Hooves, smarts, cabinets

Front left:
Front left

Front right:
Front right

They could do with a little more trimming, but not bad. Her frogs are all tattered because they shed off a layer when the snow came. I’ve been smearing goo up in the sulcus every other day for about a week, and they’re opening up very nicely. Heels are still a bit high, but I’m just taking them down as the dead stuff scrapes out.

Side shot, fronts:
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Left rear, juuuust starting to lift off (she was in NO MOOD to stand still for pictures):
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Fronts from the front:
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Compared with a week and a half ago, we’re making great progress.

Now, GLOVES! You want Original Mud Gloves. The latex dip stuff COVERS YOUR KNUCKLES. I dunno about you, but I’m constantly rasping holes in my normal gardening glove knuckles, or just rasping holes in my actual knuckles. If you can’t find them locally, I got mine from these resellers on Amazon. Yes, they’re fifteen freakin’ dollars with shipping, but they’re totally worth it if you’re a knuckle-rasper.

I usually wear M gloves, and that’s what I ordered this time. I think these gloves run a tiny bit bigger than normal mesh-dipped gardening gloves, and the next pair I get will be S.

I also saw a moment of unusual Dixie intelligence, I think.

Dixie doesn’t like to be groomed. I’ve tried everything from the softest of brushes to the stiffest of currycombs, from gentle short strokes to really firm long strokes, and she just doesn’t like it. She’s got a couple of itchy spots she wants me to scratch, but she really doesn’t like to have her entire coat brushed out, and she’s a terrible wiggleworm when I do brush her.

When I clipped her neck Friday, I gave her a couple treats for being brave about the scary clippers, and she eventually relaxed and started chowing down on her haybag and I just clipped as best I could while her neck moved. That’s as good as it gets with Dixie – she’s eating and standing still and letting me do whatever to her.

Today I got the clippers back out and she had another snorting wild-eyed “oh god scary monster” moment, but when she got over that she stood absolutely rock-still while I worked on her neck a little more and clipped the front half of her belly. I spent probably 15 minutes clipping, flipping her mane, clipping the other side, flipping her mane back, clipping between her front legs, clipping her belly, looking at what I’d done, and touching up extra-scraggly bits. She did not move a muscle – she didn’t drop her head and eat, she didn’t fidget, NOTHING. There’s only two possible explanations I can think of: either the warm vibrating clippers just feel nice, or she realized that I clipped off some hair which kept her cooler and she likes to be cool. I really think it was the latter.

My poor horse:
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Yes, I’m storing the clippers in a Crown Royal bag.
More clipping!

Inside news: I got the last set of cabinets scrubbed, sanded, and caulked today – tomorrow I can paint them. And I peeled off the last bit of ugly wallpaper border and almost half the dark green checkered wallpaper on the long wall! Woohoo! The end is in sight.

Seven weeks til the season starts!

I decided, when I ordered the clippers, that I had to shake off the January doldrums and seriously make and stick to a conditioning schedule. Dixie’s about ready for a slow 30, but I’m shooting to get her fit for a 50 – either RoM or the Derby or High Desert, if they are putting it on this year. I busted out my awesome new horse calendar I got from a friend for Christmas and marked it up.

I’ll do hills on Wednesdays – hopefully we’ll progress to charging all the way over into the next valley and then turning around and climbing it again to head home. I’ve got two NEDA rides before ROM (February 12 and March 10) so those will be my long rides for those weekends. I’ve written down some other conditioning distances/days, but I’m somewhat flexible in the hopes of riding with some of my friends on the weekends. It’s looking like 25-35 miles a week right now, in 3-4 days of riding.

Endurance buddies!

My everyday hill is 3 miles to the top and 800′ of climb. That’s a lot or not much at all, depending on your terrain – what’s your go-to conditioning hill look like?

And while I’m asking questions: What’s your first ride going to be? Do you have a conditioning schedule you’re trying to stick to, and do you think mine’s too ambitious or not nearly enough for a second-year horse? We endurance bloggers seem to range from “oh I ride whenever my friends ride” to “I have a spreadsheet and we ride the schedule unless there’s more than 1″ of ice on the roads.”

I went ahead and filled out the rest of the calendar too.

I wrote in all the NEDA rides, even though I don’t think I’ll make it back to Reno for all of them. I really want to come back in August for the Frenchmans’ Lake two-day ride – that was just a ton of fun last year. And there’s a two-day NEDA in Austin, NV in October that I might make it to as well. Austin is the geographical center of Nevada, and it has the darkest skies in the nation so the stargazing is supposed to be superb. I’m not a very good stargazer (hello Orion! Dipper, where’d you go??) but I really enjoy looking at the stars, even if I don’t have a clue what I’m looking at.

I also wrote in Reno area rides until July, and Bay Area rides from June to November. If I had two horses and an unlimited budget I couldn’t hit ALL these rides, but I find it helps me to decide if I know what else is going on. I haven’t really considered PS, and I don’t have the scoop on what rides in Oregon are like totally worth the 8-10 hour drive dude! PNW friends, tell me what you love in OR (50s only this year please) and I’ll add it to the Big Master List of Rides.

That’s more like it!

I took Dixie out for a really lovely 10 mile ride this afternoon. Here’s the Strava:

It doesn’t look like the Strava shows up in google reader, so if you’re interested, click on over to the actual blog to look at it. I do all my reading, right up until the point where I decide I have a meaningful comment to make, in Reader, so I thought I’d warn you too :)

This is the ride I was planning on doing last Wednesday. There’s a one-mile segment that Strava is automatically tracking – the mid part of the hill climb – and it took 17:30 to slog up that damn hill Wednesday, and she flew up it in 11:30 today. That’s an astronomical improvement. Still, she was dripping wet by the time we made it to the top – I think I will sponge her chest and belly tomorrow and do a bit more clipping. I’m leaving it quite long – it looks like a 3-month-old clip job – so I think she won’t freeze.

At about 4 miles we’d worked our way along the top of the hill and there was a very steep long downhill stretch, so I got off and jogged down. My poor Big Leftie complained about it – I don’t think I blogged it but I hit it so hard I thought I broke it earlier this month, and it’s still bruised – but it felt nice to “trot” downhill on foot. And my faith was rewarded – I found a perfect tree stump (very rare!) at the bottom of the hill.

I worked mostly on keeping Dixie at a consistent speed, and I also didn’t check my speed on the GPS once. My watch band is broken so it lives clipped to my saddle – it’s not as easy as lifting my wrist up. I am amazed that we were rolling along at 10 mph – it felt like 7-8. She did a lot of gaiting :)

All the erratic stops were from gawking – it was a lovely weekend day and there were a ton of dirt bikes, off-road trucks, and people out target shooting. We often had to slam on the brakes and stare in utter amazement, exactly like she’d never seen a dirt bike/truck/person before.

Dixie was what my riding buddy back in Memphis would’ve called “spicy.” Totally on, sproingy flashy gaits, gawking at everything, just a blast to ride.

You can see she was still PLENTY sweaty. Sorry for the crappy cam-phone pics; they really don’t do well at high altitude.

I trimmed her feet after the ride – they look excellent if I do say so myself. I think I’ve got most of the false sole out and the bars look good and I’ve been treating her frog cracks with goo and they’re opening up pretty well. And I got new gloves! Highly recommended cheap gloves! But I’ll take hoof pics and do a post about them tomorrow. I might even take the REAL CAMERA so you can see her feet in the correct colors. 😉

"…everything looks like a nail."

You know that saying: “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail”? Well, I am a woman with clippers, and everything looks very hairy. I am exercising great restraint though. The dog doesn’t even have racing stripes yet.

Let me back up some.

So I guess two weekends ago, I rode with C and S out at Fort Churchill. It was a really nice ride, but Dixie sweated a LOT and I didn’t electrolyte her enough. (How do I know? She was too tired to eat when we got back to the trailer. I gave her another couple ounces of applesauce elytes, and 10 minutes later she perked up and started noshing on her hay.) Then we had the windstorms (and the fire down south), then icy rain and a bit of much-needed snow.

I painted like a fiend in the kitchen and waited it out, because inspiration is really hard to come by in January. Then the high pressure moved back in and I took Dixie out for a spin on Wednesday.

My plan was to take her up over the hill, then come back south along the east side of the ridge – nothing very hard at all. She could barely trot up the easy part of the hill and she just bonked out on the steeper bit toward the top. Her breathing and HR never slowed down, no matter how much water I dumped on her. I kinda thought she was sick, probably dying, until I realized I’d taken off my hoodie and was perfectly comfortable in a tank top – it was near 60 and very humid from all the snow melting. DUH, she was hot.

I’ve been really patient, working around her coat. I don’t really mind planning my rides so that she has time to cool off before the sun sets, but at this point she can’t even perform in all her hair. And it won’t fall out for months yet – there’s no way I’ll have her legged up for rides in March and April, much less be able to complete them. Time for clippers.

Amazon to the rescue! I paid for overnight shipping and had a stack of boxes waiting for me on Friday.

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There’s not much I love more than a shiny new power tool. Yeehah! I clipped her neck with the grain, with the 7F, and sort of feathered it out so it doesn’t look so “hey I just clipped my horse in January.” I got one horrendous clipper line down the left side, but the right side looks pretty good and I can live with the whole thing.

Then – because everything looked like a nail – I clipped her jawline. I think fuzzy ears are cute, and I’m perfectly willing to leave whiskers alone, but I really hate goaty looking heads.

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I went at her bridle path next and got the off side neatened up, but the clippers up by her left ear sent poor Dixie into a panic. I think some asshole ear-twitched her when she was young, because she’s always been jumpy about having the left side of her poll/ear messed with. I had a pocket full of cookies and I “spent” them all working on touching her left ear area, with my hand and with the back of the clippers, without her freaking out. We’ll get there one day. For now, well, she doesn’t look worse than she did with the scissors bridle path.

I’ll ride today and see how she does. If I need to, I can (gleefully!) go take more off, but I know there’s a sweet spot where she’s not so overheated but she doesn’t need blanketing. And when we move to CA, I’m just going to keep her neck/chest/belly clipped all summer, I think.

When I came in the house, I discovered one of the cats had puked on the electric lap blanket on the couch. The puker is, 99% of the time, The Fluffy One, cause he gets enormous fluffy-hairballs that upset his delicate tummy. If I’d sprung for the cordless clippers, I’d have chased him down and shaved his belly and back legs. So far he’s escaped that fate by not hanging out in the bathroom near an outlet.

And I got one part of the kitchen done well enough to share. Back in December, I unclogged the clogged up right side of the kitchen sink, and while I was messing around under there I replaced the cabinet floor. It was pressboard, and it had gotten wet (from drain water from the clogged up drain, sometime before we bought it) and it was pretty warped and curled. I ripped it out and laid in two pieces of thin plywood chipboard I had on hand.

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I didn’t nail them down or anything – the next poor soul who has to work under there will thank me for that. When I painted under there this week, I primed the chipboard, then put some (surprisingly pretty!) contac paper on top. I think it looks completely respectable now.

(Bonus head of The Fluffy Puker investigating)

I wonder if the dog is hot? I could give her a really sharp trace clip…