Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Equine Service Providers

Since I have had Armani, I had the same farrier do his trims and basically had the same routine. I would schedule the appointments and show up early and my friend (who works at the barn) and me would work together to bring all the horses in and out for their trims and re-sets. It worked well for both of us, plus this was helpful becauae if I ever couldn’t be there she wouldn’t mind handling Mani for me since I always help her out with client horses (which is part of her job).

That is until she decided to switch farriers before our last trim. She had asked this other guy what she thought of one of her horses’ feet (a TB with stereotypical bad TB feet) and he basically said they needed to fix them right away. I’m not going to get into the details of that decision. For me it came down to logistics – it was easier if we both used the same farrier. This “new” guy was very experienced and did a lot of horses at our barn, so it didn’t seem like a big risk.

Even still, I agonized over the decision. If there was one word I would use to describe how I like all things horse-related it would be consistency. Consistency in training, conditioning, and care. I made the switch anyway. 

At first I thought his feet looked great. They looked a lot smaller than before but he still had a wonkin’ big hoof. They also did the nicest bevel on the edges. It looked fancy!  But (and you knew this was coming), for the last 4 weeks, Armani has been ouchy on gravel for the first time since I’ve owned him. So is my friend’s barefoot horse (not the TB) and a number of other horses at the barn. So, it was back to agonizing about what to do. 

Granted, I’m sure if I stuck it out I could talk to this guy and get Mani back where he was. At the end of the day, I never had a problem with the work before the switch, so that should tell me what the best thing to do is.

Therein lies the rub. Of course I knew there was a chance he could refuse to take me back as a client but I didn’t really think that would happen since I only had one trim done by someone else, I told him it was only logistics, and he said no hard feelings. Haha, right. 

He is, quite understandably, reluctant to take back a client that might just keep switching. He doesn’t know me all that well yet, so he can’t know that I’m not like that unless I had big issues with the work in which case I wouldn’t use that farrier again period. In the end, he agreed to be my farrier again.

This whole situation got me thinking about how funny the horse world is. Imagine if you went to a different grocery store one day and the next time you went to your regular place, they shut the door and said they don’t want your business? Ok, I realize this isn’t the same thing but the principle isn’t that different. What about your hair stylist? Or massage therapist? It just seems odd that someone who relies on clients would deny a client simply because they went somewhere else once.   

I could understand if we were bad clients such that anyone would be right to deny their business. In the horse world, it seems the service providers (trainers, farriers, etc) are the ones who call the shots, not the ones who are paying the bills. The idea of customer service is a bit backwards; at least that’s how it seems to me sometimes. A major factor in our economy is competition. I tried out the competition, liked my previous provider better, and went back. Isn’t that a sign of success? In fact, isn’t that better than if I just ignorantly chose one person and stuck with it only because I didn’t know any better?

Interesting questions, to me anyway. Have you had experience with this kind of thing (horse-world or otherwise)?  

Looking forward to having my rock-cruncher back.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Massive Catch-Up Post.

Many interesting things have been going on that I would have loved to post about on their own. At this point, I’m hoping a brief-ish update on some of them will get me up to date and ready to talk in real time. Hah!
  •  Third show was great. I think it was a better representation of how an average show will go than either of my previous two. I was relaxed and on my game. We pinned 3rd, 5th, 2nd in the over-fences and 1st in the under-saddle. That 5th was due to taking out strides on two of the lines and knocking a rail down. Over a measly 2’3” jump.  Ahem, oops? Obviously I forgot to ride that class and let him go around in a giant flat stride. Honestly, it’s so smooth I’m still learning to tell when he’s lengthened too much. That class taught me more than the other ones put together though!
  • My vet thinks Armani has “stress induced narcolepsy.”  I had a couple weird experiences where he went down on his knees, rather slowly, then got back up like nothing happened. Then I got a text one morning that he did it again in the early morning being led to turnout. This was all within a week of the Canada Day fireworks, which really stressed Mani out. He regressed for a few days in terms of his leading and other odd behaviours we had worked through. It’s not a narcolepsy that you have to worry about them falling asleep under saddle. Basically, the stress combined with sleep deprivation induces a type of narcolepsy whereby when they are relaxed the horse falls asleep for a second, causing a knee buckling and then they get up like nothing happened. Next year, I will try ear puffs and possibly a bit of Ace since it’s not just the noise, they see and feel the fireworks too. He could also grow out of it as he gains experience and his world gets less scary. Armani isn’t spooky in the usual sense but he is sensitive and worries about things.
  •  My husband is amazing. In many ways, for sure, but I’m just so amazed at the support he’s given me as I get my first few shows under my belt. I soured him on the whole horse thing for a bit through the Willie ordeal but he’s really been there for me and Armani, even though he’d probably rather be climbing (or running, or swimming). He knows I’ve been working towards this for years with two horses before I got Armani, plus once he’s away in the field again next year it’s not going to be easy to compete.
  • My coach is amazing. Last fall/early winter, we had some scheduling consistency issues as I got used to my new horse and she got used to getting back into teaching with a young baby and all that goes with trying to establish a career while wanting to be there for her baby. We’ve hit our stride and are mutually flexible when needed but have the consistency I need.
  • While I love my boarding barn, I’m getting tired of being alone most of the time. There aren’t really other people my age around and only one other hunter rider who is 17 and never out at the same time. When she is, she doesn’t say much. Actually, there is one other competitive h/j rider but she doesn’t ride with anyone, ever. She has her posse helping get ready and coaching and isn’t much for mingling. I’m kind of longing for some camaraderie. At the same time, I don’t necessarily want to be at a barn with a more diva atmosphere than mine (and that’s probably most of them).
  • Alex and I spent a few hours Saturday afternoon at a BBQ at my coach’s stable. It was one long sales pitch from the beginning (not so much from my coach, although she’d love it if I came). It was expected and well-meaning so it wasn’t too off-putting.  I didn’t expect to be as swayed as I was. Time for a pro/con list, I think. For now, the decision will go nowhere because the price of indoor board there is madness and I’m getting a great deal right now in exchange for doing night chores on Fridays and sometimes as backup. The deal far outweighs the work I do. Plus I don’t really like change and I really love it where I am, except for a few things.
Now, on to the garden!
  Sphinx moth on the house.

This picture was taken in darkness, it only looks like daylight because of the flash.
I thought the bolt was a frog. Oops.

It was so hot today, there was really only one option after work.

Overview of part of the veg garden. The jungle begins!

Plum tree (second year, no plums thanks to drought last 
year and cold spring). Fruitless, but healthy.

Grapes!(Lucy Coolman).

Zebra tomatoes. Not sure if they are green zebra or red/orange zebra.
I'm sure we'll figure it out as they ripen!

Cucumbers! Looks like a good year for cukes
so far. Which means lots of pickles. A good thing
since we have a growing distribution list!

First pepper is ripening. This is a Crimson Red - supposed to be slightly-to-med hot but tends to cross-breed with our other peppers so can be anything from no heat at all to quite firey. No matter, it goes on salads and salsas alike!

Hardy Kiwi. So excited to see what these will be like. 
No idea when they are supposed to be ready.  :-)

Five-fingers Eggplant. 
Lovely, have been eating them for a couple weeks.

Raspberries! We've harvested quite a number already. Best eaten immediately.