ps. I’ve officially launched my Facebook page everyone! Please check it out and click the ‘Like’ button if you are so inclined.
Update: Check out how the insulator fared during the 2014 polar freeze here!
As many of you should already know, hydration for horses is very important whether it’s the hottest day of the summer or the coldest day of the winter. In addition to providing my horses with salt licks and electrolytes, I decided to try getting them insulated water bucket covers so that their water would be less likely to freeze on the below freezing weather we tend to get during the winter months. To me, this is a safer option to heated water buckets because there is no fire hazard related to having an insulated bucket cover. My barn is an older build, so I am not entirely comfortable having an electrically powered heating object in my horse’s stall 24/7. I purchased this because I felt it would give me peace of mind – that my horses’ water wasn’t freezing and that would be possible without creating a potentially deadly hazard.
I purchased one for my pony and one for my horse. They each have two water buckets in their stalls, but they tend to favor one bucket over the other, so I put the cover on the water bucket they each favored. Overall, it was pretty easy to put on as long as you kept track of what velcroed to what. I believe this was advertised for round water buckets, but they also fit the flat back ones that my horse and pony have.
The weather wasn’t too cold the first few days the covers were on, so I wasn’t able to really test whether the covers were doing their job. However, on Thanksgiving, I arrived at the barn to find this in the aisle way next to my horse’s stall.
Yep, my horse had completely destroyed his bucket cover. After 3 days. He is 4, so I guess I should have known this wouldn’t last very long, but this cover was also advertised as being made of 600-denier fabric, which is the same stuff that some blankets are made out of, so I thought it would be pretty durable. After all, it might be in a stall with a stall-bound, and potentially bored, horse.
As a complete compliment to SmartPak’s customer service, I emailed them about the bucket cover, and they kindly offered me store credit for the purchase price of the bucket cover. I wasn’t too keen on replacing it with a new one because I figured it would meet the same fate.
So one down, one left.
Finally, meteorologists were predicting a bitter cold spell. I’m not talking 20 degree weather – I’m talking single digit, potentially negative digit cold weather. I hate cold weather, and winter in general, but I was excited to see how my pony’s water bucket held up considering it had a fantastic new insulator on it.
I sent a message to my barn manager asking whether he had noticed if my pony’s water had frozen yesterday (January 3, 2014) after the bitter cold and snow storm we had. This was my barn manager’s response:
Same, but the ice says thanks for the coat.
I did get a good laugh, but I was disappointed that the bucket cover hadn’t done it’s job, especially since this is the type of weather that really freezes stall water. I checked it out for myself yesterday evening, and while the ice was not as thick as usual for single digit weather, it still had frozen. However, if I had to choose between thick ice that my pony cannot break through and thin ice that he can break through, I would definitely choose the thin ice. But to be perfectly candid, my pony’s water experienced the exact same icing that my horse’s did, and he didn’t even have a bucket insulator because he decided his looked tasty!
I visited the barn again today – temperatures last night were in the single and negative digits, and it didn’t get above 24 degrees today. My pony’s water in his covered bucket was thicker ice, even though it had been emptied and refilled the night before. In fact, it looked like he had not even touched that bucket all day and/or night because it was still topped off. His uninsulated bucket had thinner ice than the insulated one!
The Short Story: I don’t think this bucket insulator is good for weather below 20 degrees. While the ice was relatively thin, that thin ice trend did not hold up well, even if the bucket had been emptied and refilled. In my opinion, the insulator works best in 20 degree weather and up. Thankfully, we do not have that many days of single digit and negative digit temperatures, but it would be nice to know I had something that would keep my pony’s water from freezing in the event that those temperatures decided to visit. I also would not recommend this in a stall with playful horses or horses that get bored easily, as can be seen from the damage my horse did to his. It was not as durable as I would’ve liked. But, as usual, SmartPak does get an A+ for excellent customer service. This item is no longer available on SmartPak’s website, but maybe it will be available again next fall if you are interested in purchasing one for your horse or pony.
To be quite honest, I can’t stand New Year’s Resolutions. I do them every year, but I guess that is really just me giving into the societal pressures of having to resolve to do something new, fun, exciting, groundbreaking, (insert adjective of your choice here) in the new year. While January 1st is always an opportune and symbolic time to make a ‘fresh start,’ there is really always time to make a fresh start, whether it’s January 1st or June 13th. We can resolve to be better, healthier, more active, more social, more organized whenever we want – all it takes is the intention.
But, in the spirit of New Year’s Eve, I have set some goals for myself in 2014. Some of them are horse-related, while others are me-related. Check them out below:
- Jump 2’6″ – 2’9″ by the end of 2014. A little tidbit about my riding career – I was sour on jumping for years, especially after some bad falls and too many bad trainers that felt it was better to push me to a point of complete and utter discomfort rather than working with me on my fears. I took a break from riding for a year and a half because I was so terrified. During my first lesson with my new (and amazing) trainer, I told her I didn’t want to do any jump or canter work. Fast forward to November 2013, exactly a year later, where I stated I wanted to be jumping 2’6″ – 2’9″ consistently by the end of 2014. My trainer calls this ambitious, and it may be, but that isn’t going to stop me from trying as hard as I can to reach that goal. While I unfortunately do not have a horse that can jump 2’9″ right now, we will see what the new year brings. The point is I love jumping again, and I’ve been riding for 18 years, so I should probably whip my jumping into shape.
- Ride more often. For the people in my life, this may seem weird. How can I possibly ride more? In actuality, I only ride 3 or 4 times a week, in one weekend. However, I made the decision over the summer to bring my pony out of retirement, and my green horse is coming along very nicely. With my extremely flexible spring semester schedule (no class Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), I am going to devote more time to riding on the days I have off. That doesn’t mean I’ll be taking fewer lessons, but I’ll at least work on getting stronger during the week, and hopefully it will translate into the weekend.
- Save more money. I have a nice chunk of change saved up, but I cannot ignore the fact that I will be finishing school, working a big girl job, and having to think about doing adult things like buying a house, paying my own bills, and slowly getting off the gravy train that I’ve been on for the last 30 years (I’m actually 26, but I’m planning on my parents’ continued financial support for like.. the next 4). Basically, I need to start planning for the eventual last stop on the gravy train, so I should probably start doing that 4 years in advance. Also, if you’re wondering whether my parents know about this, they absolutely do! I have already had a retirement account for two years, and I’ve been faithfully depositing money in it every week. I have a savings account, a checking account, and a brokerage account for my stocks. I’m the type of person that needs to have my money for different things kept separately. So I have my savings account for me, my checking account for my bills, my retirement account for my.. well, retirement, and I will be putting more money each week into my brokerage account as a nice little nest egg for my horses. I should’ve been doing this long before I started, but that brings me to my next goal:
- Stop living in the past. I really don’t do this that often, but every once in a while, I notice myself saying “well if I hadn’t spent money on that stupid thing 5 years ago,” or “if I hadn’t taken that break from horseback riding,” or “if I hadn’t wasted my time on that person,” and that pattern of thinking if completely self-destructive. Here’s the thing, the past happened already, and no matter how much I think about what I could have or should have done differently, it’s not going to change. It’s set in stone. Completed. Finished. So what’s the next easiest thing to do? Make a change now. Reflecting on the past can be a good thing, say, when you want to remind yourself that bad things have happened in the past, and you still made it to today, but focusing on what you could’ve done differently and how that would’ve changed the present is pointless, because it just isn’t going to happen. I’ll have more money in the future if I change my actions now. I’ll be a better rider if I change my actions now. Make sense? I think this is a trap that a lot of people get caught in, and we all need simple reminders that we need to start living in the present and planning for the future, but no so much that it makes us psychotic.
- Redo my freakin’ room. I have a lot of clothes, and books, and shoes, and crap in my room that I just do not use. It sits there, collecting dust, pissing me off, and making my room all cluttered. I keep vowing I am going to get rid of the stuff I don’t use, whether I donate it to charity, throw it out, or sell it on Poshmark, eBay, or through some other online vendor. Do I really need my history textbook from 2008? Or my LSAT prep books from 2010? Or that tupperware container from college that is filled with beauty products that have either expired or are no longer even trendy? Probably not. I don’t even want to get into the absurd amount of clothes and shoes I own. Everything needs to go. I need to have a more functional living space. Period.
- Start Danielle LaPorte’s book, The Desire Map. If you don’t know who Danielle LaPorte is, take a trip over to her website. Her writing is inspiring. Her daily, weekly, and/or monthly emails are radiant. She’s probably one of my top 10 favorite writers, and that is saying something, because I am seriously picky about other people’s writing. The Desire Map is about getting clear on how you want to feel. By gaining that clarity, we begin to feel how we want to feel more often and with less effort. And those feelings can actually help us achieve our lifelong goals. Danielle calls it “holistic life planning,” “the inner meets the outer,” and “the spirit drives the material.” I purchased the book in October, never started it due to that little thing called law school, but I swear I am going to this year. Scout’s honor.
- Devote more time to my blog. I have wanted to start a blog for a while because I love to write, but I literally had no idea what I would even write about. I finally settled on this, and while it’s a work in progress, I think it’s been going pretty well. I’d like this to be a composite of horse-related, legal-related, and me-related things. I’m still finding my niche. But, I am going to spend more time coming up with ideas, engaging with my hopefully growing audience, and trying to establish my own little footprint on this big internet world. If you’re on this ride now, I hope you stick around for the journey – whatever it ends up being.
- Stop feeling guilty about my feelings. My education for the first 12 years of my life consisted of good old Catholic school. I had to take religion class, then “Theology” as it was called in high school. I attended a private university for two years, and then ended up transferring to a local private religiously-affiliated university where I again had to take some sort of religious class to fulfill one of the core requirements. I guess you could say I have a tendency to experience that lovely Catholic guilt, especially when I feel something that may be less than Christ-like in my childhood nun teachers’ eyes. Without getting too religious here, I struggled to define my spirituality throughout my life. At one point I said I didn’t even believe in God, but that wasn’t true. I went through a “tough time” and began to feel spiritual again, and for now, I just like to mix and match my own theories and ideas in order to be a spiritual being in this day and age. I’m comfortable with my beliefs, yet I still feel guilty if I have an angry thought about my mother or if I am bothered by something someone does that literally bothers everyone else I know. I’m not saying I’m gonna ignore my conscience, but I think my conscience is terribly loud sometimes. And it really needs to shut up, especially when I know I am not being unreasonable.
- Make meditation a habit. Meditation is probably one of the most difficult things for me to do. Quiet my mind? Yeah, okay. My mind is always racing. At any given moment, there are approximately 75 different things about which I am thinking. School. Grades. Money. Jobs. Where I’ll be in the future. How I’ll get there. Horses. Horses. Horses. I wish I was Lillie Keenan. I wish I was a better rider. I wish I had more money. Ugh, why is my room so messy? I hate the cold weather. I wish it was summer. I need to stop eating these cookies. But they’re so good. What if I don’t get a good job after my clerkship? How am I going to afford my lifestyle? I hate when my friends don’t text me back in a timely manner. And it goes on, and on, and on. I began practicing meditation a few years ago, and I’ve been pretty good at keeping it a part of my life, but I could be doing better. Last night I meditated for 20 minutes, and it took about 10 for me to feel fully relaxed and calm. Usually I only do one meditation a night, but I’m thinking I might need to extend my sessions to make it more beneficial. I know that I will get better at it as I keep practicing, so I just need to keep practicing. If you haven’t tried meditating, but are interested, check out Gabrielle Bernstein. She’s one of my favorite new age gurus, and her guided meditations are seriously on point.
- Be more patient. I have no patience. Zero. Zip. Nada. Things have to happen now. If they can’t happen now, I want to know when. I want to know how long something will take. I want to know the outcome. I’m literally the worst when it comes to patience, and this also might have something to do with my need to control everything. I’m borrowing this from Gabby Bernstein’s latest blog because she put it best:
11. Keep it simple. Have you ever desperately wished you could make change happen overnight? If so, you’re not alone: we’ve all been there. But we must surrender to the fact that real change happens by adding up subtle shifts. Each subtle shift creates a new experience of positive change. When we add up these moments, we create new behavior. It’s important to keep it simple and stay in the day. Let yourself off the hook! Instead of getting overwhelming by focusing on changing your whole life right now, simply begin paying attention to the moment-to-moment subtle shifts. Trust that the miracle lies within the subtleties.
So those are my 10 things I would like to accomplish in 2014. I think they are do-able, and I also think that is the most important thing to remember when doing whatever it is you do for New Year’s, make them do-able. Setting lofty goals for the new year can be more overwhelming than life-changing. We don’t want to start the new year over-whelmed. It’s supposed to be a fresh start, remember? So brainstorm on what you’d like to accomplish in 2014. It could be one thing or twenty things.
What are your 2014 hopes, dreams, and goals?
Both my horses started suffering from thrush earlier this fall, and I’ve been struggling to find something that dealt with it effectively. I was using Thrush Buster (the purple stuff), but it wasn’t doing as good of a job as I would’ve liked. I then switched to No Thrush, which is a dry formula. I had read really great reviews on it, so I wanted to give it a try. My horse also was developing some pretty bad heel cracks, so I thought the dry formula would be perfect because it would get in the cracks and stay there.
After a month of using the “No” Thrush, my horse’s feet were AWFUL. I had engaged in daily foot cleaning, and daily application of the No Thrush, and his feet were not healing. In fact, they were worse. My barn manager and I discovered that both of his frogs were falling off both of his front feet, and underneath was a coating of nasty, black thrush bacteria. Not the result I expected from a product advertised as getting rid of thrush, and it certainly was not living up to its review reputation.
After this, I was desperate, especially because my horse was coming up a bit short strided on the one foot that had the worst frog peeling. I scrubbed his feet out with betadine in hopes of getting rid of the bacteria until I could find a more effective thrush medication. It was after store hours, so I couldn’t really go anywhere to pick up something new.
One of my good barn friends had been using Farrier’s Fix on her horse who had deep heel cracks. She had experienced a lot of benefit from the product, so I decided to invest in a container of it to see if it would help my horse with his feet problems. After a week of applying this daily, my horse’s feet were looking a lot better. The thrush had not come back. His frog was beginning to heal a bit, and the heel cracks he had were starting to close up. My barn manager also commented on how great his feet looked. I’ve gone down to using it about 2 to 3 times a week, as recommended, but it is gentle enough to be used daily if needed. I also use it on my pony’s feet to prevent thrush, as his frogs have been getting some cracks due to all the moisture in the soil lately.
Farrier’s Fix has a lot of other benefits besides sealing the feet and preventing/treating thrush. It also minimizes soreness in horses and ponies that have been recently trimmed or have stone bruises, as well as minimizes the soreness associated with laminitis. It is easy to apply and comes with its own brush. The ingredients are also all-natural and provide the vitamins needed for good quality hooves.
A small hoof oil sized container retails for about $20, and a half gallon retails for about $60, depending on the vendor.
Overall, I’ve been happy with the product, and I will continue to use it to keep my horses’ feet health, moisturized, and bacteria-free!
Happy hoof picking!
I’m finally done with finals, and I can get back to blogging! The finals I just took were my last winter finals ever, so obviously I am super excited.
I wanted to address something that is extremely important, and I hope I’m not doing this topic to death (though the amount of fights I’ve seen about this topic on the internet indicate I am…), but I’ve seen a lot of photos of experienced riders without helmets. I am not taking away from the fact that it is an individual’s own personal choice as to whether they want to protect one of the most valuable parts of their body while on a large animal that is inherently unpredictable, but I also want to voice my own opinion on this sometimes controversial topic.
A study done by a team of scientists found that 44 percent of the 94 WEF riders surveyed experienced concussions during their riding careers. Out of those riders, all of them were likely to return to riding without receiving medical clearance of a licensed medical professional. Furthermore, 40 percent of riders had never been educated about concussions, and a mere 15 percent received concussion education from their trainers.
The risk for traumatic brain injury as a result of a horseback riding accident is something I don’t like to think about, especially now that I’m older. However, I would NEVER get on a horse without a helmet, whether I am jumping a course or sitting on a horse for a photo. In fact, when I was thinking of how to take Christmas pictures with my horses this year, I decided I would go helmet chic while my horses sported their festive Christmas hats.
I’ve seen an unfortunate amount of individuals riding without helmets – both on the internet and in person. The age ranged from those in their 20s, to those in their 50s, to young children (yes, I said young children!) To be quite honest, I am surprised that wearing appropriate headgear while riding a horse isn’t required by state statute. It may be required by a barn’s rules for insurance purposes, but I’ve seen firsthand how effective that rule is.. (no matter how many times you tell a grown woman to wear a helmet while riding, she always ends up reverting back to her non-helmet-wearing behavior after a few days).
However, I did come across the wonderful step New York took in making wearing helmets while horseback riding mandatory under state law. The new law, sponsored by New York State Senator Kenneth LaValle and State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Jr., amends a previous New York law by requiring children ages 18 and under to wear a helmet while engaged in equestrian activities. The maximum fine for a violation of this law was also increased to $250, which I believe is the same fine for texting while driving in some states! According to an article on Riders4Helmets, New York was the first state to enact a law requiring children to wear a helmet while horseback riding. However, the law only required children ages 14 and under, unlike the recently amended and passed version that increased the age from 14 to 18, which I think is great. The maximum fine under the previous law was also $50, which really is not that much money if you think about it (at least in my opinion…)
I’ve had a few falls during my horseback riding career, but my worst one was at the backend of a jump. My pony decided he wanted to stop and pull his head down, and I somersaulted over his neck, and landed smack dab on my head. The helmet I was thankfully wearing cracked so loudly upon landing that my best friend thought I had cracked my neck. I was able to get back on my pony and do the same line without any issues, but I did go to the emergency room after I got home. While I still question the doctors’ lack of concern for my headache and their over concern about my sore shoulder which they claimed was indicative of a “ruptured spleen,” I was lucky to come out of that with just a sprained shoulder because I was wearing my helmet. I still don’t know if I had a concussion, but the headache and sleepiness that came about after I got home leads me to believe I did have one, even if the doctors weren’t that concerned.
It is your choice whether you want to ride without a helmet, at least if you’re over 18 years of age in New York, but I strongly urge everyone considering taking this dangerous and potentially deadly step to think long and hard about the potentially life-altering and life-ending consequences that can result.