A Gen Update

No joke, I didn’t think Gen would be alive at 24 (nearly 25!). I never considered what it would be like to own an older horse, because…well…I just didn’t think Gen would ever be an older horse. I feel very lucky he has defied the odds and is in mostly good health.
I do know that Gen is a very, very happy pony. He is spoiled rotten, not only by myself and my husband, but the Barn Owners’, the other Boarders, and pretty much anyone else who sets foot in the barn. He learned long ago that if he stands there staring at you, posing with his ear forward, humans cannot help but tell him how handsome he is and sometimes even give him a treat. He is super neat in his stall, only has one supplement and isn’t normally blanketed, making him the easiest horse in the barn to care for. With his least favorite time of the year (summer) coming to an end, he really doesn’t have anything to complain about anymore.
Gen spends his days in his field where he often has the company of a local herd of deer and his favorite barn cat Gretel. At night he comes in to his nice big stall where he can stick his head out the giant window and look around outside. He gets three meals a day and as much hay as he will eat along with plenty of water. He gets groomed and scratched when I come see him and he seems to be the most mellow I have ever known him. I do want to work more with him to get his manners back to where they should be and keep his mind engaged, but overall, Gen is doing amazing at 24.
Because it is me…I can’t just be content to tell you how amazing Gen is doing. I have to tell you about what is wrong with him as well. I feel like I am just being honest and realistic about how my pony is doing, but if you don’t want to hear bad things feel free to ignore the list below. Gen really is very healthy considering, he just isn’t in perfect health like I want him to be.
Gen’s list of current ailments:
1) Left Front Leg– This is first because this is the scariest to me. I know Gen got hurt back in 2007 and I should just get over it, but it still bothers him. He is medically cleared to be walked under tack, but I have not done that to him for fear he will be crazy and hurt himself more. When he runs or stomps or is just not nice to that leg it still swells up. I know that he is getting micro-tears in the bad tendon when he is rough on it, and I will always be afraid that those will somehow turn in to a big tear. Rationally, Gen’s leg is actually doing really well. In years past, the swelling after a bad day might take a few days to go down, it is now usually down within 48 hours.
2) Melanomas – So Gen has had 3 Melanoma tumors in his tail forever. They have gotten bigger over the years, and now there are a few more back there so he has 5 growths coming off the dock of his tail to date. I would hate to see him loose his tail, especially because he hates bugs so much, but thus far the hairs around the tumors are still growing. What is new as of this year is that he now has a visible Melanoma tumor under his throat. I know that is pretty common in older grays but Gen has such a pretty face that it broke my heart when I saw it coming in. Thus far it doesn’t seem to be bothering him so I will live with the cosmetics of it as long as medically he is okay!
3) Hypercementosis – This was a new thing I found out about this year. I think I will do a whole post about what it is at some point for those of you who do not know, but it is typically found in older horses. Gen has a great Dentist who was happy to show me what a bad case of this looks like, and how Gen really doesn’t have it that bad. My big fear is that he may end up losing his teeth. Considering he is the pickiest horse I know, my crazy self has panic moments where I see him wasting away and not eating with no teeth.
4) Random Hole In His Gums – So this was a fun one which will get its own post. It wasn’t an abscess. His gum turned a scary color and then bam…giant hole at the tooth root for two of his teeth. This was something that the vet actually didn’t think would get better, but it has! Still not 100% healed though.
5) Scar tissue around his epiglottis – This is an issue from his race track days when my little Gen literally ran his heart out to win. It doesn’t bother him all the time, but when he rushes to eat or doesn’t chew well his food can go down the wrong pipe. Unlike with choke or something more serious, Gen can cough and it all comes out. I am knocking on wood as I write this, but this problem seems to be the most manageable and is the one he has had for the longest.
6) His Weight – I know that is not exactly a real ailment, but it is a bit of a health concern. I get that it is harder to keep weight on an older horse, especially one with issues in his mouth, but he is just a touch too thin for my taste. I know he doesn’t look too bad in the pictures above and below which were taken yesterday (he was sweating in his fall coat with the summer like temps), but I just like to see him a little heavier this time of year.

Yet another reason to love Weather Tech

So even though I am not riding much, I still don’t watch a whole lot of TV. I think years of getting back from the barn late and then just eating dinner and going right to bed have helped me to not make time for television. I watch, maybe an hour night, if even that much. Even on the weekends, I just don’t turn it on much. I like quiet, so I am not one of those people who just has it on in the background. 

Even though I do not watch a lot of TV, I still have DVR (my brother is a big wig for a major TV provider) and so if you think I watch very little TV, I barely watch any commercials. 

Imagine my surprise this week when I was sitting on the couch, fast forwarding through commercials when out of no where I see a horse. Of course I had to stop because…there was a horse on TV and wouldn’t every horse person want to see what was up? I went back to the start of the commercial and had a HUGE grin on my face.

WeatherTech, a company I already love and whose products I use, has made a commercial featuring a horse person! See below!

How great is that?!?! I do not recognize the rider, but they are very attractive. I just love that they made a commercial that features horses! Even more is that they run it during normal TV shows. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Rolex and Jaguar horse commercials that run during their sponsored events, but this was different. I can’t remember what I was watching, but I know it had nothing to do with a riding, a horse show nor was it on a horse channel. It was so cool to just have a horse as a part of everyday life. I hope more companies run commercials like that! 

“So what are you riding these days?”

So I barely write here anymore. I keep saying I am going to get better about it, sometimes I post a little, but overall I have been TERRIBLE about keeping the blog current. I have a lot to say about Gen. Well, maybe not a lot, but I do have plenty to say about Gen! I have been thinking about my reluctance to post and I realized that while I have been blaming it on the fact I am not riding, that might not be the whole truth. The thing is, I have barely posted in 2 years…and for a part of that time I was riding. The more I thought about it the more I realized that the reason I don’t post much anymore is not because I am not riding at the moment, but rather, it is the fact that I am okay with not riding at the moment.
That was a hard thing to admit.

I always thought of myself as a hard-core equestrian. When many of my friends took time off from the barn after college, I got a horse. I rode through graduate school, I rode after buying a home…I just sort of assumed that I would ride forever. Even when Gen got hurt I didn’t let it stop me, instead half-leasing or catch riding for years and years.

And now…nothing. Not only do I not lease, I don’t take lessons and I haven’t even put a foot in a stirrup in over a year.

I still see Gen regularly. I love that horse so much and he brings me such joy. Even though he is retired he is still a huge part of my life (and my budget) and I wouldn’t trade him for the world. The days I don’t go to the barn are usually because I have to work late or because I am meeting a friend for dinner so I would say I go to the barn at least 6 days a week to see him.

Visiting a retired horse is very, very different than riding regularly though. I am in and out of the barn in under an hour most days. Hard-core equestrians live at the barn, they don’t just visit.

I fought so hard for so many years to stay in the saddle, and yet here I am fine with taking a little time off. It isn’t that I can’t ride. I could afford lessons, and maybe even a cheap half lease, but…I don’t know. I haven’t found a trainer I am crazy about. I don’t want to rehab a horse right now. Nor do I want to train one, only to have someone else get to enjoy all my hard work a few months down the line.

That last line makes me sound bitter. I am not bitter at all. I feel very lucky to have the opportunities I had in the past. I have gotten to ride some great horses and work with some amazing people.

It isn’t that I don’t want to ride. I am not saying I hate it or that I want nothing to do with it. I mean, I do miss it…I just don’t miss it that much. I mean, if an opportunity landed in my lap I am sure I would take it. The chances of an opportunity coming when I am not looking for it are next to zero though, and that is something I am okay with…which makes me feel guilty.

I feel a little like admitting to not ridding is admitting defeat. Maybe that is why I have been so reluctant to post. That somehow I am saying Gen’s injury won. That I am not a real horse person now and never was. That I never cared enough, tired hard enough or wanted it bad enough. Like I was a phony or a fraud. I almost feel like I started this blog to show that nothing can keep a horse person down…and now I am saying that it was all lies and it’s just too hard to ride when your own horse is retired.

And maybe that is what I am saying.

If that is truth, why do I feel so crappy about saying it?

I don’t feel bad about not riding right now, but I do feel bad telling people I’m not riding right now. Like I am letting them down. Does that mean I am not as okay with it as I think? Or does it just mean that I never cared about riding as much as I claimed? Does being okay with not riding now mean that I was a fraud saying I couldn’t live without it before? I am not sure. I am going to try to write more though, because honestly, riding isn’t everything when it comes to horses, at least it isn’t to me. I still have a very happy, mostly healthy 24 year old OTTB who needs all the attention he can get and who deserves more than 2 posts a year.

NBC Equestrian Olympic Commentators

So as I sit here after watching the Olympic coverage for the dressage individual medals I am having the same issues with the coverage that I had back in 2012…the terrible commentators.

Is anyone else finding this painful? I took to muting the sound yesterday during the individual show jumping qualifying, but with it being freestyles today for Dressage, I felt like the sound needed to be on. I found them a bit annoying during the eventing cross country, but by the time the jumping rounds were done the day after I was already hoping they might change up the commentators since they clearly don’t get along.

I am Olympic obsessed and have watched every televised moment of the equestrian events (I can’t live stream at work unlike some of you :P) and the chemistry between Melanie Smith-Tayor and Randy Moss has gone from strained to hostile. Over the likely 12+ hours that I have heard them together I am now convinced that Melanie Smith-Taylor is out of touch and is convinced that Randy Moss is stupid. Randy Moss could potentially not be that bright, but as a viewer I don’t think that I should know that. I appreciate them trying to change the line up from the 2012 Olympics, but this combo is clearly not a win so maybe NBC should try and switch out both commentators next time.

Does anyone know how the commentators are selected? I like the idea of a novice with a pro, but maybe a pro who is more active in the horse world would be a good place to start. I just feel like there are so many riders out there who are funny, charming and clearly show a passion for equestrian sport. I don’t mean to sound harsh about Smith-Taylor, she apparently still gives clinics and wrote a book, but she just doesn’t sound like someone who loves horses when you listen to her.

The Olympics is the top of equestrian sport, commentary shouldn’t be a “name that tune” during dressage with the same three facts about every rider being repeated over and over again for every day of competition. 

If you need help NBC just let me know, I’m confident I could find you a top rider who won’t talk over your other announcer and who can talk about more then just the age of the horse or rider. Even my non-horsey hubby started laughing listening to them today, his exact words were “are these the best commontators they could find?”

Sadly, I think the answer is yes for the 2016 Olympics. 

2016 Rio Olympics

So if you have been reading this blog for a while, you know I love the Olympics. For the next two weeks I will be glued to my tv watching everything from synchronized swimming to rhythmic gymnastics. Of course, the highlight of the games for me is the equestrian events!

Above is the official tv schedule in the U.S. For all of the 2016 Olympic events. I hope you find it helpful and take a little time to watch yourself!

Happy Birthday Gen

24 years ago today a little black trouble making fuzzball was born! I know I don’t blog much at all, but I wanted to share the fact that Gen has made it to a happy (and mostly healthy) 24 years old!

Gen trying to get his new fly mask off last week

We will celebrate today with a treat tasting. They changed the formula of the only packaged treats he likes so I have 5 new samples for him to try to see if we have a new winner. 

Muddy Gen on Mother’s Day