Wednesday, April 26, 2017

We Trotted! (2 Whole Laps...)

The original plan was to start Casey on 10-5-10 (10 minutes walking, 5 minutes trotting, 10 minutes walking) on Monday, but her behavior on Friday made that kind of impossible.
Casey modeling her new purple bonnet

Side-story time... Friday I decided to let her hand graze for a bit, but then another horse got let into the outdoor arena to be free-lunged. Casey decided that she should get to do that to too. She was trying to take off as I was holding onto her lead rope. When she hit the end of the rope, she got pissed and so reared and tried to kick out at me. I then I had to try to get her away from the arena by cutting through the barn, which was nearly impossible as she kept trying to take off trotting, and then would try to kick at me when I wouldn't let her. Finally we were able to get to other side of the barn where her idiotic behavior continued as I tried to calm her down. I eventually got so fed up by her behavior that I grabbed her nose, yanked it towards my face so that she was looking me in the eye, and yelled at her, "Knock it off, that's not ok!" That surprisingly enough worked, and so then we practiced walking very nicely around the barn. Once she showed me she could behave, I give her pats and turned her back out in her paddock.
Ava & Casey

The whole situation was not a good one. Firstly, it was the worst behavior I've ever seen in my horse and she was being dangerous towards me. Secondly, she was being dangerous to herself! She has a hind leg injury, so rearing isn't exactly a recommended form of exercise. I understand why she did it. She's super frustrated and has a bunch of pent-up energy that, unfortunately, she has no way to get out. I really feel bad for her, because I know that this situation sucks for her. Even so though, it's never ok for a horse to act that way, because she could have super easily hurt me. Luckily I've been working with horses for long enough that I know how to handle those situations calmly, but that doesn't change the risk factor.
What? Me? Bad? Never!

So going back to my original point, Monday was a no-go for trotting because her Friday behavior had made her injury start hurting again. I'm not sure if it made it "worse," because I don't think she increased the tear in the ligament, but I do think it reaggravated the injury. Trainer said that it's probably similar to when humans sprain our ankles and then after, if you take a weird step, the ankle hurts again, but the pain doesn't last as long as the original injury. I still walked her on Monday and I could definitely feel that she was sore. She wasn't taking her usually super-long walk strides, seemed hesitant to really sink her weight into her back end, and took about ten-ish really gimpy steps (the kind where their back end sinks badly). This was a super bummer, but I don't want to make her injury worse, so after talking to Trainer we agreed to push the trotting back a few days.
So much to see, so little time

Yesterday I hopped on and I could immediately feel an improvement in her compared to Monday. She was back to taking her normal walk strides. She still wasn't as good as she had been pre-rearing-incident, as she took about five gimpy steps, but it was an encouraging sign. I talked to Trainer and she agreed that a little trotting was probably ok and that we could build up to the five minutes, and so Casey and I got to trot two whole laps of the arena! One each way! She didn't feel bad at the trot, but she was super reluctant to collect or bend at all. It was a very stretched out, not controlled trot. I think that part of why she doesn't want to collect is that the leg is still hurting her a bit. Vet did say though that part of the rehab is the tearing and re-healing of the ligament, so I'm not super worried.
We ended the ride on the "trails" (aka, the road)

The plan from here is to keep increasing the trot work (I'll probably add a lap every day to work up to five minutes). As she starts to feel better, we can add back in the collection and bending elements that we had been working on. At a walk those things are so much better than before the injury, so I know that we have that foundation.
Casey being cute post-ride

I'm just so happy to have gotten to trot my horse again! Things are looking up for us :)
Things are finally getting better for us!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I Cheated on My Horse

I've been dying to have a jump lesson for a while now. There's only so much walking around that I can handle without going a little bit stir-crazy. So on Friday I got myself a jump lesson!

Obviously I wasn't able to have a jump lesson on Casey, so instead I cheated on her and had a lesson with her best friend Ava. Ava is a Thoroughbred-draft cross mare who is quite adorable. Trainer's main advice on how to ride Ava was to keep her in front of my leg and to be a bossy rider.
I have very few photos of Ava. The ones that I use here are from last summer when she wasn't in work and was very dirty. She's fitter and cleaner now, I promise!

We started off the lesson with some walk and trot. Ava's walk is incredibly exaggerated. She isn't that fast, but it feels like she is taking ginormous strides. Her trot, in comparison, seems much smoother, except for the fact of her head carriage. She has a neck that is on the shorter side, but as soon as she is asked to do anything besides walk, she immediately puts her head straight up and it's like her neck just disappears underneath you. I had to hold the reins incredibly short just to have contact with her mouth. As a result, I kept finding my hands really close to my chest, making me feel like a T-Rex trying to ride a pony. My attempts to get her to bend and stretch down were only mildly successful, and when I asked Trainer about it, she said that Ava is capable of that but that it takes a lot of work.

Once we finished with the trotting, we moved on to the cantering. Ava has a really nice canter when she is actually going. It's easy to sit, had normal-feeling strides, and since she's so big and bulky it makes me feel like a warrior riding into battle. BUT, she was a tad harder to keep going than I'm used to. I could feel her start to suck back and try to stop working and I would have to kick her on. It was definitely more work than I'm used to, because Casey is endlessly energetic and I have to worry more about reining in her energy rather than building it up.
Ava from last summer

We moved on to jumping and Ava really started to wake up. We popped over some crossrails to warm up, and I had to kick her on in between the jumps, but by the time we moved on to tiny 2' courses she had started to get excited. I did still have to get her engine revving again after each line, but she was super happy to be jumping and has a really nice jump.

We finished off the lesson with a 2'6" course that had some complicated lines (like a sharp-ish bending line). I was a tad nervous, not due to the height of the jumps (thankfully at this point 2'6" seems small to me), but that I wasn't sure that I had the steering ability to navigate some of the lines. It's tricky figuring out a new horse when also riding courses. I shouldn't have been nervous though, because Ava was super responsive and on-top-of-it, thundering about the course while my trainer excitedly yelled "GALLOP HER!" She nicked one of the earlier jumps on the course that was also the last jump and her second time over it she launched over it which was really fun!
Ava from last summer

We ended on that last course, because Ava is still building up her fitness levels and was pretty tired. She got lots of pats, a long cooling off, and then plenty of carrots in the barn. Then I turned her out in her paddock, right next to Casey.

It was a really fun lesson and I definitely enjoyed jumping Ava. Part of owning Casey is that I have very little money for lessons, and when I do pay for lessons, I want to put that money into Casey's training. That means I don't really get to jump other horses (except for when I get lucky). Since Casey won't be able to jump for probably another two-ish months, I'm really considering taking more lessons on other horses. It slightly depends on how much this next vet bill costs though....
Ava & Casey - BFFs Forever

Do you ever "cheat" on your horse?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Unasked-For Opinions

Yesterday I went to the barn, planning to just have a nice relaxing ride with my girl. I pulled her out, gave her a shot of Ace (all by myself! I'm super proud of myself), and then started brushing. In the midst of grooming her, I decided that we should do a bareback hack, which made the grooming process a lot quicker.
Casey is always happy to see me

The weather was nice at the barn when I arrived, but as Oregon weather is prone to do, within the twenty minutes that it took me to get my horse ready, it had become stormy and gross. Someone else was free-lunging their horse in the indoor arena, so we started off in the outdoor arena and quickly got poured out. After we were totally soaked, we made our way into the now-empty indoor arena. We worked on some bending, stopping, leg yielding, and all of the basics. It was nice that we were riding bareback because Casey's body heat kept me from freezing.

During our ride other people trickled into the arena. At one point I stopped and started talking to one of the other people, and they started giving me tons of unasked for feedback, telling me what I should be working on with Casey, specifically that we need to work on respect.

I tried to stay calm and give the person the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they weren't actually trying to tell me how to train my horse, but instead were introspectively evaluating what they need to work on, and it just came across wrong? Maybe they thought I wanted advice? I'm not really sure. But it came across to me as that person telling me how I should be training my horse.

Now, I think other riders do have a lot to offer. Even if people ride differently from me, I still think that they can provide insights that I might not think of on my own. I have a couple of people at my barn that I regularly seek riding advice from. That being said, I pay my trainer to train me and don't always want un-asked for riding advice.
Trying to take photos from this angle on a moving horse is not easy

A big part of why I felt so offended in this situation is that it felt like a lot of criticism. I think it's natural to respond poorly to criticism, especially when it comes out of the blue. Saying that another rider needs to make their horse respect them is quite frankly rude, regardless of the situation. And again, trying to give the benefit of the doubt here. The person never specifically said Casey's name, but talking so much about horses needing to respect their riders feels like a loaded hint to me.
Bareback hack

The other thing that made this situation so frustrating for me, is that I didn't feel like the advice was valid. Casey is not a perfect horse, and I am not a perfect rider, but we do have a really good relationship. She does respect me and I respect her. She doesn't get away with bad behaviors and she gets positively reinforced for good behaviors. We wouldn't be able to be doing our level of work if we didn't have a foundation of respect. In addition, the things that the person was saying we should work on to build respect were all of the things that are a part of our regular routine (bending, getting her in front of my leg, not letting her drag me to grass, etc). This person doesn't see us ride very often, so maybe they don't know that we do work on all those things. Or maybe they thought that since we weren't working on those things on that ride (the part that they saw), that we don't work on them, but again, this is part of why I don't consider this advice to be valid. Right now Casey is in rehab. She's slowly getting back into work. We do work on things like bending, etc, but I am not pushing her right now, because I just want her injury to heal. I am not doing a lot of bending, because it requires lots of circles. I am trying to not overdo any activity which might overly strain Casey's already injured ligament, and that includes circles.
We do a lot of free walk, because it puts less stress on her leg

I don't even know why I feel the need to defend myself here. Part of it might be that I am already sensitive about training Casey, because I do feel at fault for the fact that she's injured right now. Also, what's the point of having a blog if you can't use it to vent now and again? I'll get over it. I like the person as a person and won't hold this against them, I just needed to get it off my chest so that I would stop replaying it in my mind.
Casey being cute in her body-armor

My question to you: Who do you take riding advice from? Do you take any and all advice, or are you pickier with it?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Kerrits PowerStretch Pocket Tight Review

This winter Oregon had the craziest, coldest, most insane weather that I have ever seen. We had snow and ice to such levels that the city I live in was forced to declare a state of emergency. With all of this insane weather, my normal Oregon winter routine of just doubling up on torso wear and wearing regular breeches no longer cut it. I was freezing all winter. And it was miserable.

Due to this miserable experience, when I saw that some Kerrits winter tights on sale, I jumped on the chance to own some warmer gear. I own a regular pair of Kerrits riding tights and absolutely love them. They are comfortable, breathable, and have held up exceeding well (especially considering they are my most often worn tights). I knew that I loved the brand and fully expected their winter tights to uphold that high quality.
I bought the Kerrits PowerStretch Pocket Tight. They are one of Kerrits's winter riding tights, so they are wonderfully fleecy inside and are super comfortable. They are made out of Polartec material, so they are quite warm. Of course, I bought my pair after our icepocalypse, so I never got to test them in really freezing conditions, but in our cold conditions they do keep me nice and toasty.
Kerrits PowerStretch Pocket Tight
I bought these tights from SmartPak while they were on sale. Normally they retail for $82.95, but I got them for $39.99 (so about half off). I think that the regular retail price is fair. For some people that would even be cheap. However, I am a cheapskate who can just barely afford to live in this equestrian world, so to me, they were worth $40, but I wouldn't pay full price. A big part of why I wouldn't want to pay full price is that I live in a place where I might be able to use these tights a few months out of the year, but really only need this level of riding warmth for a few weeks. If I lived in a colder state I would probably feel differently. That being said, I have no regrets buying them on sale and wish that I had actually bought two pairs instead of one. Maybe they'll go on sale again next year?
Kerrits PowerStretch Pocket Tight in action
These tights come in five different colors: tan, denim (a really pretty blue), flint (a grey), black, and purple rein. I am a sucker for purple things and so jumped on the chance to buy the purple rein ones. I feel like my photos do not do the color justice. They are almost like an eggplant purple and are really gorgeous. Even though I have washed them multiple times, the vibrancy of the color has not faded. I would also love to own the denim ones, because the blue is quite beautiful, but since we are heading into summer that's just not going to happen.
Kerrits PowerStretch Pocket Tight Purple Rein
These riding tights have some really well-thought out details that I appreciate. For instance, the material that they are made out of is super resistant to dirt and horse hair sticking. As in, I never have dirt or horse hair sticking to it. Even during shedding season. I don't know what the material is, or how it has this magic, but it's much appreciated.
No horse hair is sticking to me, even after a thorough grooming session
The second great detail of these tights is that they have a cell phone pocket. Now I know pockets might not mean as much to some people as they mean to me. But holy cow pockets are the BEST THING EVER! Not only do they have a pocket, but it is a great pocket. It is on the side right thigh, so when you are riding you don't have the pocket contents stabbing you in uncomfortable ways. The pocket is also pretty large and deep, so annoying-large smart phones easily fit within them. The cutest part of the pocket is that the zipper is adorable, and small, and has a cute little carrot icon on it.
An awesome pocket with a cute carrot zipper
The PowerStretch Pocket Tight is a riding tight, not breeches, and so they don't have zippers, but instead pull-on. They are very stretchy and so are very comfortable. I really like riding tights, because I find that they are often more comfortable than breeches due to the amount of stretch that they have. Since they are riding tights, they do have a more form-fitting shape, but due to the added inner fleece, I find that they are thick enough to avoid the annoying panty-line issue that many riding tights have. If I tuck in thick-fabric shirts, they might show the wrinkles of the fabric, but thin shirts usually don't show through. The waist-line is called a Flow Rise waist. I'm not really sure what that means, but it's basically a mid-rise waist. It hits me right below the belly button. The waistband is wide and has belt loops, so you can pair a belt with it (although more for a fashion esthetic, since the wide waistband doesn't slide down).
You can slightly see the line of my shirt, but no panty-lines!
These riding tights are only available with knee patches, there is no full-seat option. The knee patches are made out of a material called Eco Suede. It is a 100% recycled ultra-microfiber. I don't know how exactly you can recycle microfiber, but that's really cool in my opinion. It does feel like real suede, and until looking this up I just thought it was real suede. The good thing about the Eco Suede though is that is is meant to last longer and wear less than real suede. That means that hopefully these tights will last a long time.
Eco Suede knee patch
After telling you all about the awesome features of this product, we now have come to its downside. These tights seem to run both big and long. I normally wear size small, and occasionally size extra-small. I ordered size small in these riding tights and they are definitely too big for me. I could have gotten away with an extra-small. This isn't such a huge deal, as sometimes I have to wear an extra-small, but the length is a true issue.
Sizing runs a tab big and long
I'm not tall, only about 5'3", but my legs are proportionate to my body and so typically riding pants fit me in length. These riding tights are so long that I have probably 2-3 inches of excess material at the bottom. They have gripper elastics at the ankles, meaning that the lower leg of the tight is just as thick as the rest of it (since it is thicker, fleece-lined fabric). Since they are so long and the fabric is a bit thick, I end up with bunched uncomfortable fabric at the ankles, meaning I have trouble getting my legs into my boots. I think that even if I had ordered an extra-small pair, they still would have been too long on me. My work-around this is that I just pull up the excess fabric, but then I still end up with bunched up fabric in one location or another. I wish that these tights were not so long, because then they would be pretty perfect. That being said, if you have longer legs, they would work great for you. For me, this is not a true deal-breaker. I can still wear them, and once I'm riding it doesn't really bother me. I wouldn't return them over this. But I wouldn't buy these riding tights at full price knowing this. If they go on mega-sale again, I would buy them, but I would order a size down hoping that would help the length issue.
You can see the bunches at the knee, due to me having to pull the fabric up
As a recap, the Kerrits PowerStretch Pocket Tight is a pretty awesome product. They are really comfortable and warm, and if you hate being cold are definitely a great choice for winter riding. They are durable, have an awesome pocket, and really pretty colors. They do run both a tad big and definitely long, so are best for riders with slightly longer legs, although a determined shortie like me can make it work. I really like them, and even with their issues, I think they are a great addition to my riding wardrobe.
Kerrits PowerStretch Pocket Tight

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Equine Physical Therapy

Casey and I are now two rides into her new physical therapy program. As a quick recap, she has a minor suspensory ligament sprain and so Vet gave her a controlled exercise regime. The first two weeks consist of 20-30 minutes walking under saddle 4-5 days per week.
Prepared for the oh-so-exciting 30 minute walk!

It could easily be assumed that it would be boring to only walk for 30 minutes, and there is some partial truth in that. If all we did was walk along the arena rail, it would get incredibly boring, really fast. My goal though is for us to use this time to improve in the basics so that our training doesn't totally tank from this injury.
Casey doesn't really get why we have to cover the basics. Why walk when we can gallop?

I have figured out a good set of activities for us to work on during this time. We start out the ride at a nice free walk. During this time, I give Casey her head and encourage her to really stretch out to loosen her muscles.
Super big, motion-filled, free walk

A good thing to work on is bending, so after our couple of minutes of free walk we move on to bending circles. I am trying to keep my reins as light as possible while still getting a true bend. Once our circles are looking good we start trying to keep the bend while going down the long sides of the arena. Casey is a lot stiffer to the left and doesn't bend as easily that direction. She will sometimes fight me on trying to bend that way. In just our two walk rides I'm already seeing a huge improvement in this. She is now much more easily bending that way, takes a lot less rein to get the bend, and her meltdown temper tantrums are becoming infrequent. Yesterday she only got mad at me once, tried to stop and shove her head in the other direction, and I just asked for the bend again and she did it without a fuss.
Me? Bend? Uh, no?

Since this is physical therapy for a leg injury, I only do a few minutes of bending practice at a time, breaking up the sessions with a lot of free walk.

After the initial free walk, I change it up and will use free walk time to work on other skills. Some of these skills are neck reining (I have aspirations to one day be able to ride my horse bridleless - this is an unlikely dream), holding two point (I held it for 5 minutes straight the other day and now am in pain), and stopping without using reins.
Although, if we did bridleless, we couldn't wear cute bonnets, so maybe we shouldn't?

Our adventures in stopping without reins is interesting. I think that Casey is smarter than she lets on. As in, I am pretty sure she knows I am asking her to stop when I say "ho," she is just being a jerk and ignoring me. When I say "ho" and she ignores me, if I say "HO" in a growly/mad voice she stops right away. So I think she knows what the word means, she just tries to get away with not listening to it. I am making sure to really emphasize what I want with both my voice and my seat. I still have to have my reins in my hands (held at the buckle), because if I don't have them at all she will not stop. I think that when I lean back with my seat it might be applying the tiniest amount of pressure still to the reins, but am not totally sure. She's made so much progress in stopping, she now will stop without me having to use the reins. Even with all of this progress though, she's still not as good at it as I want. I would like her to give me a first-time response when I say "ho" and she has yet to do that. She likes to mosey to stop, rather than actually stopping right away.
She doesn't know why we have to stop

The other major thing that we are working on is leg yielding. Casey is in some ways pretty dead to my leg. She's a very forward horse, and so if leg means go fast and be racehorse, she's totally game. However, if leg means move your body sideways at all, it's like trying to guide a struggle bus. I think part of it is that, considering her age, she really does not have as much body awareness as she should. This is how we got to the point of injury in the first place. She always is nicking herself up just from not knowing what her body is doing. For an example, yesterday when I showed up to the barn, I noticed that Casey had nasty scrape on her hip. I pointed it out to Trainer, who told me Casey had probably just run into the corner of her paddock shelter. Never mind that she has lived there for 6 months and knows the layout. She was just clueless enough to run into it! And this is why I called her my ditzy mare... Going back to my point, we are working on basic leg yielding and shoulder-in. Haunches-in is much too confusing to her at this point to really get anywhere with.
Absolutely zero body awareness here

All in all, physical therapy is going well. I will definitely be more than bored of walking by the end of the two designated walking weeks, but for now I am a whole slew of things that we can work on. Hopefully all of this walk training will carry over into the other gaits and this time will actually help our overall communication! Also, Casey is doing much better with it than I was expecting. I think that she likes have mini-activities to do as well and I know that she loves getting to leave her paddock.
Unfortunately, a kisses-only communication method doesn't really work when dealing with crazy mare

Does anybody else in the blogosphere have any walk-only activities to suggest?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Vet Call Recap - Proximal Suspensory Ligament Injury

Casey is still injured. Sunday we stuck her on the lunge line and while she did look a lot better, she still wasn't sound. Today I took a personal day off of work and had the vet come to check her out.

When vet arrived he first did a cursory inspection of Casey, checking her heartbeat & lungs with a stethoscope. Then he gave her a little bit of tranquilizer (because on Sunday she was a nightmare to stick on the lunge line) and we stuck her on the lunge line again. She appeared to be sound at the trot, but had trouble at the canter, which is consistent with what Trainer and I have noticed. Vet then had Vet Tech hand jog Casey in a straight line away from him so he could look at the pattern of her hoof-fall. After that he did a flexion test and when Vet Tech trotted Casey away after he flexed her left hind, she was a lot worse. When he did the flexion test on the right hind, Casey still wasn't sound, but it wasn't as bad. At this point he agreed with us that it was her left hind, but wasn't sure if it was a muscle/tendon thing or if it was a bone (hock) issue. Since she had gotten injured on the take-off of a jump it seemed that a muscle/tendon injury was more likely so we decided to move on to ultrasounds.
I didn't actually take many photos when the vet was there, so enjoy Casey grazing

We brought Casey back into the barn, she got a bit more tranquilizer and then they prepared her for the ultrasound. This involved clipping her back legs, because apparently that is necessary to get a clear image on the ultrasound. It was really cool to watch how they ultrasound. Vet didn't know where exactly she was injured, but thought that it was around her hock area so that is where he started ultrasound-ing. It took longer that I expected for him to figure out where exactly the injury was, but he did find it!
Casey checking out the ultrasound machine

Casey has a proximal suspensory ligament injury. Basically the ligament that attaches to the hock has a slight tear in it. Essentially she overstretched that ligament and so it slightly tore away from the bone. The vet said that it was a super minor tear and that this type of injury is very common in sport horses, especially jumpers. He showed me the tear on the ultrasound. It basically looked like a slightly darker spot on her ligament. He had taken ultrasounds of both legs for a comparison and so it was really cool to see the images side-by-side. I wish I had taken a picture of it, but oh well... instead enjoy a picture from the internet that shows where exactly she is injured.
She injured the upper part

Now that we knew what exactly the injury was, we could talk about treatment. Vet said that normally he recommends time off, and since we gave her a full two weeks off, we did the right thing. He said that since she has improved a lot in those two weeks we could move on to the next step. This type of injury is prone to scarring, but we do not want a lot of scarring because that will impair the flex of the ligament, which would in turn lead to more injuries. Vet said that the best thing to reduce scarring is controlled work. His recommendation was to start her on very light exercise and slowly build the intensity of the work out as she improves. He said that for two weeks I should ride her at a walk for 20-30 minutes. The two weeks after that, I should do 10-5-10 (10 minutes walking, 5 minutes trotting, 10 minutes walking). He wants to come back after a month to recheck her and ultrasound again to see how it's healing and if all goes well then we can move on to 10-15-10 (adding in some canter here) and then 10-20-10. The goal is to get to 10-20-10 for a month without re-injury, and if we can achieve that, then she will be totally fine after that. All in all, the amount of time that we are looking at for recovery is about 3 months (we are already 2 weeks in). Trainer and Vet both pointed out that trying to ride Casey at only a walk might be hard (especially because right now she has pent-up crazy energy), so Vet gave me some Ace so that we can drug her for the first few rides. I suspect that she will only need it for the first 2-3 rides, because she really is a good horse and normally doesn't act too crazy, but I will concede that for the first few rides, drugs will probably be needed.

In a way this is sad, because it does stop our training in some ways, but overall things are looking pretty good. We knew that Casey was injured and this is the least bad of all of the potential bad things that could have happened. The vet even said himself that this is a really minor injury. We do want to take it slow though because a minor injury like this could turn into a major one if we try to rush the healing process. I'm just excited that I will be able to ride my horse, even if it is just at a walk. We can still work on things, like voice commands and leg yielding, so it's not like we can't still be training, it's just a different focus of training. I think that it will also be really good for Casey to go back to "work" 4-5 days a week because having time off is driving her bonkers. She is super bored and when she gets bored she gets destructive.

After figuring out the immediate treatment plan, Vet talked to me about some other options we could do. He talked about some type of plasma treatment and shock wave treatment, but both were crazy expensive and so I told him I wanted to wait for this first month and see how she is after that. Really what she needs is time and light exercise, and while those treatments might help speed things up, it's a lot of money for something that will heal on its own. Vet also talked to me about how her hocks might be bothering her which could cause her to be straining her muscles and ligaments more, so in a month we will be looking more closely at her hocks and we might want to consider getting hock injections. He isn't sure that they are causing her problems though, so it will really depend on what she looks like in a month.
Vet will check her again in a month

The last thing he recommended was to put her on some type of joint supplement, because that's more of a preventative thing to do for her hocks. He talked to me about all of my options, and they are all kinda spendy ($50-100 a month), but he said that doing this would help her hocks and other joints and that if I do this I might not have to do hock injections at all. My Trainer recommended Polyglycan and said that she had a couple of horses that do really well on it and so I agreed to that. It's the mid-priced option at $80ish a month, but it basically acts like two of the other ones combined (Legend + something else). It's not cheap, but is definitely cheaper than hock injections, plus I can buy it a month at a time so it's not a huge expense up front.
Now a horse who is on joint supplements

All in all, I'm really glad I had the vet look at Casey. Now we know exactly what it is and how to treat it and how long it will take to heal. I'm also relieved that it is not as bad as it could have been. She is injured, but it is a common injury and it will heal fairly easily (it just takes some time to do so). I'm scared to see the vet bill, but I know that I did the responsible horse owner thing, and now I get to ride my horse!
I get to ride her tomorrow!!!

Friday, April 7, 2017

DIY Horse Bonnet

So I hinted in my Spring Break post that I had been making lots of horse bonnets and that I would post a tutorial. Here it is! Please note, I taught myself crochet and I am still a beginner at it, so these instructions are not like traditional crochet directions. I sincerely hope that the directions make sense to people besides just me, but if you get confused, just leave me a comment and I will try to explain it differently! I did not explain here the basics of crocheting (seeing as I am not educated enough to do that), so if you've never crocheted before, be sure to look up how to make a slip knot, how to chain stitch, and how to do a single crochet knot. That's all you need to know to make these!

My first time attempting to make these, it took me probably 8 hours and lots of having to restart. Now I can get one of these down in 3-4 hours. They are cheap to make, maybe just $2 per bonnet and it is fun to do in my opinion. Please let me know how it goes for you!

Casey modeling her bonnet


  • Black thread
  • Sewing needles
  • Medium acrylic yarn
    • 1 color for the bonnet base color, and then either 1 or 2 trim colors
    • Brands I've used: Big Twist Yarns & Red Heart
  • Crochet hook 5.5 MM
  • Fabric for ears
    • Make sure it is thin fabric
    • Lycra is what is used on many ear bonnets, but I use fun-patterned cloth fabrics
  • Optional: Yarn needle
Fabric for ears
All of my current yarn colors
Thread & Needle

Front v-shaped section

Step 1: Make a slip knot
Step 2: Chain stitch 35
Step 3: Single crochet 6 rows
Step 4: Continue to single crochet, but drop one stitch at both ends each row. 17ish rows.
Step 5: Tie off.
Slip knot
Single crochet stitch
Single crochet stitch
Single crochet stitch
Single crochet stitch

Behind-the-ears section

Step 1: Make a slip knot
Step 2: Chain stitch 7
Step 3: Single crochet 35 rows
Step 4: Tie off
Step 5: Using the excess yarn from both ends, connect each end to the front v-shaped section by weaving the yarn through a front section knot, then a back section knot.
Step 6: When you reach the end of the behind-the-ears section (so that it is firmly secured to the front section) tie it off. I tie about 4 knots to make sure it is really secure.
Step 7: Either cut off or weave the remaining thread length through the knots to hide it.
The behind the ears section is a thin strip

Between-the-ears section

Step 1: Make a slip knot
Step 2: Chain stitch 13
Step 3: Single crochet 5 rows
Step 4: Tie off
Step 5: Using the excess yarn, connect this section to the v-shaped section. Start sewing it 6 knots away from where the v-shaped and behind-the-ears sections meet. Each stitch needs to be connected to one knot on the v-shaped section, meaning that the other end will also be 6 knots away from where the v-shaped and behind-the-ears sections meet on the other side. Tie off.
Step 6: Connect this section to the behind-the-ears section. Start sewing it 11 knots away from where the v-shaped and behind-the-ears sections meet. Each stitch needs to be connected to one knot on the behind-the-ears section, meaning that the other end will also be 11 knots away from where the v-shaped and behind-the-ears sections meet on the other side.
Step 7: Tie off and either cut off or weave the remaining thread length through the knots to hide it.

All three sections sewn together

Cloth ears

Step 1: Double the fabric over (so that the ears will end up being the same shape/size).
Step 2: Cut a half circle out (4.5 inches for the base, 6.5 inches high). When cutting, go 4 inches straight up from the base and then curve your line to get to the 6.5 inch height.
Step 3: For each ear, fold it so that the fabric is inside-out and hand stitch along the curving edge. Do not sew along the base!
Step 4: Turn each ear inside-out so that the fabric is now facing the correct way.
Step 5: Stick an ear through the ear hole, the curved, sewed edge should be facing to the outside of the bonnet. Hand sew the ear to the edges of the bonnet ear hole. I sew about half an inch away from the edge of the ear and make sure to sew through the crochet knots on the bonnet.
Step 6: Sew on the other ear.
Hand sewing on the ears
Hand sewing on the ears
Hand sewing on the ears
Sewn on ear

Bonnet Trim

Step 1: Make a slip knot
Step 2: Chain stitch through the edge of the bonnet (stick crochet hook through bonnet edge knot, then do a normal chain stitch, pulling through the trim yarn loop). Make sure that you are chain-stitching from the inside side of the bonnet, so that the loops will show through on the other side. As you chain stitch around the edge, make sure to add 3 extra chain stitch loops (one on each side of the bonnet where the two sections meet, and the third at the bottom of the v of the bonnet).
Step 3: Single crochet stitch to add to the trim border

  • This is where you get to really personalize what you want the bonnet trim to look like.
  • If you would like a single color trim, I would recommend 2-3 rows of single crochet stitching.
  • If you would like a two color trim, you can do either 1-2 rows of single crochet stitching, then repeat steps 1-2 to add on the new color and do 1-2 rows of single crochet stitching of that color.
  • I would not recommend doing more than 3 rows of single crochet stitching total, because doing more than that would make the behind-the-ears section too long.

Step 4: Tie off
Chain stitch for trim
Chain stitch for trim
Chain stitch for trim
Chain stitch for trim

1 row of single crochet stitching

Bonnets I've Made

Pink & grey bonnet
Casey's burgundy, black, & white bonnet
Purple & blue bonnet
Burgundy & black bonnet
Green bonnet
Black, grey, & blue bonnet