Friday, October 28, 2016


Runkle can't do anything normal.

It took a week and a half for the splint to go sideways. He went from gimpy to abscess lame in record time and his whole leg was swollen. So I had the vet out, again.

I insisted on x-rays this time, and had no less than 5 vets look at 4 views with exactly 0 conclusions.

His cannon bone looked like it was demineralizing and no one could figure out why.

The word surgery (to clean out the 'dead' bone) was bandied about.

In the end he got put on Enroflaxacin, thinking that maybe it was an infection making the bone look less dark than it should, and prescribed a follow up for more x-rays in 10 days to see if more drastic measures needed to be taken.

There were a lot of tears that day. Sorry if you had to deal with me. Thank you if you gave me a hug and let me cry all over you.

Late last week I could tell that the antibiotics were working though. The heat and swelling was reducing drastically in the leg, and he was sound at the walk. I was VERY TENTATIVELY hopeful. But it's horses so...

I couldn't be there for the initial appointment but you can bet your butts I was there for the follow up on Wednesday. My real person job gets in the way of taking care of my child horse.

We zoomed in about 250% on the old x-rays and jacked the contrast way way way up so we could see the teeny


smaller than the edge of my pinky finger nail


A little tiny fragment.

Caused an infection and all this drama.

We took the new x-rays and lo the little tiny sprinkle sized hell raiser has since been resorbed or took the hint and pissed off.

So now we just have, you know, the splint to heal. Which is ENORMOUS.

I think I might name it Godzilla.

But anyway he doesn't need surgery so that's all I care about.

He's definitely feeling better because his walks have become progressively shorter and shorter as he tries to invent new ways to entertain himself. Reserpine don't fail me now...

So that's why all's been quiet on the Runkle front. Because I didn't know what was happening and he was making me sick with anxiety and I couldn't talk about it.

Pretty status quo for horses. Little buggers.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Peek into Runkle's PTSD

I had the amazing opportunity to hang around the backside of Thoroughbred racing this past weekend

not that kind of backside :P

this kind of backside!!
 The Virginia Hunt Gold Cup was on Saturday, actually at the same place the Great Meadow Nations Cup is held. Who knew!

hedge as seen at the nations cup. with a freakin' car for scale.

watched all the races from that structure. who knew!
Runkle's old home has been incredibly kind to me. I expressed interest in going to a race with them, not really knowing what that entailed, and his old trainer was all about bringing me. I was so curious to see what a normal 'day in the life' is for a Thoroughbred so I could piece together Runkle's extreme PTSD when we go to shows. I also wanted the insight as I have a feeling this OTTB thing is going to be for life with me. I do likie the Thoroughbreds.

Anyway. the horses were loaded up by 5AM on a giant horse van. We had six with us, and I kind of figured out why Runkle is such a mug about getting on a normal two horse bumper pull. He's used to spacious stalls, side ramps, and the farm even has a little chute so the horses don't have to climb a steep ramp to get on. Spoiled.

Basically a limo.
I guess I fell asleep once we piled in and headed out because I woke up in Maryland and the sun was finally up. Me, the driver, and our boss for the day sat in the cab. The other grooms rode in the back!! With the horses!!!

Upon arriving at Great Meadow we unloaded the horses and put them up in their barn/tent/home-away-from-home. It was windy as all get out, so much so that some of the poles in the barn were being lifted off the ground. Every time a particularly strong gust whipped through all the horses would have a little buck and romp around the stalls. Everyone stayed in stabling. In fact, there was one farm that had their horses on the trailer a lot of the day and people were commenting on how weird it was.

So much excite.
Hm, so Runkle's probably not used to being forced to sit around on the trailer all day. Good to know.

It all happened kind of fast once we unloaded, and a lot of words were thrown around (pre race prep stuff? Lasix? Were the horses having corrective eye surgery?) I didn't understand the race lingo or what was the norm so I just tried to follow what I was being told and make sure the right horses had water and the ones that weren't supposed to have hay didn't. And that Aflutter had his bucket on (he's not allowed to eat before he runs because it makes him cough).

Aflutter getting saddled
There was a vetting very similar to the jogs for an FEI event except much more utilitarian. And also, given the 30mph gusts, a bit more like people trying to fly kites than actually jog horses. One horse had to be jogged down and back three times because he kept leaping so hard the vet couldn't get a read on his gait.

After watching them jog, the vet ran their hands down each horse's legs and lifted them to inspect their tendons before giving the stamp of approval. Then the groom would fly the kite back to his stall.

Flutter demonstrating appropriate jog technique

fancy prancing!
Before the race, each horse was groomed impeccably. Several horses had different leg bandage configurations. The most they usually had was vet wrap on their hind legs and a rundown patch on their fetlock. Coordinating electrical tape topped off the wrap job. I was kind of amazed all they put on the horse's legs is vet wrap. Apparently they get the equivalent of rugburn on the underside of their fetlock, so the vet wrap just protects that. Otherwise they'd be barelegged! Isn't that mental!?

Bridle complete with tongue tie, ready for action!
Considering the amount of armor I used to put on Lexy just to run training level (we even had pastern wraps behind) it seemed a little crazy that they wrap the equivalent of tissue on the horse's legs and send them on their way. The main goal seemed to be don't interfere with the way the horse's leg works by inhibiting tendons or joints with wraps and boots. And I didn't see any evidence from any horse that they interfered at all.

The trainer would bring the jockey's tack down and saddle the horse him or herself, occasionally with another trainer to help. As each horse was brought down a race official would check the tattoo number. Then they were brought down to the paddock where they walked until the jockeys came.

Red walking out of stabling.
Red getting his tattoo checked.
When the call came to mount up, the horses stood in open ended stalls for the jockeys to mount up. I use the term 'stood' kind of loosely. Another loop or two around the paddock and the field master would blow the horn and after parting words from the trainer the groom would lead the horse and jockey down to the track.

Red gets his rider! Good luck Red!
Walking to the track
Nationbuilder in the paddock
Then, you know, the race would happen. Pretty self explanatory, it's the part we all see.

There's Red! #10.

Water crossing at the Steeplethon
After the race the groom gathered up the horse from the track. The jockey pulled his tack off to get weighed in and the horse was brought back to the barn area to be hosed and cooled out. That is, with the exception of the winning horse who is ridden into the winners circle with all of his connections for the picture. Unfortunately we didn't have any winners this weekend :(

There was one race, picture included above, called the Steeplethon. This was like a cross country course on heroin. There weren't just hedges, but also solid timber fences and a stone wall. And it even included a run through water!!! The course didn't run straight counter-clockwise in a circle but wound over and around the field including two changes of direction and charging up and down a couple rolling hills. I wish I had had my nice camera; when they hit the water the spray was amazing. As the horses were allowed to warm up before the race everyone went and schooled it. Some of the horses had never run through water before.

so official
He was there to 'calm' the horses. his name is tiger.
soda can for scale
Anyway, after the race once the horse was cooled out his legs got poulticed and wrapped and he's done for the day. He gets to hang out in his stall until his compatriots are done as well.

All The Way Jose
The day wound up and we packed everything back on the van, shoving buckets and Rubbermaid tubs into the nose of the truck and quickly chucking the horses in. And we didn't have to clean stabling. I asked someone about this and he said "wait, you have to do that at events? If you had to do that at races I wouldn't go."


So what did I learn?

A lot. But nothing that would give me a shortcut to getting Runkle over his fears of being at a horseshow. Except maybe that it might help to just tack him up immediately and ride him around. But even then, he's just going to need time and cookies and probably some lunging.

Aflutter ready to leave at the asscrack of dawn
Lawnmower looking for snacks.
I also learned that I really really love Thoroughbreds. They're so cute and try so hard. I'm sold for life.

Thank you so much to Keri & Ashwell for having me, Bailey & Rafa for being really patient as I asked about forty thousand questions. Actually maybe I retract my thank you from Rafa because he spent the day hazing me. Thank you to Shayla for keeping me company and eating all the cookies with me, and Carl for ... being Carl and letting me follow him around because I had no idea where I was allowed to go :P

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Muck Bucket List - Gallop On the Beach

So in my head I've had a fuzzy list of things I want to do in life. A bucket list. But it's all horsie themed, so instead of just a bucket list it's a Muck Bucket list. Of all the shit I want to do with horses before I kick it. See what I did there? It's a play on words pun.

Anyway, I've got a new page up with a list of things I've always wanted to do on horseback and as I check them off I'll put up a series of posts. Actually, a lot of them have been done already. But there's always more because I never ever get tired of horses and always see new stuff I want to try. Enjoy!

Most riders I know have galloping on the beach on their bucket list. It was definitely on mine. It wasn't until I sat down to write this that I realized I couldn't quite put my finger on the allure. Galloping itself is fun, but I think it's because beaches seem like endless stretches of sand that makes them a particularly hot destination.

I was fortunate enough to spend a week in Spain doing a point to point ride with Equitours. The trip was phenomenal. We were each given a horse that was 'ours' for the duration of the week. We were responsible for their care, including grooming, feeding, finding them spots to roll and plenty of carrots. It's the most time I've spent with a horse in a one week stretch maybe ever. My particular mount was a little mutt of a Spanish horse named Café, although I called him Coffee most of the trip.

Maybe 2nd most handsome pony <3
We rode through fabulous Catalonian countryside and I really took full advantage of the whole 'free wine with all the meals' perk. But the real draw for all of us happened in the middle of the week. The gallop on the beach.

Breakfast on beach day was at 4:30 sharp. We had to be on the beach before anyone else was even close to showing up so that meant it all had to be done far too early. My bunkmate Alyssa and I are apparently not morning people, but next door I could hear Stephanie (a German woman in our group) going “GOOD MORNING!!” through the wall. She also had this habit of saying “yoo hoooo!” a lot. And I am going to start doing it even more and bring it home.

The paddocks at the beach.
Despite the tiredness, and the tiredness leading to the inability to work the coffee machine, we all made it through breakfast and down to the horses in the dark. The slightest hint of blue was on the horizon but we still needed to use the truck lights to see anything. We left the saddle bags in the van as well as the good thick pads and the girth fuzzies. The horses knew something was up, normally we show up at a leisurely 10:30 to bother them. Coffee was beside himself and didn’t stand still for one second while I tacked up.

Once everyone was mounted up, our guide Nacho headed out into the road. The sky was brightening but it was still pretty dark. We trotted right through town, the horses clacking on the pavement of the empty streets. All the lights in the houses were out and only a few flickering streetlights lit the way. You could feel how excited everyone was; horses and riders alike.

waterhorse <3
We stopped on the last bit of concrete before the soft sand started and Nacho went over the rules. Stay in the line. Stay right up on the horse’s ass in front of you. Don’t stop. Don’t ride in the soft sand. Chase the waves. I was petrified - not that I was going to get hurt but that I was going to bow all four of my horse’s legs. I’ve never ridden on the beach and the sand was deep. They had to work to plow over the dunes to get to the only safe part for galloping: the stretch of the waterline. It was finally appreciably light but the sun still hadn’t breached the horizon.

After a little bit of walking and trotting, Nacho called for a gallop and the line took off. He told us to make sure to keep our heads up and look to the horizon and not at the ground but I was so scared about straying into soft sand that the first few minutes I was looking straight down. The speed of the gallop and the sight of the waves moving in and out in front of me made me INSTANTLY nauseous. I closed my eyes for a second, took a few deep breaths, and said fuck it to the sand and to my concerns. They gallop on the beach all the time. Follow the line. It’ll be fine.

And it was so much better than fine.

We were positively flying. Everyone was laughing and whooping. Peeking behind I could see the couple of women galloping behind me with huge smiles on. The horses leaped the waves and the small inlets where water got caught. They snorted against the foam and splashed through shallow water. Coffee was so brave and smart. I stopped worrying about him and appreciated the fact that I was in fucking Spain, on the shore of the fucking Mediterranean, galloping a fucking Spanish horse through the waves.


Our lunch spot for the day. Forreal.
All too soon our group reached the end of the beach. Nacho slowed his horse and headed towards the beach exit. I expected him to walk off but instead he turned his horse to face the ocean. We all did the same. The sun was finally cresting the horizon. We all took pictures of each other on the beach, exhausted and wet but elated. After we were done taking pictures we just sat there for a few minutes, each of us mentally checking off beach gallop on our bucket lists and watching the sun rise.

Wordlessly Nacho turned his mount and we walked off the beach.

Cafe helping me check one off.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

My Imaginary Horse

I had an imaginary horse when I was younger. Her name was Diamond and she was pure white, of course. My opinion on her breeding shifted through the years, depending on what I was reading. But she was always white.

She started out as a Shagya Arabian. I had a million horse books with breed pages in them and the Shagya was always pure white and they frequently had pictures of them jumping huge grand prix jumps, which is what I wanted to do.

So pretty. And white.
But then I read Justin Morgan Had a Horse and she became part Morgan.

Wait... what.
Morgans were awesome in the book. They were the fastest and the strongest and of course some kid had some kind of unshakable bond with it so I was hooked. Half Shagya, half Morgan. Right. Totally won't look like an abomination.

I continued reading the horse encyclopedias and decided that my dream horse needed a dream temperament as well. After perusing the horse encyclopedias the horse that had the 'best' temperament was the cowboy's old standby: the Quarter Horse.

I really hope 12 year old me liked foundation stock.
Not halter stock.
Let's be real, she was still white.

There we go. Front legs of a champion jumper.
But she still wasn't complete. Or, I still wasn't done reading. Because I of course picked up the Thoroughbred series which may well have shaped me for the rest of my life and all their horses were (obviously) Thoroughbreds. And so she reached her final form.

Why is Japan full of white TBs?
One quarter each of Shagya Arabian, Morgan, Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred. Oh and still pure white. Notice I am not saying grey because she is not grey or dappled she is WHITE.

My love for this animal is not an accident...
I really don't want to know what Morgan/Shagya Arab/QH/Thoroughbred cross would look like. But I kind doubt it's ability to do grand prix jumps. Or be... not... hideous.

It would probably look like this.
What that abomination would or wouldn't look like is irrelevant now. I realize the error of my psychotic twelve year old ways and no longer base my love on breeds in books I read because I have real life experience now! I actually didn't even look at any greys when I was horse shopping. Once you've had to get a new asshole sewn on a grey you never want to deal with the melanomas ever again. (I'm lookin' at you, Juanita)

So my dream horse now looks a little more like this:

And he's better than any horse I've ever read about anyway.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Bit of Britain's Next Top Rider

If you follow eventing publications at all this probably appeared in front of you at some point the last couple weeks

So at first blush I realize that there are a couple of things that look like they might preclude me from winning this sponsorship. But you know what? I crafted an entry anyway. Because I was bored and was in the process of switching jobs and I like the idea of free stuff and someone supporting my crazy hobby besides my employer who does it without knowing what they're doing.

Criteria #1: Age 25 or younger
Guys, age is just a number. I'm 25 ish, and really just if we're splitting hairs. Who has time for that? Bit of Britain's Next Top Rider certainly doesn't. And neither does Bit of Britain. Alternatively, I have the maturity of an under twenty five year old for sure. Or, we can go with my trainer totally thought I was 25 the other day and I had to break it to her that no, I become old next year. I have very few wrinkles. I moisturize.

Criteria #2: Competing at training level or above
This one I have to be a little more creative with, as I have an entire blog dedicated to Runkle and me basically jumping cross rails. Cross rails are totally legitimate, at every level. I saw people jumping them in the warm up for Badminton. Badminton, I tell you. If it's good enough for them it's good enough for me!

omg, such jump, much wow

A little artistic license may be necessary.

Criteria #3: Active on social media
If I haven't won them over by now this will definitely push them over the edge. First of all, I have this amazing blog that has at least ten followers and most definitely is not the start of a horse pornography ring.

Also, I have an Instagram for which I have almost as many followers as I do followee's. I post many horsey relevant items including but not limited to: slo mo videos of people jumping huge jumps, crappy pictures of my friends out on cross country, photos of runkle standing in the cross ties, and selfies I take when I'm bored jump judging.

There are definitely NO Pokemon Go screenshots

OMG THE PRECIOUS!! Legitimately excited I came to work today! by @kieshorse

Or unrelated daily snapshots I feel the need to share with the world

#hisandhers #cement #forever #philly by @kieshorse

Or cat pictures.

Cats are assholes #catsofinstagram #southstreet by @kieshorse

Definitely no cat pictures.

Poe vs #amazon box #poethecat #tripodkitty #badcat by @kieshorse

Criteria #4: Currently have no major sponsorships
Hopefully at this point I am first in line for all the special shimmable pads, no rub bellboots and pretty leather goods that Bit of Britain has to offer. Also maybe some new studs. Did you know if you leave studs in Stud Suds for a year it will just turn the stud into jelly? Don't ask me how I know.

Unfortunately I think I do technically have a sponsor. A pair of them. And I was afraid to admit it because I didn't want to be judged but you know what? I think they deserve credit.

My parents.
Aren't they adorable <33

I dont know why they are still okay helping with the horse thing but I'm sure as shit not going to question them about it now. The last thing I need is for them to realize I'm a grown ass woman who don't need no man. But the truth is they've supported me since day one of this obsession, to the point where the severity of it might actually be partially their fault. So I guess they're just taking responsibility for their actions. Or something.

Criteria #5: Goals for 2017
I haven't thought a lot about my goals for next year. Baby horses tend to dictate their own time frame. Far be it from me to try and impose anything on it, despite being desperate to run cross country again and feel that delightful nauseous feeling of competition.

Assuming I keep all ten fingers in one piece, and Runkle doesn't pull too much of a Runkle, I'd love to move up to Novice by the end of next year. And do one recognized event at any level. There, Runkle, those are my plans. Let's shit all over them now. Hm, I probably shouldn't curse in my official application. We'll leave that to the editors.

Recent results include:

Criteria #6: Why I'm the Best Choice*
I am a trendsetter. A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how I hate running and now I have several friends who are running and hate it too. Also one time I pulled my horse's mane and my friend did hers as well.

I try to take really good care of my tack, so even if I have an error in my dressage test because I forgot to halt at X I'm still going to look damn good doing it.

The biggest reason though (and I don't like using this term, as I prefer the name Professional Unprofessional) is because I'm an amateur. Amateurs are your key demographic. We don't need to convince our parents to buy us things. I am my OWN parent. Which is extremely obvious if you walk in my apartment and see what an unholy mess it is (and that it probably smells like a litter box). But that means no one stops me from buying horsie things except me and my creditors, who keep increasing my limits anyway. Hm, maybe I should list Capital One as a sponsor as well...

So there you have it. Clearly I'm Bit of Britain's Next Top Rider

BoB, if you want to just leave a comment on this entry with your contact information I will email you my mailing address for you to send the leather goods. He wears horse size everything in Nunn Finer and a 75" blanket.

*I'm probably not the best choice, but it's part of the application so bear with me.