Hair, Blood, and Easter Eggs

Bear with me, I can link all of these together. Fortunately, public schools had Friday off. My ability to deal with humans was getting pretty threadbare and my “give-a-darn” was busted. Friday morning was spent playing with Small Fry (the human one) for some catch up time and than it was off to the barn. In the afternoon, I took Ries to Erie for an appointment with the vet/chiropractor. Said vet is well known for being religiously two hours late. Being a clever person, I decided to show up an hour late and therefore only have to wait one hour for the vet. The fellow outwitted me though and was three hours late. The generous boarders at TREC/Tailwind offered to let me go first since I had hauled in. I gratefully accepted without even pretending to demur.

Ries is an expert traveler. He could care less about new barns or horses. The vet is always amazed at how good and willing he is, since evidently Ries is a skeletal wreck. I am always amazed at the difference in Riesling’s topline before and after a session. We lifted Ries’ ribcage and he highly objected. He swung around to the right, saw me and decided to snake his head to the left and try and bite the vet. I have to admit I was caught off guard by that one as was the vet. However, afterwards he was much more wiling to have his ribcage handled. Being groomed lately has not been his favorite.

Okay – on to the part about hair. I brushed Sam Saturday night and talk about an exercise in futility. I end up with two wide strips of hair on the ground on either side of him and a horse that looks no different beyond his coat now looks striated. Having a cold while doing this is pretty gross as well. Let me tell you, you do not want to wipe your nose on your sleeve in this situation.

Since my¬† mother was in the barn and a certain lazy gray cat was milling around, I decided this was a great time to address all of the matted hair on the creature. This is not a delicate process. The “handler” dons a pair of thick leather winter gloves and attempts to pin the host of all of the hairballs. The “groomer” than tries to use the horse clippers to shave the hairballs off of the cat. Gloves cannot be used for that portion due to the dexterity involved. Usually the cat is pretty passive, but not so that night. We got a few dreadlocks out and horrified one border before giving up. It looks like the cat was reenacting a scene from “Gremlins” and should therefore not be fed after midnight and never gotten wet (anyone still with me here?).

No cats were harmed in this post

Whitman is the one that brings us, dear reader, to blood (I bet you were expecting that to be with the part about the cat). About a month ago, right after getting shoes, Whitman kicked Ries and gave him a puncture would in the upper right front leg. Right before Easter, Whitman came in with a matching slice. I believe it was courtesy of a recently shod pony who has had his last nerve jumped on by nitWhit. I usually refer to my two boys as the “Wondertwins” and Whitman took this very seriously. A week and one half later and a vet bill and he is fine. Ries required three days off (and antibiotics) and never took a lame step. Whitman needed the week off that I had off, and is not quite the stoic creature that Ries is. Bandaging Whitman is a mix of “whack-a-mole” and the “hokey-pokey”. Fortunately he is a cute little bugger and incredible talented.

The Easter eggs portion has very little to do with horses. We had an Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday for Mac’s side of the family. This means that there were six young children, five of which were boys, hunting for Easter eggs. Mac’s cousin, and mother of three of the boys, put together separate color eggs for each child. One child, whoever had the “sports” eggs, decided to open and devour their candy filled eggs while hidden in the pirate ship. Rylee had been ferreting what remained of the eggs out of the pirate ship and was hiding them under a tree to avoid being busted. The youngest family member saw this and is now convinced that Rylee is the Easter Bunny. Yes, there you have it folks – the Easter Bunny is actually a low IQ but highly food motivated black lab in western New York.

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Hope springs eternal…you’d think I would learn

Well, the grapes are officially toast. Actually, they are the opposite of toast, but frost leaves them burned looking so we will stick with toast. I drove to work this morning with the windows down in the 28 degree weather so I could get a clear view of the white vines and crystal buds. But to quote dear Scarlett – “I’ll think about that tomorrow”.

At the same time, I drafted the show calendar today. I feel like Rylee when she knows she is in trouble but can’t stop the body wag. I have jumped Ries a few times with no swelling in his front legs the day after. I also obsessively ice his legs after (thank you Bates for the Christmas gift – it turned into ice boots). Ries jumps like a cat. He is incredible adjustable and lands so lightly. The loss of that was what cued me into the tendon strain last year. We will build back slowly with painstaking attention to his fitness work as well. So it with great fear and respect for Murphy’s Law that I started looking at the eventing omnibus for this upcoming season. Its been five years since I did a real event. I hung up my vest and sold Tweed when I was pregnant and for a variety of reasons, have not managed to get back to it. I picked up one catch ride for another trainer for the mini event, but that is it. The whole point of buying Ries was to event again, and he has such potential both in terms of his ability and his mind.

Going to Rolex to watch will only turn me into an over enthusiastic nut to get back to eventing. If you have not gone cross country, you can’t imagine the adrenaline rush. Getting to do it on a horse that you have a good partnership with (versus one with deep seated and bizarre psychological issues) is amazing. Even with the horse with more issues than Time magazine will keep you coming back for more punishment.

Eventers are a weird breed. It does not matter if they are going walk/trot over poles on the ground or riding for a medal, there is something about it that they all relate to. The walk/trotters (or as we saw last year at Erie – the walk/walkers) will measure out their courses, walk the cross country, obsess over studs and conditioning, lament dressage and nit pick the technical merits of the stadium course with the same intensity as the riders that go by first name only due to their fame, such as Buck or Boyd or Jimmy. I can’t explain it, but I get it.

As a coach, I still find cross country riveting, but somewhat terrifying. My abs are exhausted by the time the girls are done. I ride each fence with them, I run in between fences to see as much of their course as possible, and I worry like crazy for them. I preen like an Olympian when they are safely across the finish line (one fell off at the walk after the finish line, but that didn’t stress me out too much. Really, you do have to breath during cross country). I also turn green with envy since the memories are nearly tangible.

So keep your fingers crossed for the whole group, yours truly included. Image