Joker Update + Winter is Coming

In mid-December, Joker’s omeprazole came off back order and we started his daily dose. I decided to give him a week off then see where we stood. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen a change. It’s been almost a month. If he can’t see other horses, he loses his 22-year old marbles. After we work for 15 minutes or so in the arena, he seems to do alright…usually. If there are other horses around, he’s fine. I have never seen a horse his age demonstrate new behavior like this. Hence my suspicion of ulcers.

But no results so far. It is what it is and I’ll continue to do my best to do right by little Joker Joe until he goes back to Elise in mid-March. I’ve sort of accepted that he’s bad in the cross ties and is going to take a solid 15 minutes work under saddle to through.. whatever it is he’s got going on in there.

During our last ride this past Thursday, there was a (drool worthy) young Oldenburg gelding who was being lightly lunged with a saddle for the first time. Joker didn’t flinch when the other horse bootscooted yet can’t seem to handle being alone…. horses, I tell you! I talked to the young lady working the Oldenburg and we agreed that she’d take half of our weeny indoor and I’d take the other.

We essentially had a 20 meter circle to work with given the space constraints. So I dropped my stirrups and really worked on opening my hips and keeping my hands up. In the few passes by the lounge window (that I use as a mirror #gottadowhatyougottado), I felt really good about my posture and ear-hip-heel alignment. Success! I’m no FEI rider but I’m proud of the progress I’ve made since early November of being back in the saddle after years away.

Leg yielding down the long side is asking for sass with Joker so I decided maybe it wasn’t the best idea to push it in even a smaller space. Joker isn’t really used to using his body like dressage asks for so I try to be very patient, especially in light of his age. For fun, I thought I’d ask for a little shoulder fore and see what we had.

And shoulder fore we had! I was completely pleasantly surprised. In both directions, it clearly made sense to him. Hmmm, wait, but leg yields are hard….

Light bulb. Exacerbated when it’s cold out, Joker is stiff, especially behind. Leg yielding is tough for him but shoulder fore is not. Is there a pattern? Perhaps. I have a hunch that Joker Joe is out in his SI, sacrum or both. Luckily, Elise is an amazing owner and immediately said let’s get the chiro out.

So, when the weather allows, I will schedule him.

Did I mention the weather is throwing off my groove?


But really, not only am I not used to this real winter thing (I’ve lived in either Kentucky or Nashville all my life)… I’m pretty sure it’s not advisable to drive half an hour away from civilization to ride a 20+ year old horse when it’s not even 20 degrees.

Or not even 10 degrees.


This was this morning at the gym. Check out the Feels Like.

That shouldn’t be legal. But it apparently is. Lame. And it comes with snow. We got about 6 inches in the past 24 hours and it’s supposed to continue snowing for another 6 or so.


Excuse me while I grumble and hide inside with my cat and fifty blankets and beverage of choice.


The Best Secret

In my recent post – The Itch – I confessed how much I miss riding and lamented the fact that, with Nibbles away in training, I am horseless and not left with enough in the budget to afford lessons more often than once or twice a month. I finished by posing the question:

Anyone know of a horse in northern Indiana I can adopt until March?

Quite literally 24 hours later, Nibbles’ trainer Elise (otherwise known as Trainer E), posted something on Facebook. I messaged her about that something and she came back with an incredible offer that is, quite literally, a prayer directly answered.


Long story short is that with changing the barn she was training at, Elise needed someone to indefinitely lease her horse Joker. I can’t figure out a better way to describe Joker than what Elise wrote in her “wanted” post so I’m going to cheat and share part of that here.

I am looking for a new home for Joker! He is 14.3h and 21 years young, very sound, takes very minimal upkeep. He is barefoot, UTD on teeth, shots, and worming. I have owned him since 2001 so would prefer to free lease indefinitely to a friend instead of selling outright.

He LOVES trail riding and I have ridden/shown him English in 4H, taught lessons and has been a staple in the GPHC summer camp program. He is very patient with first time riders just learning to steer (including riders as young as 3-4yrs) and then does best with advanced beginners to intermediate riders only because he gets quick at trot and canter. He goes best in an English hackamore. Jumps up to 2′ but is not a complete schoolmaster in this area.

Joker is very, very easy to handle, goes out with anyone (no fussing/dominant issues), stands for vet/farrier/worming, loads like a dream, trail rides solo or in a group, knows natural horsemanship, and generally loves to be around kids and people. He is an easy keeper and his only “bad thing” is that he needs a cough supplement (I just ordered one from SmartPak, nothing prescription), if the hay is especially dusty. We also wet his hay down when his coughing gets bad. I only had him on one month of the supplement before the coughing went away and he went the rest of the summer/fall without.

Are you laughing out loud yet? Joker is quite literally what the doctor ordered. Elise made me an offer that is just incredibly, incredibly generous which means that I will not have to kill myself financially to do this. Nibbles will stay in training until March as planned while I lease Joker. I’m not a cryer but you better believe I cried when I realized this was really happening.


Last week, I had a barn lined up that said they had space for Joker. Two days before he was to arrive, they called me to say the horse who was on his way out is now staying and they don’t have the space. I was crushed. The area I live in is very literally the middle of no where and barns with winter riding facilities are not common. I called five more barns that day (which is probably half of what is in a 30 mile radius; the other half I didn’t call because they were very pricey and stall board only). The same day, just after lunch (when I felt like my soul was being crushed from the weight of knowing I had this amazing opportunity slipping away), one of the barns called me back.

I went to see the barn on Friday and wow. I can’t believe something like this exists here. Their website doesn’t do what they have justice. It’s a 30 minute drive and worth every single second. They have 30 acres of extremely well-kept and rotated pasture space (including offering 24/7 turnout which is what Joker prefers), 90×150 outdoor arena with jumps, 80×116 insulated indoor arena, climate controlled tack rooms, heated bathroom/shower (!!), and – wait for it….

Neighbors with 500 acres and maintained horse trails (as long as you don’t ride on top of their crops, of course).

Elise and Joker doing his favorite thing: trail riding!

Elise and Joker doing his favorite thing: trail riding!

500 acres and an indoor arena.

The real kick in the pants is that the barn’s name is Faith. Did I have faith? Not nearly enough. The whole thing leaves me shaking my head because my prayer was answered in dramatic, beyond-wildest-dreams fashion. I needed a horse I could ride multiple days a week that would keep me safe: check. I needed an indoor place to ride over the winter: check. I needed it to be in my budget: definitely check.

Now that he really does have a spot at a barn, Elise is bringing him down this Saturday.

Nah, I’m not excited at all.