Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Limerick's dental appointment

Lim had her teeth floated today, and I got some photos for the blog. What is floating, you ask? Well, the permanent teeth of horses are actually quite long (what you see in the mouth is the surface of the tooth--click here to see a photo of the teeth inside the skull), and they continue to erupt for several years.

Over time, due to the chewing action of the jaws, as well as other factors, the teeth can develop areas of uneven wear, such as hooks, ramps, and waves. This can cause difficulties in chewing, which leads to weight loss, colic and choke (the latter two due to the horse swallowing incompletely chewed forage and grain).

To prevent this, an equine dentist (either your vet, or a specialized equine dentist accompanied by a vet) files down the surfaces of the teeth to smooth out any uneven surfaces. This is called floating. It is typically done once a year. Even though the pics below may appear torturous or uncomfortable for Limerick, rest assured that horses are sedated for the procedure and are much more comfortable than they appear.

In fact, I'd venture to say they are far more comfortable than us humans in the dental chair--eek!

Lim's teeth were not terrible, but she had some hooks up front and the vet, Dr. Coveyou of Fox Valley Equine, smoothed out a couple of chipped incisors.

Power-filing (power-floating) the molars
Hand-filing the chipped incisors

Drowsy Lim
Drowsy Lim got a bath to cool her off when she was alert enough to walk!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hot days at the barn

Limerick enjoying the fan

Hot, hot, hot. That's how things have been lately! I have ridden Limerick a couple times since I last posted about her, but that's all. While she can go like the Energizer Bunny no matter the weather, in this heat I would rather play it safe and keep her comfortable. 

Three horses in my barn aisle alone have been colicky due to heat-related issues. I have been diligent about making sure Limerick has enough water when I go to the barn at night, and check the water buckets of the other horses when I can. I'm thankful for the extra probiotics and peppermint oil I've been giving Miss Lim...knock on wood.

At least the mosquitoes aren't anywhere near as bad as I thought they would be! But then again, it isn't August yet!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More Dara photos, thanks to Amanda!

I saw Dara over the weekend, as usual, and rode her for the second time. She also jumped for the first time under Christine (Teener Thoroughbreds). Dara was a bit perturbed as to why Christine was asking her to go over the obstacle instead of around it, but she did it--in style!

My friend Amanda took the photos--you can visit her website here. She did a great job of capturing Dara's sweet face.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I'm on Twitter

If you're on Twitter, then let me know! I'm @AmandaBry91

Don't expect me to entertain you endlessly. I'm still flailing about in the water when it comes to tweeting like a pro, so as of now, 100% of my tweets are simply re-tweets of things that interest or amuse me. It's mostly horse or horse racing-related.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Saturday: Rode both Dara and Limerick!

I got to spend quality time with both Dara and Limerick this past Saturday. And I rode both of them!

Dara had been under-saddle a few times with Christine, and she was quite relaxed so I wanted to try riding her, too. Even though Limerick is not a horse I would ever put a beginner rider on, after over 16 years on her back, I am downright comfortable with her antics. Besides, my legs and seat are practically molded to her. So while I'm always glad to hop on another horse, I don't ever expect to be good on that horse!

I didn't really need to worry about that on Dara. Despite having a very pleasant and adaptable personality, she has only been off the track for a couple weeks, so I was expecting at least a bit of "go" in her. But instead I found myself on a very relaxed horse. She was so chill that it took a lot of leg to get her moving. Once she did, she went along at a nice pace as long as you reminded her to keep going with your leg. She had a pleasant, long-strided walk and trot. She had some difficulty picking up the canter, but I am so used to asking for the canter on Lim with nothing more than sitting deeper in the saddle, so it was partly "user error". I did get her into a canter at one point and it was quite smooth!

She was such a fun horse to ride. She responded to me when I petted her neck or said "good girl", and her long, feminine ears were always forward, only flicking back to listen to me when I talked to her. She tried hard to do what I asked of her (leg yield, straighten out, etc) so of course I rewarded every effort. I walked her on a long rein after--no problem. What a nice horse....I so wish I could keep her.

Afterwards, we gave her a bath and 'hand grazed' her (if you can call it that--Christine unclipped the lead shank and Dara grazed in place until it was time to go in).

Christine has done a wonderful job with Dara so far. And most importantly, Dara is clearly happy and content with life. It's very rewarding to see that.

Miss Dara

Later the same day, I rode Dara's auntie, Limerick. I was struck by how different they are! They are both very fun to ride, but unlike Dara, Lim is incredibly responsive, like a little sports car--you don't need much if any leg on her. If anything, Lim's gas pedal often accelerates itself, and all I can do is apply the brakes a little at a time (half-halts)!

In fact, on this evening, she picked up a canter on her own and I let her keep it up. As she normally does, she began putting on speed as we went, so I would half-halt her to slow her down. At a couple points, I wanted her to downshift to a trot but instead she slowed herself into a very collected little canter, then sped up again when I opened the reins. 

I thought back to all the transitions I did in our last ride (because of this post) and I was struck by how quickly and easily she remembered applied lessons. Just one session of transitions helped 110%! I suppose that may be a common thing in older horses, especially those that had countless hours of training in their younger years. They may goof off if you let them, but after just one little refresher course, they remember everything again.

Miss Lim

Monday, July 2, 2012

Cara (June 1994 - June 28, 2012)

I remember the day we got you from Orphans of the Storm. I was at a birthday party, and my parents had gone to the shelter before picking me up from the party. As soon as I got into the car, I peered into the cat carrier and saw a small black ball of fluff with two golden eyes looking back at me. We seemed to regard each other with equal curiosity!

You became fast friends with Sebastian, also a kitten. You two were nearly inseparable, and save his long brown tabby for and your short dark fur, one would guess you were siblings. When he died in 2001, you mourned for weeks. His loss devastated all of us.

You were a sassy thing as a young cat, and gorgeous, like an Egyptian goddess. Your beauty inspired me throughout my younger years--photographs, drawings and poems were made in your honor. Throughout your 18 years, you always carried yourself with dignity, whether you were sleeping by the fireplace or opening the screen door, letting all the cats out and the bugs in.

If there is one spot of sun spilling onto the floor, a cat will find it and soak it up.  ~J.A. McIntosh

That cat was you, and never again will the sunny spots in my parents' house be the same without you. Rest in peace, Cara, and I hope you found your brother, Sebastian, on the other side.