to do too much too soon. Regardless of being willing to give her the time off, I cannot wait to get her back into work later this year; I think this time off has done nothing but good for her.

The derp is strong with us

With each horse vetted, I tied them around the edge of the arena with their Uncle Dan to babysit and trucked 5 minutes down the road to shuttle 4 friends and their horses over the the clinic. Throughout the whole time I shuttled and waited for my friends horses to be vetted, Grif, Q, and Stan stood quietly napping where they were tied. This was amidst the hustle and bustle of many strange horses, 4 farriers doing work, the vetting process, and a local clinician working with some young horses and his most recent mustang makeover candidate. Professionals, all three of them. 💕

Finally, the mustang clinic wound down and I was able to pull some jumps into the arena to work with Griffin. Because I had to serve as jump crew for myself - pulling jumps from storage, setting them up, and putting them away again - I only pulled out two cavaletti and one vertical.

Lauren's mom is doing beautifully with Griffin! She has aspirations to compete in low-level dressage.

While alert to his surroundings, and admittedly a bit concerned with some of the activity and environment around him, Griffin was honest and responsive. His canter was heavy on the forehand as he threatened some crow hopping a time or two, but he kept himself together and listened to my requests. He additionally jumped everything I pointed him at with zero protest. We had questionable distances often because he simply could not pay attention to me at all, but he was tidy with his feet regardless.

We've certainly got more work to do before our proposed HT at the end of May, but his attitude toward work in a foreign environment with distractions on Saturday was very encouraging. He's got a lot of promise. 😉

The first of 3 horse-focused weekends is in the books. Weekend 2 begins tomorrow -- I'm Rolex-Bound! I'll see many of you there, I'm certain. Safe travels to all.


  1. A vaccination clinic sounds like an AWESOME idea! I've not heard of it before but that would be perfect. I wonder if I could organize something here......
    Griffin look great and I think I'm falling in love with Q.

    1. Oohh, I bet all your local horsemen would LOVE if you could set one up! My vet does it to encourage folks to vaccinate. All of the local farriers come, too, so it can be a one-stop-shop for spring tune ups in advance of riding seasons here. We've had a variety of clinicians over the years, too, to sweeten the pot for folks. Sometimes the local 4-H clubs will do refreshments, too, as a fundraiser. It's pretty sweet.

      And if you fall for Q I'm going to have to formally declare that you have a type: wicked-smart, thoughtful mares who are hypersenstive to their environment!

  2. eeeee have so much fun at rolex - i'll be with you in spirit!!! also so awesome to have all this vetting completed and checked off the list. proposed may ht, here we come!! (also tho, if you are going to enter, i'd recommend getting your paperwork in around 2 weeks ahead of the close date, as they've been filling up fast and early)

    1. Wish you were gonna be there in mind body and spirit haha

  3. Love that pic of Q looking through the fence. Super happy she is doing well and healing nicely.

  4. I wish my vaccinations were that cheap. Have fun at Rolex.

  5. I'm confused about Q: I thought you had started the under saddle rehab process months ago? So glad she's healing well! And have fun at Rolex!!

    1. I've ridden her bareback a small handful of times for no more than 10 minutes or so at the walk and am doing small pieces of groundwork with her but largely am letting her have time off for now. I'm not in a hurry and don't plan to endurance ride this year.

  6. I love vaccine clinics! I need to get all my boys taken care of