Horse Life

Leo Survives….XC!!

It’s so strange to be back in the land of wi-fi and horses. I left July 5th for a week-long family vacation in Michigan, which involved 64 of my closest relatives packed into 4 small cabins on a lake. It’s a yearly thing, but thanks to Husband’s educational/employment endeavors, we haven’t been in the past 3 years. It was great to see everyone we don’t see throughout the year, as we’re scattered around Chicago/Virginia/NC, but a week of no horses is way too long! Thanks to the lack of wi-fi and basic internet connection, I couldn’t even get my horse fix through y’all’s blogs, so I’ll be stalking them throughout the day to catch up on what I missed.


The day before I left, Leo and I went up to Trainer B’s and a boarder came with me to get MEDIA. And she picked the perfect time to come, as Leo was the most amazing ball of amazingness.

We started with a bunch of work on the flat, getting him to relax. When he lets go, man-oh-man, you won’t want to go against him in dressage. Homeboy has some serious fancy pants he occasionally flashes.



Then we trotted a bunch of poles, which he’s done quite a lot, then over a teensy x-rail.

Then with one half of the 2nd x-rail up:

Then TWO x-rails. Hitting the big time here.

Then Leo’s first vertical!

We did that a few more times, then headed out to the XC field for some real fun.

First up was the ditch. Trainer B has 3 levels of ditches in a row. You can start with the log with the dip behind it, then graduate to the faux ditch with the sand/pole, then next to that is the legit ditch. We started by walking around it both ways, then trotting over the teeny log before coming around to the middle faux ditch. I sat in the backseat, just letting him have his head and encouraging with my leg and he hesitated for a split second but DID NOT STOP before popping right over!

Then we went the other way, with no issues.

Then threw in the flamingos just for fun.

Then went to the water. Leo’s been in both of Carolina Horse Park’s water complexes, but this was the first time he’s seen the dyed turquoise water. And he clearly didn’t trust it once he saw it, so we spent a few minutes doing laps around the edge, getting closer and closer…

…Until he decided we miiiight not be trying to kill him, and oh so gingerly stepped in:

Then we just walked in and out from all different sides until there was no hesitation and called it a day!

Then Leo promptly got a week off while I was gone, and decided he didn’t need hind shoes.

Then the next day he twisted his OTHER hind shoe. AGF came out and fixed them both, then Friday he did the same thing to his front right. So clips it is!

So we’ll spend this week getting back in the swing of things before heading to Trainer B’s on Saturday to see what’s next!

Leo’s ONE fail from the day where he found out he needs to watch where he puts those lanky legs of his



Horse Life

Leo Survives…A Lot of Trailer Rides

Thanks sooooo much for all the kind comments and commiserations! It was definitely a low point in life with P, and I’m pleased to report that it’s been 11 entire days since P’s last vet visit. He did try this out:

After the Foot Hole this didn’t even make me flinch

But AGF slapped some epoxy right on and said to ignore it.


Despite being med–free for 6 days now, his eye continues to remain wide open and as far as I can tell, the pupil isn’t dilated anymore. The vet had said it could take 2 weeks for the Atropine to wear off, and it’s been 11 days, but he’ll continue to wear the eye patch on his fly mask until Friday anyway.

But the bug mask is a thing of the past 😬

Leo had an insanely long weekend. It started Thursday, when I attempted the right lead canter. Up until then, I’ve only cantered him 3x, and only to the left. He has an incredible canter and is so adjustable, you forget he raced just last month…until you try to steer him, that is.


This was the first canter. I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing with my body other than I had in my head that I was conveying relaxation and trying to stay as still as possible. The next time I cantered him I experimented with sitting in the saddle and making small adjustments with my body, which resulted in an incredibly uphill canter that of course was NOT caught on camera #FirstWorldProblems

But the right lead canter was a much different beast. He bolted into it, then bolted around the arena, almost careening into jump standards and the arena fence. Then to the left was as quiet as a mouse. Luckily we were heading to Trainer B’s the next day, and he fixed errrrything. Hallelujah.

Leo looking relaxed at Trainer B’s…or maybe exhausted πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

Saturday was a local-ish schooling CT/Jumper show that I had planned on taking Leo to just to hang out, but I ended up coercing my BO into entering with a client’s horse so I’d at least have something interesting to watch. So Leo got back on the trailer with a new friend, and we spent a good 4 hours just hanging out in the atmosphere. He learned horse shows = ear rubs and treats, and was relaxed the entire time.

It took approximately 50,000 pictures before my friend got got this one of him looking remotely interested in something other than grass
After convincing the judge that I wasn’t there to compete him, they let me wander around the jump arena with him. This was the spookiest jump and he just wanted to taste test πŸ€”
All the ear rubs ❀️

Sunday it was BACK on the trailer to go BACK to Trainer B’s, to make up for lost time since Trainer B hasΒ selfishly been competing (and winning) on his own horses. We started in the main arena just waking over poles of various heights, then headed to the dressage/gymnastic arena where (drum roll) Leo and I “jumped” for the first time! I mean, as much as a 16.3 hand horse jumps a cross-rail.

About the right visual

Then we headed to the XC field and as nervous as he felt the first time he saw all the crazy jumps, he was super brave about stepping over the log back and forth a zillion times, and we called it a day.

Our 80 minute session at Trainer B’s on Sunday saw us doing ALL THE THINGS. If you haven’t already, this free app called Equilab is amazing for tracking rides/training sessions.

We’re heading back there Thursday (and I miiiiight have company, which means MEDIA) before dear Leo gets the week off while I head on family vacay. I think he was just glad to get a day off of getting in the trailer.



I See The Light…Maybe. Sort Of.

These last couple weeks I’ve really struggled. P’s eye has taken an inordinate amount of time, money (insurance denied it…long story), and energy, and last week was the end of the road for me. I was exhausted, both physically and mentally, and it looked as if I were going to have to decide between removing the eye and putting P down.


Sounds dramatic, I know. But this last year has been hellish. I rehabbed his tendon strain oh-so-carefully and right when he was healed, he decided to chop half his hoof off. So I oh-so-carefully went out to bandage and baby his foot until *that* healed, then as soon as that was a non-issue, he punctures his eye. Typically eye things take a week or two to heal. But not P’s. Oh no, P’s eye has taken my soul hostage. This eye has cost me thousands of dollars and virtually all of my time, since it has required round-the-clock eye meds to be administered. So when I decided to have the surgery to remove the ulcer mid-May, I did so to give it the best possible shot at healing. And it looked promising until last Monday, the day after we got back from WHES, when suddenly it took a turn for the worse.

Because that’s how life with P is. One second you’re good….
And the next second you’re not

I noticed it Monday morning when I went out before work to shovel eye meds in. His eye just seemed droopier than usual. And when I went back out after work, it was MORE droopier still. We had our weekly vet visit scheduled for the next day, so I just cried all the way home and forced myself not to have the vet out on an emergency call. At the previous vet visit, which was Monday the 10th and 2 weeks post-keratectomy, the vet and surgeon concurred that it should be all healed within a week. So this obvious setback was devastating.

P 5-24
4 days before the keratectomy. It had stayed this size/shape since the diagnosis on May 6th
P 6-4
One week post-keratectomy
P 6-10
The wound was almost completely closed and both my regular vet and the surgeon said it should be done within the week. P said, “Hold my beer.”

The next morning I was driving to the barn to do meds before work and I got a text from my BO, saying she had woken up to P running the fence line, so she brought him in to hose him off and took off his bug mask, only to find his eye completely closed. I called the vet to see if she could come out earlier, who said yes and that considering the length of time this has taken, it might be time to consider either taking him to NC State or having the eye removed.

One potential scenario for P

While it might be a no-brainer for some to just have the eye removed, I was also factoring in the fact that, hello, it’s P, and with his recent track record there would obvi be some rare complication that would send me even more into financial and emotional oblivion, should that be the path that I chose. I don’t consider pets disposable. I do consider horses as pets. But I also have a family, and as such, financial obligations like food and shelter for them, and I was lost when it came to gauging how much more of our resources I should continue to throw at this horse. This may be unpopular, it sure as hell wasn’t fun to think about, but it’s honest.

One of these has drained our emergency savings account. The others are the humans.

So I talked to Trainer B, who has infinitely more experience with all sorts of crazy horse things than I do, who said to see what the vet found when she got there and not to make a single decision that day. That eased the pressure I was feeling quite significantly, so I calmed the F down (somewhat) and got to the barn.

Me to myself. Kudos to Husband, Trainer B, BO, and the vet for dealing with me that day

The vet arrived shortly after, stained his eye, and found a piece of necrotic corneal tissue hanging from the eye. Why or how that happened is anyone’s guess, as both the she and the surgeon hadn’t seen that happen before (because only P would manage to come up with something no one’s seen before). She removed the piece of tissue, re-stained the eye, and the stain took to only the faintest, tiniest spot.

P 6-18 I
Dead tissue hanging off causing irritation
P 6-18 II
Only the faintest of stain could be detected in the middle of the scar

She sent the pictures she had taken to the surgeon, and he was very happy with how it looked (post-dead tissue removal) versus a week ago, and wanted to continue the meds as usual and re-check in 3 days.

How I feel when I hear the term “recheck” at this point

I had already promised myself that no decision would be made that day, but I also knew that at some point, I had to draw the line. This thing has been stretched out way past the initial 1-2 week prognosis and was reaching into 2 months, with some weeks having 2x/week vet visits + a surgery. Enough was enough.

Way back when we used to do things besides see vets nonstop

So my resolve was to give it to Friday, when the vet would come back out. If it wasn’t healed over, there would be no more “Let’s give it another week,” talk. This was it. I just had to figure out how to decide after that. Remove the eye? We’re talking a surgery + recovery + possible complications (remember…it’s P) + the whole uncertainty of whether P would be able to adapt. I’ve only ever known two horses who have had their eyes removed: one was insane and had to be put down for dangerous behavior and the other never skipped a beat. Obviously there’s a middle ground, but I had no way of knowing which camp P would lean towards, and wasn’t sure I wanted to even chance it. So I did another likely unpopular thing and assigned it a dollar amount. If on Friday it came down to making the decision and the surgery were over a set amount, that would be it and P would be put down.

Stupid bug face making me make impossible decisions

So Friday came and I got to the barn before the vet. I pulled off his bug mask and the eye was open, then shut, then halfway open, then shut, then wide open, then shut. So I cried some more, put the bug mask back on, and gave him a bath and pulled his mane to kill time.

The vet finally got there (she was on time, life was just dragging at that point), asked me how he’s doing, and I think I choked out something like, “I don’t know, looks the same as before to me,” so she stained it, shined the light in his eye (which I resolutely didn’t watch), then turned and said, “I think you’re done.”

giphyI was firmly deep in the rabbit hole of despair at that point, so I figured she meant I had to make my decision about surgery vs. euthanize. Which of course set off the water works again, but she grabbed my shoulder and said, “No, it’s good. You did it. There’s no sign of the wound anywhere. No stain uptake at all,” then she showed me his eye and sure enough….no sign of green anywhere.

P 6-22

So that sets off ANOTHER round of tears (and I’m not even a crier, good grief), but I managed to ask her why his eye would still be closed the way it is, and she said (duh) the Atropine that he’s been getting daily to dilate his pupils (duh..I’VE been the one giving it to him) makes the eye incredibly sensitive to light. Which…I know what Atropine does, and I know what it’s like to have your pupils dilated, but in my crumbling sanity, didn’t put those things together.

And idiotic me had been riding him sans bug mask, then wondering why after 20 minutes or so, he’d start to act up. SMH.

She said to take him off the Banamine + Atropine completely, and drop the antifungal ointment and antibiotic drops to 2x/day, because we’re both terrified of just completely stopping everything. We’ll continue those for the next 2 weeks, which is how long it takes for the Atropine to wear off.

I sent the pictures to the surgeon, along with her instructions, just to get his take on it and he said that the eye does indeed look healed and that I could opt to drop all the meds, but that of course it wouldn’t hurt to continue them.

Naturally P being P decided that the bug mask was no longer acceptable and rubbed his face raw right where the strap is (after being in this thing for 2 months without issue), so I had to switch him to a regular fly mask and put duct tape over the eye. I feel like the “x” I made with the duct tape is fitting (and yes, I did that on purpose). While he hates the nose of the fly mask (see video below), too bad, so sad.

If you made it through this novel, congrats and you’re a champ. I haven’t really talked about this with anyone besides Husband, BO, and Trainer B, and really needed to spill my guts. The last couple months haven’t been fun, but the last couple weeks have driven me to drink.

I’ve been a solid “realist” lately

While I’m not exactly celebrating yet, I’m no longer in the depths of despair. As much as he frustrates me, I really can’t imagine not having the P-Bug.


Not really sure there’s another horse out there like him. Whether that’s good or bad is a different opinion!




Horse Life

Leo Surivives…A Show

Welcome to another installment of the hit new series, “Leo Survives…” You can view the pilot episode, “Leo Survives…His First Lesson” here.


In the week and a half between these posts (I’m SORRY, Michele, there just haven’t been enough hours in the day), Leo’s had 4 more rides and a play day in the arena puddles, since there are NEVER puddles in the arena. Our rides are quite boring, as they are currently just a bunch of walk/trot/halt transitions and learning to steer. He has pretty good natural balance, but he’s also still very track tight and carries a LOT of tension in his back/neck/jaw.

Moments like these don’t last long so I screenshot for memories

So our rides are fairly low-key with lots of serpentines, figure-8s, circles and some lateral work to loosen him up. When he relaxes he goes into this absolutely lovely natural frame, but when he’s tense, he’s like riding a giraffe stuck in quicksand.

Like this

Here’s a video of his 7th ride- it’s SUPER boring, but I’m posting it anyways, so I can reference it in the future.

And here he is playing in the puddles. No hesitation and he seemed to quite like the water!

And over a pole!

He got new front shoes and back shoes put on, so I’m hoping that helps him get more comfy with using himself, the way it did for P.

AGF working his AGF magic

He’s now been off the track for 30 days, so naturally it was time to take him to a show. And because P-Bug still needs round-the-clock eye meds, he got to come along as well. First time off the farm for something besides a vet visit in a year!

This was the first time I’ve had Leo and P right next to each other- height difference much?

We went along with Trainer B and the team to Carolina Horse Park’s War Horse Event Series. It definitely wasn’t my first choice for his first show, as it’s really a lot of atmosphere to take in, but it was also my only shot at taking him to something like this for the next couple months, so we went to get it over with. He and P did well on the trailer ride, which I was absolutely FREAKING OUT over. I’ve never trailered two horses together and was absolutely petrified they’d fight or get injured one way or another, but we all arrived intact and the 2 boys stood on the trailer sharing hay while I got their stalls ready.


I took Leo out for a walk around the grounds and we did a lot of standing and staring into the distance. He didn’t seem to care about the normal spooky stuff, like banners, tents, flowers, decorations, etc, but it seemed as if he were trying to find the track. And…CHP happens to have one. Sort of. It’s grass and I’m not sure it’s really used anymore, but it is there and while I’m not 100% certain that’s what he was looking at, he sure was intent on staring in that direction.


He was good about the stall and spent his time with his face mashed into his hay bag. It definitely helped that P was there as a calming presence, as he’s always been good about being off-property and has been to CHP a bunch of times. The only tense time was when my friend played the track sound and Leo DEFINITELY remembered it.

Then we did it to P, who tried to eat her phone.

-SmhSaturday was when it would get chaotic. This event series is unrecognized and Saturday is always their schooling day. For an additional fee you can school dressage/stadium/XC and because of this, the barns are nearly always at full capacity (192 stalls), with even more people trailering in for the day. Even P lost his damn mind the first time I came here for this horse trial back in 2017. It’s the reason I would’ve preferred to have gotten Leo to a smaller show at least once before coming here, but alas, the timing was not meant to be so sorry kid, I’m throwing ya into the deep end of the pool.

I went to take this picture of all our horses staring at SOMETHING and afterwards, realized that one of these things is not like the other. Oh P

Trainer B wanted us to come out on XC that morning, but it would’ve cost me $100 just to walk/trot around the field (we clearly weren’t going to jump anything), so I opted to skip that and instead take him around the areas we had been to the evening before. But then I got brave and we wandered closer to the XC fields, which are across the street from the rest of the venue. And when no one stopped us, we walked further down the lane so he could see both sides of the XC course. Then Trainer B and some clients came up and Trainer B said to follow them around as long as we could on the XC course. So…we did.

we-made-it-out-hallelujahWhile there was much prancing and jigging sideways, he handled it better than expected. I can pretty much assume he’s never been in the woods, let alone when there are horses/riders flying around corners and leaping over things, and you can hear so much but not see everything. He went right into both water complexes with no issue and at the very end, after being out 1.5 hours, hopped over a little log with no fuss and Trainer B declared him a jumper.

Sunday was the show so I couldn’t do much, as everyone had pretty tight ride times so there was much helping/videoing/cheering to do. But at the end, Leo and P loaded right back up into the trailer, and were clearly happy to be home. P took off and galloped around his field a few times and Leo walked 5 ft and stuck his face in the grass.

This week will be pretty low-key, as Trainer B is heading to NJ for a horse trial, but I’m tentatively planning on taking Leo to a local hunter show this Saturday to hang out again. Which, after this weekend, should be a piece of cake.





Leo Survives…a Lesson

I need to hire a full-time videographer, as I’m despairing that I have no media from the lesson on Saturday since Husband was selfishly watching our children.


The day before the lesson I decided to start working with Leo on self-loading into the trailer. When I picked him up from the seller, she led him into my trailer and he politely, but firmly said no the first few times. But self-loading is a big deal to me, as I go most places alone. So I cleared my afternoon to work on it.

Aaaaannnnddd…this was his 2nd time being asked to load (first time without a helper to reinforce the forward button from behind):

And that lesson stuck with him the next day and he went right on, and off we headed to Trainer B’s! That is, until 15 minutes into the drive when one of my trailer tires went completely flat. Luckily I was right next to a tire shop when it happened and about 20 minutes later, we were back on the road.


I still got there early enough to tack up and walk him around the arena so he could take in all the insanity that’s in there. Flags/umbrellas/liverpools/banners/random fillers/the odd chicken abound and can be a lot for any horse their first time. He was definitely a bit anxious, but kept his cool for the most part.

First priority was dragging him to the rolltop- if you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you know why

Trainer B met me on one of his horses so he could show me some stuff from the saddle, and I hopped right on while L stood stock still and off we headed to do the baby OTTB thing. He was excellent, save for 2 times- once when a horse in the pasture next to the arena took off and L assumed we needed to do the same, and the other when we trotted over a pole and he whacked his hind foot and COULDN’T EVEN deal. But in both instances he came right back after a brief brain hiatus and by the end we were STEERING.


And most importantly, he got right back on the trailer by himself to head home! He looked a little surprised when we pulled back into our home barn, like he couldn’t believe he wasn’t being left somewhere new.

He’s also started coming to me in the field, like the good ammy horse I’m hellbent on making him become.

The next day I dragged Husband with me so I could practice our homework and actually get a video of me on him for the first time, as up until then I had no clue what I looked like on him. And he was just as steady and willing as before. I really think he’s going to be quite fun.

I absolutely LOVE that he stands still at the mounting block. So much so that I got off and made Husband video me getting back on.

And I LOVE his trot. While he has green moments for sure, he feels quite balanced and seriously powerful.


While Trainer B is off competing for the week, our homework is to work on steering and walk/trot/halt transitions, both in the arena and while hacking around the farm. And then hopefully next week I’ll find the time (bahahahahaha) to squeeze in a lesson before L heads to Carolina Horse Park to learn what a horse show is!

Horse Life

P-Bug’s Life Is So Hard

It’s been awhile since P had a post, and while I’m not exactly convinced he deserves one, I do still love the idiot (despite what I may say at times).

P’s been battling this eye ulcer thing since May 6th and it’s been exhausting. Up until last week he was on 5 different meds that had to be administered every 6 hours, with 2x/week vet visits and it just wasn’t healing. To P’s credit, he’s been very good about me shoving ointment after ointment in his eye at midnight loose in his field, but quite frankly, it was exhausting.

Me every night I get in the car to go BACK to the barn

So because P has been so good about the meds, when I went out there on Memorial Day to do his morning meds and he wouldn’t even let me touch his face, I got quite worried. When I checked on him a few hours later at a time when the Banamine I’d given him should’ve already kicked in and he was STILL as non-compliant about it, I figured something was in there or he’d re-injured it, so I called the vet. Because of course I have $135 just lying around to use on an emergency vet call 48 hours after he’d already seen her.


She came out and of course nothing was out of the ordinary, but the thing still wasn’t healing nearly as fast as it should and I was (and still am) pretty much at the end of my rope with being at the barn 3x/day. She mentioned there was an animal ophthalmologist about an hour away and so the next AM, I called them to see if I could get an appointment because SOMETHING had to give. Even though he still does this when I come to get him, despite him clearly knowing at this point it’s to shove things in his eye.

The eye clinic said they could see him that afternoon so I called my vet and she sent over all his records and pictures to them, then I loaded P in the trailer and off we went.

The ophthalmologist (why is that word SO hard to type?) did an exam and gave me a few options:

  1. Switch is existing antibiotic eye med to a stronger one. Cost: $100
  2. Do a Diamond Burr Debridement, which removes the damaged corneal tissue. At that point, my regular vet had done 3 debridements with a plain cotton swab to clean up the edges around the ulcer, but this was a bit more involved. Cost: $200
  3. Combine #1 & #2
  4. Perform a keratectomy, which removes the entire ulcer and any abnormal tissue. Cost: $900

Maybe it was the sleep deprivation, because I’m still waiting to hear if insurance will cover it, but I went with the keratectomy + the stronger antibiotic + I opted to have the ulcer biopsied to make sure there was nothing crazy that was causing this. Total cost (with sedation and meds): $1,469.

Luckily they were able to do it right then and there, and the whole thing took less than 30 minutes. P was a model patient and the two vet techs had a brief bickering spat on which one would be the one to walk him around to help him wake up. The thought of leaving him there may or may not have crossed my mind.


I had to walk always after that

Along with the surgery, came a new meds schedule that still feels incredibly weird. He gets one med (Atropine) 1x/day, and then 2 cc’s of Ofloxacin squirted in to his eye 3x/day, followed by Voriconazole squirted into his eye 3x/day. It seems so counter-intuitive to back down on the meds, but this guy’s the specialist + it gets me a little more sleep. So I go there and do his AM meds, then BO does his early afternoon ones and then I go back out around 10 PM to do the bedtime ones. Not ideal, of course, but easier to swallow than midnight.

Husband texted me last night from his oceanfront beach hotel suite (he’s on a “work” trip) so I sent him this

He had a checkup with our regular vet yesterday and while it’s still not healed (the ophthalmologist said 2-3 week healing time is typical), it’s definitely smaller than it was pre-surgery. The ophthalmologist called me this AM to let me know the biopsy came back and didn’t show anything crazy or infected, which is great news, so for now we’re just staying the course. So hopefully a week or two more to go and we can put this behind us. I’m sure something new will come up, though. I’ve become quite cynical these last few months.

May 24th (pre-surgery): the green stain shows how large the ulcer was. It was getting shallower but not closing up width-wise
June 3rd: much smaller

One thing I’m NOT cynical about, however, is the fact that P perhaps should be a movie star. When I was hauling him to the ophthalmologist (and not happy about it), I got the notification that we won another contest, this time for Coat Defense! I’ve previously talked about this product, and HAD to enter (despite the fact P was lame), as I was running low on the Preventative Powder. The video had to be under 30 seconds and show how you use their products. Nailed it.


So…despite the fact that at that point P still didn’t have front shoes on and was quite footsore, not to mention he was in the midst of an eye infection, he’s kept up his streak of winning every contest he’s been entered in. So I guess I’ll keep him around.

They sent me a hat (in turquoise!), a patch and a FULL-SIZE bottle of Preventative Powder. I go through that stuff like candy so it was a very exciting day


P approves. Husband knows to treat that stuff like gold.

He’s also been back in a (somewhat) regular riding schedule and while I’m pretty sure he’d be just fine with being used for weird videos, I’m hoping that by channeling some of his energy he can cool it with the insane vet visits for awhile.

First ride after getting shoes on after being barefoot up front for 6 weeks


Rocking his “new” PS of Sweden, whose beauty is only slightly diminished by the Bug Mask

Until we’re even (which will be never), I’ll just find new ways to torture him, like making him run through the arena sprinklers. Because if I have to pay off my vet’s mortgage for your stupid eye, you can entertain me, minion. He was SO angry at me for this. I loved every second.






Horse Life

First (& 2nd Ride), Didn’t Die

If we’re FB/IG friends, you’ve already seen these, but I’ve been on Leo twice now and am still here to talk about it!


Wednesday was my first time getting on- we arrived home late Saturday evening and my plan had been to give him a couple days to chill, since he’d undergone a lot of travelling and a lot of changes since racing just a few weeks ago. Not to mention P decided he needed an emergency vet visit on Memorial Day and that he required surgery on Tuesday. More on that in the next post. So I spent a bit of time each day with Leo on the ground and have found him to be slightly nervous, but altogether a really good guy.

Yes, you

The ride was completely uneventful. BO held him for me at the mounting block, but didn’t even need to, as he stood totally still while I got on and found my stirrups. We just walked for the most part. While a bit wiggly and braced on the bit, he was surprisingly easy to maneuver with just my seat/leg, and quickly learned how to halt from just my seat. I wish there was some video, but BO was riding S at the time, so boo.


Jessica from Benchmark had told me that for their first ride (his only ride since coming off the track), they had used a loose ring KK on him, but that her rider had said if she’d gotten the chance to ride him again, she’d put him in a rubber bit, like a nathe. I have both of those, as I used to use the KK with P before Trainer B switched him to a nathe, but the nathe is a BIT chewed up thanks to P’s chompers, so I opted to stick Leo in the KK until I could get another nathe on the way.

And P doesn’t even care. He just racks up more bills.

And after riding him, I can totally see why the rider had made that suggestion. He’s incredibly sensitive and light in the mouth (except when, HORRORS, being asked to bend right) and spent the whole ride just gnawing the bit.

Leo to the KK

Thursday after tending to P,Β I pulled Leo out but it was getting late and tacking up seemed like a lot of work. Since he didn’t really know how to steer with reins anyway and I didn’t want him to get the impression that me=arena work, I decided to experiment.


I did get on him first in the arena since he’d already been in there, but he was so chill walking around, I hopped off and led him up to the tall mounting block next to the dressage arena on the other side of the barn. He caught sight of the cows across the street so stood completely motionless while I got on (thanks cows!), then I turned him and we wandered around those fields and into the dressage arena.


Today we’ll put our groundwork to the test and work on self-loading into the trailer because tomorrow we head to Trainer B’s!

Horse Life

New Horse, Who Dis?

The last post wasn’t some random teaser- the big guy is mine!

See what had happened was…

Trainer B had to have looked through dozens of horses on his own, not even including the millions I was sending him, and was declining each one. Even the one I sat on and really liked immediately received a πŸ‘Ž (that one may have caused me to then consume half a gallon of chocolate ice cream), but in the process I learned how to tell a lot about a horse from a picture or video.


So when, out of sheer desperation, I sent him a video of a 3 year old OTTB and got back a πŸ‘ I was a little shocked. But also a little hesitant to act on it because, ummm…THREE.

Babies are cute and funny but do I really want one?

Then a fellow boarder, who knew I was debating the 3 year old, sent me an ad for a 5 year old the same seller had just gotten in. If you live under a rock and haven’t heard of Jessica Redman of Benchmark SportHorses, you need to get on that ASAP. Trainer B watched the 5 year old’s free video and immediately called to tell me we needed to vet the horse.

Because he moves like this

But then I REALLY couldn’t decide. See, the 3 year old had been with Jessica for a little over a month. There were more videos of him, more information was available…all things my adult ammy brain craves. The 5 year old was a virtual unknown.

So we contacted her about both and she said they were riding the 5 year old that afternoon and would post the video. So I refreshed her page like a crazy person all day until the video was posted, and as soon as it was, sent it to Trainer B, who immediately said, “DO IT.”

Because this was how his first ride looked

So after driving Husband crazy going through my exhaustive pros/cons list, I decided to vet the 5 year old. We contacted the vet last Wednesday and they said they could do the PPE Thursday late morning. By the end of the day on Thursday, we still hadn’t gotten the vet’s report and I was freaking out that I had spent another large sum of money on vetting another injured horse. Trainer B contacted her around 8 PM to see what was taking so long and she told him it’d be an hour or two before she emailed him the x-rays and report, so we figured we’d know something that night or the next morning.

giphyThen Friday was an absolute train wreck of a day. The vet couldn’t get a hold of Trainer B because he was riding like 6 horses at VAHT and she had for some reason not emailed him the x-rays or report the night before. So she called me at 8 AM and started talking about clean x-rays but structural abnormalities, specifically his navicular bones are both shaped a bit differently than normal. Trainer B called her and then me in between rides and said it shouldn’t be a big deal, but she just needs to send the x-rays so we can get a 2nd opinion. As it was, it took until after 2 PM to finally receive the x-rays, but still no report.

Trainer B was going to have a vet he knew who was at VAHT look at the x-rays, but as it happened, our vet (we use the same clinic) was coming to check on P’s eye anyway, so I made her look at all the x-rays and tell me her opinion. She noted the shape of the bones, but also said they were the same on both sides which said he was in all likelihood born like that, and he’d clearly raced successfully for awhile, so that plus the fact that flexions were all good, hoof testers were negative, etc, said she wouldn’t worry about it.

So that made that decision. Now I just had to let the seller know and figure out where my dear Husband was with my horse trailer (he was using it to haul stuff for a work event).

I called the seller, no answer.

I called my husband. No answer.

So I despaired that Husband had wrecked my trailer in a ditch somewhere and the seller had grown tired of waiting for an answer and had sold the horse (a line had already formed behind me for him).

Me all afternoon/evening on Friday

Then, pretty much the second I stepped through my door, it all turned around. Husband called and said he’d be home shortly and 5 minutes later the seller called and I officially purchased the horse.

So how did he get home? Well, normally I would’ve taken Trainer B up on his offer to arrange a shipper but there was the little detail that I had C at the barn still. His owner was having issues getting down here to get him and I needed the stall before I could bring another one home. But that weekend was already super busy- we had a friend’s wedding Sunday and lots of plans on Memorial Day. And it was now 6 PM on Friday.

So Husband got home, we traded vehicles, I drove to the barn, loaded C and his gear , and headed to VA, where I pulled into his driveway at 3 AM. By 3:15 I was back on the road and got to Delaware at 5:40 AM, where I promptly passed out in the GN of my horse trailer in a Best Western hotel parking lot.

How I looked emerging from my trailer that morning

8 AM I was up and drove the 20 minutes to the seller’s farm, saw the horse for the first time, signed the bill of sale, put him on my trailer and we were out of there at 9:30 AM for what Google Maps told me would be a 7 hour drive.

Google Maps LIED

Thanks to 95, which I have never had the pleasure of driving (and never will again), we finally pulled into the barn’s parking lot at 7 PM, 24 hours after I initially set off.

Are we there yet? The answer was always no

He was insanely good at travelling, and would’ve had every right to not have been so good. He last raced May 10th, then got on a trailer from TX to KY for a short layover, then KY to DE, where he spent a week before I shoved him onto my trailer and drove him 10 hours to NC. He ate hay, drank water, stood quietly- not much more to ask for.



It took him awhile to get him off the trailer, as I’m not sure he’s ever had to back off and down a ramp. But he was quiet about it, went right into his new stall and ate all his grain, then walked all gentleman-ly like down to turnout, where P & his pasture mate decided they needed to act like absurd idiots. Thankfully the 5 year old was more sensible than they were and merely trotted/cantered a couple of laps before deciding to ignore them.

He did quickly figure out the electric fence

Then we had the issue of the name. He didn’t come with any name other than his JC name, Dark Harbor (which will DEFINITELY remain his show name). One of the boarders threw out the suggestion of Thor, which I quite liked, and anticipated Husband approving of. I was wrong.

Husband immediately dubbed him King Leonidas, as in the movie 300, and due to the minor fact that Husband didn’t divorce me when I said I wanted a second horse, that’s his name. Well, he’s Leo to me. But to hear Husband call for him is priceless.

Husband has already informed me he will be screaming this every time we halt/salute in dressage and cross through finish flags in SJ/XC. I don’t doubt it for a second.

Since he’s gotten here I haven’t had much of a chance to hang with him, as P & his non-healing eye have taken up all my spare time. I did some stuff with him in the round pen last night and have taken him on some walks to get him used to leading properly, and while he’s definitely still in his shell, he’s starting to show a hint of personality. He has no idea what treats are or how to eat them, and really isn’t sure about walking past the geese that hang out at the pond next to his pasture, but seems to have a well-screwed in brain. Even when he was trying to show off for P last night and P was like, “Y tho?” and L was all, “I watched YOU do this the other night,” and P went, “Nope, not me, You must have gotten me mixed up with some other bug on the farm.” And L was like, “Oh ok. I’ll have some grass then.”

P looks like a short, fat QH here next to L
L: I IZ MAJESTIC Β  Β  Β  P: Fake news
L: Nevermind then

As long as Husband comes home from his work trip today in time to get kids, I do plan on sitting on him tonight, then I’m taking him to Trainer B’s on Saturday. Providing he gets in the trailer, of course.

Good luck not pinching that adorable schnoz



Horse Life

Horsey Days

The highlight of the weekend was most definitely heading to Tryon for a hunter pace with Bette and Sara! Since it’s just under 2 hours from me and there weren’t going to be any jumps to jump, I borrowed a horse from Bette and made Sara promise to let me just sit on Eeyore. Muahaha.

For the first part of the ride, I was given Bette’s little horse Finn, who I’ve always referred to as “Angel Pony” ever since he led P over terrifying Windridge starter jumps back in 2017. Bette told me the nickname always made her laugh because he’s spooky an spins in circles, but it turned out Bette CLEARLY doesn’t even know her own horse because Finn the Angel Pony (the name will stay forever) didn’t put a single foot wrong.

FINNY! Angel Pony fo’ sho’

But when we got to the halfway point, got some water for us an the horses and prepared to get back on, I made Sara stop midway through mounting her horse because, uhhh, HALLO, it’s MY TURN.

Unsure as to why E is not matching my enthusiasm level


His expression is E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G

In Pilgrim news, we’re at 2x/week vet vists (yaaaayyyyyy) with the vet having to scrape off unhealthy corneal tissue that’s trying to grow over the ulcer.

P with his posse

He needs 4 meds squirted into his eye FOUR TIMES A DAY at 6 hour intervals, which means I’m there at 8 AM, 6 PM and midnight. Oh and after each med, you need to wait 5 minutes before administering the next one. He owes me big time.


I say this tentatively, but as of this AM, he’s back in front shoes (though I figure by the time I get back out there after work, he’ll have removed them), and AGF says the Foot Hole has grown back beautifully and you can’t even tell it was there. In fact, he says the Foot Hole foot looks better than the other front foot. Go figure.

Savior in the form of AGF
Proof that, for at least a moment in time, he had front shoes back on

AGF recommended *not* riding him for the next couple days, but sorry AGF, this horse needs to do something so he’ll stop running around like an idiot an injuring himself. When the farm’s neighbor, whose house overlooks P’s pasture, comments that P’s more entertaining than TV, you know you’ve got a problem.

Trying to be immune to P’s cuteness

Though I did pull P out on Saturday for, what else, a contest. And despite not being ridden since February, he was the calmest horse on the farm when I flung my T-Rex’d-suited-self across his bareback pad. Which was good because I didn’t want to bother with his bridle over the bug mask, so I oh-so-effectively clipped reins to, ya know, his halter.

I think the bug mask is a nice touch

In Cooper news, he’s leaving to go home on the 27th so that New Horse can have a home, when/if New Horse will be found. I’ve really enjoyed riding him and hope New Horse has as much XC gusto as he does.

Thanks for the memories, C

And in New Horse news, Trainer B & I continue to weed out horses via video. I was able to sit on a really nice horse yesterday that belongs to a friend of Bette’s, and am waiting for Trainer B to declare his opinion.

Me right about now