Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Riding Air Bag!

Has anyone else seen these new riding air-vests? They're geared towards eventers (who are required to wear a safety vest during cross-country), but can be used for any discipline. Apparently, some camps are claiming that they're the greatest safety invention since the helmet, while others feel that they're less effective than standard foam-paneled vests.

(Sorry, not sure why this is so pixelated!)

This is the Point Two inflatible air vest, which has a long lanyard that you clip to the stirrup bars of your saddle. If you are thrown from the horse, the lanyard activates the release of carbon dioxide into the "airbags," inflating them. They inflate in approximately half a second, so your neck and back are fully protected by a cushion of air before your body hits the ground (well, in theory). It is available from Smartpak for the low, low price of $699-799, depending on size.

Gaaaah! ALL my pics are fuzzy and pixelated -- ???

This air vest is also Point Two, but it is the custom color version. Because heaven forbid you get caught in some generic black air vest. Ick. Cross-country just wouldn't be the same without bright, glaring colors on every available surface of you and your horse. This vest is available in an array of colors, from Bubble Pink to Bright Orange to High Vis Yellow. What's that sound, you say? Oh, I think it's just George Morris's shrieks of horror and disgust. Oh, and by the way, this vest is offered for the bargain price of $839.95 from Smartpak. What a steal -- buy two or three!

For those of you not fortunate enough to have spare fistfuls of cash, don't fret -- there is a slightly less obnoxiously expensive vest available from Hit Air, pictured above and below. It doesn't come in any fun colors, but it does seem to provide exactly the same protection as the Point Two. This one retails for around $450 -- still crazy expensive, but at least it's an improvement.

And, check it out, you can even use an air vest whilst riding a camel! It doesn't exactly seem like a real dangerous sport, camel riding, what with the humps keeping you in place and the general dislike of moving faster than a snail's pace that most camels seem to exhibit. But, hey, I am all for safety!

Apparently, the rules state that, even if you are wearing an air vest in an XC competition, you must still wear a standard safety vest as well. I'm guessing this is because the air vests are so new and maybe haven't been tested/approved. Sounds like a lot of layering for a sport where you are most likely already sweating bullets.

So, what are your thoughts on the air vest? Great idea or total crock?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

In Terminus

Whew! The last few weeks have flown by in such a whirlwind that it's been difficult to keep up with things. Buckle your seatbelts, kiddos, because this post is going to be loooong!

So, where did I last leave off? I believe it was Salem's chiropractic adjustment with the magical and wonderful Dr. Bob. The following day, I gave Salem a break from work and just hand-grazed him for a few hours.Wednesday I put him on the longe line and did about 20-25 minutes of walk/trot work with him, focusing a lot on walk/halt transitions.

Well, what do you know, afterwards I put him on the cross-ties and ran my hand down his left front leg to pick his hoof -- and I felt a large, hard, cool lump on the inside of his cannon bone. Yep, he had popped a splint. Now, it's certainly not unusual for horses to pop a splint, but it usually occurs during heavy work like jumping -- since when is 25 minutes of light longeing considered strenuous?! I swear, I think Salem pushed his Self-Destruct Button! He has seriously been falling apart lately.

Ugly Evil Splint

Close-Up of Ugly Evil Splint

The good news is that Salem was never sore from it -- it didn't seem to bother him in the least, and it had zero heat.The first few days, I iced his leg and left him in standing wraps. Made no difference, but it did make me feel like at least I was doing something. Of course, I immediately started researching about splints, and I read that a lot of people use Surpass on them with great results. So of course, I broke out the Surpass and faithfully rubbed it into that big ugly bump every night.

Unfortunately, a splint means no riding for a few weeks, so we spent the time hand-grazing, doing ground work, grooming, massaging, stretching, and just spending quality time together. I would put him in the front paddock for a change of scenery and just sit underneath the oak trees and watch him stroll around. Ruby had told me a few weeks ago that Salem would be leaving on May 1st, so I really wanted to cherish every second that I had left with him.

A few days after he popped the splint, I found out that the shipping date had been moved up to April 15th. And, being the OCD horsey foster mom that I am, I started planning for Salem's Travel Kit/Supplies. We all know that shipping long distances, moving to a new environment, adapting a new routine, etc. cause a horse to be quite stressed, which can lead to digestive upset and ulcers -- so I would of course need a few tubes of UlcerGuard for both pre-shipping and post-shipping. In addition, he would need a tube of Probios for a boost of probiotics. I also wanted to get a bunch of Horse Quencher, as horses tend to become dehydrated over long hauls. (If you don't have any Horse Quencher, I highly recommend getting a few packs to keep on hand!) The plan was to put a pack of HQ in a bucket of water and have him drink the entire bucket right before getting onto the trailer. Then I would give a few packs to the shippers for the transit, and include some in his "Welcome Pack" for when he arrived at his new farm. I placed an order with Valley Vet, confident that it would arrive in plenty of time.

Imagine my surprise when, on Thursday afternoon (April 8th), I received a call from the horse transporters confirming Salem's pick-up the following morning. (That's why this post is titled "In Terminus" -- it's Latin for "in the end.") I offically went into freak-out mode. I wasn't ready, either emotionally or logistically. Salem's "stuff" was scattered to the four winds, I had only half a bale of hay (I needed at least two for him so he could eat during the whole trip, plus have a bit for when he arrived), I had no UlcerGuard, no Probios, no HorseQuencher...nothing! The feed stores were all about to close. I'm pretty sure I had a small aneurism.

Luckily, I have some great fellow boarders, so I managed to pull together two more bales of hay and three tubes of EGard (generic GastroGuard). I had already bought some aloe vera juice to send up for Salem (it also helps to cut down on stomach acid), so at least I was semi-prepared -- not nearly as together as I had planned, but better than nothing. I had also spent quite a bit of time getting Salem used to wearing his halter fleeces and shipping boots. And I had switched him over to orachard/alfalfa hay instead of his usual timothy, because alfalfa can help reduce stomach acid.

I stayed at the barn until 10:30 Thursday night, packing and planning and fussing over everything. Salem got a bubble bath and a whisker trim, and Jennie was kind enough to pull his insanely thick mane (I pretty much suck at mane maintenance). Friday, I arrived at the barn at 6:30 in the morning to take Salem for one last long hand-graze/walk. We strolled around in the misty, dewy morning heat and enjoyed eachother's company for one last time.

Afterwards, it was time for a quick groom, as I certainly could not send Salem off all dirty and gunky. I kept thinking, "This is the last time I'll ever pick his feet...this is the last time I'll curry him...this is the last blah blah blah," and Salem could definitely tell that something was amiss. He had his Woried Eyes on. 

Check out Jennie's awesome mane-pulling job!

What's going on, FosterMomLady?

This is my Monty Roberts halter, which I loooooove. When you attach a leadrope to either
one of of the training rings, the entire bottom rope section tightens around the jaw.
It's both more gentle and more effective than a chain. (You just can't tie them or cross-tie
them from the training rings!)

Next, it was time to put on Salem's Travelling Outfit -- and, I have to say, he looked insanely cute in it!! Salem was so calm and laidback and Zen about the whole thing. Even when I walked him up to the very scary semi-trailer, he was perfectly behaved.

All geared up in his Shipping Outfit
This pic also shows that his topline needs much work!

That is one shiny pony! I have proven that you do not
need Show Sheen or any other silicone product to make a horse sparkly -- he is
glowing from good health and elbow grease (well, with a little help from
flax seed and Cocosoya)!

Smartpak catalog model in the making

This was Salem's sweet ride -- he was definitely travelling in style!

When the drivers set up the ramp to load Salem, I got a bit nervous -- the ramp was quite steep and I was pretty sure that Salem would not want to set a foot on it. (Wish I had a pic, but I was holding the Ponykins!) The nice thing, though, is that it had wings on the sides and they laid down a nice mat (like this) for traction. One of the drivers asked me, "Do you want me to load him up, or do you want to take him?" I told him that I wanted to take him, so I walked up the ramp and was shocked that Salem immediately and very calmly followed me like he had been walking up Scary Steep Ramps onto Big Scary Semi Trailers his whole life. I'm thinking maybe all of the work I did on having him put his feet where I want them (even on scary stuff like tarps and scary puddles) paid off. I was so proud of him that I almost got a little teared up.

All settled in for the ride

Once Salem was loaded up, I gave him one last peppermint and one last kiss on his muzzle. I had already had my little mushy "goodbye talk" with him on the way to the trailer (cuz ya don't want to look like a total mush in front of the big tough driver guys). I told him to be a good boy for his mommy and that I would definitely see him again sometime.

This was my last view of the Salem Ponykins

I know this might sound a bit stupid, but I really worry that Salem will think that I don't love him or I don't want him or that he wasn't good enough for me. I know it's completely anthropomorphising him, but I can't help it. For six months, I was his Person. We spent time together every day, usually for at least five to six hours. If he was out in his paddock when I arrived, he would run into his stall, whinnying his head off, as soon as he heard my voice. He was my favorite part of the day, and losing him has definitely left a big hole in my heart. Part of me hopes that he misses me, while the other part hopes that he doesn't. All I know is that I thoroughly enjoyed every second that I spent with him. He is such a special horse and I know that Ruby is going to adore him.

So, this is officially the end of the Salem Blog. I am planning on getting another horse in the not-too-distant future, so I will eventually be blogging about that. And I of course plan on keeping up with all of my horsey blog-y friends! Kristen over at Sweet Horse's Breath suggested that I start posting information-type blog posts, which I just might do.

 Thanks for coming on this ride with me, guys! It's been a blast.