January 20, 2023

Baby's First Colic

I came to the barn Wednesday night to find Disco standing quietly in his stall at feeding time like an old, broke horse.

He is, um, not an old broke horse.

When he just nosed his dinner, I went in there to check his gut sounds and capillary refill, but before I could do that, his knees buckled and he leaned into the wall.

THAT freaked me out.

"I don't feeeeel good"

Got him out of his stall and took him into the indoor, and he kept trying to roll every few steps. Got a 750lb dose of banamine on board, and within about 15 minutes he had passed some poop, but was still trying to roll for another 10 minutes after that.

When he was willing to stand still without trying to go down and was reacting to stimuli around him again, I put him back in his stall, put a BoT sheet on him, gave him a half tube of electrolytes, took his temp (no fever, 99.8F) and just watched him.

For about 45 minutes he just stood there quietly staring straight ahead. Far, far too quietly for a 20 month old. But slowly he started to perk up again, and by the time I left the barn, he was looking for hay and drinking.

I was texting Mary throughout, and she was cracking me up around the time he started to perk up. #stallionlife


So what are my takeaways from this?

Disco is MUCH less stoic about colic than Connor is. He was telling me the world was ending when it was really very minor.

He's such a good boy. Even when he desperately wanted to roll, he kept on walking with me.

I'm getting a lot better at handling minor colics without the vet. I didn't even send him a heads up text this time. Just handled it.

What caused it? Who knows, but he was out in a cold rain for a half hour before one of us was able to get free from work and bring them in at 2pm, and he was normal (and apparently running around and playing) then, but was colicking a few hours later. So maybe he caught a chill? 

Either way, he was back to his normal annoying baby self the next morning, thankfully.

My BoT JUST fits right now. And won't in probably six months. I'm going to have to re-buy everything I own, ugh

January 18, 2023

Product Review: Black Diamond Soloist Finger Cold Weather Gloves

It's been a while since one of my product review posts! The number of folks that reach out to me publicly and privately to tell me how valuable they find these posts means a lot, and I have a couple of great additions to my winter wardrobe this year that will make for good reviews.

First up. My new lobster claw "Alpine climbing" gloves.

I let the other co-op members go out of town with their families at Christmas this year, which meant I had a LOT of chores. I had hoped my own family would come visit, but that didn't end up happening, so I was alone on Christmas, AND we had some of the most brutal winter weather I've ever experienced, with wind chills pushing -40F and the horses staying inside for multiple days since we don't have shelters outside.

Christmas morning was the first time they could safely go out in three days, and Disco was a perfect gentleman for turnout despite that. Good baby.

I'm not typically one to complain, but man it sucked. I bought myself a consolation present in advance: the best ultra cold weather barn gloves I've found so far, the Black Diamond Soloist Finger Cold Weather Gloves, which are designed for "technical Alpine climbing", which I hoped meant they would be more durable than ski gloves.


These gloves have a 100% waterproof outer shell, a removable/washable liner with 340g of insulation, and a Kevlar-reinforced goat leather palm. They also feature a split finger design, with the thumb and index finger being separate and the middle, ring and pinkie fingers together in a mitten space.

The removable liner. It's basically a sleeping bag for your hands.

I hoped that design would split (lol) the difference between the dexterity of gloves and the warmth of a mitten, and that's exactly what it does. They were more certainly more cumbersome than gloves, but I was able to do and undo blankets (slowly), throw hay bales, and open tab-top Ziploc supplement bags without taking the gloves off. Turns out I really don't use my middle, ring and pinkie fingers for much at the barn, unless I'm riding, which clearly these gloves are not suitable for.


In terms of warmth: WOW. Without a doubt the warmest gloves I've ever worn. For reference, my SSG 10 Belows have 100g of insulation, and these have 340g. Truly, they're so warm most of you will not need them, because you'll never experience temps cold enough to need them, they are that warm.

My index finger does tend to get a little cold when it's in its little pocket, but unless I actually need my index finger for something, I tend to tuck it into the mitten area where there's more than enough room for it, and then it stays warm.

(And for reference: it was so brutally cold that when I did take the gloves off for less than two minutes, my hands froze so quickly and thoroughly I had to spend 10 minutes in the heated office to avoid frostbite. They definitely got put to the warmth test.)

Some of the fuzzy liner visible on the inside. It's fleece against the skin and then 340g of Primaloft Gold insulation between the fleece and the waterproof shell.

Features I love: I love that the liner is removable. All of my gloves are washable of course, but these are going to dry faster and stay waterproof longer if I'm only regularly washing the liner. And in theory you could buy a second liner to alternate with, although I haven't found them for sale anywhere.

I also love the long cuffs. The SSG cuffs are elastic and designed to fit against the skin, which is annoying when you wear a smartwatch and have other sleeves in the way. The Black Diamond cuffs go comfortably over your coat sleeve and have a toggle to seal against snow getting into them, although I didn't feel the need to use it.

What are the negatives? First, I wish they had straps to keep them attached to my wrist when I take them off like the SSG 10 Belows do, although I can fix that with aftermarket glove straps. Second, they won't go small enough for everyone. I wear a medium in SSGs and a 6.5 in Roeckl, and I'm wearing the X-small here. Third, they are not cheap, at $129/pair (I paid $99). 

(I recommend buying them in a fit of rage when you JUST CAN'T EVEN with f****** winter anymore. It makes the price easier to swallow.)

Bottom line: If you have actual barn chores to do in climates where it's regularly below 15F, I can wholeheartedly recommend these. If you live where you just think it's cold (lol) or you only go to the barn to ride, you'd be better served by buying something cheaper that will give you more dexterity.

What: Black Diamond Soloist Finger Cold Weather Gloves

Where: Amazon or the Black Diamond website

Price: $129 (I paid $99 on sale)

Colors: Black, Dark Curry (brown)

Sizes: Men's XS to Men's XL

January 16, 2023

In Which the Gang Goes Ponying

It's been a while since Mary could make it out to the barn, but two weekends ago we made the most of it by ponying Disco for the first time!

But first, Annie learned how to move the good shavings out of the way to get to the pee spot <3

And don't worry, she got some riding time too. Look at how well she sits in the saddle already!

I don't know when the "right" age to starting ponying is, but I'm sure I waited til the right time to start it with Disco. It wasn't until recently that I felt like he understood work enough, respected human bubbles enough, and was capable of NOT playing with Connor for long enough that ponying would be a success if we tried it. I still expected some shenanigans even still though.

...and I could not have been more wrong.

He was...perfect. 

We set him up for success in a couple of ways. One, he understands now that the surcingle and pad mean "work time", so I put them on him as a signal that this was going to be work and not play. Two, I decided to put Mary in the saddle and me on the ground. Mary has better reaction time in the saddle than I do, and she hasn't had as much experience handling him on the ground as I have, so it was a logical choice.

And of course, Mary was also the right choice to run this show because of what a good horsewoman she is. She broke it down into a dozen tiny steps, each done on both sides of the horse so each eye/half of the brain had a chance to see and understand the process.

First we walked them alongside each other, gradually getting closer.

Let's be honest, this was as much or more about getting Connor comfortable with it as it was about Disco learning it. Connor was more uneasy about all this than Disco ever was!

Then we stopped and she slowly worked Connor closer and closer to him, around and around while Disco was standing still, stopping occasionally.

Connor, for his part, thought this was all very suspicious but he played ball. He was very offended when I had to swing the whip at Disco, though!

Next she introduced him to the stimuli he might feel while being ponied, rubbing a Dressage whip over his body before graduating to touching him from above.

Disco: Curious. Connor: Tolerating this shit.

And finally after a good long while, we were ponying. As the ground person, I was only there in case things really went sideways, Mary had full control of him the whole time. 

You could see him concentrating, trying to figure out this new game, trying to figure out how and when to move, coming to understand that when he hit the end of the line he needed to move forward, and when Connor moved, he moved.

Connor had his Suspicious Spooky Ear on Disco the entire time, lol.

Basically the only disobedience the entire time that Mary had to correct was Disco putting his nose in her bubble, being curious about what she was doing up there. She'd push him away, and if he didn't get the memo, he got a swat with the blue sparkle star crop (that Mary bought me as a joke in college like a decade and a half ago, lol. Who knew she'd be starting my own baby with it all these years later?) 

You can clearly see him testing boundaries, finding one, going "Oh, okay," and then going back to being compliant in the below GIF.

Since the first time ponying went flawlessly, I fully expected him to start testing boundaries the second time, when we revisited it a week later with Leah. Connor was always like that with new things: sort of overwhelmed and ultra-compliant the first time, then the second time he'd spend the entire session scheming and testing ways to get out of the work.

Who, me?

But once again, and this time with me in the saddle for the first time, he was...perfect. And this time moving as much or more off of my voice commands than simply following Connor.

In some ways, Disco is lazier than Connor. I think he's going to be physically lazier and not as reactive to stimuli. But in others - mentally, mostly - he's got so much more of a work ethic than Connor ever has. It keeps surprising me, but at this point, I guess it shouldn't.

Good ponies.

January 13, 2023

Disco's 2023 Show Season

Along with my plans for starting Disco, I'm making plans for a little baby show season for him this year as well. My big goal for him this year is to take him somewhere with a lot of presence. Ideally a rated show, with lots and lots of horses, and I won't say no to an indoor venue either.

Please, for the love of EVERYTHING, let Disco handle indoor shows better than his Uncle Connor. Pictured: Jesus-take-the-wheel'ing our way around the Majestic Farms indoor in February 2016

With that in mind, the perfect target for this year seems to be my beloved National Dressage Pony Cup, which is bringing back the in-hand breed show in conjunction with the big show this year, and holding both in July at the World Equestrian Center - Wilmington, less than a half hour from my trainer's barn in Ohio. 

He'll get to take a 2.5 hour trailer ride and spend probably 3 days/2 nights there, depending on schedule. Just Going There and Doing the Thing is my only goal for him, but if he shows well and scores well, that would be nice too.

This again, but with Disco

To prep for that, I'd like him to practice doing the sporthorse triangle thing with me, so I'm tentatively planning on showing him at the Indiana Saddle Horse Association show on May 20-21 at the Hoosier Horse Park. A familiar facility close to home, and an organization I love to support.

Ring stewarding for Lisa as she judged the sporthorse in-hand class at the 2022 show

Soapbox moment: ISHA fills the missing gap so many locations have for an affordable, fun and big horse show that's competitive but low-key enough to be accessible to a wide range of income levels and a wide variety of equestrians. Classes are mostly $5-10 each and you don't need a single membership for it. I realize most of my readers are competitive English equestrians, but if you're not supporting those kinds of grassroots everyman shows in your local area already, please consider it. It's fun!

And finally, what show season would be complete without the Welsh show? Tentatively scheduled for October-ish, it would mean Disco shows once in the beginning, once in the middle and once at the end of next show season, which is perfect.


He's been so much fun to show so far, I can't wait to see what this year brings for us!

January 11, 2023

When to Start Disco

As we come up on Disco's second birthday and I learn more about his personality and learning style, a plan for the next 18 months is starting to coalesce in my head.

Yes, I do know what they say about plans and horses


He's an interesting one. He's bold, smart, confident and self-possessed. He's not afraid of ANYTHING. His most accessible emotion when asked to do something he doesn't want to do is is indignation, and it has been that way since the moment he hit the ground.


Literally came out of his mom asking what the world could do for Disco, not what Disco could do for the world

That indignation makes me nervous because it feels like it could easily translate into anger, but Kate nailed it last summer when she said if I can find a way to channel that fire for good and not for evil, to convince him to work with me instead of against me, that emotion will also drive a lot of sparkle and passion in the show ring.

Who could forget him going to every human in the field begging them to take that stupid thing off his face the first time he was haltered?

In feeling this out, I've taken a fairly conservative approach to training him so far, and he's been pretty bored as a result. Compliant, but bored, and I haven't found anything that he finds particularly fun or exciting yet. That is, until I started to push the envelope a bit.


The day of the photo above, I put him in the crossties, groomed him, put a saddle pad on him (new), put a surcingle on him (new), and tightened it as hard as I would a saddle (new). I also "lunged" him around me on his long lead rope (new-ish) and asked him not to turn into me on the circle (new). 

He LOVED it. Ears up and fully engaged the whole time. It was the happiest and most content and relaxed I'd ever seen him with any kind of work. Since then, I've started to raise my standards for him and he has met me there at every step of the way, eagerly embracing each new thing I throw at him.

Man his mane has grown so much since July

So with all of that in mind, my tentative plan is to back him in late autumn of this year, when he's two-and-a-half. Put maybe 5 rides on him in something bitless, probably just at a walk, then not ride him again over the winter, until he's three.

Everyone has a different opinion on when to start them, but here's my points for:

  1. He thrives on being challenged
  2. I want him to know that riding is A Thing while he's still young and impressionable, but I don't need to put a lot of rides or miles on him right out of the gate.
  3. I'm the size of a large child and will only put about 130lbs on his back with my weight and the saddle combined. 

So that's the tentative plan that I'll be working toward, although I'll be constantly re-evaluating as the summer goes along. The most difficult part of this plan?

Finding a saddle that comes in XXXXXW potato shape 😳