Saturday 31 March 2012

100,000 pageviews!

Thanks Freddie Mercury no moustache!

(I will write a real post later this weekend, I promise..)

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Come one, come all. Get your blind porno dressage here!

Sure, I like writing my blog.

But I also really like looking at my Blog Stats.

I know I have already revealed to you that I can tell where my traffic is coming from, not exactly with great detail (don't worry, Dressage Curmudgeon is not watching YOU!), but I can see if suddenly a strange bulletin board directs traffic my way.  This is how I found out the picture of me, was not me, according to UDBB.  And how I know child haters like dressage.

I can also see that I make approximately $0.12 per day off of the advertisements that run on my blog, which is good to know just in case I get the urge to do something wild and crazy at work just to see what it takes to get fired.  It may be too soon to live off of the riches this mighty blog generates.  Oh, wait - come to think of it, I already know how to get fired anyways. So really not a great idea, no matter how you slice it.

(I have promised Mr. Motard I will buy him dinner if I ever reach the magical $100 payout point.  Let's just say he isn't saving his appetite for that big day).

But the thing I find most entertaining of all are the "Search Keywords".  These are the things that people have typed into google that have lead them to the Dressage Curmudgeon blog, due to the fact that I have at some time, made reference to whatever it is they are searching.

The good news is... the majority of people are actually looking for Dressage Curmudgeon blog. 

Crazy, eh?  Well, to you I say - welcome.

The bad news is... a close second place - at least one or two searches a day - goes to:

Freddie Mercury no moustache.

Uhh, To you I guess I say... welcome.  And sorry.  Nothing to see, move along.

Who on Earth are all of these people googling "Freddie Mercury no moustache".  And more importantly - WHY.  I suppose there is a percentage of them who, like me, want an entertaining picture to include in their blog.  But really, there must be other reasons that I can't (and probably don't want to) comprehend.

There are also many permutations of this... was Freddie Mercury gay (try searching... is sky blue - or maybe ...water, wet or not? - next), or gay bikers, or gay no moustache.

I have quite a few hits relating to Perry the platypus on a scooter.  Or other themes relating to platypuses.  (I wonder how many poorly executed  grade 4 school projects on "THE PLATYPUS" include a picture of a chestnut arab pony?)

Then there are those relating to topics that actually make some sense, however the person may or may not feel they have gained anything from stopping by.  Things like "club foot", or "saddlebred dressage" or "purple wintec" or "playboy grotto".

But the thing that compelled me to write this post today, was this one.  I swear I am not making this up.

Someone came to find the blog today by googling


(Try it.  I am the first hit!)

Ok, fess up.  Who searched this, and please do share..  WHY?  WHY? WHY?
Oh, and welcome!  Hope you enjoy the blog, you freak.

Funny thing is, I don't even remember writing about Blind Porno Dressage. But hey, it sounds like more fun than a 20 metre circle, anyways.

It is a FLY MASK you city slicker pervert!  Back off!

There must be, Fifty ways to be a moron... just turn out the pony, Tony....

I don’t know what the answer is to the dilemma of boarding stables not being able to deliver on the promises they make.  Other than - only choosing stables that appear to be charging enough money to actually cover the cost of the services they say they are offering.  As the saying goes – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

And boarding stables should, in turn, try to ensure that they only bring in clientele who can and will readily pay for these services.

Yes, I realize it seems stupid to even be typing this.  Kind of like typing – the only way to not die of asphyxiation is to be sure to breathe on a regular basis. 

But in all of the combinations and permutations I have seen – there just doesn’t seem to be a perfect and failproof answer.  Because stable owners sometimes underestimate costs, boarders sometimes overestimate earnings, and life situations change.  Things can go wrong and turn very ugly, even at high end, high price tag stables.  

(Random piece of advice…don’t ever ask your coach, “Hey, what’s with the locks and chains on the stalls of Ms. Hirollers horses?”  Yah, it might just be a fun stable time hijinks, but chances are it is probably a touchy subject)

I have been in full training situations for the last while – you pay a lot, you get a lot.  Pretty simple. Not entirely without drama at all times, of course - it would be a pretty boring blog for you guys to read if it were all wonderful smooth sailing, now wouldn’t it - but for the most part, this system seems to work. 

But what is the right solution when you are on more of a budget, as I was when I first bought Ms. V?

On the surface, a la carte boarding seems to make the most sense.  Stall cleaned, horse fed daily = $XXX.  Daily turnout = $YYY.  Boots and blankets = $ZZZ.  And so on.  But somehow in practice it doesn’t work.  Horse owners think being asked to pay for services is “nickel and diming” or decide they will get their friend Sally to do blankets for them instead for free, and when she doesn’t show up and Foo Foo Bunny is melting in a pool of his own sweat when the weather turns warm… what is the barn owner to do?  It isn’t Foo Foo’s fault his owner is a cheap ass.

Now actually, for Ms. V at Muddy View Acres, things were pretty simple.  At the time, she didn’t wear a blanket or boots, and still to this very day, I think 99% of supplements are a huge load of smoldering bullshit, so there were no baggies or scoops required in her care.  (And I have a Master’s degree in Animal Nutrition, just to give you a full appreciation of how deeply my bullshit radar runs on this topic).

All she really needed to do was eat and drink on a regular basis, and be provided with an environment in which to live where she was not totally mired mud, or her own urine and feces.  Aha!  You knew there was going to be some unreasonable hitch, didn't you.  

(I am not sure how you finesse this description on an a la carte boarding options menu).

The last point was of particular importance not only because it is just common sense.  It was also of particular importance for Ms. V, because besides being thin and possibly wormy (which I didn’t think was true, incidentally), she did come my way with a slight case of scratches.  Mud fever.  Whatever you want to call it. 

No problem, right?  We all know how to manage this condition, in three easy steps.

1.  Clip the hair, then scrub the skin with betadine wash or similar antibacterial solution.  Dry.

2.   Smear something on the irritated skin – what you ask?  Well, as the old saying goes, favourite remedies for scratches are like assholes, everybody has one.  (I read that some weirdos like to try other people’s as well. I think it was in Penthouse Forum.  Or was it Practical Horseman.  One or the other) Blu-kote, zinc cream, tea tree oil… there is no right or wrong answer, Pick one, apply. 

3.    Keep your horse in a clean, dry environment until the lesions heal.

Curmudgeon's remedy of choice.  Go hard or go home. Tea tree oil is for  losers.

Sounds easy.  Unless you are a boarder at Muddy View Acres in December, before the frost is in the ground.  There was no clean, dry environment.  To be fair, finding a clean, dry, outside environment at any boarding stable would have been a feat that year. 

Sigh.  So, as much as it pained me, I decided that it was best that Ms. V stayed inside until I got her scratches under control.  I was visiting every day, and so could give her a bit of arena turnout and hand walk her to keep her from going insane. 

Dressage Curmudgeon writes on the chalkboard “Ms. V – no turnout”

The funny thing was – every time I showed up – she was covered in mud. 

Dressage Curmudgeon writes on the chalkboard “Ms. V – no turnout – stays inside please”

Or – actually outside.  Standing in mud past her fetlocks. And her scratches got worse, and her leg got fatter, day by day.

Dressage Curmudgeon writes on the chalkboard “Ms. V – no turnout – stays inside  - IN STALL – 24/7”

So, finally I had a deep, one-on-one I talk with the owner.  Brought him over to her, and pointed at her sausage leg, caked in mud. 

Mr. MVA - Do – you – see – the – problem – here?

Well, I am not sure what you are getting at, Ms. Curmudgeon.  What problem?  If there is a problem, all you have to do is let me know what you would like me to do differently.  You can write it on the chalkboard.

But hey – on a totally unrelated note - have you ever noticed that your horse’s white leg looks thicker than her black legs?

Dressage Curmudgeon’s eyes roll back in her head and she begins making that ticking noise in throat that aliens from all planets seem to make in the movies, regardless of the galaxy of origin, right before they start eviscerating people. 

I wish I was an Oscar Meyer Wiener.  
“Ohhh – you want her INSIDE.  Like INSIDE-inside.  All day?  Well, we usually put them out to do the stalls”.

Dressage Curmudgeon begins to sing in her head to kill the pain “I wish I was an Oscar Meyer WEEEEINERRRR”

Yes, I realize that.  She needs to say in.  Is that going to be a problem?

OH!  Oh, No.  No problem.  Not at all.  Now that I know what you REALLY want.

Whew.  Well, thank goodness we got that cleared up.   She would stay in, where it was dry, and..err… clean.

At least until the shavings ran out. 

For. Days. On. End.

“Everyone’d commit Hari-Kariiiiii!”

Wednesday 21 March 2012

*Spoiler Alert*. There is no tooth fairy. And we don't put those stupid boots on for turnout, either.

Now, to be fair, the warning signs were there long before I dropped off Ms. V at her new home at Muddy View Acres.
Sort of like… well, you know, when you are watching 20/20, and Diane Sawyer (or whoever) is interviewing some poor, jilted woman, whose husband has just been revealed as a polygamist axe-murderer – there is a lot of earnest nodding, intense squinty narrowing of the eyes, brow furrowing (or as much can occur with all of the Botox), nodding on her part… but you just know, that in her mind, Diane is really thinking…
“Oh my gawd.  This woman is an inbred moron.   How did she not see the flashing pink and green neon signs?”
I think I will have a burger for lunch.  Mmm.mmm..mmm..Oh Sorry - what were you saying again?

Yah, well, I kind of think Diane would have thought this about me.  And Muddy View Acres.
Never board somewhere with the following business plan:
"Hey, honey - we have some land, and I like horses.  They are pretty.  Let's build a barn and arena, and get boarders.  How hard can it be?  And since you have just been laid off from your job as a waitress - you and Grandpa can run the place!  I love it when a plan comes together!"

Now, how did I come to find myself at Muddy View Acres in the first place, you may ask.   

Of course, I didn't know about the business plan right away, they don't post it in a little frame like the mission statement in your office.  It was revealed slowly, one tantilizing glimpse of incompetence at a time.  
I certainly didn't know much about the place, or the owners initially either, but the one thing I did know was that since the business plan involved building a big and impressive brand new barn and arena and fencing all from scratch - it was very pretty and shiny and new! And everything pretty and shiny and new is good, right?  
I actually decided to take Ms. V there because of the horse I part-boarded at the time... remember him?  No?  Well keep up, for Pete's sake.  You may recall from way-back-when in passing, I did mention that I went  to try out a very non-athletic but cute Morgan cross, who happened to call MVA his home – and ended up as his part boarder.  And so, I had been showing up there to thrust my bad dressage riding upon this guy for the last few months.

(It did also happen to be right on the Snowmobile trail, and Mr. Motard actually sledded on out to visit us one day. But that is just interesting trivia, and really neither here nor there and certainly not why I chose the place. I suppose it was an effective way to get him interested in coming out to visit the horse and there is something to be said for that since it doesn’t happen often).
Really, in hindsight, the fact that I had been coming and going from MVA for a few months makes the fact that I actually took my own horse there even sadder, and more stupid.  But I do think that your perspective as a horse owner is somewhat different than that of a part boarder, and even more different if you are a temporarily unemployed horse owner, with gobs of time to spend hanging out and noticing all of the things that go on in a day at MVA.
When you are an employed part-boarder, you rush to the barn in a frenzy after work, starving and trying to get through the next two hours without eating all of the carrots, apples, and extruded nugget things covered in hair etc. at the bottom of your grooming box, race to tack up, ride, then get the hell out, typically at night when nothing much is happening on the barn labour front, other than maybe some bucket filling and a flake of hay thrown here or there.  

However, as an unemployed horse owner, you show up during the day - showtime! - and have the luxury of  watching the totally horrific stable management skills of Ma and Grandpa at a much more leisurely pace. 

As a harried, evening dwelling part-boarder, you don’t get a chance to notice that boots don’t go on for turnout, nor do blankets or special rainsheets painstakingly described in a multistep procedure in the “life and times of FooFoo Bunny II” three ringed binder that his owner lovingly prepared for him.  In fact, you will never know that these things don't happen, unless you take the time to plan intricate sting operations to prove you are not crazy, and that Foo Foo's boots really didn't go anywhere all week.  

AAAA-HA!  I knew they weren't putting his boots on!  SEE!  I buckled the second buckle to the third, on the fourth hole, while double twisting the strap - and IT IS STILL LIKE THAT NOW - A WEEK LATER! 

(Come on - admit it - you've done it. Sort of like the strategies you used to prove the tooth fairy was a lie).

You don’t see that all of the little baggies of carefully proportioned supplements are not lovingly sprinkled on yummy warm beet pulp just for Foo Foo, but dealt out in a Las Vegas fashion to whatever bucket is closest at the time…HIT ME!  Stormy needs some Valerein!  Or whoever!  Who cares!
Halters on, halters off… really, does it matter?  And why lead one horse at a time, when God clearly gave you two hands and opposable thumbs for a reason?   All aboard, let’s go, the paddock express is leaving now.  I ain’t making another trip just because Stormy wants to kick the crap out of Ms. Sunshine.  Work it out, kids. 
While we are at it, let’s talk individual turnout – what the hell is that all about, anyways?  If FooFoo was just smart enough to stand off on his own rather than picking a fight with Sir FartsALot – he would be an “individual” now, wouldn’t he?  The ball is in his court. It is a good life lesson. 
And if pitchforks were good enough to control Frankenstein... well then they are good enough for Foo Foo - get BACK!  BACK!  INTO THE CORNER - NOW!  Or I will poke you - I SWEAR I WILL!
Alright, OK...Stay calm.  We are on our way to the paddock.  I am even wearing my boots.  

But - as is too often the case in life, and especially life relating to horses - I told myself, Curmudgeon - you are being too critical. You are just stressed because of your new horse, your new job - do you really need a new barn right now too?  

Put things in perspective.  

Is she being fed?  Yes.  Is she being turned out?  Yes.  Do the horses that the moronic owner just bought from the auction look adorable with the little circles of ringworm all over them, like some sort of freaky polka dots?  Yah, actually, they kind of do.  Can you blame him for thinking they were interesting markings?  C'mon, it was an honest mistake.  

Hang in there.  Just a little longer.  It will get better.  

Monday 19 March 2012

Which came first... chicken/egg? Boarding stable/Crazy boarder?

Well, my dear readers, I certainly hope you have enjoyed the last few posts.
No, not only because the long awaited purchase of my horse has finally been executed, and as a result, you can stop asking yourself  “oh for gawd’s sake, how long is this woman going to drag this shit out”. 
But also because I have introduced some cutting edge, thought provoking topics for discussion.  Topics like – was it all about David Lee, or does Sammy Hagar really deserve more credit than he typically gets?  Or, who is responsible for horrifically cryptic Vet checks.. Vets – or the buyers themselves?  And of course...maternity leave – is 6 weeks inhumane and not nearly enough, or should those Canuck slackers get off of their totally healed vaginas and get the hell back to work in 6 months, let alone a fricking year?
I even got some traffic from an “anti-breeders” message board.  I guess being a dressage rider and a child-hater often go hand in hand – who knew? 
(The answer is, of course, that more MEN need to start taking paternity leave, making it employee roulette for the hiring company, regardless of gender)
And so, continuing on this theme, today I would like to ask a question that I know every single one of you will have an opinion on.
Ready – steady – go.
Who is more totally looped out, batshit insane… people who run boarding stables, or the boarders themselves.
Wow. It is a hard call, isn’t it.  I didn’t say it was going to be easy reading this week, did I. 
Now, I have to say this one does hit sort of close to home, since Mr. Motard’s childhood dream is to own a farm.  In his eyes, it makes total sense that we would bring our passions together (don’t worry, I am not about to talk about our sex lives here, stay calm) and buy a beautiful horse farm.
A beautiful horse farm, where he could drive around on a tractor and kibitz with georgeous 22 year old horse owning girls, while I give encouraging, inspiring lessons to 42 year old dressage women on swoosh-swoosh-swooshy imported warmbloods.
Oh, Edith – wooonderful!  Braaavvv!  He is really stepping under!  And is oh, so very THROUGH!  Look at him using his hind end! 
(cue the angels!  Cue the angels!)
A beautiful horse farm, with all of this, as well as an Olympic sized arena, and an all-weather outdoor ring with that magical rubber chippy footing.. and oh yah, one more thing… a motocross track in the back, where he could go and WRRaaaHHHH-WWWWWRRAAAAHHHH- WWWRARRRAHHHRRA- wwwinnng-winngg-dinng-ding-ding-ding-winng.. around on his dirt bikes, after harrowing the dressage ring with said tractor, and kibitzing with the georgeous 22 year olds
Oh, Brittany… how do you afford such an expensive hobby at such a young age…! And you are a student too! Wow, you smart cookie, you must really manage your money well!
And, presumably, I can then pick up the 42 year olds, dust them off, catch their totally freaked out horses, call the ambulance… not necessarily in that order.  Whatever makes the most sense, based on stemming the loss of blood and tears.
Then prepare the 22-year old’s horses for auction, since they have not paid their board in 6 months, which demonstrates how well they are making out at managing such an expensive hobby at such a young age.
Suffice it to say – we have some details to work out in the fine tuning of his master plan.
The other detail to work out (besides where to source the industrial sized box of ear plug pom-pom thingies for the horses) would be how to deal with the fact that most horse owners… are weird.
I would love to stick up for us as a population, but sorry, I can’t.  For the most part we are nuts.  
I may be biased, and not totally objective here – but I would say that this statement doesn’t apply to me, of course.  On the scale of 1 to 10 on the nutty horse owner scale, I am probably a 2.  Maybe 3.  Or 8.  Most certainly no higher than 9.7. 
I base this comment on the following three factors:
-          I always pay my bills. Always.  No matter how horrific they may be, or how unemployed I may be at any given time

-          I always spend whatever needs to be spent in the veterinary and blacksmith department.  Don’t call, don’t ask – just do it, I will pay the bill

-       And lastly...yes, Joe Q Stableowner…I know, I know, it may not appear to be the case every day.  But generally speaking, I do realize that - as wacked out as this may sound - you may actually be running this show as a business, to..*gasp*.. make money - no matter how fucked up that may seem to the emotional and entitled side of me. 
      I realize that you were not put here on this planet by the aliens just for my personal convenience – so that I would have someone to cater to my every need, as I pursue my dream of doing whatever the hell it is I am doing with this horse in some frenetic and willy-nilly fashion. 
That said – I do expect a few things in return for the money which I hand over to you monthly. 
I could create an itemized list, as could all horse owners who board out their horses.  But in the interest of time, I think we can agree that they all boil down to this.
**Just DO whatever the hell it is you SAY you are going to DO**.  
Wow, that is complicated, isn’t it.  Like physics, with a side of calculus and a big dollop of organic chemistry on top.  E=MC somethingorother with some Avagadro guacamole.  And don’t forget the big slice of Pi for dessert.
It certainly seems that way…. Is that big bang I just heard the sound of your brain exploding…?

Monday 12 March 2012

And the worm turns... left, out of the laneway...

This is not really on the topic of horses, dressage, vet checks or the things you come here to read, but I figure you guys are also curious to know what went down on the job front.

Those of you who know me in real life know that I am a bit of a Brer Rabbit when it comes to the workplace.  No, no, NOOOO!  Not the Briar Patch.  Nothing is worse than the nightmare of paid holidays courtesy of severance dollars. Whatever you do, don't force that horror upon me!

And then...something else interesting always comes along.

What is my secret to always landing sweet assingnments, people often ask.

Well, on the record - I would say... get a good education, an advanced degree is articulate, network, make 10 contacts per day, have a smart looking resume.

Off the record, I would say - be a non-freaky-looking person who can smile and crack a joke.  It goes a long way.

However, being a woman in your 30's is a big anchor around your neck.  At any given time a large proportion of this demographic is gone for a year having babies (yes, maternity leave in Canada is a full year, sorry for your luck USA), inconveniencing all around them in the workplace, both when they are absent, and even more when they get bored at home and start stopping by monthly with their screaming spawn and stand in the middle of the office, triggering the loss of an hour or so of productivity as the entire workforce must drop everything and run over and stare for a while, asking pithy questions like "oooooh, is she sleeping through the night yet?" or "how is her little brother getting along with her now?" or "are you breast feeding?  How are your nipples taking it?".

So in the interview, try to crack that joke about how much you hate children, even if you don't.  Often they give you a good lead in, just to see where your head is at on the subject.  You can identify this lead in, because they usually add an "Ooops! I guess I shouldn't really say that in an interview, should I!" at the end... and that's your cue!  Child bashing - GO!

Well, sure, I could screw like one if I wanted to, but think of all of the KIDS!!  YUCK!
Lastly, I would say - never, ever be mean to a headhunter.  In fact, a headhunter had called me just about a month before I got laid off with an interesting opportunity with the competition - we kibbitzed and chitted and chatted, (ahh-haa haaa, Brian, you are such a CARD!)  but in the end, I told him I was happy where I was, thanks anyways!  Good luck!  I will tell my friends you are looking!  Ahh-haa-haaa....

So, I don't need to tell you who I called first on Tues... I landed this job before the month - or my severance - was through, along with a signing bonus that covered most of the cost of Ms. V.

THAT, my friends, is a life lesson. Silver lining....every cloud.

Anyways, I know you are now saying "blah blah blah, Curmudgeon - what happened with the vet check?"

Well, nothing really. After all of my sleepless nights leading up to the fateful Thursday, it was kind of a let down.  Ms. V was perfectly behaved - did not even require sedation for the poking, prodding, jogging, filling of feet with play-doh to pose on slanty little wood blocks for x-rays, etc.  The seller stood wringing her hands and smiling nervously in the background - and for the most part, stayed out of it fairly well  for which I was grateful - I know it ain't easy to do.

The vet was, well, not exactly Mr. Personality Plus, but then I guess I wasn't paying him for his witty banter. I could tell he was underwhelmed by the horse, but not for any particular reason associated with soundness - I have a feeling that they see some pretty hot horseflesh at their clinic, weedy 2 yr olds probably aren't what it takes to light his fire.

So after it was all said and done, he packed it in and I went home and waited for his call, and the associated laundry list.

The verdict:

Consistent with horses of similar age and performance history.  Horse looks thin and wormy.  Deworm horse.

Well I am no James Herriot.  But this - I can do.

I made only one mistake associated with this vet check. I told Mr. Motard the vet's findings.

So, when we showed up on Saturday with the Red Rocket to pick up Ms. V, he bounced out of the truck ready to talk the talk with the seller.  Well Hellooo, nice place here, (pet dog for a bit), blah, blah, blah...

Hey, the vet said your horses look WORMY.  Have you ever heard of this before?  He says you might want to give something called DEWORMING a try...

And here I thought seeing the horse she had raised from birth drive down the laneway was going to be the most depressing thing that happened to this woman today.


Lord, I was born a travellin' Woooorrr-m.  You'll feel me in your anus when I start to Squirrr-mmm.

Friday 9 March 2012

On Vet Checks and Armeggedon..

I know I keep on saying things along the lines of "the weirdest and most annoying part of being involved with horses has to be XXXX"  (insert weird and annoying thing here).

But then I come up with something else that I say is even weirder.  And more annoying.  Seriously.. I am serious here.  The VET CHECK has to be high on that list.

Maybe I am wrong (again), but I don't think it has always been so. It is my understanding that back in the day, a vet came, saw, critiqued... then reported back to you on the suitablity of the horse in a way that actually gave you some foggy clue on whether or not it was likely to drop dead on Wednesday.

Times, they are a changin.  Being Canadian, I will of course blame this on you crazy, lawsuit happy Americans.  Because that's what we do.

Somewhere this seemingly clear cut process has morphed into a "150 things that are wrong with this horse now... or could potentially some day be wrong with this horse between now and Armeggedon - just sayin"  process.

So, what you are telling me Doc, is that I might have a hell of a 2012 show season, but no promises beyond that?

It is easy to blame this all on the vets - those assholes.  They take all of our money, then give us some foggy rundown on their findings...   Things like "horse toes out", which, if you are a blind horse owner, is very useful to find out all for the low, low price of $500.  Or, "horse shows navicular changes consistent with age and training level"... which means - what?  That horses of this age and training level are out kicking ass, or likely to be boxed, frozen and sent to France?

For the love of aliens, Doc... what the hell are you trying to tell me.  Yes, no or maybe so?  Timmy fell into the well?  Use your words, Shy Ronnie!  People in the back can't hear you!

To illustrate this point - let's look at an excerpt stolen from a veterinary website:

These exams are tailored to each prospective buyer's requests and may include a full physical exam of the horse, medical history, performance exam and flexion tests. Digital radiography, ultrasonography and endoscopy are offered as imaging modalities. Radiographs are routinely taken as part of the pre-purchase exam. A full set of x-rays provides valuable information by which to base the purchase decision, a baseline for that particular horse and a basis for later proving that insignificant x-ray changes in the horse have been unchanged over a period of time

Note that what this description DOESN'T say is...

After the completion of the maxing out of your Visa or Mastercard process, we will wrap all this shit up with a bow, and tell you whether or not to BUY THIS HORSE.

Nope.  Because they know full well that they can inspect every orifice, flex, bend photograph... and horses are STILL a crapshoot.  Forget the x-raying-scopy thingy and the probing-scopy thingies.  What we really want is the latest in futurescopy.  Here is a model that I really would like my vet to invest in. 

Ha!  I knew that horse was going to show signs of osteoarthritis by age 24.  Biiiinnn-GO!  Damn I am good!

Becaust THAT is in essence, what we really want to know.  

C'mon Curmudgeon.  If they are going to take our money and do all that shit... the least they could do is give us a "pass / fail".  It is total bullshit that they give us a laundry list of clinical signs of who-knows-what significance and then leave us on our own...

Yah, yah, I know I have felt that way too.  

But on the other hand - we all know someone who has gotten that very laundry list after vetting an incredibly priced Selle Francais they have had their eye on... Yah, the report had some strange words on it like "ringbone" and "navicular" and "close to dead" and "run Suzie, RUN" - but really, who could pass up a price like that!  And so, they rationalized away all of this poo-poo fluff (oooh, that is so sweet. Roarer! The vet thinks he is like a little lion!), bought the horse, then spent the next 10 years trying to rehab A Trois Pattes, bad mouthing Vet Jones all the way for giving them such bad advice during the vet check.  

Or the one that said nothing bad at all - but then the horse went dead lame...

Let's fix up that statement again.  Make it even a bit more like what the average horse buyer wants to see..

After the completion of the maxing out of your Visa or Mastercard process, we will wrap all this shit up with a bow, and tell you whether or not to BUY THIS HORSE.

Then - if the horse does go lame sometime in the next 15 years, we will come to your farm free of charge, and bust our asses trying to fix whatever strange and unpredictable ailment that has cropped up. You are right, it was probably some neurological defect that we failed to notice that made Stormy run through that barbed wire fence.  Our bad.  The stitches are on us.  And, yah, good point, we should have known little Emily would change her mind and decide that "pleasure trail horse" is mind-numbingly dull, and that the TEVIS cup is really where it's at, and evaluated the horse accordingly.  What were we thinking!  

It is sounding pretty sweet now, eh?

But then... has anyone ever NOT met a "Buyer #2" who negotiated a red hot deal with a shellshocked seller - because "Buyer #1" fled the scene after a grueling and intensive vet check with one vet... (cough, is this ringing a BELL with anyone, cough) ... only to come up clean as a whip second time around with a less anal inspector who's laundry list was only 2 pages long?  And the horse went on to stay sound for the next 20 years?

Bottom line is... like absolutely everything else in the horse world - you pays yer money, and ya takes yer chances.  Who knows.  But I still think there is more value in a cryptic laundry list than nothing at all.  So even though my financial situation was not the greatest, I perservered... 

Tuesday 6 March 2012

On horse buying and life lessons...

I figured the time had come to actually let the people who still owned Ms. V in on the news that I planned to buy her, so I scheduled yet another trip out to their farm.

I found that few things had happened since August, when first we met.

First - when I called up to break the news I learned an interesting factoid. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the daughter was actually a working student at WXYZ Farms.  What are the chances!

And, in discussion with Ms. V's owner, the secret to why Herr Schlamm made such semi-flaccid efforts to sell me a horse in October was revealed.  It was because in November, they corralled up all of the meaty and wild 2.5 year olds there and put them through an intensive 7 day "backing" program or something along these lines - voila, the horses were now "started" and their prices increased accordingly.  Why sell one only a month short of windfall time?

What works for a stable with the best moving Stallion on Antartica should also work well for a small family farm.  Right?  And so, the daughter followed along at home and did the same intensive 7 day backing program on Ms. V.

Time for an awkward moment here. 

I may be a bitch, but hearing the mom gush on the phone about the work her daughter had done to start this spindly little open kneed, spongy skeletoned 2 year old - well, I could hardly say "WTF - WHY? WHY on EARTH!"  Even though I was most definitely thinking it. 

(Yes, I realize I also must sound like a raging hypocrite, since I whined about El Muddo being unstarted at five.  But honestly, I think there is a middle ground in there somewhere...don't ask me to quantify exactly what it is.  I think Hillary Clinton knows. Or Monica Lewinski. What the hell is that woman's name anyways.  Someone.)

No worries Curmudgeon!  I know mature, hard bone when I feel it!  Ride on!
I took a deep breath, composed myself, and decided to make the most of it.

C'mon Curmudgeon.  At least you will get to see if she is a totally insane bucking freak dialed up to die-rider-die. Don't turn back now...

Yah, Whatever.  Even if she did get testy, riding her would be sort of akin to saddling up a large angry goat, not a real horse hell bent for death and destruction. 

Another interesting thing had happened in the last few months...It seems hard to believe now, since we have been hovering at parity with the U.S dollar for quite some time, but in 2003 the exchange rate CAD to USD ranged from ... get ready for it... $0.65 in January, to $0.76 in December.

(Remember how we looked longingly at the Victoria's Secret Catalogue back then, sure we would never, ever be able to afford the exchange on a Miracle Bra with matching Thong panties?)

I was thinking of moving up a level this year , but damn!  I can't sit the trot with this miracle going on!

So, in August when I initially headed out to see Ms. V, the rate was $0.71, which would make her advertised price on the American "all prices in USD" website roughtly $6300.  By the time I headed back there in late Nov, the rate had gone to $0.76 - or $5921.

This left me in sort of an awkward situation.  Price had never been discussed - YET.  So in my eyes, I was going to buy a horse that was advertised for $5900 (as the ad on had not changed).  In THEIR eyes, I was going to see a horse advertised for $6300 (as in.. the day they wrote the ad) - PLUS - the value of the exceptional training that she had now received from a sixteen year old under the tutelage of Herr Schlamm in the fabulous world of WXYZ .  Surely that puts her at $7000, give or take.

Curmudgeon - you can't seriously think the price would go DOWN just due to the exchange rate, you cheap bitch!

Yah, well, maybe I am.  But tell me - had it gone the other way - would they have offered to let me to pay LESS?


Well, I must say - when I showed up that Saturday, I was ready to be underwhelmed at least - more likely annoyed.  But in fact, the kid had done a perfect job of starting the large goat.  They dolled her up in a little white pad and polos, and she executed some shaky version of a walk trot canter hack class for me.  Really, I have seen worse at Trillium shows.  Go figure. 

So, when the time came to bargain - the mom looked at me with pleading eyes and explained how she had told her daughter that if she did a good job... if she made an effort.. it would pay off.  It is a good life lesson to learn, no?

Sigh.  Again. Whatever. I split the difference.  We agreed on $6500. 

I had myself a horse..provided she passed the vet check of course.  Luckily, one of the better clinics for pre-purchases was right in the local area, so I was able to arrange something that week - Thursday morning it would be.

Driving to work on Monday, I was happy and excited about my new horse, but pretty bummed out that I would not be able to actually attend the vet check, since, as you may recall, I had no holidays left.  Oh well. 

As it turns out, I wasted critical bummed out energy for nothing.  There was no need - because when I arrived at the office, I was greeted by my boss with tears in her eyes and HR at her side.

(This is never good, unless maybe HR has just told your boss a side splittingly funny joke.  Generally speaking, HR people are a bunch of wizened dressage-judge like bitches that just don't have it in them, so this is a very unlikely scenario).

I was laid off immediately.  Cutbacks.  We know, we know, you work hard, you do your best... Sorry.

A good life lesson to learn. 

Really, it all turned out for the best.  Vet check, here I come!  Now I had absolutely nothing else to do on Earth on Thursday other than surf Workopolis, or show up and witness some of my last non-pogey dollars go up in smoke. X-ray after X-ray. Hot Damn, you know where I was going!  Good times.

That.. and also, the look on my ex-boss' face when I said "oh for FUCK'S sake, why didn't you say something before I bought a HORSE!" was priceless.  I would do it all again, just for that.

Saturday 3 March 2012

Doin' a Do-Over

No matter what it is we are doing in our life at any one time, we do all wonder what would have happened if we had made different choices.  

What would we change, if we had - a do-over?

For example, Jamie is probably still crying, wondering what would have happened had she only had that one night stand with David Lee Roth back in the day.  

Ok, this time... I am buying better laces, and a horse from Charlot Farms

Hey, I am no different.

(No, not about that.  I never even met David Lee Roth.  I am not that old, they were already Van Hagar by the time I saw them at the CNE).

There are a few aspects of the whole adventure where I am sure I did make the best choice possible.  Fairly sure anyways. Kind of. Maybe.

One would be choosing the Viva Voltaire offspring.  He really did turn out to be a good "bang for the buck" local stallion (yes, I realize he is not truly LOCAL local, in that he is imported, but I mean, in the neighbourhood).

The year I showed PSG, there were at least 3 other 9 year old Vivas out there showing PSG as well.  He was the only stallion with two offspring at the latest Pan Am Games, with Viva's Salieri W winning Silver.  So, although he is often described as being "jumper bred", he does seem to create some decent dressage horses.

(Yah, yah, meow-meow-meow...I know what's on your mind, don't bother posting...Whether or not you consider going to the Pan Am Games for an obscure country not actually known for dressage as a noteworthy feat or not is up to you to decide all on your own, not for discussion here).

In fact, it has been suggested to me that perhaps Ms. V is the most remarkable of all of his 2001 offspring going, since she actually turned out fine... while being ridden primarily by me, and not by someone wonderful like Tom Dvorak.  Uhh, thanks.  I think.

The other thing amazing about Ms. V - and the scientist in me says it is ok to type this, even though the irrational freak in me is thinking jinxies - is how incredibly sound she has been from start to finish.  This, I would most definitely NOT change. She has missed only about a month along the way due to a stone bruise - which probably wouldn't have happened if she was not 8 yrs old and still barefoot due to her absolutely perfect looking, chip free feet.

(No, I am not a militant barefooter.  I am just cheap.  I nearly cry every time I think of the beautiful shoes I could be buying myself for the $200 a month I now hand over to the farrier).

I am not sure what I attribute this to.  Breeding?  Maybe.  Size - likely.  I was also pretty dedicated to keeping her lean in her early years, since there is good research in dogs showing that low body weight does reduce the likelihood of a dog developing osteoarthritis.

(Getting barn managers to feed to what I considered to be a lean body condition - well, that's another story, for another day).

So what would I do differently - if I were to do it all again?

Really, all of the different choices I would make relate to only one thing...

I would consider, from the very start, that the day would come when I would get sick of riding and decide  to sell my horse.

Alas, I made choices that are not conducive to this activity.

First... I would have hunkered down, saved my money for a year, and bought something:

1.  Taller - 16.2 at least
2.  Male -
3.  With sexier breeding - imported Elite something or other.

Sorry guys.  I want to believe in the underdog breeds.  And although I am no judge lover - I truly don't think breed prejudice in the ring is rampant.  I have never, in all of my time scribing, seen an "off breed" marked down for anything other than being shitty.  And I do think horses of different breeds CAN make it up the levels if they are good enough. So if one is going to keep their horse forever, it can be whatever breed lights their fire, and probably crappy riding will be the limiting factor to their success.

But breedism in the horse industry is rampant, not in the ring, but in the average everyday people out there.  People who want Nike swooshes on their runners, Coach handbags, and imported horses.  So if you plan on selling shoes, purses or PSG horses, you may want to take this into consideration. Logical?  No.  Reality?  Yes.

The other thing I would do differently is not show my own horse at any show likely to leave an easily searchable trail in cyberspace.

70's ridden by a pro looks a lot better on paper than 50's ridden by an amateur spaz... even if the end buyer is another amateur spaz, who will never ever see the 70's again.  I have never totally understood this one, but I guess people want hope, not reality.

Lastly, of course - I would have made different choices relating to training, all along the way.  And that, my friends, will be the focus of the rest of my blog.

But - for now - who knew what the future held back then.  I was just glad to have finally decided what horse to buy.  I prepared to run back to the barn in London, sweep her off her feet and wedge her into the red rocket, and bring her home.  Wherever that was.

Actual product not exactly as shown.  I am female, Ms. V is a horse