Sunday, March 22, 2009

Goldmember is Officially Gelded !!

What a great start to spring! Fandango came home Sunday afternoon (to my parents farm) and settled right in. My mom said his neigh has already changed and he seems more mellow already. The full effect of testosterone loss won't happen for another month or two.
The surgery was successful. They recovered a fully developed right testicle that was way tucked up inside of Fandango. The fully development would explain his behavior. He will be on 5 to 7 days of stall rest and then he can start light work. He will stay at my parents until this Sunday where he will be moved to a new barn. Archie will be coming with him as he is coming to the city for the summer so we can start his eventing career!

This is all like a dream come true for me. I saw something in Fandango that no one else saw. If I hadn't of scooped him up he would have ended up at the auction...and then I'm sure we all know where he would have ended up in the end. Over the last year Fandango has developed into an amazing little pony. He only had one thing holding him back, and luckily - that thing was fixable. Now that the chip that weighed so heavily on his withers is gone, I can only begin to dream about what this pony is going to do. I have a private sponsor who also sees the potential in him and is helping me fund his boarding and lesson costs so I can continue to work both him and Archie throughout the summer.

I have not made a show schedule or goal plan for Fandango this summer yet, as my number one priority has always been to get him this surgery. Now that the surgery is completed and was a success, we can start to decide what exactly we will be doing. I'm just so excited to have my "new" Fandango here.

I want to say thank you for everyone who has helped me get Fandango to this point. My best friend John who has always gone out of his way to be there to trailer, and care for Fandango when I'm at work, my sister for setting up his appointment and dealing with the vet for me, my parents for picking him up and stabling him while he recovers, my vet for being so AWESOME and fixing my pony, GB stables for housing him temporarily before his surgery, my sponsor for believing in us, and all my friends who supported me and did not tell me to just "dump the horse". Thank you guys, I love you!!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fandango - Goldmember - Part 2


Fandango walked on the trailer like a champ last night and was behaved the whole 2 hrs home. My parents unloaded him and put him in a stall, my mom said he just went in and started eating right away. I went home and got Schaeffer before I took the trip to my parents to check on him. He was very settled, even though one of my moms mares already went into heat from him being there. He goes in tomorrow morning for his consultation, where they will look him over and most likely ultrasound to see where his bits are tucked away. He will undergo the surgery on Thursday morning. I always say Fandango is the real Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron, can you see the resemblance?

Onto the story.....
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......... His results were positive. He was showing high levels of testosterone and they would need to come back out and administer a series of blood tests to see how high the levels were, and determine whether he was properly castrated or not. A few days later the vet came out and met my friend who would be doing the tests for me while I was at work. The test consists of measuring the male hormone testosterone in the blood before and after administration of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Stallions and cryptorchids have higher levels of testosterone and levels of the hormone increase after hCG administration. Castrated horses have low levels of testosterone and levels do not increase with hCG. A blood sample was taken before the hCG was administered, and then once again after. After half an hour, another blood sample would be taken. After another half hour, another sample was taken. Overall there were 4 intervals at half hour where samples were taken. Fandango stood like an old pro for it all.

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A few days later we got the call, the vets were very excited. He was DEFINITLY a cryptorchid, and his testosterone levels were actually higher than that of the average stallion used for breeding. The vets said they had never seen results like that. We went over the options for treatment. I could try putting him on Depo-Provera with a monthly injection, or go for surgery. Depo was about $50 an injection, and depending where I took him for surgery it could run from $1000 - $5000 dollars. I decided to try the Depo until I could save the money for the surgery. Since Fandango wasn't showing any stallion tendencies where he was, he didn't start Depo injections until he was moved for the winter.

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My step sister and I were discussing Fandangos' results and condition, and she told me that the vet she works for does the surgery now. This vet, is my parents vet and has been our vet for years and years. He is a good friend and very trusted, so I was excited to hear this. I sent her Fandangos results to show him, and he agreed to do the surgery. He even offered to put me on a cash payment plan so I could get it done earlier, and at a great price. I would only have to pay 1/5 of what I would have had to pay if he was shipped to a major equine hospital. Both other hospitals that do the surgery were quit far at 5 and 8 hours away. This was really good news.

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For the winter I moved Fandango to a facility with an arena. I started doing a lot of ground work and free longeing to help him develop muscle and balance without me hindering him. He had only been hacked all summer so although he was fit, he was still in need of learning how to balance, engage himself, and basic training. There were a few mares at this place so he went on Depo almost immediately when he got there. It seemed to really help with his pushiness, but he was still very vocal. He had to be on individual turn-out as he was very aggressive with the other geldings. Over the next few months Fandango was showing great improvement in his overall appearance, and way of going. I started riding him more just concentrating on forward forward forward. We did basic exercises like big circles and figure eights while going forward. He has such a big trot at times he gets ahead of himself and his legs end up flailing everywhere.

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With all the ground work I was doing Fandango was becoming quite the pony. He is completely voice trained to walk, trot, canter, lengthen his canter, half halt, stand, and change direction. It's hard to believe until you see it yourself, but it is really something. He will change direction across the diagonal like a little dressage pony, and when you say "big trot" he will push from his hind end and step out at a higher gear. It's not perfect, but it's decent for a self taught lengthen from the ground. Around Christmas, the care where Fandango was started to diminish. He wasn't getting enough hay, or bedding. His stall was frozen dirt and peat moss. His water bucket was a solid block by 6pm, and the horses came in at 5, so it was clear the water hadn't frozen that solid in an hour. He started losing weight and I decided to pull him out of there.
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The owner of the barn where I got Fandango agreed I could bring him there temporarily until I found somewhere else. I can't thank them enough, they were life saving. It's hard enough to find a good boarding facility (remember my blog about it here: ), add the stallion behavior in the mix and it's not easy at all. For the last 2 months he has been at this barn, and I have been taking care of him myself. The vet clinic where the surgery is to be done was undergoing renovations, so when my sister told me she could book Fandango in finally, I was psyched! So, that's where we are now. He is at my parents farm until tomorrow morning and I have been given news he is behaving himself. Only a couple more days to wait to see if we are going to kick these problems once and for all. I can't wait to see what an amazing pony he is going to be after surgery!

I will update when I know anything!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Fandango - Goldmember - Part 1


Things are extremely busy for me right now. Fandango is leaving today for my parents farm, where he will stay for a couple of nights before his big surgery. Fandango is a chryptorchid. It is not clear yet whether his testicle did not fully descend or whether a small piece was left. However after blood tests it was confirmed there was something tucked away that was causing his behaviour. Fandango is going in for full abdominal surgery to remove the left over bits on Thursday. There is a great overview of the surgery here;
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I have owned Fandango for almost a year now. Last winter I was working at a local riding school on weekends for some extra cash. The barn owner had me riding his horses since my horse wasn't in the city, and he needed the help. One afternoon the horse I normally rode was deemed to be ready for the riding school again, and most of the horses had been worked that day. I asked who I should ride and the barn manager pointed at Fandango and said "this horse needs TONNES of help, he's all over the place, you should try him tonight". Fair enough, I always thought Fandango was Mr. Perfect little school pony because his stall was covered in ribbons and all the kids loved him. It never really occurred to me that I had never seen anyone ride him.
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I gave him a brush, tacked him up and headed to the arena. Once on board I went for a little walk around to get the feel of him. Have you ever been the first person to ride a horse? I mean the FIRST time the horse is backed? Where it feels like their feet are attached in weird places and they walk like they were just born? That's how Fandango was. He was like a drunk trying to walk the sobriety line. How weird I thought. He was also lazy, and I mean LAZY. I was pony club booting him and tickling him with the whip to get him to move. Whatever I thought, let's see how the rest of this goes.
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I picked up a trot and was bounced out of the saddle. I was really surprised at his spring, but again his legs were like tentacles and felt all over the place. I was seriously wondering how this horse even got around on his own. We trotted by the arena door and *ZIP* we spun around and were heading right into it. Ah ha, now I see why you aren't used in the riding school. He continued with that every time we passed the door at anything stronger than a walk. Every time I would halt him, turn him around, and continue on. Overall, I was not impressed at all in his training (or lack thereof), but he was bratty, and a pony so I figured I could enjoy some time with him.
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The day after our first ride I was standing outside his stall, outside. I saw these two little beady eyes staring at me through the bars. He was staring at me! Any time I came in the pony barn there would be Fandango, staring through his stall at me. He very quickly became my favorite. I started riding him frequently, just trying to get the basic concept of forward and straight. However, you have to kind of understand this riding school to get this, but when you start riding a horse there that no one pays attention to normally, everyone all of a sudden wants to ride him. A few other girls who boarded there then started telling me they were riding him here and there, and I saw how their interest in him was peaking. I was getting nervous, because after falling in love with him I was plotting a way to make this pony mine.
I already have a nice eventer, I'm broke as it is, yet I had to have him.
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One of the girls at the barn told me she was going to try and find a way to buy him. I was so angry, no one ever paid attention to Fandango until I started riding him. It was so unfair, I took the initiative to talk to the barn owner. He and I were good friends as I did so much riding for him. I told I wanted Fandango and we needed to make a deal. I had an Appaloosa gelding I evented successfully to Training level who was being used as a schoolie at another barn at the moment who would be perfect for the riding school. W advised me if I didn't take Fandango he would be sent to the auction as he wasn't sell able with such a lack of training and bad attitude. I knew what would happen if Fandango went there. W and I agreed on a trade, even though he was getting the better deal, I just had no use for Bobby and since he loves kids, I knew he would be happy there.
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Fandango was moved to my parents farm, and my Appy Bobby came to riding school in April of 2008. The first few days were great with Fandango there, but things took a turn for the VERY BAD on the third day, he was showing signs of aggression and intense stallion behaviour. He attacked my dads older gelding and left huge gashes all over his back. He jumped the fence and was brooding the mares. My mother was not impressed, I was given a few days to sort something out. I found a place for Fandango that was a small private horse farm where there were only geldings. Him and Archie moved there for the summer and his stallion tendencies disappeared quickly.
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I spent the summer hacking and taking care of my boys. This facility was self care so I spent the majority of my time there. There was no arena, and it rained almost every day last summer, so sadly the hacking was the best I could hope for. However, the hacking did seem to do him good. He developed nice muscles and his balance was improving. I decided if I was going to go forward with him I needed to be sure about his behavior. Was it purely mental? Or was there an underlying source? I had the vet out for Archie as he ripped his should open and needed 20 staples. I asked her if she had a minute, if she wouldn't mind doing a blood test on Fandango. It was ironic because she went on for about 20 minutes how it's most likely behavioural and the blood test would probably be a waste of money and time but if I really wanted it she would do. Well I wanted it!! I knew there was something up with his horse, I just wanted to know WHAT. A couple days later the vet called with the results....
stay tuned....


Monday, March 9, 2009

What Does Your Dog Say About You?



You've heard the saying before, that dog owners eventually start to look like their dogs? I was thinking about this after seeing all the different dogs out in the city this weekend. I was trying to figure out if I could gauge anything about a persons' personality by what type of dog they had. I personally think what type of dog you own does say a lot about you, but that's just my opinion. I decided to do some research and see if there was anything behind these theories. It turns out there has been quite a bit of research done on the topic of dog owners looking like their dogs.

What does the research say? Dog owners really do look like their pets! However, this only applies to purebreds, and not the sweet mutts you find at the pound or from back yard breeders (boo!).

Researchers from the
University of California, San Diego found that people choose purebred dogs that resemble them. However, there was no correlation when it came to choosing a mixed breed dog. Psychologists Michael Roy and Professor Nicholas Christenfeld published their findings in the May issue of Psychological Science, which is a journal of the American Psychological Society.

How did the experiment work? Researchers photographed 45 dogs and their owners seperately. 25 of the dogs were purebred, while 22 were mixed breeds (mutts). 28 judges were asked to match the dog to the owner when shown a picture of an owner with several dog options. The judges were able to match 16 of the purebred dogs to their owners, but they showed no ability to match the mutts. Although the judges could not match the dogs to owners perfectly, they could significantly pick them with better probability than chance alone.

Christenfeld: And the finding was with purebred dogs, they could do it above chance. Not perfectly, but significantly better than chance. Whereas with mutts they were just at chance, they couldn't tell better than flipping a coin which mutt went with which owner.

In the study, they also explored whether the resemblence of dog and owner happened over time, or whether loength of owner had any bearing at all. One theory was that owners picked dog breeds which would eventually grow to resemble them. This theory was thrown out when they found that length of ownership had no correlation between how a dog resembeled it's owner and the length of time they owned the dog.

The researchers accounted the resemblance to selection. They said the fact that resemblance was only detectible in purebred dogs, compared to a mixed breed, supported that theory. Purebreds have a more predictable appearance than a mutt. They also stated that people who buy purebreds most often spend more time deciding on a breed and choosing a puppy, whereas those who adopt and rescue mutts tend to do so on impulse, or through friends.

Obviously, there are a few holes in the research, but it is still quite interesting. Are dog owners drawn to dogs that look and act like they do? I would say personality wise it's quite obvious owners pick dogs who will match their personality. If you are an active person, you are going to want an active dog. If you live on a farm, you are going to want to have a dog who likes the farm life and working. If you are a couch potatoe, than a lazy dog will most likely be your choice!

The researchers did find however that people with a friendly outlook on life chose friendly looking dogs. Trendy people tended to have trendy looking dogs, and they claimed they could spot a hound owner a mile away. The study found judges didn’t use any one characteristic to make the matches. There were no significant correlation between dogs and owners on the basis of size, attractiveness, friendliness and energy level when considered separately.

“People are attracted to looks and temperaments that reflect themselves or how they perceive themselves,” said Gail Miller, a spokeswoman for the American Kennel Club. Miller.

It's hard to say whether I look like Schaeffer, I have 4 other dogs on my parents farm, I think I resemble Gwen the most.

References:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4639202/

http://www.sciencenetlinks.com/sci_update.cfm?DocID=212

http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/health/HealthRepublish_1078024.htm

Friday, March 6, 2009

Here Comes that Lion ~ Get the Wellies Out!

After a week of a bitter cold spell (which seemed even colder after being in Cuba), we have meltdown starting. It's 3 °C and rising. It might be a bit sad that I'm so excited over such low temperatures but I really have just had enough of this winter already. Working weekends at a hunting barn means I am exposed to the brutal weather and I just want to go to work and not have to wear long johns anymore!

The temperature this weekend looks to be a cool 7°C both Saturday and Sunday which means no more marsh mellow stable chick outfit! YIPPEE! However, this also means the ice is going to melt and the fields are going to be nicely formed lakes. Time to get out the Wellies!

Wellies, or properly called "Wellington Boots" until recently were a necessity, but a fashion nightmare. You would have been lucky to find a colour other than army green or yellow. In the last few years they have taken off in the fashion industry and are worn by city dwellers and runway models alike. Who would have ever guessed? It's about time we could look good and keep our feet and trousers clean and dry!

Why are Wellies so great? They keep your feet dry, keep your trousers dry and mud free, they are comfortable, and easy to slip on and off. You can find them in every colour, every design, pattern and style now. You can even get them with high heels! (Why, I couldn't tell you!)

Possibly the best invention for the Welly in last few years has been the Welly warmer. A sock insert you can put in the boot to keep your toes toasty. An amazing help for us here in the freezing North, and now we can wear our Wellies all year!

I personally love the Wellies from Joules however they definitely run on the expensive side. You can grab a pair at any discount department store for about $20. I also found this site Rosieroo, that makes designer Wellies with function in mind. I need a new pair so I'll be out shopping this weekend! They are going to get good use in the next month. Bring on March!

Some history on the Wellington Boot, quoted from Wikipedia:

"The first Duke of Wellington instructed his shoemaker, Hoby of St. James's Street, London, to modify the 18th century Hessian boot. The resulting new boot designed in soft calfskin leather had the trim removed and was cut more closely around the leg. The heels were low cut, stacked around an inch, and the boot stopped at mid-calf. It was hard-wearing for battle, yet comfortable for the evening. The Iron Duke didn't know what he'd started — the boot was dubbed the Wellington and the name has stuck ever since. The Duke can be seen wearing the boots, which are tasseled, in an 1815 portrait by James Lonsdale.[1]

The boots quickly caught on with patriotic British gentlemen eager to emulate their war hero. Considered fashionable and foppish in the best circles and worn by dandies, such as Beau Brummell, they remained the main fashion for men through the 1840s. In the 1850s they were more commonly made in the calf-high version, and in the 1860s they were both superseded by the ankle boot, except for riding.
These boots were at first made of leather. However in 1852 Hiram Hutchinson met Charles Goodyear, who had just invented the vulcanization process for natural rubber. While Goodyear decided to manufacture tyres, Hutchinson bought the patent to manufacture footwear and moved to France to establish "A l'Aigle" ("To the Eagle") in 1853, to honour his home country. The company today is simply called "AIGLE", "Eagle"). In a country where 95% of the population were working on fields with wooden clogs as they had been for generations, the introduction of the Wellington type rubber boot became a success: farmers would be able to come back home with clean dry feet.

Production of the Wellington boot was dramatically boosted with the advent of World War I, due to the demand for a sturdy boot suitable for the conditions in flooded trenches. The North British Rubber Company, now Hunter Boot Ltd, was asked by the War Office to construct a sturdy boot suitable for the conditions in flooded trenches. The mills ran day and night to produce immense quantities of these trench boots. In total, 1,185,036 pairs were made to cope with the Army's demands.
In World War II, Hunter was once again called upon to supply vast quantities of Wellington and thigh boots. 80% of production was of war materials - from ground sheets to life belts and gas masks. In Holland, forces were working in flooded conditions which demanded Wellingtons and tight boots in vast supplies.
By the end of the war the Wellington had become popular among men, women and children for wear in wet weather. The boot had developed to become far roomier with a thick sole and rounded toe. Also, with the rationing of that time, labourers began to use them for daily work.
Wellington boots are waterproof and are most often made from
rubber or a synthetic equivalent. They are usually worn for walking on wet or muddy ground, or to protect the wearer from industrial chemicals, and they are usually just below knee height."

Get your Wellies on!!

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