"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

May 10 Questions

I found a new blog thanks to these going around! Thank you Rhiannon!  

1. What are your summer goals?

I have a post that I have re-written at least 5 times explaining those summer goals and the story behind them (it's a good one), but I suspect that I will be publishing it only after the plan comes to fruition. It does not involve the horses, and is the driving force behind the current personal training, carb cycling and exercise regime. It is one of the most fascinating things I've done in a long time. Yes, it is challenging, but I'm also very much having fun with it, which is the most important part...the challenge is half the fun of it for me. The transformation I'm tracking publicly on Instagram does have an end goal. But I'm not saying anything else. ;)

On the equine front, I do plan on giving both mares a full-blown vacation in July (see my year-end review from last year as to why) and Gracie will have her pastern injected at that time since high-mobility joints require a longer rest period than, say, hocks.

I love love LOVE Lily's body condition right now.
Shiny mare is getting shinier.

2. Do you have any tips or tricks for fly control?

This is a good one because my horses live outside 24/7. They don't have access to stalls nor fans so flies are a constant. That said, having a fairly short fly season compared to Florida's year-round flies (which Lily and I survived) are a piece of cake.

Lily does not have a forelock so I like to use a fly fringe on her to keep the flies out of her eyes. I discovered these back in FL and it continues to be a long-standing favorite.

I love this one from Horze.com (shown in photo.) It's only $6 and the horse doesn't need to wear a halter for it.
(My BO doesn't allow halters for turnout.)
I can't always make it out to the barn every single day, especially on my work days right now (13 hour shifts + a 50-mile commute one way. Yeah no) and I don't like to leave them unsupervised with fly masks on for days on end. They really should be taken off at night.

Gracie is especially prone to getting into trouble with masks: she will rub her face to get the fly mask off and leave it all topsy-turvy on her head. She gave herself a corneal scratch like that one time, which defeats the purpose of having the mask at all. And I've had issues with Lily developing fungal infections on her nose from sweating underneath the mask's noseband, no matter how much I wash it. So no fly masks.

Gracie doesn't get a fly fringe because she has an awesome forelock.

Case in point.
My favorite fly control product for equine faces is Endure roll-on. It will last a good 24 hours and will work even when the horse is sweating. SWAT does nothing for us. :/

For the body, I used to swear by Absorbine's Ultra Shield back in Puerto Rico (another place where flies are a year-round nightmare). In Florida I alternated between Mosquito Halt (because swamp = droves of mosquitoes on trail that will literally cover your horse) and Ultrashield Red because I was on self-care board and was at the barn every single day to re-apply. Nowadays in Maryland I honestly buy whatever is the cheapest fly control product I can find at the feed store. I refuse to pay $30 for a spray bottle of something that will only last a day regardless of claims on the bottle. I used to buy Bronco by the gallon but now usually just get the oil-based concentrates because their effectiveness does last a longer than the water-based products. The product currently in my grooming tote is a 32 oz container of Repel-Xpe, and it has the leftovers from last year. That one bottle of concentrate lasted me an entire season and then some.

I don't touch organic "green" products. They just have never worked for us; they might repel flies for maybe 5 minutes after application. Give me the hard-core chemicals please, thank you and sorry.

3. How often do you bathe your horse?

I like my horses to be the shiniest in the field and I am a stickler about grooming. The two keys to sheen are a balanced, high-quality diet and a solid grooming protocol. I don't have qualms about hosing them down every day I'm at the barn if it's hot out. During the summer months they'll get shampoo baths as often as once a week and as infrequently as once a month depending on how much work they're doing: letting grime and sweat build up on their coats is a recipe for a fungal infection in hot humid climates. Ask me how I know: these are HUGE problems both in Florida and in PR. Some horses are more prone to fungal infections (like rain rot) than others, regardless of diet and living conditions. Lily is one of these horses. She gets one shampoo bath a month with anti-fungal shampoo as a preventive. My regular shampoo is Vetrolin Bath (it's cheap, lasts a long time, has a nice smell, and a mild liniment-y feel), and my favorite anti-fungal is Eqyss Microtek Medicated Shampoo (that shit works, so I don't mind paying more for it.)

For the record, when I first got Lily, she had the beginnings of a head-to-toe fungal infection that caused her to lose 80% of the hair on her body before I could get a handle on it. She required prescription medicated baths and oral antibiotics to clear it up. It took a month to get hair to grow back on her. So yeah: we're really keen on the fungal prevention methods around here.

4. Do you have any upcoming travel plans? Equine related or otherwise?

We just got back from a trip to the Outer Banks. :)

I got to meet this awesome lady! This is her blog...
...and had the opportunity of experiencing her lovely farmette and riding her gelding Val, who might just be my new favorite OTTB. He is quite the character, and a very special horse. There will be a blog post. :D

5. What is your favorite way to beat the heat?

I don't beat the heat. I embrace it. I'll be outside in it erryday in the tiniest shorts and tank top I can get away with in public because I cannot stand fabric against my skin when it's hot and I also like to be brown: I am an islander and it is the one time of the year I can look the part. Give me 98 degrees, give me 100% humidity: I will revel in them. And then afterwards I'll take a cold shower and sit outside as the sun and temperature go down, cold beverage in hand and a light dinner in front of me as the fireflies come out. Summers in the Mid-Atlantic are one of my favorite seasons.

Featured: tiny shorts and tiny tank top. On horseback, saddleless.
Photo from two weeks ago.
Favorite activities during the heat involve water: taking the horses on trail rides with water access to streams and rivers where they can splash around and cool off, and we try to make a point of going tubing on the Shenandoah or Potomac at least once every summer.

I don't wear cotton in summer when engaging in outdoor activities where I will be sweating: I use thin technical fabrics that aid in sweat evaporation which helps keep me cooler in our high humidity weather. Elytes are added to water (I hate Gatorade. It does not work for me; I've gotten horrific calf cramps on 50s when I've used Gatorade. I use Nuun tablets and also love Hammer's Endurolytes Fizz tabs) and I will bring grapes, chopped melon, or mangoes with me to the barn to keep in the fridge for after riding, or bring them along in a cooler when we're hauling to ride on trail. Ice-cold chocolate milk is another favorite after hot rides.

6. Do you do anything to prevent your horse from sunbleaching?

Feeding flax and rinsing off sweat before it dries to a salty crust on them helps. But it's a losing battle when they live outside 24/7.

A bleached-out Gracie last summer.
Her summer coat starts out the same color as the roots of her mane and fades to this gold color.

7. How hot is too hot for you to ride?

Currently there is no such thing. Lily and I are both from hot humid climates and Maryland summers are nothing compared to what we used to have to live through. We will ride, but we'll ride in the shade and seek water. Workouts for her don't change in intensity, though I do always keep a close eye on her breathing, energy level and sweating.

Hill sprints last June.
Cooling off in the river on a record-breaking hot day.
I'll take it easy on Gracie if it's over 90 degrees and/or over 60% humidity in the summer: no high intensity work for her in the heat. We'll work on slower gaiting in the shade and take frequent breaks in water.

Gracie enjoying the Potomac on a 98 degree day with 80% humidity last July.
I have sponges on leashes for both mares; they become a regular part of their trail riding tack in the summer, which allows us to sponge them off when we take them wading in the rivers/creeks on the trails we ride on. You can see Lily's blue sponge in the photo of her in the river above.

8. How important is sun protection for you riding or just in general?

I wear minimal clothes because islander. (See question #5.) Also, the sun in the Mid-Atlantic is nowhere near as brutal as it was in South FL. In SoFL I would burn after an hour in the sun. Here I just tan. But I do wear sunblock, usually SPF 50 if I'm going to be outside all day and it does get re-applied. For my face in the summer I am currently liking CeraVe's Facial Moisturizing Lotion: when you're in your upper upper 30s (yes guys: I turn 40 in 2 years...), wrinkles start to become a lot more visible. This one has HA, is non-comedogenic and is SPF 30. When I'm indoors and/or in the wintertime, I still wear products with sunblock on my face: Estee Lauder's DayWear is a long-time favorite the rest of the time. It has SPF 15. Yes it is expensive. Yes it is worth it.

9. Have you ever gone swimming with your horse?

Yes. There was a man-made lake in South Florida called Wolf Lake that had a sandy boat launch. It was VERY popular among the local equestrian trail-riding community. We took our horses there multiple times during my last two summers in South FL.

On Rhythm, the horse I had before Lily.
On Rhythm. Yup, I'm in a bikini and still wearing a helmet.
On Lily. That's my friend Dianne on Mark's QH gelding Beau, the horse Carlos learned to ride on.
Lily didn't quite go swimming; I didn't fully trust her at the time.

Lily tacked up in a borrowed Wintec Western saddle, which allowed us to go deeper in the water while I still felt secure.
You can read about that Wolf Lake adventure with Lily here.

10. And because shopping is always on my mind, what's on your summer wish list? 

Horse-wise, pretty much nothing. I needed new tights and took advantage of the Cyber Monday specials this past November for them. My entire life I've shied away from anything the general crowds consider trendy and refuse to be pressured into buying whatever everyone else thinks is cool or "in". (#sorrynotsorry) I buy what works for me, for my horses and for my budget. I'm super happy with my $1500 custom-made Spanish Alta Escuela saddle that was made to my specs and shipped to me from Spain, my $900 Wintec that I compete Lily in, my eBay OrthoFlex that fits Gracie to a T, my 5 bridles, my 10 saddle pads, my two handmade beaded browbands made by Karen, and all of our Distance Depot biothane tack that has been meticulously matched to perfection on each mare, right down to the damn cages on each saddle's stirrups. It's taken a couple of years to amass this collection, most of the time scrimping and saving to be able to buy what I have, and I'm not changing anything any time soon! :)

The two browbands by Karen. They are completely beaded. Lily's is the one with the center blue triangle; the colors almost seem to vibrate in real life. Gracie's browband has the Rocky Mountains. Gracie's is made up entirely of iridescent beads that shimmer in the light. Photos never do it justice.
Winning at the matchy-matchy. Newest helmet is the same obnoxious neon blue as the rest of Lily's tack.
At some point I need a new cover for Gracie's TSF girth but there is no rush on the girth cover because I own a grand total of 6 girths. SIX girths. So I'm making do with what I have. Other than that, the trailer needs to be taken in for its yearly maintenance. I literally have everything I could possibly need for two horses and myself for three different sports, and then some.

As for other things: I need new quality work shoes now that I am back to working in the veterinary ICU. (As of a month ago, I am not an anesthesia/surgery vet tech anymore; I get assigned my own patients to take care of again, something I had not had since South FL.) Running sneakers are no match for 13-hour shifts where you are constantly moving. I like Dansko sneakers (I cannot do the clogs; they absolutely kill my feet.) They are pricey but will take a beating for years. I just ordered new scrubs and also will need to get new workout pants soon because I have dropped an entire dress size, both top and bottom. (See question #1.) :D


  1. Best of luck with your summer goal in July =) Rooting for you!

    Looks like you had yet another amazing trip to NC, too. Loved the instagram photos I saw.

    I'm taking a page out of your book and doing my best to embrace the heat this summer, too, with plans to electrolyte the shit out of myself because my body doesn't currently want to comply without.

    Love how shiny Lily is right now!! Beautiful.

  2. Val is prone to fungal issues - I've had good luck with Eqyss Microtek too. Sometimes I worry about fly masks interfering with eyes/blinking so a fly fringe will go on the list. Great tip.

    Super fun visit with you and Carlos! Blogger meetups are the best. Will be writing up a post asap :D

    1. We had an absolute blast. Thank you so much for sharing your world with us! Your farmette is magical. <3

  3. I'm glad I'm not the only one who rides even when it's super hot out. I ride differently, but I still ride.

    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one either! :) I won't lie: I do get odd looks from locals when I'm tacking up on the hottest days.