A Ride With Aria

I have been really excited about this post.

Last Friday I finally had my first ride on Aria. It was a long time coming. I was supposed to have this ride back in December but the universe decided to work against me with terrible weather, human/equine illness, and broken body parts (not broken, broken but like, not functioning).

I was really, really pumped for this lesson. I woke up super early and didn’t get much sleep–which is always a good plan for riding a brand new horse but this was my equine Disneyland so I do what I want–I usually get up at 4:30am for work. I’ll let you guess what super early might be. I headed to work and everything was sunshine and rainbows.

Knowing I would be trying to travel in So Cal on a Friday afternoon, I left an hour early from work. Good thing I did! It took me over 3 hours to get to my trainers’ place because everyone decided to get into multi-car pileups. People need to stay off the roads on my lesson days. There was also a ton of traffic because we were having a California Poppy super bloom. Traffic was literally at a standstill because the hillsides were orange. I get it that we don’t see that even every decade but if I have to sit in an hour of stand still traffic someone better be dead. Too much? Maybe I should tone my traffic aggression down a bit…

Very orange super bloom.

Please don’t judge the dubious methods in which I took these photos.

I swear I never took my eyes off the road.  I just held my thumb down for the whole stretch & got burst photos.

The real problem with the traffic was that it made me tense and I really wanted to feel relaxed and confident for my first ride. I shook it off when I got to the barn because you have to leave baggage at the “door”, plus my trainers have great attitudes and it’s infectious. P brought Aria out and we groomed her and tacked her up. I then lunged her to get used to their lunging technique because I have no technique and just let Ben run around like a mad man normally (I’m a terrible person, I know).

Then P schooled Aria for about 45 minutes. She put her through all her paces and left every movement on a good note. Aria can be rambunctious and it was windy out. The perfect excuse to spook and be reactive to everything. An excuse that home girl used multiple times. As we all know I am not a confident rider and the more P worked Aria the more I got nervous. Aria’s spooks are laughable compared to most horses and she came back into P’s hand immediately with no issues but that didn’t stop my stomach from dropping into a pit of major trepidation.

I needed a Xanax.


I can proudly say when my turn rolled around I hiked up my Pull-ups and marched over to Aria with a total fake-it-till-you-make-it attitude. And it worked while I mounted. It worked as P lunged us at a walk. It even worked when we picked up a trot. My oh, my how it failed at the first spook. I immediately leaned forward (criminy Karen, get your shit together. Aren’t we over this fetal position form of riding by now?) and Aria scooted around for maybe 2 steps. Two steps. That was all it took for her to rein it back in. Anyone can sit two measly steps.

The next time we passed the scary banner she spooked again. I applied inside leg, outside rein and she calmed down immediately. Okay, that wasn’t so bad. I could sit that spook all day long. I didn’t even lean forward all that much. The third time around P told me to preemptively support Aria before getting to the banner. Not a spook in sight. She picked up her pace as we passed the banner but otherwise flounced along (yeah, Aria is fancy). Every time I thought she might get squirrely I just applied my inside leg, outside rein and she moved forward with purpose. She wasn’t quite confident because we were feeling each other out but she definitely knew I was supporting her.

And you know what? I caught myself smiling for the rest of the lesson. It was a huge confidence booster for me. Plus Aria’s trot is smooth and silky. Doesn’t matter what speed we’re trotting at. It was like driving a really expensive car. Designed for comfort.

We didn’t canter but that’s okay. I walked and trotted her around the arena without a lunge line and R (the trainer that made Aria the awesomeness that she is) started yelling across the arena in his announce voice “Entering the arena: Karen on Aria”. I told him to shut the hell up because I was nervous enough already. Haha.

But overall it was an amazing first ride and I replicated it the following day but with less leaning forward, spooking, and no lunge line warm up ride or traffic.

The only media that exist of this ride. Courtesy of Trainer P.

Valeria’s Birthing Ordeal

[OMG this post is huge but I don’t want to break it up so I totally understand if you don’t read it or save it for a potty break…because…I guess statistically that’s were a lot of blog reading takes place?]

I was on the fence about doing a post on the tough time Valeria had after delivering but a few people had interest and it might help someone avoid having the same issues.

I guess it really started the day before when I put down straw to prep her stall for foaling. She ate several bites before she seemed to lose interest but would continue to take a bite of straw here and there. Not really typical behaviour but I haven’t owned V very long so maybe straw was just her thing. The next morning (Saturday) I went out to feed and check on her. Some bales of straw had been moved around and there were some good chunks taken out of the sides. I knew straw could upset her stomach but V is a big drinker and she only picked at a stem or two once in a while so I thought that might cancel out any irritation.

Imminent doom.

At 10:00am I tested her milk, because she actually HAD milk finally! Her readings were indicating that she was very close to ready. I consulted with the breeder who said she still had plenty of time. I decided to bite the bullet and make the 2 hour drive north to see Aria worked by my trainer. After all she wasn’t bagged up that much. More than likely we thought she would deliver the next evening.

At dinner time V had a huge appetite. Not indicative of going into labor. I didn’t bother getting anything ready for an overnight stall campout. I had the camera up in the kitchen while we were playing a boardgame and I noticed around 7:00pm that she was tossing her head and had pulled a bale of straw towards the center of her stall to rub her belly on. By 7:30pm she was pacing around her stall, throwing her head around, and backing up. Typical irritated behavior for V. I knew she was in labor.

Rubbing her belly on a bale of straw.

I took my comfy folding chair out to the stall and got a few other items together. I was taking my time because I knew it could take a couple hours for the baby to show up. Then, around 8:13pm her water broke. And broke. And broke. My sister had decided to run to the store for drinks and snacks. I sent her a message to hurry back. At 8:15pm Valeria went down and gave one strong push. Suddenly legs were sticking out. She looked like she was panicking a bit because she immediately got up and started walking around (I don’t know how they do it. If I had a foal stuck in my hoo-ha I’d lay there until it was over). At 8:17pm she went back down again, gave a very human like groan and out popped a whole foal. That was it.

I didn’t want to interfere but after a couple minutes I could see the baby’s nose pushing against the sack without much luck. Her hooves hadn’t pierced the sack either, so I went in and broke it and pulled it away from her face and then left them alone. V had gotten up and broken the umbilical cord at this point. All was good and she was tending to her baby. I did go in after a while to remove the sack entirely and check the gender of the foal. We watched Catalina take her first steps, hit her stump with betadine, and then waited for the placenta to come out.

First time standing on those LEGS.

After 3 hours of waiting I put in an emergency call to my vet. I’m not one to panic. I wait the recommended time and when she called back to advise me over the phone how to remove the placenta, I figured it would be easy-peasy. We took a beach towel, soaked it in water and tied it to the cord and sack that was hanging from V. The weight of all this should have encouraged the placenta to deliver. I have my opinions as to why this didn’t work. Mostly I believe V did not produce enough hormones to encourage contractions after the foal was born because her delivery took all of 5 minutes.

Catalina is not impressed with the cool weather.

Something worth noting, it is completely normal for the placenta to take an hour to come out even with help. I wasn’t sure about that but after a while it was obvious nothing was happening. We were advised to assist by putting light downward pressure on the placenta. Eventually we did get it out. V was pretty tight and to avoid ripping the placenta we made progress by centimeters over the course of about an hour. Everything seemed good, the baby was lively and V was alert so we went to bed.

My vet came the next morning for a mare and foal exam. The placenta seemed to be fully intact, both mare and foal were alert, we dipped the umbilical stump in betadine again, wormed V, and sent the vet on her way. Everyone ate breakfast fine and everyone ate dinner fine.

First morning. You can see that Valeria is beat.

About an hour after dinner I noticed V pacing, backing up, throwing her head, and laying down. This was weird behavior. I know there can be residual cramping but I decided to park it outside her stall to see if she would relax after a while. Some time passed with no improvement. Catalina was not as spunky as she had been that morning. V wasn’t standing to let her eat. We took temperatures. They were normal. I hesitantly put a colic call in to the emergency line. I had a brief chat with the vet and was instructed to administer banamine and wait an hour to see how V did.

While I was waiting V, for lack of better terms, had a manic episode. She began biting and violently pawing at C. I intervened and she settled once C got up. I suppose looking back she was concerned that her new baby wasn’t very active.

She was so small!!!

An hour later I was putting in another call. I don’t remember what time it was, maybe after 10:00pm. I know it was dark. I know I was alone with no help (people had left hours ago). I know V was getting worse and I was starting to freak out. Like, really freak out. Ugly crying kind of freaking out.

My vet, who is awesome btw, calmed me down. We intubated V and pumped water and oil into her stomach, a typical colic procedure. The straw she had been eating was making pooping very difficult and uncomfortable for V and it was building into an impaction. The vet pulled out as much as she could, dosed V with more pain meds. I was also given some Torbutol in case V had another manic episode with instructions to stick it anywhere if she was going crazy.

Looking good but really hiding colic behavior.

Oh, at some point after I realized V was colicing from eating all that stupid straw I muscled every bale out of her stall (there were 15 of them) and raked all the loose straw out of her stall. God bless physical therapy because that was the only reason my hurt back was able to handle all of that alone.
Anyway, back to the timeline of events…The next morning (Monday) my vet gave me a call to see how V and C were doing. I had called in sick at work and planned to be a fixture in the stall all day. I asked my vet to come out again. Something just didn’t feel right even though V and C seemed to be doing better.

Always—ALWAYS listen to your gut.

My vet came out that afternoon and discovered that the discharge coming from V’s vulva was not a good color and she wasn’t producing milk. We did a uterine lavage (which is kind of a really gross process). Two flushes with sterile fluid and one with betadine added. We also hooked V up to an IV because she was dehydrated from not drinking and pushed fluids. While we had her knocked out with drugs Ben, in his divine wisdom, decided to beckon C over to say hello. I guess momma bear hormones beat drugs because V popped out of her stupor, muscled through me and my vet, busted the IV line, and charged Ben. The creepy old gelding next door isn’t going to go anywhere near V’s baby girl…

More uncomfortable colic behavior. Catalina has limited energy & sleeps a lot.

We drugged V even more (seriously, I don’t even know how she was standing), hooked up a new IV, and gave her a shot of antibiotics. C was not pooping, so we gave her an enema. We also started a treatment of oxytocin to encourage milk production because V was not producing milk and C was starving. Oxytocin is also used to help contract/close the uterus after birth, which V needed. It took 5 hours to do everything but we finished with only the IV casualty.

I look like this after a rough night at the bar. Just kidding. I drink alone at home.

I’m going to briefly go into a tangent that actually has to do with this whole story. Earlier that week we met a mother and daughter that was walking their horse down our road. They had been following V’s belly progress on their walks and we exchanged numbers. Sunday night my sister was driving down the road and saw a cat get hit by a car. She pulled over and so did another car. The woman we met walking her horse got out of that other car. While they were caring for the poor kitty, my sister relayed the issues I was having with V and C (because it’s a small town and everyone talks about everything). So I got a text from the woman on Monday saying if I needed help to let her know. Which was a blessing because we were feeding C goat milk every 4 hours and feeding V small portions of soaked food every 2 hours.

I recently had some “issues” with my workplace and couldn’t afford to miss work. That woman and her daughter diligently came over and fed V and C for the next 2 days for me while I was stuck at work. Word spread quickly and the whole block ended up coming over to help care for my sick mare and foal. It was one of the coolest things that I am eternally grateful for because I didn’t know how I was going to take care of my sickies without taking them to an equine hospital.

The picture I sent to explain where to give a shot.

Okay, so back to the timeline! On Tuesday…we’re on Tuesday right? Okay, on Tuesday the vet came out again. We did another round of IV fluids. We did another uterine lavage. This time the color that came out was not so gross. Antibiotics were inserted into V’s uterus to help battle infection. She still had a lot of hard, dry poop that the vet helped remove. We started her on domperidone which was a much stronger drug to produce milk. Apparently so strong that I didn’t want to touch it or I could start lactating. FUN. V’s prognosis was better. She still had a uterine infection though and she was borderline clinically dehydrated. She was still not drinking water. C still wasn’t pooping well, so another enema for baby and we were finally done.

On Wednesday the weather finally cooled down. It’s not so fun to sit out in the heat for 3-4 hours every afternoon after both my vet and myself have had a full day of work. We decided on Wednesday to stop soaking V’s food in hopes that she would start drinking water again. A ballsy move for a horse that is well known to drink over 20 gallon a day but she had started turning her nose up to soaked orchard grass (the nerve. Does she even know how expensive that stuff is??). She seemed to be producing a bit more milk and she wasn’t quite as dehydrated. Her uterine lavage was not bad (this one drained chunk free. TMI? Sorry). Her poop had improved. C was finally pooping that gross processed cheese poop that baby horses have. Things were looking up and we could now officially say that both would probably be fine.

Stalking them from work. It was all I did for days.

Thursday was the last day my vet came. I guess she didn’t need me to pay off more of her truck payments. V was drinking, eating, and pooping really well. C was eating and pooping well. V’s uterine lavage looked as clear as it was going to get. I was left with instructions to continue V on oxytocin for another 3 days and domperidone until the second tube ran out. She was to continue on banamine (did I mention she was on banamine this whole time? I don’t think I did. She was on banamine the whole time) until the oxytocin ran out because it could be uncomfortable smashing your uterus back into its proper size when you’re also going into foal heat. She was put on a round of antibiotics and I was told to look for any signs that V or C was doing poorly.

Still not feeling 100%.

I didn’t sleep the whole time. Partly because I had to get up to give shots in the middle of the night and partly because I was so stressed about their wellbeing that I would watch them on the camera all night. I managed to stab myself twice with the needles for V’s oxytocin shots. I don’t know how I didn’t pass out in the stall. I swear one of the times hit bone. It turns out that getting some oxytocin in your system (and not much, maybe a drop or two. Whatever fits in the needle head) will make you feel really shitty.

I hope I never have to go through anything like this again and I hope no one else ever has to deal with something like this. It’s hard enough to care for one sick horse let alone two sick horses. Even if the second sick horse is a very small horse that feels pretty good about life and just wants to eat everything. Especially the vet because the vet tastes good.

Feeling good on Friday & checking out the cat.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten a thing or two but this post is mega huge so I’ll just leave the rest to any questions anyone has.

Spring Plans

Now that I have Catalina’s name squared away, I feel better. I was getting antsy with everyone asking me almost daily if I had named her. We have an island off our coast called Catalina, so her name isn’t just Spanish, it’s also a nod to Southern Californian.

I have plans to go to the Diamond Jubilee Horse Show at the Del Mar Horsepark on April 6-9 but I just found out that Carl Hester is going to be doing a clinic on April 7-8 a couple blocks down at the Del Mar Arena. I may try to hit up both. The show has a lot of Iberian classes and I don’t want to miss it but I also want to hit up this clinic. The good thing is that Carl Hester’s clinic is pretty much identical both days, so I just need to look at the show program to decide if I want to skip Sunday or Saturday.


I’m also going to be going to the Fiesta of the Spanish Horse at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center on April 27-30. I’m hoping next year I’ll actually be participating as a competitor and think it’s a good idea to get a grasp of what the current competition looks like. Plus both my past trainer and current trainer have both participated in or done an exhibition at this show. Sunday night is their charity show and they’ve donated to sevearl cancer research programs in the past.

spanish-horse_logo_sliderfrontpage Fiesta_Title_Sunday_2017

I just got my IALHA membership card. I’m part of the fancy but dramatic horse club now (seriously, I hear the NA Iberian registries are full of drama). Next I have to register Valeria in my name and then get Catalina registered. There’s about 16 other mares with Catalina for a name. I’m going to have to figure out what I want to add for registry purposes. Valeria’s registered name is Ingrata 2010 but I don’t think I’m going to go that route. I could tag my initials at the end. Catalina KP. Not that I like the way it sounds at all. I may ask the breeder if I can use his nomenclature. Catalina MA. Any ideas on this? How do you name your horses in their registries?

p.s. I have a post coming on Valeria’s difficult labor and I might have a post about a first ride on a particular mare I have in training.

One Week Old

I was planning to post yesterday but I left my cell phone at home (omg, how did we live prior to cell phones? I couldn’t get anything done) and didn’t have any media to go with my wall of text.

First off, I noticed that when I haven’t had sleep in 5 days and I’m stressed about my horses, I kind of write like an asshole. Sorry about that. Probably should have waited to post about potential baby names once everyone was recovered so that my sleep deprived name wouldn’t think listing all the types of names I don’t like was a good idea. The good news is that Valeria is fully recovered. The first three days it really could have gone either way so I am extremely grateful she is alive. I don’t know if there is interest in the full recollection but if anyone is I’ll write a post about it. Otherwise, I’ll leave it alone.

May try to edit this in Photoshop to get rid of poop & other background noise.

I’ve got the names for the terrorist baby horse narrowed down to:
Alegría,  Aurora, or Catalina

My only resistance to Alegría is that people probably won’t pronounce it correctly. I can just see her being called an allergy medication her whole life instead of ah-leh-gree-ah. Maybe it would be good pay back for all the trouble she’s getting into. >:) I am trying to consider what she will mature into, versus the adorableness she is now when picking the final name.


The last thing I’ll see before I die.

We’re working on not gumming people to death, not kicking at people, and not trying to jump up on people when they are bent over. I don’t recall any of my other babies being such handfuls. Haha. Now that she’s a week old we’re going to crack down on halter training and fly mask training.

She’s absolutely huge. I think perhaps she’s part moose. I know I said it before, but babies are supposed to be cute and tiny, and she’s…not. She’s got the cute part down but not the tiny part. Her legs are as long as Valeria’s and I’m pretty sure she weighs somewhere close to 135lbs now.

When your one week old foal makes your dad look small.

You guys. I’m totally smitten by this little horse. I could go on and on about her but I’ll keep my gushing down to a minimum because normally I don’t gush about my horses. I love them but our love is subtle and quite. I’ve never called them my best friend, or my heart horse. They aren’t terms I’ve ever used so this head-over-heels feeling is really, really new to me! I don’t even have grossly cute nicknames for my horses but I call this filly ‘snoogie-boogie’. What is happening to me?

She found the camera. Abort! Abort!

Naming Baby

I really thought I’d be fielding boy names. I’m really glad I’m not because I’ve already devoted a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to this pair (I stabbed myself with a needle this morning so blood is 100% checked). Not that I wouldn’t have enjoyed a stud colt just as much, but I think all this extra work is much more palatable knowing I’m putting all this dedication into something I’m going to keep.

Evil, evil straw.

My vet’s assistant asked me if I was a Game of Thrones fan because of Aria, Ben, and Valeria but the funny thing about that is Ben was named after the Canadian Olympian horse Big Ben, Aria came to me already named, and Valeria was named by my sister who wouldn’t know Game of Thrones if it hit her in the face. Plus I don’t like to name my animals after pop culture because then you and everyone else has the same name for their pet. ‘My dog is named Sheldon because I like The Big Bang Theory’. Very original.

I like the way this ear tastes!

Now that I’m axing any suggestions of Sansa or Khaleesi (ugh) to my facebook friends I can get serious about picking a name.

And by the way, I am not bagging on anyone’s choice of names. If you like a name, no one should tell you otherwise. I’m just particular about how I choose a name.

Helicopter ears like Aria!

This little filly was born on Purim which is sort of celebrated like a Jewish Halloween and was born on a full moon. I know her sire is homozygous gray, so she will be gray (plus she has white hairs around her eyes and under the base of her tail). I would like to stick to Spanish names because she’s the Carthusian type Andalusian and I’m more inclined to pick a human name over a ‘pet’ name (e.g. Sugar/Flash/Spot).

The list so far:

Reina (queen)
Catalina (pure)
Alegria (joy)
Aurora (dawn)
Estrella (star)

I very much believe that you should name them for what you want them to be. I have hopes for some serious dressage butt kicking so I’m trying to pick names that align with that idea. She has a lot to live up to with her current family members.

Her sire is the famous Andalusian stallion Escamillo.

(he’s also on youtube under Mario’s Andalusians or Mario Contreras but since I don’t know him on sight I can’t say which one he is in the various videos.)

Her half-brother is the award winning Brioso MA.

Her grandsire on her dam’s side is FATUO DE NADALES. He’s just so-so for me but has won a lot of dressage satin.

I’m trying to stay away from names like:

Coqueta (flirt)

Ingrata (ungrateful)*

What do you think? Like anything listed? Have a name to add? I’m really open to ideas right now.

*Valeria’s registered name is Ingrata. 😦

Quick Valeria/Foal Update 3

Well, unless things go badly with the vet this afternoon it looks like Valeria will have almost made a full recovery.

Hopefully today is her last uterine flush. Finger crossed.

Meeting Ben. Crummy screenshot but I don’t care!

She’s drinking water again and the weather has cooled down a little. I’m hoping she won’t be dehydrated when I get home. She was borderline yesterday.
She seems to be producing a lot more milk now that she’s on oxytocin and donperidone. Apparently donperidone will make a mare lactate even if she isn’t pregnant/hasn’t had a baby.

Was that a lion? I think it was a lion.

We’re possibly looking at the light at the end of this tunnel. Which is great because I’m not sleeping well. I just toss around in bed and watch V and the foal on the live feed. Even though they’re both doing better, this camera is totally enabling my insomnia. lol

A few nights of sleep would really help me think of a name for our new tyrannical overlord addition…

Quick Valeria/Foal Update 2

The live feed is back up. I feel Valeria is doing well enough for that. My vet is coming this afternoon so we’ll have a better idea of the road ahead of us.

Baby is thriving. A little too much. I guess that’s what happens when you are born the size of a linebacker, or as my vet said, a 6 week old foal. Seriously she’s a huge beast. Easily over 115lbs at this point.

Eat your Wheaties, kids. I’m not even 48 hrs old & can bench 245lbs.

Valeria, in her best judgement, decided to eat all the straw in her stall. It was literally a challenge, even though she had tons of grass hanging. This led to colic (IMO, cannot confirm for sure) Sunday night. My vet showed up and did the usual colic triage. Banamine is currently Land Hippo’s best friend.

Monday morning I was not convinced that she was over whatever was ailing her. I had the vet out again, we hooked Valeria up to an IV and did a uterine flush (she did not pass her placenta and with our vet’s directions we assisted in removing it Saturday night but something must have lingered). She’s receiving antibiotics to fight the infection. I think we’re lucky to have caught it so soon.

Doped into oblivion.

Lastly, Valeria isn’t producing much milk. She’s getting injections of oxytocin for that and later today we’ll bust out the big guns and give her domperiodone. We’re giving the baby some milk supplementation. Originally goat milk but her palette is too refined so now we’re using milk replacer and hopefully teaching her to drink from a bucket.

It does look like Valeria is on the upswing. I am hopeful but cautious. At least I’m to a point that my biggest stress is from watching baby chew on Valeria’s mane and tail (omg, I’m so sad about this). Even though I’m force to work because of deadlines, my entire block has stepped up to help feed Valeria every two hours and get some milk replacer into the baby. Small towns are nice and the horse community is even nicer.

At first I thought Valeria had a baby buffalo. Now she looks more like a mule.

Oh and in case any of you see Valeria going after Ben, she is more stressed when he is moved away than when he is nearby. She just doesn’t want the creepy old guy next door talking to her kid. Or something. She’s a weird horse. I’ve got a story about that for another post.

Quick Valeria/Foal Update

In full disclosure, I turned the live feed off because Valeria coliced last night and is still showing abdominal discomfort this morning.  The baby isn’t getting enough milk because Valeria isn’t producing much so I am attempting to supplement with goat milk. Overall baby seems bright but today will be hotter than yesterday so I’m worried about dehydration. Especially since Valeria’s food intake is very limited until she’s feeling better. 

I didn’t want to just pop in here and say the camera feed is down because mare and foal aren’t doing well or remain silent and not give an update at all. That would lead to unfair burning questions. 

I’m staying positive and very optimistic about this going well if we can get Valeria more comfortable and her meds start helping her produce milk. Worse case I ship both off to my vet for around the clock care. Positive thoughts!

Filly Teaser

I will have words tomorrow. I’m too tired today and incapable of doing much except stay cool (it’s suddenly in the high 80’s today–29-30°C for my metric friends) and melt around this baby. 

I am dead.