Monday, January 18, 2010

Founder: Then and Now

Today, I was sharing my experience with founder on a horse message board. To show that a horse can go to the depths of hell and bounce back, I decided to dig up some old photos of Limerick's fabled LF (left fore) hoof.

Looking at these, it's really quite amazing how far she has come in the past several years, and the past year in particular thanks to my farrier.

(Photos taken in early 2003, about 8 months after a hoof wall resectioning)

Back then, we were pretty sure that Limerick would be crippled for life. It's hard to imagine escaping 17 degrees of rotation, with near-sole prolapse, without any blemishes.

But we were wrong. Almost seven years after the photographs above were taken, here's Limerick.

This photograph was taken yesterday by The Click Chick Photography.

It brings a huge, huge smile to my face. Here is a 19-year-old mare, once horribly foundered, galloping through the snow with pure joy. As they say, a photograph says a thousand words. What do all the photographs on this page together tell you?

Monday, January 11, 2010

If hell froze over...

Saturday was the inaugural running of an organized "fun run", Windburn Six in the Stix. The winter counterpart of the Sunburn Six in the Stix, it was run on the same 2.28 mile limestone trail loop (with a shorter half-mile option) as the Sunburn fun run.

Since the run was self-supported I packed my drop bag with a few edible goodies, S-caps, additional "maybe I'll need it" winter running gear, and a bottle of Gatorade. Since I prefer to run with a Nathan fuel belt in winter rather than my hand-held bottle (I find holding anything in cold temps makes my fingers go numb, gloves or not), I also took that with.

It was cold. Very cold. It was windy enough to be annoying. And the snow...oh the snow. It was so deep, easily 12" in most places with drifts of up to 18" and over in other places. Since no one else--save a few snowshoers-- was insane enough to trod on these trails, us runners were the lucky ones to break the fresh powder.

I honestly wanted to quit after the first loop. Before the second I decided to put on my YakTrax to see if they would help. They did...somewhat. Nevertheless, halfway through the second loop I decided that I officially hate snow.


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But I hung in there and persevered. Some of the more experienced ultrarunners lapped me again and again and it just astonished me; I watched their feet carefully but didn't see how they could be going faster.

Even with the YakTrax, with almost each step I was slipping and sliding all over the place. If running through the fresh powder wasn't hard enough, there was also several inches of icy, crusty old snow beneath the new snow, making the footing uneven at best and downright ankle-twisting on average.

By the end of the third loop, my quads and hips (hips?!?!) were burning like something wicked. I decided that if hell froze over, it would be something like this.

But again, I persevered. My hamstring was stone silent. My calf had let out a little peep at the start of the first loop but was quiet from then on. Other than a burning soreness and a "I hate snow" mantra running through my head, I was feeling pretty damn good.

Hell, I was having fun!

But I didn't think I could do more than five loops. No way, no how. On the start of the fifth loop, I even considered just doing the half-mile loop. But for some reason, at the fork in the trails, I found myself heading to the right, towards the longer loop.

Noooooo! I don't wanna! I thought to myself as my masochist legs unwillingly carried me towards the long loop.

Midway through that loop I stopped completely and looked around. For as far as I could see, there were no other runners. A thought came to me. Quick! Make a snow angel! Laughing to myself, I laid down and made a snow angel.

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Rejuvenated by my own immaturity, I gleefully ran on.

And guess what? Thanks to that snow angel, I willingly--mind and body working in harmony this time--did a sixth loop just so I could see my snow angel again.

But after the sixth loop I had enough. I had done almost 14 miles in four hours. My body held together. I was proud of myself, and it was a great training run for Clinton Lake. I headed home happy and, after a good lunch, took a two-hour nap.

I no longer hate snow.

Friday, January 8, 2010

2009: A look back, and 2010: A look forward.

Oh 2009, you were overall a good year, with a few surprise twists.

A year ago I stated that I had three goals for 2009.

1) To show Limerick.
2) To run a marathon.
3) To be published for pay.

Well, I've accomplished a bit more than 2/3 of that.

1) I didn't technically show Limerick, but I did wake up at an absurd hour to take her to a dressage show, keep her in a rented stall, prettify her up, then get home at another absurd hour, all to see how she behaved in a show environment. She got a B-.

Unfortunately, due to increased spookiness on her part and lack of funds on my part, we never actually rode in a show.

2) I was training for a marathon in August but was unable to run it thanks to a klutzy injury. I did, however, more than make up for it by running an ultra-marathon in October.

3) It's not out yet but a piece of mine was accepted to be published! The magazine pays--I don't know how much, but even $10 would be fine! And another piece was just published without pay. Still cool!

So, I got the majority of those goals accomplished, which I'm very happy about.

And the best part of 2009? Limerick had relatively few health issues. Of those she did have, one--the false pregnancy--was simply unusual and interesting.

I was talking to a friend about Lim's false pregnancy a while back and I joked that perhaps Dynaformer, a stud at Three Chimneys Farm, impregnated her from afar when I made her wear a baseball cap with his name on it early in the spring. He agreed that we should not underestimate the potency of the big stallion.

The offending hat.

The stud himself. Tall, dark and handsome--just Lim's type
(excluding the time she 'dated' a Welsh pony: short, dark and handsome).

All kidding aside, do I have any goals for 2010? Yes and no.

I don't have them listed out like last year. Rather, I've decided to adopt a more carefree, spiritual attitude for this year. Breathe and enjoy life!

I found myself far too overwhelmed by stress last year, particularly at the end of the year. As a result I was seriously sick not once but twice, which is unusual for me. Stress is a powerful thing. Don't underestimate it.

As a result of this lesson, I've taken steps to try to ensure that my life is as stress-free as possible.

I hope everyone has a wonderful year!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

An interesting lesson in equine behavior.

I was able to witness one of the more interesting displays of equine behavior that I've personally seen last night.

A fellow boarder is now leasing Lim's "boyfriend", Nick. She already has a Thoroughbred mare, Lady, at the barn. She was there the same time as me last night and asked if I wanted to put Lim in the indoor arena with Lady.

Why not? The mares aren't best friends but they're friendly enough with each other. So into the arena they went.

After a while, Lady's owner asked me if I wanted to leave Limerick in the arena so she could take Lady out and put Nick in.

"Why not put them all in together?" I said. I didn't think it would be an issue; all three seem to get along fine and Limerick isn't the jealous type. Little did I know that there would be jealousy, but in an unexpected way.

Lady's owner retrieved Nick from his stall. Limerick was beyond excited to see him and he responded in kind; we could barely get his blanket off him!

Finally all three were loose in the arena together, sans blankets. Nick and Limerick began trotting and cantering around in unison, with Lady following. It wasn't long before it was apparent there was some kind of conflict between Nick and Lady. Lady bucked and kicked at Nick and he did the same back, while Lim stayed on the other side of Nick, away from the flying hooves.

Lady's owner and I looked at each other. Should we interfere? But before we could discuss it, the horses seemed to settle down somewhat.

"Lady's jealous," her owner said.

"But of Limerick or Nick?" I said. We weren't sure. Since Lady was a somewhat girlfriend of Nick before Limerick and I arrived at Gladstone, I thought she was jealous of Limerick.

But...Lady seemed to want to be near Lim, not Nick. I was expecting pinned ears and threatening gestures from Lady when she was near Limerick but if anything, she was the opposite.

The horses settled down a bit more and it became clear that Lady was trying to protect Lim from Nick! I was flabbergasted. She kept her body in between Lim and Nick and if he moved, she moved accordingly. If Lim walked one way, Lady mirrored her, carefully keeping her body in between Lim and Nick.

Lim seemed equally flabbergasted. Why was her friend keeping her away from her boyfriend? At one point the mares got close, arched their necks and touched noses, as if to discuss the situation as Nick looked on.

It was pretty funny to see. It made me think of women trying to discourage their girlfriends from dating 'bad news' guys, you know the guy with the motorcycle and cocky attitude and taste for walking on the wrong side of the law.

If Nick was a human, he'd be exactly that.

Then the kicker. Limerick pooped in the arena and immediately, Lady walked over to it. I assumed she was going to give it a casual sniff. But no! She began pawing at it in an attempt to scatter it and cover it up! I was laughing out loud, I had never seen such a thing. It's like she thought Limerick--who is a few years her senior--was her foal! never stop learning from them.

Monday, January 4, 2010

What does one do when the temperatures are hovering around zero?

It's been too cold for me to ride for the past week, which is too bad...I was hoping for a New Year's Day ride.

(But I did turn Lim loose in the indoor arena on New Year's Eve and play 'tag' with her, excited snorting, flagged tail, flying arena sand and all!)

Of course, you don't need to ride in order to have fun with your horse. Yesterday I went on a run that took me by the barn and of course, I had to stop in and see Lim.

She was turned out when I arrived.

Look at that blanket all askew! She, and the rest of the herd, were dozing in the sun.

So I wouldn't spook her, I kissed at her from the doorway. She turned her head and looked at me, eyes wide.

Hey, it's you!

I went into the pasture and stood by her in the sun. She was glad to see me. I rubbed her fuzzy neck and forehead then scratched her withers beneath her blanket. I tried to get a picture of her but each time I backed away a couple steps so she would fill the frame, she would walk towards me and give me a nudge or curiously nibble my Blackberry.

Finally, I got a picture.

After chatting with Lim and more wither scratching, and her nuzzling me (including my head), my sweaty self was getting cold beneath my layers so I had to leave. When I ducked back beneath the bar blocking the pasture door, she followed me and watched me leave until I was out of sight. Awwww!

Bye bye, baby, I'll see you later tonight for your dinner!