Punks Kid Rock is the registered name of my American Quarter horse gelding, Rocky. This blog chronicles our adventures together,
as well as stories from my horse past and, occasionally, a tidbit from my non horse life.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Difficult Conversations

Welcome, Mugwump Chronicle Readers! (and all others, of course.)  Mugwump featured a past blog post I wrote on her blog today, and one of the reader comments inspired me to write a follow up.  The original blog can be found here.  It's titled "Lemons," and is about my experience of buying Rocky, falling in love with him, and then realizing that he has HYPP N/H after receiving his registration papers from the friend I bought him from.  One of the Mugwump readers asked if I ever talked to "Rite," my friend who sold me Rocky, about not disclosing his HYPP status to me prepurchase.  Here is the answer:

When I got Rocky's registration papers in the mail and saw the dreaded "HYPP N/H" letters on the side, my heart sank.  One of the people I boarded with at the time had been concerned that her horse was HYPP positive, and had mentioned a few things about it.  Essentially, I knew that it wasn't good but not any concrete details.  I headed to the internet and did some research to learn what exactly I was dealing with.

I was still grieving the loss of my first horse just three months earlier, so seeing that my new horse I had already started falling in love with may have a seizure and drop dead was terrifying.  For a while, I sat and cried with my laptop, wondering what I should do.  I didn't want to return Rocky; HYPP notwithstanding, he was exactly what I wanted in a horse and my rational brain knew that horses can have accidents or other sudden medical issues.  I had learned that fact all too well with the untimely death of my first horse.

I felt such rage at Rite, for misleading me, for breeding Rocky in the first place, for continuing to breed his HYPP N/H sire at will.  I thought about how she feeds all of her horses a rich alfalfa diet, and came to the conclusion that she did not have the same panic response that I did.  The potassium in alfalfa can set off HYPP symptoms, but she didn't seem to either know or be bothered by that knowledge.

Finally, when I had processed the situation enough on my own to not send a nasty, horrible email, I did send one.  I don't remember exactly what I said, but I tried to keep my feelings in check the best I could.  I asked if Rocky had ever had HYPP symptoms, what they were and how severe they were if he had experienced them. I think I commented about being surprised to see that he was a carrier on his papers, and that it would have been nice to know earlier.

She responded by saying that he'd never been symptomatic, nor had Checkers, his sire.  Rite explained that if he were to have an attack, it would look like "he was standing on his tippy toes" with his hind end, and that it would go away after a little bit.  I stared at that email for a long time.  I didn't know what to say; she knew enough about HYPP to know that it would be a muscle seizure, but apparently not enough to know that he could choke to death?  Obviously choking to death would be a worst case scenario, but it has happened.

I finally decided that nothing I could say to her was likely to make a difference. She was an adult, had made her choices and chooses to believe that HYPP is not a big deal.   Rite recently talked about gelding Checkers, and I was very supportive of the idea.  Other than that, I chose not to pursue the matter any further.  I think that Rite honestly believes HYPP is not a real problem, so she thought she was acting fairly. 

In many ways I have been very lucky to have Rocky.  He has a great mind, tries hard, is sweet and steady.  A good deal of those traits come from his breeding, as both Amber (his dam) and Checkers are good minded, calm, and try to please their rider.  He also came with the upbringing I wanted, having received all proper vaccinations and farrier care.   Rocky was also desensitized from a young age, again adding to his value as a trail horse for me.

Rocky's good traits that he got from Rite added to my decision to let this thing lie.  I couldn't see any good come from "having it out" with Rite, and at the end of the day, I love and want my horse. 

If you had been in my shoes, what would you have done?  What do you think the "right" course of action would be? 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hunting Season Riding

I went for a trail ride last Saturday, but it had to be shorter than I'd like due to hunting season.  The neighbors on one side of the barn hunt grouse on their trails in the fall, making those trails off limits right now.  Bow hunting season for deer has opened as well, and we weren't sure if the deer hunters nearby were bow or rifle hunters.  Either way, we didn't want holes poked through us or our noble steeds.

I have thought about getting blaze orange stuff to put on Rocky, because he is so dark and potentially "deer like." Although, if you follow one of the first three rules of hunter safety, you always have to be sure of your target and what is behind it.  How many people follow that, I don't know, but based on the number of hunting accidents every year I'd rather be safe than sorry.  If you are a trail rider, do you put blaze orange on yourself or your horse during hunting seasons?  Do you have another method of ensuring nearby people can see you/your horse/dog and identify you as "non game"?  I should get a bell to put on Bear when we are out, although he does a great job of sticking close to me.

 See? We were going for a canter, and Bear flew after us.  My mom and I were riding with one of the other boarders at our barn, and I think she got worried about Bear running with us because she yelled out "Dog!" I forgot to tell her that Rocky is not bothered by Bear at all, in fact, seems to enjoy running with him.

This is us before Bear joined in the run, and while the picture is a little blurrier than I'd like, I think it turned out pretty well. I had wanted a picture of Rocky and I cantering, so I made my mom sit on Tapper and take pictures of us.  We only cantered past twice, but the first picture was not very good.  Rocky had his nose out about as far as he could, and generally looked like a moose about to tip over. Not exactly my graceful, collected horse, which reminds me that we should really work on vertical flexing at the poll some more. And collection.  That's the joy of horses though, there is always something more to learn, refine, and enjoy.  Happy trails!

On a side note, I wanted to show you all this sculpture that my mom gave me. It's called "Waitin' on the Boss" and is one of my favorite gifts that I've ever received.  If you love it as much as I do, you can buy it (or other horse sculptures similar to it) from here.  The dog looks so much like Bear, and the way the horse is calmly waiting with one hind leg cocked is something I have seen Rocky do many times.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

New Saddle!

I got a new saddle two weeks ago.  My "old" one (which was only about a year and a half old) refused to stay off of Rocky's withers.  I used a crupper for most of that year and a half, a leather strap that attached to the back of the saddle and went around the base of his tail to hold the saddle in place. You can sort of see it in this photo, a little knot of extra leather. 
I didn't like how the crupper was pulling on his tail, wearing a path in the fur along his spine where the crupper would lay. I let it go though, until one day Rocky pulled out the D-ring on the back of the saddle that the crupper was clipped onto.  He had spooked, clamping down with his tail as he scooted away from the terrifying tarp laying on the ground, and when the dust settled the crupper was laying on the ground, still attached to the D-ring from his saddle.  It made my saddle nearly unusable, as without the crupper his saddle slid inexorably forward until I was riding on his shoulders- not a comfortable position for either of us.

 I took my saddle to a repair shop, where they replaced the rubbery strap that used to hold the D-ring in place with a leather one.  It seemed like a good solution, so I went back to using my saddle the same way I had before.  Except, the new leather strap stretched.  And stretched.  And stretched some more.  I had to make a new hole on the crupper to shorten it enough to make up for the slack created by the new leather piece.  I became increasingly distressed doing this, as it made me realize how much pressure the crupper had to be putting on Rocky's tail and spine.  To make it worse, the crupper wasn't even mine, it was an equipment loan from my barn owner.  

I finally decided that I was not going to continue to torque Rocky's spine to hold his saddle in place, especially when it wasn't working very well anyway.  I arranged for my mom to drive Rocky and I two hours away from the barn to visit a tack shop that regularly boasts over 300 saddles.  They have a round pen on site and saddle fitters, so they can help you find the right saddle.  I spent about an hour cleaning my saddle, breast collar, and saddle pad so that I could hopefully trade them in for a good price. 

Once we got to the store, it took us four hours of shopping and two rounds of saddle fitting to find two saddles (out of that 300...) that would fit both Rocky and I.  While riding, one of those two saddles started to rub my calves in an uncomfortable way, so it was an easy choice to go with the one I bought.  It was an expensive purchase for me, but I think owing my parents is worth it.  My new saddle stays in place without any additional hardware, comfortably fits Rocky and is a pleasure to ride in.  Without further ado:
I needed to get a new saddle pad, too. My old one was too small.

It has a "rough" leather seat, which feels more secure to me than my smooth one did. Who knew?!

Gotta love all of that cushion. 
You can see a large 'tunnel' of sorts in the saddle above Rocky's spine.  It's large enough to stick your arm into it, and creates air flow so he doesn't overheat.  It feels good to know that, not only am I no longer pulling on his spine, he has a saddle that actually cushions and airs out his back.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Career path

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and I've determined that I fall into a category of people; at least, I'm assuming there are more like me out there. It's a big planet.  The "I Don't Have a Dream" people.  Less popular than those who "Do Have a Dream," but still a fairly large contingent I would bet.

Specifically, I have no real sense of passion for what I want my career to be. I'm moderately satisfied with the position I have, but as I look to the future I keep thinking, "I don't want to be here forever."  I look at higher positions within the company I work for, and feel no desire to climb that particular ladder.

Frustratingly, I seem to be either over or under qualified for most jobs in my area.  With two Bachelor degrees, one in Psychology and the other in Liberal Arts for the Human Services, there isn't a lot for me.  Most jobs require a high school diploma, and pay around $10 an hour. Other jobs want a Master's or Doctorate degree, and pay closer to $20 and up, depending.   Does that make me doomed to creep along in my job, earning a 3% raise every November?

I honestly feel stuck. If I want to get paid more in a psychology field, it's pretty much a given that I will need to get a higher degree.  Which requires paying out even more in loans and going back to school, neither of which appeals to me.  My other option appears to be wading into a different industry entirely, for which I have almost nothing on paper that qualifies me for it and therefore would reduce me to the $10/hour earning range.  We can't afford to lose any income at this point, and $10/hour is not going to pay our bills.

If I had a strong sense of what I wanted to do, I would figure out a way to make it happen.  This brings me back to the "I Don't Have a Dream" issue; I am drifting in a sea of uncertainty.

Today I thought about becoming a furniture saleslady. I thought I could listen attentively to what people are looking for, make helpful suggestions and generally be successful.

Yesterday, I debated the merits of becoming a horse trainer, apprenticing myself to my barn owner for a while to help her with clients, then build my own reputation.

I have also thought about becoming a social worker, a high school counselor, an aide to the elderly, a customer care representative, an administrative assistant, a security guard, a police officer, a baker, and occasionally I day dream about being a stay-at-home mom.  Even though I have no children and we would be broke.

About once a week I sort through different career websites, trolling for anything that looks like something I may want to do, full time, that I'm qualified for, with a decent work schedule, that pays more than I make right now.  Yeah.  So far, pretty much zilch.

I applied for two jobs today, and we'll see what response I get.  One is in the same office Justin works for, which would be great for the schedule, pay, and ride sharing with my husband.  The other I am fairly uncertain about, and is for an activities coordinator at an elderly living center.

One thing that does interest me is doing animal assisted therapy, using horses with people.  However, that would require a higher degree and certification in that type of therapy.  Additionally, while there is a place nearby that does it, they only run during the summer.

Oh Great Internet Universe, what should I do? It's getting a bit disheartening.