Sunday, October 16, 2016

Wait. What?!? Does He What? -- The Follow Up

What?  I'm a guy. It's what we do.
Just wanted to give you all an update on how Indy's been doing since we'd found blood in his urine. While the vet felt the issue was due to excessive 'self-pleasuring,' we still took the precaution of taking urine a week later just to make sure there was no infection.

Rather than have the vet come again I elected to get the specimen myself.  I mean, how hard can it be to get a urine sample, right?

Harder than you might think, it seems.  Indy normally pees as soon as I put him in his stall after we ride. He grabs a bite of hay, takes a swig or two of water, circles a couple of times and pees in the upper left corner of his stall.  So after we rode I went in his stall with him, little plastic cup in hand.

Indy was very happy to have me in his stall.  He was not interested in dropping trou, however. Rather, he wanted to give me a tour of his stall.

Indy: Mom! (nudge) Mom! (nudge) Look!  This is where I keep my hay.  See? That's my hay.  All mine. I love my hay. NomNomNomNom.

Me: It looks like very yummy hay, sweetie.  Can you pee for Mommy?

Indy: Mom! (nudge) Mom! (nudge) Look!  This is my water.  See?  I have two buckets.  I like to swish some of my hay in my water so it tastes better.  

Me:  That does look refreshing, sweetie.  Like when Mommy makes tea. How about you drink some water and then pee, okay?

Indy:  Okay. Sure.  Look over here!  Here is my feed bucket.  Sadly, it's empty.  Maybe you could get some more grain for me?  I love grain.  No? Okay. Look what I can do with my bucket.  I can bang it against the wall. Bang! Bang! Bang!  Man, that's fun!

Me: That's amazing, Indy.  You are such a smart boy.  Now can you show Mommy how smart you are by peeing in the cup?

Indy: Sure. No problem.  This is the corner I like to pee in.  See, I circle three times, then I put my butt against the back wall and my head against the side wall and then I pee.  Hey. Wait.  What's with the cup?  What are you doing back there?  That's a bit personal, Mom.  You need to respect my space, remember?  I respect your space, you respect mine, right?

Me: I know, sweetie, but this is an exception.  I need you to pee in the cup so Doc can make sure you're healthy.

Indy:  Oh, okay.  Why didn't you say that earlier? Here you go!

I think it says something about the the kind of day you had when the high point of that day is successfully catching your horse's pee.  Really, you would have thought I'd climbed Annapurna, I was that chuffed with myself.

The tests came back normal so there's no infection.  The vet's conclusion to the whole incident was that the blood in Indy's urine came from my boy getting excessively jiggy with his man-bits.

Geldings.  Sheesh.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Wait. What?!? Does He What?!?!?!?

Post-ride selfie
Life with Indy is never dull.  Every time I think things are rolling along smoothly, we hit a metaphorical speed bump.

Sophie and I were at the barn the other evening and were putting the horses away after a nice, uneventful ride.

Indy has a post-ride routine.  He goes in to his stall, takes a long drink, and then goes into the top left corner of his stall. He circles a couple times, positions his butt on the back wall and his front end on the side wall so he's sort of cattywumpus across the back corner, and pees.  He does this every time. Without fail.

I was putting his halter on the hook by the stall and just happened to look up when he was peeing and my eyes damn near bugged out of my head.  His pee was a muddyish red in color.  My first thought was that maybe he was dehydrated, and was making a mental note to reach out to the vet and check in with the barn manager about any changes in his drinking habits when I looked down at the shavings and saw they were bright red.

I rushed into the stall to get a closer look and it was definitely blood, so I called the vet.  He asked me if I was sure it was blood. Seriously?? I'm female. We're pretty much experts at the whole "blood coming from the genital region" thing.  I texted him a picture of the shavings and waited for him to call back, feeling much like I did when RJ's junk had swelled to 3x its normal size (refer to my dick pics post.).

Yep, that's blood

Meanwhile, Indy was quite happy that I was in his stall and came over to chat and search for treats.  Then he positioned himself so I would scratch his withers, noodging me with his shoulder and turning his head to look at me as if to say, "Mom, stop standing there.  I itch. Scratch me."  He'd just peed blood, and I was expecting him to at least look uncomfortable, but here he was, bright eyed, eating hay, and shoving me with his nose for attention.

The vet didn't think it was an emergency and came out the next day to observe Indy and take some blood and urine for testing.  There was no blood in his urine and he was still acting normally, with no indications of discomfort whatsoever.  'Carry on like you normally would," was the vet's advice. "I'll call you tomorrow with the results."

I was already at the barn when the vet called the next day.  "The blood work is fine," he told me. "There is a slightly elevated level of protein in the urine and it is a bit concentrated, but nothing that points to anything alarming.  The white cell count isn't elevated so most probably it's not an infection.  No signs of kidney stones either."

I was heaving a sigh of relief when he asked "Does he masturbate often?"

My brain short-circuited. Just went completely blank. WHAT.THE.HELL?  When my brain clicked back on thoughts started spinning through at a million miles an hour.  My first thought: How would that even be possible?  Followed quickly by: He doesn't even have opposable thumbs!  Then: Has that tarty mare down the aisle been teasing my innocent little boy?

Belatedly I realized my vet was still speaking to me.  I shook my head to clear it and asked, "Wait. What?  Does he what???"

My vet: "Does he masturbate often?  Does he get an erection and whack it against his stomach?"

Me: "Ummmm, nooooo.  I mean, I've never seen him do that."

My vet: "Oh, he did it several times while I was in his stall." 

Me: "I guess he just finds you more attractive."

The vet thinks the issue may be caused by something called a urethral rent. He explained that is a "blowout" tear in the urethra cause by high pressure in the penis. (Yes, I totally giggled when he said "blowout" because I am mentally a thirteen-year-old).  The rent can heal on its own, or in some cases require surgery.  Since Indy hasn't had any recurrences, we're hoping it will heal on its own.

I did a little Googling on urethral rents and some of the results referenced equine masturbation.  Apparently stallions pop wood around 18 times a day, and geldings around 12-13 times.  I also learned that at one time there was an electrical device designed to prevent stallions and geldings from bopping their baloney. I'm not even kidding. Check out the picture below. (Is it me, or does it look  a little bit like Pessoa lunging rig?)


Who knew, right?  So what now?  Why do I feel I need to have "The Talk" with Indy?  And how would that even work?

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Effing Cavaletti and the Bleeping Oval of Despair...

Instruments of Satan
Ever have something you just suck at?  Just flat out, no holds barred suck at?  I mean, you try and try and try again and despite a herculean amount of effort you find yourself reaching the Ninja Master Level of Suckitude.  (Yes, I know,  I'm not exactly Peggy Positive all wrapped up in buckets of sunbeams right now. I'm having myself a good wallow. Don't worry, it'll be over soon and we'll be back to our regular programming).

Anyway, cavaletti.  The point of this rant and the bane of my existence.  For some reason these dinky little white poles supported on x's rattle my cage something fierce.  Despite the fact that they are only a foot off the ground I feel compelled to ride down to them as if they were a 4' oxer.  Prone to overthinking and overdoing, much? Guilty as charged.

The jumping portion of our last lesson started with my trainer asking me to canter in a circle over two cavaletti, one set at 12 o'clock, one at 6 o'clock. (First of all, my circle was more like an oblong.
Did I mention I sucked at geometry, too?)

I totally chipped the first one, leaning so far up Indy's neck my chin rested on his poll.  "No worries, kid! You'll nail the next one," I told myself.  Nope.  Chipped that one, too.  And the next one.  And the one after that. And the one after that.

Indy, bless his heart, soldiered through without comment.  My trainer did not.

"Amy, stop leaning at him."


"You leaned at him again."


"Lean away."


"If you continue coming at it like a freight train and then climb up his neck you're always going to chip."

Leaves long, like from a mile away. Just for the sake of variety

"Amy, it's not even a real jump, it's a canter stride!  Just find a rhythm and let him canter over it. Stop trying to find a distance."

I felt like this...

When we stopped for a breather Indy looked back at me and his look clearly said, "Ma, just sit there.  Do nothing. Enjoy the scenery. I got this. If we do it your way we'll be here all night."

It took 8 hours (or at least it felt like it was that long) before I finally got two of them correct.  HUZZAH!!! Sound the trumpets!  My trainer wisely decided to call that portion of the lesson a wrap.

After that we built up to jumping courses.  Which went pretty well.  Apparently I can't jump anything 1' high set on a circle, but can jump things that are 2' - 2'6"and set at different points around the ring (For the most part. We had a couple of whoopsies).  Indy and I even ROCKED an inside turn back to some planks.  We weren't supposed to do the inside turn, we were supposed to do a roll back. Small GPS issue brought on by on-course brainfart. The fact that we weren't actually supposed to do it was probably way it went so well.

So you know how a couple posts ago I made a joke about Indy's show name being changed to Dickhead?  Well, it looks like my new nickname is gonna be "Chip."

I can hear it now: "Now entering the ring, Dickhead, owned and shown by Chip Vodraska."

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Dickhead Returns

Too cute to be called Dickhead.
A while back I wrote a post about our family's use of nicknames and the fact that Indy may have
thought his name had been changed to Dickhead. (He's young and blessed with ADD and I have a tendency to communicate through the use of colorful language).

I find that things with Indy follow a pattern.  Lots of really good behavior and then some not-quite-so-good behavior.  Like tonight, for instance, was one of the latter.  It was a gorgeous night, we'd had a lesson on Sunday that was not one of our best (totally my fault) and I thought a trail ride would be a low key experience for us both.

And the trail ride part was great.  The beginning and end parts, not so much.  When we left the barn I noticed the outdoor ring had a new wall jump that looked like it came from a giant Lego castle.  There was also a round pen with poles set like a pie cut into a bunch of pieces. Some of the round pen walls had fallen and were laying on their sides.  Did either of these new items in the ring bother Indy?  Nope.  He marched right up to investigate, sniffing them and noodging them with his nose.

Round pen and pole exercise. Or Pie. Take your pick

The issue came when we left the ring. I went to steer him left and he planted his feet and refused to budge.  The issue?  A patch of grass he walks over pretty much every day.  Heck, he GRAZES on it darn near every day!  He snorted and refused to go near it, backing up, hopping up and down, and trying to wheel around.  We went back and forth for a bit, and eventually he gave in and we went over it.  Maybe not the particular patch we were fighting over, but we went forward over grass that was very close to the patch we were fighting over.

Then we wandered around the farm and on the trails, and that was wonderful.

And then we came back and I got the bright idea to bring him over to the offending patch of grass to CONFIRM the correction we'd made.  Big mistake. HUGE. What can I say? I'm a dumbass.  We argued.  We discussed the issue at length. He cited reasons why we shouldn't go over the grass, I contended it was the only acceptable outcome. We expressed our divergent opinions, crossing over the driveway and every damn blade of grass except the ones we were squabbling over.  As you can imagine, my language was a bit salty.  I may have called him Dickhead again. (I did. Several times. I felt the situation warranted it. I have opposable thumbs, so I get to make those calls.)

The Grass Patch of Doom. 
Clearly terrifying.
I decided it was time to try something different.  I know you're not supposed to get off, but that wasn't getting anything accomplished so I got off.  And started to do some ground work, moving his haunches and front end, getting him to back up or come to me, just to get him to listen to me again.  At first he was resistant, but I persisted and he became softer and more willing.  We did our groundwork for about 10 minutes, on the offending grass, no less. (He didn't seem to have a problem with it once I was off him, the little booger).  Once I felt he was completely focused on me and what I was asking him to do, I got back on him and walked him up to the Grass Patch of Doom.  He hesitated, but went over it. I made a fuss over him, jumped off, and let him grab a few bites of grass.

Maybe conventional wisdom says I shouldn't have gotten off him, but the way I was doing it wasn't working.  I felt the need to reframe the conversation, and in this situation it worked.  That doesn't mean I should or will get off in the future.  It just seemed like the right thing to do tonight.

And we're okay now.  He got lots of kisses and scratches and he put his head in my arms for a long hug.  I said I was sorry for calling him Dickhead, and he told me he may have been over-reacting about the whole grass thing. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Where Did That Come From? The Mystery of the UEB

Pretty, yes?  Wish I knew how I got it.
We're equestrians.  We work with 1200lb animals with minds of their own and often very little
respect for personal space.  Factor in there are all kinds of ways to get hurt: Falling off, getting stepped on, getting kicked - these are some of the realities we face.  And let's face it, all of those things are gonna leave a mark.  Usually a pretty impressive one.

That's not what I'm getting at here. I'm talking about the everyday bruising you see and have no idea how you got them.  You know, the ones your significant other sees and says, "Yikes, what did you do to yourself now?"  The ones where you look at your (insert body part here) and say, "I don't know." 

It's sad, but true.  You really have no earthly clue as to why your (insert body part here) is a Rorschach blot of red, blue, purple and green.  No clue. Nada. Nothing.  Bupkus.

It's like when you were in college (or for some of us, more recently) and went to a party.  You'd wake up the next morning and at some point, maybe during a shower or while getting dressed, you'd notice one, two, or maybe a constellation of bruises and have no recollection of doing anything to cause them.  So you'd check in with a friend, hoping (or maybe not) that they could enlighten you.  Maybe a fall while table dancing, a botched keg stand, or an overzealous attempt to learn to Nae-Nae.   Most of the time the cause was just random drunken clumsiness.   The verdict?  Unexplained Party Bruising.

Well, I'm not drunk when I'm at the barn.  I'm not, I swear.  (Alright, I may have the odd glass of wine now and again, but only after I'm done.  I'm a safety-first gal, you know!)  So why the heck can't I ever remember how I get all these black and blue blotches all over my body? 

Unexplained Equestrian Bruising.  One of life's little mysteries.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Momma's Boy

Hello Momma!
Nothing's better than your horse showing you that he loves you, right?  When a nicker greets you the
second you walk into the barn, well, that's the best part of the day, isn't it?  The bright-eyed, ears-forward "Hi Mom!" look is, to me, better than wine and chocolate combined.  And if you've followed this blog, you know how I feel about wine and chocolate.

Indy is an extremely people-oriented horse, and he has definitely identified me as his primary person.  He loves my kids, but I am very clearly his MOM -bold, capitals, and underlined.

He doesn't just nicker or whinny when I come into the barn, he shrieks: "MOM-MEEEEEEEEEEEEE!"  It's kind of adorable, and it makes me melt.  You gotta love it when someone's that happy to see you.

And when our horse comes to you in the field, that's a great feeling, right?  Like they love their grass and horse time, but they love you more. Sug would come to me when she saw me at the fence. More often than not Indy will see me, shriek, and come flying over in a gorgeous extended trot with his mane and tail flying like a shampoo commercial. 

Other signs Indy is a complete Momma's Boy:

When he grazes, most of the time he likes to be next to me. Right next to me.  As in almost on top of me. Every now and then he'll raise his head to noodge me, like he's making sure I'm still there.




If he's on the cross-ties and I leave, he often yells for me.  If there's something scary, like the big fan they brought in to help cool the barn during the hot weather, he starts whinnying as soon as I leave his side.  I can walk the 10 feet to the other side of the aisle and he'll do a rumbly little whinny
.  If I leave his sight the decibel level and intensity escalates until he can see me again.

He was so funny at a horse show we recently went to.  I walked around the front of the trailer to get something from the dressing room and he started hollering as soon as he lost sight of me.  The second he saw me through the dressing room windows he stopped in mid-yell, jammed his nose against the window and exhaled loudly, as if to say, "Oh, thank God. I thought you'd left me."  (I know, anthropomorphize much?)

If I come to his stall when he's eating he will actually leave his feed tub and come over to me.  Have you ever seen a horse do that? I haven't.  Maybe it was because Sug wouldn't leave her food unless I was covered head to toe in Stud Muffins, peppermints, and Oreos.

I mean, on one hand I love that he's so attached.  On the other I worry that he's got separation anxiety and there's something I need to be doing to make him more self-assured.

What does you horse do that shows you he/she loves you?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Field Trip For Indy

Where are we, Mom?
I have a (relatively) new trailer, which I call the HMS Valium.  When I first got it I did not have a horse.  Pretty much the whole "cart before the horse" cliché.  As you can surmise, I did not get to use my trailer much.

Then in October I got Indy.  When I took him to get a pre-purchase exam there was much drama surrounding the loading process. Indy wanted absolutely nothing to do with the Great Big White Box.  When we moved to a new barn in October, my trainer and I thought rather than fight with him we'd see if he would like a different type of trailer (mine's a bumper pull with a rear loading ramp, theirs is a 3 horse with a ramp on the side.)  He didn't.  He didn't want to get on that trailer and when we arrived at the new place he came flying off it like his hair was on fire.

Over the fall, winter, and spring I worked on his trailer issues and learned some natural horsemanship from the lovely Dom Nawrot of Thumbs Up Horsemanship.  I want to do clinics and trail paces, so I need Indy to get on the trailer with no histrionics or bribing. I also figured learning natural horsemanship would be a great way to understand Indy better and bond with him.  We took our time and didn't push him and now Indy has no issues whatsoever getting on and off the Great Big White Box.

Dom suggested that before we take him somewhere serious like a show we should take him on a quick trip "around the block" to give him a good, low pressure experience. That went well, so last weekend we decided to take him to a horse show about an hour's drive away for some schooling.  It gave me a chance to get some more trailering time under my belt, it gave Indy a chance to spend more time on the trailer, and it also helped give him some exposure to a horse show without the stress of competition. (As far as I can tell it was only the third show he'd ever been to).

Noah and Indy paying close attention to Dom's instructions

My son Noah came along as moral support, another set of hands, and to make sure my nerves didn't get the best of me. While we were on the road he regularly reminded me to "Breathe, Mom" and "Go wide around the turns" and "The speed limit is 50, Mom. You should try to do that." Thanks in large part to his efforts we arrived in one piece. The second we opened the trailer Indy stuck his head out, looked around like Dorothy after she landed in Oz, and proceeded to holler his little gray head off.  He yelled, someone else would reply. Indy hollered again, somebody else would holler back. Have you ever seen the Disney movie 101 Dalmatians? Remember the Twilight Bark?  It was like that. For about 20 minutes. Non-stop.

We brought him over to the rings to graze and Indy visited with everyone who would stop to talk with him.   Since I haven't shown in over 2 years and didn't want my nerves to affect Indy I asked one of the barn's working students to school him. Call me a wuss if you want, but the main goal for the day was for Indy to have a good experience, both on the trailer and at the show.  The schooling ring was insane and  Mike's calm demeanor worked well to keep Indy focused.  He also took Indy out for a school around the jump field, and you know how sometimes it's just nice to see someone else ride your horse? Where you can just gawk at your horse and think, "Pretty horsie. MY pretty horsie." This was one of those times. Mike is tall and graceful and Indy's dapple grey coat and silver/grey mane and tail looked gorgeous in the sun.  Sadly I was too busy staring that I neglected to get any pictures. DOH! Mom fail.

Hanging with Indy and Noah all day was great.  Noah was my rock: He served admirably as parking and exiting consultant, scouting out the parking spot where I would have the most room to back the HMS Valium up if needed.  When it was time to go he did a little recon and found a way for me to wiggle out without having to back up. (I have terrible Trailer Reversal Anxiety). He made sure that there was always an adequate supply of Oreos for me and mints for Indy. Most importantly, he kept me laughing and relaxed (or as relaxed as I get) which in turn helped keep Indy relaxed.

So our first real "field trip" went off rather well, and I'm kinda looking forward to our next excursion.  My barn-buddy Dave tells me I'm on my way to becoming a "Bad-ass Mother-trucker."  I like the sound of that - think it comes on a t-shirt?