Monday, December 30, 2019

2019 Recap - Part 2

Continuing from where we last left off, the Summer months were a bit of a blur horse-wise....


Following the Anthony clinic in June, we headed our way into yet another clinic (bc the grind don't stop). In Day 1 of the Derek clinic, we addressed that Annie likes to hesitate prior to changing gaits and thus, it gives her the opportunity to pick up the wrong lead and/or cross-fire. Day 2 was more of the same, but focused on power and dropping the neck - we even played around with some counter canter and Annie was awesome!

We also took a friend and Spud to one of the local cross country skiing trail systems to trail ride at and had a wonderful afternoon despite the fact my ribs were absolutely killing me (I was still recovering from my biking accident) from Annie flailing her head around and rooting the reins out of my arms from all the flies.

Mid-July we went to Percentage Days and played around at First Level for the very first time. Annie was tight, but we did it and I was so very proud of both of us!

Also, I didn't blog about it, but we did some bridleless riding this month.
I also posted about how I started to "let things go" with Annie - I spoke about how I grew to be more patient with her, understand that our journey is ours and ours alone, and that at the end of the day, I am in it for the relationship with my horse, not the ribbons.


Blogging was yet again delayed, but Summer is always a bit of a whirlwind. With the lack of hay in the area due to poor weather and delayed crops, I was busy running around trying to source other avenues of hay and whatnot. It was a complete and utter disaster - and I wasn't the only one.

Early August we took part in our very first show of the year - a Dressage only show - wherein we branched out into First Level for the very first time and came out with some pretty good scores! Immediately following the show, we went into a clinic with the Judge of the show, Lynda Ramsay, and ended up having two progressive lessons wherein we worked more on riding Annie like a broke riding horse vs a green horse. It was a wonderful weekend, as a riding bestie from Alberta was up and managed to watch my lessons and video them all for me!

Rounding out the month, I finally got around to announcing that I had finally upgraded Spud's cart to a new (to us!) Frey Superlight! I had been lusting after this cart for years and came across a fantastic deal I just couldn't pass up. I happily rehomed his old cart and it took a few weeks of adjusting him to his new cart to get things tickety-boo. I still have a few alterations to make, but that is for the future!

We also went to the BVX this month, but I didn't blog about it until later!


September was a pretty quiet month on the Blog-front, as I made a grand-total of two posts, haha. My creative juices were just not flowing and I didn't seem to have much time to sit and type out riding-related posts.

The cutest speckle pony <3

However, I did blog about Spud and I's 5th anniversary and finally got around to posting about mine and Annie's time at the BVX, starting off with re-counting our Dressage and Halter classes. Overall, the BVX went well, but there was still a lot to be improved upon. The Dressage was tight and tense, but we managed to waltz around First Level and get some decent scores.


In the beginning of October I was still recounting our BVX journey, and rehashed our Flat classes and Dressage Freestyle that happened in August.The Freestyle was a bit of a bust, but the Flat classes went super. Annie was very rideable and did wonderful in a very busy arena and busy show atmosphere. I finally finished my BVX posts for the year after blogging about our foray into the Hunter ring, which surprisingly went really, really well.

Tired Hunter ring pony with her braids already pulled <3

I kept up on updating, recounting some back-logged posts that I never got around to finishing, and divulged into some of the things that had happened since the BVX in August. Some of these things included: giving Annie some downtime, cleaning the horse trailer, vacationing to Mexico, taking some hacks around the subdivision, driving Spud, and doctoring a sick pony.

After eluding to said sick pony, I blogged about what happened to Annie and the whole "swollen eye incident" which led to a round trip of 500km in one day. Thankfully, Annie recovered without zero complications and I was able to get her checked out for a persistent cough I had noted since the beginning of August (along the same time she got a horse cold). 

Surprise! ;) 

And finally, I started my three part Maizey series: the first post entailed the background history of Tristan (the stallion) and how versatile and valued his prodigy are. It also talked about the sweet colt I looked forward to owning and his untimely loss. The second part highlighted Maizey a bit more, and how the Boyfriend and I made the decision to bring her into our lives. The final post in the series welcomed Maizey home and formally introduced her to all of my readers.

The end of October was spent integrating Maizey into the herd, which was completed successfully and I started to get the little filly to trust me a bit more.

Tall to Small :o)

Rounding off the month, I got around to posting about the Two Horse Tack bitless bridle and what Annie and I thought of it. (We both love it!).


November was another quiet month as the daylight hours dwindled away and my motivation to write heavily took a downward spiral. However, despite the lack of blogging, I was out doing quite a bit with the horses and did a bit of a "all in one" post recounting some ponying I did, as well as hacks with Annie.

There WAS some glorious sunshine tho.

And as November drew to a close, I posted one of my favorite posts of the year - an ode to the self-boarding or non-boarding owner. It is kind of a tip of the hat to all of us who go through laborious lengths to keep our horses happy, healthy, and comfortable.


In December, I relived the terrible two weeks in November with Maizey wherein she was beyond crippled. Thankfully tho, it turned out to be a giant abscess (and not a broken bone like the vet was eluding to!).

With all of the likes I had received on the Ode to Self-Boarding post, I started my own mini-series called "The Self-Boarder Chronicles" which I am planning on being a monthly thing to showcase and document trials and tribulations of those who self-board and considerations for those who may be thinking of being a barn-owner themselves.

The cutest Santa ever!

Like other bloggers, I took part in the 10 year challenge and posted some late Christmas-y photos of the horses. Things have continued to chug along and I've managed to get in a handful of rides as the year closes, but I've been taking a lot of time to focus on myself, my schooling (which is done now, hooray!!) and the dogs. With the vet reccomendation to keep Annie in "light work" I've done just that, but haven't branched out beyond quiet hacks and a few stretchy trots every couple of weeks. The weather has been miserable and the lack of daylight makes it tough. I am still embodying my mantra of "letting it go" and patiently waiting for the New Year and new goals :o).

Happy New Year, everyone.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

2019 Recap - Part 1

I can't believe 2019 is nearly on it's way out... this year went by exceptionally fast and I'm still trying to play catch up with everything. So many exciting things happened this year and I remind myself every day how blessed I am to live the life I do.

The year of 2019 was all about opening my heart, and my life, to new possibilities and new opportunities. I am excited to see where things go from here, and I am looking forward to continuing to grow and move forwards with the end goal of bringing my horses home. It has always been the dream, and we are edging closer and closer to it happening one day.

But instead of looking forwards just yet, let's rewind and see what we were up to in 2019!



The New Year started off much like year's previous - the ice and snow meant any kind of riding was off the table. Unable to really ride much, I busied myself into writing up my yearly goals for the horses, as well as myself. I also celebrated mine and Annie's 2 year "Annie-versary".

Still, January was pretty cold and I didn't get much riding time in other than a few little bareback toodles and some hand-walking around the sub-division. A bitterly cold month that made outside chores and any additional horsey interactions pretty miserable and borderline unbearable at times. But, such is life in the snowy Northwest rainforest.

Towards the middle of January, things got a bit busier, with the addition of our newest family member - Cedar Peter Pants! It had been a solid seven years since we'd done the whole "puppy" thing, and it took some time to adjust to our "new normal" so the horses took a bit of a backseat (which worked out well, given the weather).


The month of February was much of the same, as several arctic storms blew through, but I did find that Annie did some growing up - literally and figuratively. Things chugged along on the puppy front and I continued to do some hand-walking and managed to eek in a few rides here and there.

As February drew to a close, I started to do a bit of planning in regards to outings, clinics, and shows for the year. A lot of things were "up in the air", as I opted to be a bit more spontaneous this year than in years previous. If a clinic managed to sync up with my schedule, we'd do it. If not, we'd move on to the next no biggie.


Much like March's-past, I hauled the horses for our annual Spring-time arena visit to let them blow off some steam in the indoor arena and to also get a bit of a "first ride of the season" in. It was doubly-awesome, considering I met a friend with her horses there.

The following weekend we had a bit of a full-force horsey weekend with riding, annual vet visits, meeting our new farrier, and even more riding.  It was a busy, but good weekend, and I was glad that winter started to disappear.

Of course, with the warmer weather, we had dragon-y horses, but it thankfully didn't last long. And how awesome that the outdoor arena was free of snow at the end of March and we had our very first and formal schooling session! Yahoo!


April was a month of chores - constantly cleaning and clearing manure from the Winter, sweeping out the tack room, and eradicating mud puddles. With the addition of daylight and our unseasonably warm weather, I was able to hack out pretty early in the month and had a sour reminder that the Spring brings FRESH horses when an old 4-H mentor fell from her horse whilst riding. Thankfully, neither rider nor horse were injured, but it served as a learning lesson for the subdivision Facebook group - a loose horse with a saddle and no rider is a cause for concern, people!

The weather trajectory of April continued to trend ever upwards and I was able to bathe the horses quite early in the month - in fact, the weather reminded me of Summer in a lot of ways, as I was able to school Annie in a T-shirt on April 2nd!!

I also blogged about my newfound attitude and promised readers (and myself) I'd remain "Zen as Fuck" for the remainder of the year. Annie tried her best to drag me into her Drama Llama Shit, but I prevailed and am proud to say that I managed to hold fast onto this for the remainder of the year (and as such, have since changed my mental trajectory when it comes to training/ schooling/ showing).

We had our first clinic of the year with Anthony Lothian, which was a lot of fun and I managed to work on stalling Annie a bit more at the grounds since she has a tendency to get nervous stalled at new locations. It wasn't for long, but it was good practice regardless! On the second day of the clinic we jumped quite a bit and did a lot of filler work and oxers - I was pretty proud since Annie rose to the occasion and we did more jumping than we have ever done with Anthony!

We finished off the month with our first "real" trail ride of the year, which was done solo-style and was both beautiful and fun! We also played around with jumping at our home arena, driving Spud, jogging Spud, and a number of hacks. Riding season was ramping up wonderfully!


May started off with a bang, and I recapped the Dressage clinic with Derek Huget we did at the end of April. Day one was a lot of lowering and achieving power from the hind end - it was a lot of hard work, but Annie did great! Day 2 was more of the same, but focusing more on FORWARD. It was hard, it was frustrating, but it was worth it!

As part of incorporating fun and variety to our routine, we played in the bitless bridle and trail rode a bit to garner more confidence in Annie hacking out on denser trails. I still played in the ring a bit and also did a big update on Spud - showcasing all the driving and jogging we had done, as well as a weight-update photo!

Mid-May we were busy trail riding and driving, and we took part in the TSC's Clear Rounds and Percentage Days wherein Annie was not too amicable in the sandbox, but more than willing to play in the jumper ring. Still, it was a good day and I got A LOT of jumping confidence on this day.

Towards the end of the month, the clinic I have been so eager to take part in for years approached and I managed to tag along with two other friends and we made the trek to Trainer K's for Ladies Camp. The three day long camp featured 5 lessons and Day 1 was both arrival day and Flat Lesson time, wherein we rode at nearly 10:00pm in the midst of a thunder and lightening show (we were in an indoor). Day 2 was another Flat lesson where Annie was fucking ON it - she felt great and despite her antics at the trailer I was pretty pleased with her. Unfortunately, our jumping lesson did not emulate the same feelings as I could not get my body to work in the way Trainer K wanted. Regardless, Annie was good (despite the trailer bullshit) and I was having an amazing time.

Day 3 I blogged about in June, and we took part in a Cowboy Challenge and another Flat lesson - Annie was a bit anxious but overall did really well and I was proud of her. We were both ready to sleep for a week straight after all the lessons and late nights though!!


Starting June off, we took some time to recover from Ladies Camp with some low-key hacks and ended up hosting a Cowboy Challenge at our local outdoor arena since we had had so much fun at Trainer K's with it.

As always with the summer, the blogging was more sporadic, especially since I was eye-balls deep in school work and regular work! I did a generalized update to catch everyone up, which included the following: grazing in the back paddock, schooling at the local arena wherein #feelings occured, showing off our new pad, more trail riding with friends, ponying Spud, more grazing, and a bit of bridleless hacking.

The grind don't stop tho, and we found ourselves in yet another Anthony clinic wherein I had Anthony ride her on Day 1 to see if I could glean any additional information. We found that the cross-firing is the "last resort" when Annie is showing her discomfort or disinterest in something - I miss a lot of the early "warning signs". Anthony also commented that he feels as though Annie is quite weak all over, which made me pretty sad, but also made me strive to work harder and do whatever I could to get her feeling 100%.

Day 2 was kind of interesting, as I had taken a rather serious tumble from my mountain bike down an actual mountain and was adamant that I wanted to ride my damn horse, haha. Annie was pretty tight and resistant, which was unfortunate, but we managed to have a good lesson once we greased the wheels a bit and got to work.

Whew... only 6 months down and we did a heck of a lot! Stay tuned for Part 2 :)

Friday, December 27, 2019

A Little Late Yuletide

I kind of did Christmas-y photos with the horses this year, but they were last minute and not great. But still, I figured why not share them and if nothing else, bring you content that'll be sure to bring a smile!

I had initially wanted all of the horses posed near the bushes,
but once Annie got her mistletoe hat and wreath on, she took off cantering
and had a glorious time while I shouted at her.
To be fair, I should've put halters and leads on all of the horses
but I had *assumed* it would be an easy task. ha ha ha.
As you can see, Spud is the only one who cooperated.

Once I finally convinced Annie to stand, Spud was no longer
interested and refused to stand with Maizey, so I had to take what I could
get and managed to get a mare-glare from Maizey and a curious
"PUHLEASE CAN I GO RUN NOW" face from Annie.

But it didn't stop there.

Maizey realized Annie was wearing a fancy wreath and bow.

And then.... oh girls.

By this time, Spud had wandered back so I let him model for me a few more times:

He calls this, Blue Steele.

The End.

Oh, and a late Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

The 2010's Picture Challenge

Like many other bloggers, I saw May As Well Event's picture challenge and knew I wanted to take part. As per Emily, the premise of the challenge is simple - post one photo per year for the last ten years. What a super cool idea and it certainly took my down memory lane - I mean, I don't know how I could possibly choose just one photo for each year, but I'll try my best!

Thank you for the wonderful bloghop idea, Emily!


I cannot relive 2010 without remembering and sharing the
wonderful horse Cheyenne was. I was being bullied pretty badly in the
equestrian community and him and I were a team of misfits - we jumped
in an old, creaky (and borrowed) Dressage saddle and he was an unlikely
candidate for the Hunter ring. We didn't win anything, but this horse
will forever and always be my heart horse. He also died in 2010, from a suspected
heart attack. I miss him terribly.
In 2010, I had just graduated the year before and wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with myself. After failing to get into Vet Tech school, I kinda regressed into myself and just rolled with life for a bit, which featured: a provincial judging rally for my local 4-H group, the leasing of a wonderful Percheron X who I miss terribly, and a few months working at an equine rescue 14 hours from home (where I met Suzie ;) ). It was an interesting year, as things kind of lined up for the future and I just didn't know it yet...


He was a bit sketchy to canter because he'd blow up and buck. 
In 2011, I had a hard time getting back into riding after Cheyenne's death in late 2010. In the Spring, however, I started riding a fiery and spirited chestnut named Geronimo who hadn't been ridden much in his entire life. He was athletic, spirited, and hot. He bucked me off more times than I'd like to admit and sent me to the ER several times with severed muscles and torn ligaments. He took a long time to relax, but by the end of 2011 we were working as a team and I managed to borrow the same Dressage saddle I had ridden Cheyenne in for Geronimo.


By 2012, I was still riding Geronimo. Unfortunately, he had choked during the year and was never the same since - he sporadically gets heaves as the pollen-count increases and if his hay is mildly dusty. We had some lameness issues as well, and since I was considering him as my first horse, I chose to walk away as the owner was reluctant to sell despite not riding him. Thankfully, he landed softly with a friend (who turned out to be the woman who boarded him).

Still, we managed to show (both schooling and not) quite a bit and we won a lot during that summer.


In 2013, after a particularly bad fall off of Geronimo and not making any headway in being able to buy him, I had my friend from the Rescue message me about Suzie once again, as we had kept in touch over the years. I purchased Suzie that Fall and started up my blog, initially called "That Red Mare". I had blogged in the past, but it was not very good and it was a bit of real life/ horsey life mixture. I had wanted to do a purely horsey blog to recount memories and collect photos/videos of my equestrian journey.

With bringing Suzie home, it would be my first foray into horsey ownership and I wanted to capture every moment. For those who don't know, Suzie was a 1993 AQHA mare primarily trained for Reining and Gymkhanas. Why me, an English rider, bought her is beyond me, haha. But I loved her endlessly!


Ownership of Suzie was hard, as she battled many lameness issues related to an old shoulder injury and since moving her to my now-barn, she was lonely. I leased a friend's jumper mare for the riding season to keep Suzie company and allow me to ride a bit harder and focus on my riding goals without impeding Suzie's health. I did ride both mares quite a bit, and perhaps the highlight of the year was taking part in the BVX for the very first time before returning Tally to her mom at the end of the year, as I had bought Spud late 2014 and brought him home that Winter.


In 2015, I worked towards getting Spud more broke to harness and took him to several clinics  throughout the region. Suzie was doing really well and I managed to show her pretty much all year without issue - and even earned some AQHA points!! And last but not least, I purchased my very own horse trailer and with help of the Boyfriend, started to restore it.


I will forever be grateful to his mom for letting me ride and love him.
To this day he remains one of the best trained horses I have had
the pleasure to ride <3 Rest easy, sweet Finn.
2016 was not a great year - it started off with Suzie having even more lameness issues and being diagnosed with a very large and uncomfortable knee hygroma, in addition to navicular in both fronts. After several vet visits, it was determined she would no longer be riding sound and devastated, I managed to lease an older gelding from a riding friend so I could at least play around during the Summer. I was able to ride around a bit and managed to win a High Point award with Finn before returning him to his owner, as he was struggling with the workload and I felt it was unfair to push him since he was an older dude. He went back home and was loved on by his momma.

Spud helped me get out of my funk by absolutely dominating the BVX and came home with multiple ribbons. He started to really come into his own, and I blogged a lot about how much this little guy's confidence had grown.


Our first ride together!

2017 was, of course, the year I bought Annie. As a coming 5 year old with 30 days training, something drew me to her and after seeing a handful of photos and two videos, I arranged shipping and brought her home January 11th. She was awkward, green, and lacked a lot of life experience but it was more or less things I could fix or introduce. Annie was my very first green horse and oh boy did I learn a lot in our first year together!

At the end of 2017, I also made the heartbreaking decision to say goodbye to Suzie, as her health was deteriorating and she was ready to be free from her pain and multitude of health issues. When I brought her home, I promised her she would have a home with my until the end of her days and I meant that. Rest easy, sweet firey chestnut mare <3


2018... what a giant heart-ache this year was.

It started out with us saying goodbye to my sweet old Shepherd, Ty. He was the absolute light of my life for 13 years and after battling degenerative myelopathy, we chose to say goodbye before the disease progressed any further.

As fate would have it, we began fostering a shelter dog who ended up becoming a foster failure and we had many amazing adventures and she taught me how to let go and have fun. I will forever owe her for reminding me to smile and to not take life for granted. Of course, Spud also did amazing and yet again pulled off an amazing BVX wherein he earned Driving High Point and Arena Driving Trial Champion.

Just as I thought life was getting back on track, we lost Ella in a tragic accident.

I honestly cannot put into words what each of these dogs meant to me, as both of them played integral parts in my life and shaped me into the person I am today. I don't think I will ever be OK from losing either of them, especially Ella, as her time on Earth was cut tragically short. Life is a really mysterious thing although I said goodbye to both of them in 2018, I carry both of them with me each and every day.


In 2019, I started to heal. I don't think I'll ever be okay but we brought a bundle of chaos and love into our life known as Cedar and Annie and I started clicking more than ever before. We still had issues with our leads, especially at shows (specifically in the Dressage arena), but things were starting to really chug along.

I also brought my long-standing goal of owning a Tristan baby to life by buying Maizey and bringing her home.

So... well... some years have one photo haha. But, a lot of pivotal moments too difficult to share in only one! Thank you for this idea, Emily!!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Self-Boarder Chronicles: Be Prepared

After seeing how popular my Ode to the Self-Boarding/ Non-Boarding Rider post became, I thought it would be kind of fun to do a bit of a series to talk about things I've done to make my life easier, or ways I've adapted and overcome obstacles to maximize my time with my horses.

As always, there is more than one way to skin a cat, and depending on your barn set up and rules (if you self-board), you might have to think outside the box a little bit, but regardless, most points can resonate with highly functional boarding barns. The ultimate purpose of the series is to address common problems I've faced, things I've implemented to make my time with my horses more enjoyable (work smarter, not harder!), and to share the things that maybe didn't quite work according to my vision.

It might not look like much, but it is home (for now).
The first part of this series is all about being prepared. Like a good Girl/Boy Scout, the first step in solving any problem is to be proactive and prevent said problem from occurring in the first place. But alas, horses are not good girl/boy scouts and often get themselves into predicaments - even after they promised you they'd stay out of trouble.

This leads me to my first point:

First aid and emergencies.

*Before you scroll any more, please note there are photos of injuries my personal horses have sustained. None are graphic in my opinion, but consider yourself warned if you are squeamish.*

The whole idea of first aid is a bit more involved than a regular barn - regular veterinary involvement is not possible, and small scale veterinarians are around 3 hours away while more diagnostic-heavy veterinarians are 6 hours away. This, isn't always possible, or practical when you factor in things like weather circumstances or how heavily injured the horse is.With this in mind, a lot of us in this area have to be our own Vets, and have to ensure our medical cabinet is appropriately stocked to mitigate any potential challenges we may incur.

When Suzie colicked years ago, I had a very poor accumulation of first aid supplies. Some vet wrap, bandages, a thermometer and some polysporin. A very basic kit that may be "enough" in some circumstances, but it simply was not satisfactory for my location or situation. I couldn't just call a fellow boarder and ask to borrow their banamine from three cubbies down.

After the colic was resolved, thankfully without further incident, I went to work preparing a game-plan to prevent the utter panic and helplessness I felt that day.

Here are some of the things I did to prevent the onset of illness, as well as to ensure I was appropriately outfitted for any potential problems.

Having friends to call when shit goes sideways is always important.

1.  Notepad with numbers and TPR information.
  • Get yourself a notepad and write down all the names and numbers of anyone in your area who is horse-savvy and who you trust to help you in an emergency situation. I contacted all of the people on my list ahead of time, letting them know I was adding them as a point of contact. (This would be a good place to write down names and numbers of people who have horse trailers you may be able to borrow in an emergency if you do not yet own one).
  • Write down names, addresses and phone numbers of Vet clinics in the area. Make special notes about if you need to be a client or not to be seen (you would think this doesn't happen, but it does).
  • Perhaps a bit bleak, but find out who in the area can safely and appropriately put a horse down should veterinary help not be a viable option. It's a really terrible thing to consider, but it's better to know the names and numbers of these people than to stand idly by. I recommend knowing at least 2-3 people for this, as you cannot predict whether or not someone will be at home. I also let these people know I had added them to my list and ensured they were comfortable with performing a euthanasia.
  • Write down TPR information in the book as a handy reference guide and write your own horses REGULAR TPR. For example, Annie typically runs 0.3 -0.5 degrees hotter than "normal". It's good to know this information!
  • The notebook doubles as a handy place to write down pertinent information. I prefer to use my phone to write down information I may need to relay back to the vet, but its all personal preference.

Eventually I'd like to upgrade this so I have more drawers and
the drawers are higher so bottles and whatnot can stand up fully.

2. First Aid Storage

  • Buy a good quality storage tote - I have one with three drawers and it is plastic for easy cleaning should anything spill. Lots of my tonics and liquids are in an old feed pan so they remain upright and do not spill all over eachother. After having a really awful leak in a Koppertox bottle, I no longer store a lot of spillable liquids in the drawers.
  • Do not store anything other than first aid items in this kit! Jumping boots, bits, and martingales can go in other storage totes.
  • Arrange the kit in such a way that it makes sense. For example, all of my contact info, TPR devices, needles, and medications that are Veterinary prescribed are in the top drawer. Second drawer is all about drawing out infection, heat, and also includes my hoof rasp and wrapping gear. The bottom is tonics and "wet" items that are small and can stand up easily in the drawer (poultice, liniment, etc).

Tonics, ointments, pastes, wraps, cotton... all of the things!!

3. Stock Yourself Up
  • A good First Aid kit is a well-stocked first aid kit. Your area may require different items but I always err on the side of "more than not enough". Because we lack vets in the area, I need to have nearly one of everything and I need to keep track of when I'm running low, especially on those Vet prescribed items.
  • Every Spring and Fall, I go through my kit and re-arrange things. I take this time to find out what I need to reorder and what things I found worked or didn't work. It's important to note that some things become discontinued or harder to find over the years - as some of these items I've purchased or acquired have lasted me several long years.
  • My First Aid kit has the following (note: Not all items are in the first aid kit drawers. Some things, like blankets, are stored away in other totes):
    • Note pad and pens
    • Various syringes (5mL to 30mL)
    • Needles (various gauges)
    • Banamine (I actually have a few things of banamine. Two pre-loaded syringes in the barn, 1 bottle in the truck and 1 syringe in the trailer)
    • Vet Wrap
    • Thermometer (I have two in case one dies/ is reading incorrectly)
    • Stethoscope
    • Gauze Pads and Rolls (both light and heavy)
    • Electrical Tape
    • Bandage Tape
    • Duct Tape
    • Diapers
    • Pins 
    • Stable Bandages 
    • Sore No More Poultice
    • Bute
    • Previcox
    • Zinc Oxide Cream
    • Cotton Balls
    • Shop Towels
    • Towel
    • Hydrogen Peroxide
    • Betadine
    • Isopropyl Alcohol
    • Epsom Salts
    • Weight Tape/ Measure
    • Animalintex Hoof Poultice
    • Hoof Rasp
    • Hoof Nippers
    • KY Jelly
    • Clippers (small and large size)
    • Scissors
    • Polysporin
    • Unpasteurized Honey
    • DIO Liniment
    • Kaopectate
    • SWAT
    • Kevin Bacon's Thrush Buster
    • Mineral Oil
    • Arnica (liquid)
    • Latex Gloves
    • Benadryl Cough Syrup
    • Vicks Vaporub
    • Bucket/ Pan (for soaking hoof)
    • Pocket Knife
    • Peptobismol 
    • Keratex Hoof Hardener
    • Keratex Cooling Gel
    • Greenline Liniment
    • Kettle
    • Horse Blankets (various)
There are hundreds of items out there that are people's must-haves - it is purely personal preference and in some cases, totally dependent on the Veterinary assistance you have. However, I've learned that over the years its best to have as many things in your toolbox as possible. It is also important to note, I do consult with a vet prior to giving any medications/ prescription drugs.

When was the last time you checked for broken fencing, protruding nails,
or for stray pieces of baling twine?
4. Know your Barn
  • Find out if you even get good cell reception at the barn - if you don't, find out where the hot spots are and make sure if you have to make any phone calls, that you remember these areas or invest in a satellite phone to make emergency calls. I found out the hard way that reception is limited at my barn and dragging a colicking horse into the middle of the street is not the best idea.
  • Determine if the barn lighting is sufficient, especially before winter. If light is lacking, install additional lights or invest in a headlamp.
  • Know what Seasonal changes bring - does well water freeze? Do you need to ensure the barn aisles are cleared of snow (ie. vet access, personal access)? Do you have a horse allergic to pollen? This is all about being proactive.
I know she's the most sensitive and accident prone horse I've ever owned.
Sidenote: you can see the first aid trailer tote I have, complete with
a vial of banamine and syringe we had used.

5. Know your Horse
  • Know what your horses normal TPR is before they get injured or ill. It does no good to measure what is normal and what is not if you don't have a reliable starting point. For example, Annie runs hotter than my other horses, so it's good information to know.
  • Get intimate with the inner details of their lives - what does their manure usually look like? Where do they usually poop? What does the backend of your mare look like? What does your geldings undercarriage look like?
  • Get familiar with their bodies - is this bump on their leg normal? What about the scars on Annie's ear? Are those recent or old? Has this bit of swelling on the hock always been there, or does it flair up when the weather is cold?

Do you know what to do for an injury of this calibre?
Or this one?


6. Learn First Aid Care
  • There is nothing worse than needing to wrap a horses leg and not knowing how to wrap or what to use. If you don't know - RESEARCH IT. I spent countless hours after buying Suzie watching videos on how to put on stable bandages, how to administer a needle IV, how to administer a needle IM...
  • Take part in First Aid courses - most of it will be practical knowledge, but the discussion generated and the people you meet might be the key in saving your horse's life one day.
  • Invest in education - buy books and READ them. Some of my favorites in regards to overall health care and first aid are the following:
  • Find reliable internet sources, videos, photos, partake in discussion forums and invest in your horse.
  • Learn about medications you keep stocked and understand treatment options. If you cannot answer simple questions about the medications, do not give it to your horse. Stacking NSAIDs or medications is not only dangerous, it can be lethal. Research about the medications and refer to your Vet any questions you have.

Despite being non-horsey, he's catching on pretty quickly.

7. Make Sure your Help is Knowledgeable
  • If you are like me, in some circumstances, the only help you will have is a non-horsey friend or spouse. If possible, teach them safe handling techniques so that they are familiar with basic horse handling.
  • Teach them what certain things mean - words like "colic" or "stocking up" aren't familiar terms in everyone's vocabulary and it's important that terminology is recognized. For Jamie, when I mention a colicking horse, he understands it is a serious situation immediately and has the knowledge to understand the basic steps a person should take around that horse. He is also familiar with horses under stress and how to interact with a horse that is frightened or flighty.
  • Make sure your directions are specific and informative - if someone who is not horse-savvy is trying to help you in an emergency situation, they don't know what you need. 

And sometimes your Vet's advice will be to trailer the horse in.

8. Vet Advice Above Internet Advice
  • Always, ALWAYS refer to your Veterinarian if you are unsure. Do not treat a horse with prescription drugs until receiving dosage instructions and the go ahead from your Vet. Of course, there may be a situation where you cannot get a hold of your vet and need to make a choice - be knowledgeable about the products you have and draw on past experiences to make a decision. If you aren't sure if you can give banamine IM, for example, WAIT. (Note: banamine is not safe to be given IM despite the label and it is actually best to give it IV or orally.).
  • Do not guess on doseage. Foals, minis and full sized horses will all have different doseage requirements, especially dependent on the level of pain they are experiencing. Leave that up to your vet to determine.
  • It helps to have a good relationship with your vet - be prompt with payment and try to not "shop around" too much (if possible, altho I know sometimes circumstances dictate the outcomes). Notify them at the onset of any problem so that they are aware of back history prior to any emergency situation unfolding. Keep them up to date and respect that they may take some time in getting back to you.

New information is always available and it's important
to stay current with the times!

9. Change with the Times
  • One of the most detrimental things a person can say is "We've always done it this way". Stay current with the times and research new medical findings. For example, back when I started riding, the only option for a colicking horse was endless walking and rolling was thought to have twisted the intestines. Now, this practice and fear are more or less abolished amongst the educated masses.
  • Be perceptive to trying new things - old school methods can be barbaric and archaic. With new technology and synthetic drugs, you may save yourself thousands in the long run instead of vouching for a cheaper DIY method.
  • Keep current with the area - is there a fire watch occurring? What about flooding? Do you have a plan to remove your horses if needed? Do you have a trailer or rental options? 

And lastly, but perhaps most importantly:

Preventative maintenance is the best kind of medicine.

10. Be Proactive Before Reactive
  • Always, try your absolute best to be proactive in all things horse-health related. Keep water tanks full, cleaned/ scrubbed, and ensure your horses are receiving clean, dust-free hay.
  • Take part in proactive health care - vaccinations, deworming, floats, hoof trims, etc. By keeping a regular schedule with health professionals, they will become familiar with your horse, how they look, and what is "normal" for them. This can also prevent health conditions from occurring or illness from progressing. Not every horse needs a float every year, while some need them twice a year, and your Vet can best give you recommendations on follow up appointments and maintenance which will benefit your individual horse.
  • Check your pasture often for any problematic areas, especially if you have T-posts, wire (barbed or straight). I run electric on the top rail in the front and fully in the back - I check the fence once a week for fallen branches, any loose electric wire, or any protruding nails, broken boards, etc. It takes me about 10 minutes, and I end up doing most of it during my poo picking chores anyways.