Friday, March 29, 2013

Return of Bob

Debbie and I made the long trek back to Phoenix to retrieve poor Bob.  We thought that he'd be getting a neurectomy, but turns out he wasn't navicular at all.  He just had a bad bone bruise on his fetlock.  He may be down for a month or two, but at least no surgery is needed. 
Bob was a little reluctant to come out of his stall at the clinic as he wasn't sure what was going to be done to him.  Once he realized he was going into the trailer, he moved with a little more energy. 
No problems on the way back and no more blown tires. Smooth sailing all the way home. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What About Bob?

Debbie and I transported Bob to Phoenix today.  Bob has been lame for several weeks and we finally got the Army to provide funding for him to be seen at the Arizona Equine Medical and Surgical Centre which provides the best care that we can get.  They have seen many of our horses over the years and they are truly excellent.  Unfortunately, it takes three hours to transport horses there from Fort Huachuca. 
The trip was going well until about two hours into the trip when a trucker signaled to me that there was something wrong with the trailer.  I pulled over and discovered that we had blown one of the tires.  The tire tread was completely gone and all that was left was the shredded sidewalls.  Fortunately, we had stopped along I-10 next to a horse ranch with a little bit of grass along the fence.  I untied Bob and led him out of the trailer.  Or at least tried to.  When Bob saw all the oncoming traffic he tried to squeeze as far to the left of the trailer as possible.  It wouldn't have normally been a problem, but I was wedged between him and the left side of the trailer.  I got real skinny as he exited the back of the trailer.  Once he was out, Debbie let him graze on the grass and look at the horses in the ranch. 
Meanwhile, I tried to get the blown tire off the trailer.  Unfortunately, so much of the tire was gone that when I tried to crack the lugs, the wheel spun around.  I had to pull the shredded tire rim up onto a tire ramp to hold it in place while the lug nuts were loosened.  About that time, a fella pulling his own horse trailer stopped and offered to assist.  Between the two of us we managed to get the spare on and then loaded Bob back in.
The man who stopped was a nice gentlemen from Texas who happened to be an equine dentist.  His name was Joe Yasinosky and he claimed he'd worked on everyone's horse from "George Strait to George Bush."  He was a genuinely nice man and when he heard Debbie's British accent, inquired as to what part of Texas she was from. 
We eventually got Bob to Phoenix and left him in the hands of the wonderful people at AZ Equine.  We will be back to get him on Friday and hopefully they will have figured out what is wrong with him and hopefully we will have a new spare tire by then. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bad Cues

I rode the Wonder Horse today as I had been away for a week and he was acting like he wanted to get out.  I took him over to our recently constructed practice arena and got him moving.  The ground in the arena isn't quite flat yet, but its getting there.  Apache didn't seem to mind though as he is pretty sure footed and can navigate just about any type of terrain. 
The Wonder Horse in action
Until today, that is.  We were galloping around the arena at a pretty good clip when I decided to change directions.  I put him on the long diagonal after a right turn and he seemed to understand we were changing directions.  I felt him attempt a flying lead change even though I hadn't cued him and figured he didn't need the cue at that point since he already knew what we were doing.  I thought wrong.  He didn't execute the lead change correctly and remained on a right lead as we headed into the left turn.  I could tell he was on the wrong lead, but instead of dropping down to a trot and executing the lead change, I let him power through the turn.  Apache, again tried to change leads while we were already in the turn.  He probably would have pulled it off if the ground had been flat, but he instead tripped and went down on his left leg.  I saw the ground rushing up and figured I was a goner, but at the last second he came up and we avoided the wreck. 
I stopped him, dismounted and checked out his knee as I thought he had gone down on it.  I didn't see any scrapes on his knee, so I walked him around to see if he was lame.  He looked fine, so I mounted up again and continued the lesson.  He was fine after that, but I didn't try anymore flying lead changes.  I figured I'd better quit while I was ahead.  Nevertheless, it was a good ride and we both enjoyed it. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Budget Cuts

With the implementation of the cuts, the Troop is going to have to get along without its previously enjoyed state of abundant funding and support.  Although we haven't had a budget in almost four years, we are now being cut to the bone.  Supposedly, as of the end of this month, government employees will be furloughed one day a week. 
This is a complication for me because I have over 300 hours of compensatory time built up.  The comp time is meant to be used up in the form of time off.  If the comp time is carried on the books for a year it turns into overtime pay, which the Army doesn't like because overtime pay is paid at a time-and-a-half rate.  Therefore, to avoid having the comp time turn into overtime pay, I have to take one day a week off.  I typically incur about eight hours of comp time every week, so I have to constantly take time off to avoid building up more comp time than I can burn up.  Now, with the furlough coming, I will be taking two days off a week. 
Now, a new rule has emerged as part of the sequestration (rhymes with castration).  Department of the Army civilians are no long permitted to work overtime.  Since the Troop is a volunteer outfit for everyone accept me, I have to put in a lot of overtime hours to help train new riders and to participate in events.  Now, this won't be happening anymore.  With two days off a week and no overtime, I'm going to have a lot of free time on my hands.  Maybe I can spend it blogging. 
Since I will have fewer hours to get things done and no money to maintain resources, I will have to get creative in finding ways to accomplish the mission.  The photo below is an idea for making the training of Ladies Auxiliary members more efficient.  Wish me luck. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Rusty Blade

Blade is a horse we acquired last year for the Troop.  However, he developed an odd skin condition that started out looking like dandruff, but eventually became so itchy that he began to bite himself.  We had it analyzed and it was determined that he had a fungus on his skin.  Fortunately, it seemed to affect Blade only.  None of the other horses were infected with it.  I tried to treat it at the stables, but because the horses go out to pasture on weekends, wasn't abe to provide the daily treatment necessary to rid him of the fungus. 
Blade in his war tack
Eventually, I brought him home and had Debbie begin daily treatment.  She managed to get it cleared up in a couple months and I took him back to the stables to continue his cavalry training.  Unfortunately, within a week the fungus had reappeared along with welts on his skin where the tack was rubbing him.  We concluded that he was having a reaction to the tack--either the tack still had residual fungus on it or he was reacting to something else on the tack. 
So, again, I brought Blade home for treatment.  Within a week, Debbie had the infection cleaned up and she cleaned all of his tack to remove any residual fungus or chemicals.  Today, I tacked him up and rode him to see if it would cause another reaction.  Blade was a pain during the tacking up process, as I have not ridden him in a long time (I had another rider work with him the past month).  He dropped the saddle in the dirt and I had to have Debbie hold him while I finished putting the saddle on him.  Once we got going, he was fine.  Very responsive to rein cues and able to transition between gaits without trouble despite the fact I forgot to bring my riding boots and spurs home.  
We should see soon enough, if he is still having a reaction to the tack.  Hopefully not as he is a good horse and we need him in the Troop.   

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Indelible Marks

Tattoos have become very popular these days.  Fifty years ago, you rarely saw them and usually only on a veteran or a biker.  They were typically placed somewhere you couldn't see them when the person was wearing a long sleeve shirt.  Now you see them everywhere--even on necks and faces.  There is a lot more writing now, also.  Modern tattoos feature lengthy statements or verses from the Bible.  You have to ask the person to stop moving so you can read the entire tattoo.  In the old days you wouldn't see much written in a tattoo except 'Mom' or 'Semper Fi.' 
I was recently surprised to discover that tattoos were once used by the military as a form of punishment.  A friend of mine loaned me a copy of some 4th Cavalry Regiment court martial proceedings that had taken place at Fort Concho, Texas in 1870.  Two of the soldiers had been given sentences that included being given "indelible marks" indicating the crime they had been found guilty of.  One soldier had been caught stealing government property.  He was sentenced to forfeit all pay and allowances, be dishonorably discharged, be drummed out of the service, and to be "indelibly marked on the left hip with the letter 'T'."  The 'T' apparently indicating that he was a thief.  Likewise, another soldier was found guilty of desertion and was to be marked with a 'D' on his hip. 
I later learned that the military often used these "indelible marks" to brand soldiers that had been found guilty of various infractions.  Other letters used included 'C' for cowardice, 'H D' for habitual drunk, 'W' for worthlessness, 'I' for insubordination, and 'M' for mutineer.   Sometimes the tattoos weren't put on the hip, but on the forehead or neck instead.  They also sometimes spelled out the entire word (just so no one would confuse a drunk with a deserter, I guess). Most frightening of all, though, is that sometimes they actually branded the soldier with a hot iron.  The "indelible mark" punishment was borrowed from the British military which ended the practice in 1871.  The US Army ended it a year later.   

I makes you wonder if discharged soldiers would modify their tattoos to indicate something less offensive.  Maybe a girl's name or maybe 'M' was turned into 'Mom' and maybe that is where that popular tattoo came from.  I also wonder if men had to drop their trousers when applying for a job to prove they hadn't been dishonorably discharged from the military. 

Things have obviously changed since the 19th century.  Getting a free tattoo would hardly be considered punishment nowadays.  It's too bad they don't use this punishment anymore.  I know a few people who could use a 'W' on their forehead.