Thursday, October 27, 2016


So apparently I haven't posted since May. It makes sense because it felt like forever. A lot happened and yet not much has happened. Digby remained/remains various degrees of lame. We've tried different shoeing, giving him some NSAIDs for a few days, all with varying degrees of success or failure. In early August, I received word that the barn Digby is at was closing. Digby is hard to keep happy within my budget in this area. Cue panic.

I searched around for new homes, both boarding boards and getting him free leased out to a long term home, didn't find a whole lot. As luck would have it, I've been on a waiting list for a retirement home down south for him for a bit. I contacted them and they would have a spot opening up in September. It happened super quickly for me but Digby was prepped and ready to go in October. He has been settling in nicely at his new home. Sending that board check every month is going to be *thrilling* considering I can't go see him often due to my work schedule but I know that he's happy and will be taken care of. The photo I've included in this blog is the night before he left. His new home does have a blog, so check it out! I'm wildly sad that he isn't around for me to see anymore, but I know in my heart it was the right choice for both of us. I won't have to worry about a new owner taking good care of him or that he could end up in a bad place. He is still lame down there (no surprise) but hopefully he will enjoy the warmer weather and keep weight on better in the "cold" months.

In other horse related news, I still work with horses so I wasn't dying without seeing Digby regularly but I did miss riding. I was in the midst of making plans to visit a friends trainer to take a lesson when I can afford since it's been since… oh… 2011 possibly, possibly getting some free catch rides from a local trainer (on some ponies, to boost my confidence!), and I promptly broke my arm at work. Last Friday, according to the hospital write up I was "assaulted by a horse and her pony." HAHA! Ok, so basically I was feeding the broodmares and foals just like we always do and one spooked (or something…? It is unclear.) and legitimately ran me over. I didn't see it coming and rolled a few times in the dirt. There was a large pile of dirt in the hospital when I took off my clothes so they could examine my brush burns/bruises. Either way, my humoral head is broken and I am out of commission for up to 8 weeks. I'm not sure if I'll keep updating the blog now that Digby isn't around but I'm still active on Instagram (my name is rutabecka!) so check me out there.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

2 year difference

Facebook has this charming/annoying "on this day" feature that I've come to love/hate. However, yesterday it reminded me of a time 2 years ago when my friend and coworker rode Digby. I saw him and thought, "huh. Well he looks oookk weight wise, but his neck is thin and funky. What kind of muscling is that??" So, Digby's been off (I don't think I wrote about that?) but last Friday the farrier was out and we tried a bit of a different shoeing situation. He is doing better but still not 100%. I'm hoping for an abscess. Because of this I decided to just hop on bareback and have some fun. We ended up having a nice ride! I do love the hony. :)

The bottom photo is from Monday. Yeah. I'd say he looks different.

Monday, April 18, 2016

What we've been up to

I haven't been posting too much as of late. Honestly, not a whole lot to say on the Digby front. We moved barns since my last update. I moved in the middle of February. Digby is doing SO MUCH better and I (so far!) love the barn and barn manager. She's been great about his care and my horse no longer looks 30 years old who's ribby with a poor coat and topline. The conformation photo below is from last week I believe. Not bad for Digby coming out of winter with no riding! I post often/daily in Instagram so that's probably best if you're looking for more regular updates. I can't promise that 75% of the feed isn't sunrises and baby photos though. Digby's real cute but even he's not newborn foal cute! :)
Best confo shot we got that day... Ignore the dirt. He rolled the second we got into the ring to take photos.
The hony and I have been hanging out mostly. I've been riding once a week. Generally, it goes well. Occasionally I get grumpy and angry that we can't really play. I'm trying very, very hard to just stay focused on NOT having an end goal riding wise.

Wild mane makes Digby look like he has a bigger neck. I'll take it!
In other news, I rode my childhood friends wonderful, most perfect QH ever on a 2ish (possibly closer to 2 and a half hours, we didn't exactly know when we left) hour trail ride at a local park over the weekend. We rode together as kids so I've known her for a long time. I actually had ridden her gelding before she owned him when we were in high school but it had been years. It's also the longest I've ridden in one stretch in possibly forever. I'm not really the long trail ride type typically.

Nerd alert.
I'd like to note that her mare is shorter than her gelding and she is still taller than me...
Although my choice of green breeches did little for his chestnut coat or the navy pad, I had a ton of fun! I started off quite nervous (um, Digby would kill me... For sure....) since we were going through covered bridges, up and down some serious to me inclines, and otherwise ON A TRAIL. In case you didn't know, I am a bit of a weeny on trails. Possibly because I rarely go on them and I even more rarely have such an unflappable beast to ride. By the end, I was more confident and I must of assured my friend about 400 times that her horse was worth every dollar she's ever put into him. We handled some bridges, rode past a dam, went through a creek, over some logs including a few that were "you should probably jump this but may be able to walk over it" height, tons of people/kids/dogs (including a yellow lab who was dying to run with us and ended up running with his owner behind us for a bit. I was panicking inside and thought FOR SURE WE WERE GOING TO DIE. Friend and two horses were 100% the eye rolling emoji at me. Spoiler alert: we were fine.) most of whom wanted to pet the horses and take photos.

All and all, it was super fun and I think wonderful experience for me to have a ride on something who didn't blink at anything. Hopefully we can do it again in the future! I expected to be super sore the next day but it wasn't bad. Whoo!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Roll in ze snow

40 degrees today but Digby says "bleh!" to the snow.
Digby's temperature was fine, in case anyone was worried. I chalked his lack of finishing breakfast up to the fact that he had been in and I was there. Digby has been absolutely foot perfect as of late. I'm suspicious that someone is drugging him before I get there, hahaha. Absolutely ZERO sass, attitude or snarkiness. I haven't ridden because emotionally, do I really want to go there again?  I'm itching to get on and ride him but, also, snow. Lots of it. Regardless, he's been great on the ground! Yay. The farrier is coming this morning so we'll get some snow appropriate shoes put on the hony. He's currently rocking his usual aluminum wedge bar shoes, sans borium or pads, so they aren't exactly snow friendly. You can tell in the photos of him rolling that snow tends to ball up pretty quickly in there.

Not a whole lot on the Digby front these days... I'll post something other than boring eventually. :)

Roll, roll, roll in ze snow.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


I know, soooo many posts in one week for me! Haha. Night shift does that to a person! I'm almost (so close) caught up on my blog reading so hopefully in the near future, I'll get back to commenting on yours! Either way, I went to the barn Monday morning with the full intent of TURN OUT. The horses had been in since Friday afternoon and it was high time that Digby (and the rest of the barn) went out. I got to the barn around 9 AM and the barn owner was not there yet. I wasn't sure what the newest horse eats so I didn't feed. Instead I threw Digby some hay and got to digging his door open. I had to climb over his door yesterday to give him water so I figured might as well dig him out ASAP. 
Trapped inside his very dirty stall that we couldn't get a wheelbarrow to due to 3' foot drifts.
After Digby was dug out, the barn owner showed up to feed. Digby picked at his breakfast... and then left half of it. Panic. I asked if he has been doing that and she said no but that he does tend to eat slowly. He pooped while I was there so I knew he wasn't colicking. Perhaps his ulcers are back? Perhaps he was just miffed about being in for 2 days? Ahhh, Digby! Some guys came in a Bobcat to dig out the house on the property and luckily we coaxed them into helping us clear out an area so we could get Digby and his turnout buddies to the barn. Once they're in the barn, it's a fairly straight shot (and less to shovel) to the close turnout paddocks. No one goes out in them unless it's bad weather basically. After an hour and a half of tractor usage, two trucks with plows and hand shoveling, we were ready to get Digby out. I wanted to turn him out first because they were afraid he was going to be bad and wanted me to take him. Honestly, since he had been in for 2 days straight, I totally understood their concern. Like I've said, Digby can be a real jerk when he wants to be and after days of inside his stall only, that's prime "I'm gonna be a jerk" time.

Digby was a perfect gentleman walking out. He didn't put one foot wrong. Color me shocked! Once outside, both him and his buddy had a good roll then trotted around a bit. Digby had a couple of good leaps and then they settled down, had a big drink, and settled in to eat the hay we had put out of them. Strange... and yet, good. I hung out for a bit, just enjoying the view and then headed off. I'll help put him out tomorrow (errr, today) in a small paddock and then hopefully by Wednesday they'll have all the paddocks up and running so he can go out all day again.

Of course, in writing this, I am worried that there's something wrong with my horse since he was not super enthused about eating and then was so good going out.... I will be sure to check his temperature tomorrow! :)

Follow the leader
That face.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Blizzard Jonas, aka "ok winter this has been fun, bye now"

The northeast had a particularly fun weekend, being bombed with around 2 feet of snow. I haven't even heard an actual number yet for my area because the drifts were a bit, uh, excessive so I think it's hard to decide on what the amount was. Some of the drifts were above my head.
Wild black dog on Sunday!
The dog didn't seem to mind but it made me working a bit difficult. It turns out trying to get to work at 11 pm during a blizzard can be challenging, even if you work a mile from where you live. Regardless, it was fine. I didn't get to see Digby on Saturday because I was helping at my job to shovel and re-shovel key areas. I got some texts from the barn owner and one of my fellow boarders who had made it. The horses were tucked in happily and had plenty of hay and water which was awesome. Unfortunately, in the solid "con" category, the barn owner has moved off the property as I mentioned before. They didn't get to the horses on Saturday evening, which while I'm a little nervous about, the roads were very, very bad. I can hardly blame them?

The farm's two tease mares. Also on Sunday.
I was set on seeing Digby on Sunday since I knew there was no way they made it out Saturday night. I waited around until about 11:30. I figured this would be enough time to plow the barn out, the barn owners would be there, I could hang out with Digby for a bit, maybe help get some of the horses outside. The snow had stopped by late Saturday evening and while still a bit windy, it was mostly over. I had seen several plows going so I suspected that the roads would be fine. The roads weren't too bad and I made it to the barn fine. Yay only being 2 miles away! However when I arrived at the barn, it was not plowed. At all. There was about 3' of snow in the driveway... There were also no footsteps to be seen, as in perhaps the barn owners hadn't been there? Needless to say, my paranoid brain kicked into high gear and I panicked. Had my horse been left alone from Saturday morning around 10 AM until right now at 11:30 AM on Sunday??? There was also no where to park, since the barn wasn't plowed out. I was determined to check on the horses since I was worried no one had checked on them. I parked my car, probably illegally, on a nearby side street, left my hazard lights on, and hopped my way to the barn. 

View from inside Digby's stall.
Yeah. Walking/trudging/hopping through snow that is well past your knees is quite a work out. I couldn't stop laughing either because the dog was rather miffed about the whole situation and was busy hopping along herself, occasionally almost disappearing in the snow. Luckily, the barn owner was there! Yay. She had come in another way, thus the lack of footprints. She had just gotten there a little bit ago herself because she had been plowed in at her house and was equally pissed that the barn had not been plowed as their usual guy promised it would be done 2 hours ago. The adventure continued as we realized Digby's door was frozen shut and completely blocked by snow. I had to climb over his door to give him hay and water. It was eventful. His two turnout buddies stalls didn't have nearly as much snow/ice so they were ok. I set him up for the rest of the afternoon and she promised to take care of him in the evening. Hopefully by then it will be shoveled/plowed a bit and she can get the hose out. The horses didn't go out, because absolutely nothing was plowed and she hadn't shoveled anything except for right in front of the shed row horses stalls. The horses in the barn were fine, obviously. 

"This is dumb" - little black dog.
All in all, an actually fun snow filled day. Plus, thankfully my car did not get towed while I was tending to my wild hony. :)

Friday, January 22, 2016

What's a girl to do? (Part 2)

(Before you read this post: if you haven't read the first installment, if not read it here.)

The Reader's Digest version of the previous post is this. I work at a breeding farm. The horses here are not pets, they are here as part of a business to make money. If they cannot make us money or benefit us in some other way, we get rid of them by selling them or donating them. We are not mean people, we care about the horses we raise, but that is the truth of the matter. It is a business at the end of the day. Do I necessarily agree with my boss and the farm owner on this matter? No, but I'm not the boss. This is reality for us, as a business, specifically in the racing industry. I left off by explaining that most of the property is for sale. We've downsized over several years from over 200 horses to 39. The farm owner is getting older and wants to retire from the business in the near future. So I was discussing the matter of the "unwanted" horse, specifically regarding a yearling filly we have in the barn right now.

We have this filly who we've spent thousands of dollars on trying to make racehorse sound. She isn't. Looking at her x-rays, she will likely never be sound enough to race. She just started getting turnout again, after being inside the barn for her entire life to date, so perhaps she won't even stay pasture sound. Foals that grow up inside a stall tend to be different out of necessity. She will likely be very small (running around with friends help foals grow into bigger, stronger horses) with limited social skills (she's never met another horse other than her mother) and potentially, although not definitely, some serious sass from being so used to being poked and prodded by humans. Time will tell. I've got my fingers crossed for the little girl. The truth is that we have relatives of hers though. We still own, and breed, her mother. We have her full sister in training as a two year old. We have her half brother in training as a three year old. We have had other foals from this mare previously. We had/have foals out of her mothers sisters. She is well bred, no doubt, but it is not a bloodline that we lack.

Not the filly in question, just a darn cute one we raised!
So let's move on from that filly for a little bit. As you know, I own Digby. I have for 6 years in February. I knew him for a few years before I bought him and he was sound up until about 6 months after I bought him. We've had on and off lameness issues for years (with all kinds of saddle fitting, chiro/massage work, saddler fitters, different opinions from several farriers, and vet bills) but it's been mostly resolved with the lack of jumping. Corrective shoeing, supplements and Adequan help. He CAN be one of the coolest horses I have ever flatted and has a ton of buttons. I CAN finish a ride and think "I can't wait to ride tomorrow." He CAN go w/t/c on the buckle. He CAN be basically bombproof. Does he 100% of the time? Nope. When he is bad, he is BAD. He is not a horse who is subtle about his feelings. This is great because I know if he's uncomfortable or unhappy. This is not so great when you realize that you're spending a ton of money on corrective shoeing, supplements, Adequan, board at a very specific type of barn because god forbid it doesn't meet Digby's requirements, other vet bills (hi Lyme disease and multiple occurrences of ulcers, what up!) on a horse who only wants to play riding pony part of the time. This is my life and has been for 6 years.

After much, much thought and looking at my personal, non-horse life, I decided, "ok, this isn't fair to me, financially or emotionally." He just turned 17, he's absolutely stellar in a barn and with other horses. Let's try to find him a new home. I'm sure someone out in the world wants an adorable, well behaved companion who can go barefoot, isn't ancient, requires no maintenance, and is an easy(ish) keeper. Turns out, not so much. I will keep looking and have faith that the right person and situation will turn up eventually.

My point is, I've wondered over the years how not a single owner managed to know about his congenital bipartite navicular? Technically, if it had broke when he was a foal for example, it should of healed differently than what it looks on an x-ray. But what if, just for kicks, someone knew there was something wrong with his hoof as a foal? Maybe he came up lame as a foal or he broke it and was lame instead of being born with it. Let's say, they kept him in the barn for most of his young life for it to heal or to give him the best shot as an adult horse at a performance career. He had a good life so far. I'm his longest owner, but he's been taken care of. But I now have a small horse who hates being in a stall with a passion, has lameness issues from time to time, and is basically unwanted. I love him, I really do. If you've met me in real life or read the blog long enough, hopefully this is clear to you. But, I mean, in all reality, he just spends my money and I've gotten little use out of him. It's not like I rode him for years as a child and he's my heart horse. He's just a little horse who I'm attached to. I probably got 1 full year of riding out of him with minimal attitude or lameness issues. Not a whole lot out of 6.

The infamous Digby himself.
If you go on Facebook, COTH Forums, or other social media, you'll see people who preach that if your horse is not useable or rideable, you need to keep them forever or put them down because no one else will want them. (Spoiler alert: if you're trying to get rid of your own horse, don't read those because you'll feel like a total ass.) I see their point. I have accepted that I may very well own Digby until he dies. If I cannot find him a good home, he will stay with me. If I cannot afford him and still can't find a home, I will put him down. I've heard too many horror stories about horses going to "good homes" who end up selling the horse who ends up in a slaughter house or some other tragedy. No horse deserves that. I do think you need to be careful in the horse world. I would HATE to do that to Digby. I can't imagine putting him down because I couldn't afford him but I am realistic. I am young, not married, in a career that will likely not be my life time career. Things change financially. I can't say never, as much as I would love to. That said, I got unlikely I suppose by having a horse who has lameness and behavioral issues. Is it fair to me to have to keep him because I essentially got unlucky? It wouldn't have made sense to take x-rays of his hoof in a PPE. His previous owners didn't know. Luck of the draw essentially that now, according to the internet, I should pay board, farrier bills, vet bills for without looking for a new home until he dies. He's 17. It could (and hopefully will!) be a while. As for putting him down, that's wildly hard to even think about because it is NOT. His. Fault. He is healthy otherwise. He isn't a bad horse, just a little unlucky and quirky.

My point is, had his breeder known about his hoof issue, like we know about that little filly's, would I want them to have done what we're doing? I'm not sure. He's had a good life and will continue to have a good life, but there are horses out there in the world who are nicer, sounder, more athletic, better bred, etc. Emotions aside, as a realist, from the outside looking in, was it the right thing to do? As a responsible breeder, should we keep semi lame horses alive knowing that we will not be there to keep them safe, fed and taken care of until they die? I don't think so. But Becky, this means potentially your own horse would of been put down?! Yes. It does. Remember I said I had an interesting stand on this topic, right?

My coworkers often say "well, at least she's alive" in response to her being stuck in a stall. I cringe every time. What happens if she's 10 years old, dead lame (because trust me, her x-rays are worse than Digby's), hasn't produced any good foals as a broodmare, and doesn't have an owner who loves her? What of her fate then? She's not alone either. This isn't racehorse exclusive. We can't guarantee someone will make sure a horse goes to a good home.

So, readers, I ask of you: does buying a horse mean you promise to take care of a horse forever? Do breeder's have a responsibility to "take back" horses they've bred? Any personal stories of your own to share?