Thursday, April 21, 2011

Riding, bonding, hematoma

Wow. It's been crazy busy for me, and I have little hope that will change. Last weekend I was out of town at a model horse show (it went awesome) and now I'm kind of catching up on all the stuff that didn't get done while I *gasp* went away for THREE WHOLE DAYS.

I just have time for a quick update today. I feel bad that I haven't been updating this blog at all; I've just been pulled in different directions. Basically, all is well with the Sofa. Quite good, in fact. My rides have been somewhat infrequent, and I've been doing lighter rides as she's still off in her front end, but we've been getting outside and enjoying ourselves. We got some snow again, so we rode in the snow last time. I haven't been doing much in the way of dressage, just a little work on flexion and submission.

I feel like she has really matured in our under saddle work. She's just listening so much better, and we really have a dialogue going much of the time. It's very nice to feel like I've made an improvement happen.

The vet came out to do shots a week ago and he examined her weird chest swelling and drew fluid. I wasn't able to be there when he came out, but I talked with him the following day. According to him, it was a hematoma due to some sort of trauma. I told him about how she ran into the barn wall like two years ago, and he said this was a new injury (really, Sofa?). He showed me the fluid that is in there (it looks like watered down blood, basically) and said that it should heal up on its own, but if it got bigger he would need to lance it. I asked him what we should do if it stayed the same size (since it had been relatively the same size for two weeks) and he said if it didn't go down in a week to have him out to do something about it. It didn't go down, and we asked him to come out when he was out of farm calls, which was yesterday. I wasn't able to be there again, but apparently he said it was healing fine and didn't need to be cut open. Maybe it went down, or something. I haven't seen her (or it) since Monday, so I will be interested to see what it looks like now.

Recently Sofie's been quite the love, which is somewhat surprising but really nice. She looks happy to see me and be around me, and she's just been a total sweetheart. I recently discovered that she will follow me around the arena. She will walk and trot right with me, which is absolutely adorable (and probably somewhat unsafe, but who cares). She just sticks right by me and does whatever I do. It's really sweet. The only issues are my not being in shape (a little trotting and I'm about ready to die) and one night when I played with her and then brought her into the aisle, she was so into following me that she lost her ability to "stay". So when I went behind her to get something, she turned right around to stay with me. We had to work a little on "staying" again after that. She's really smart, and I think if I don't overdo the following, she'll retain her ability to stay. I must balance all her many talents!

I had the opportunity to hang with her in her stall, and she seemed really content. I hadn't seen her in her stall this year when she wasn't having a bad heat cycle, so it was nice to see that she's still happy when she's confined. She just seems really happy right now. I'm not sure why, but I'm happy that she's happy.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Mystery Lump, Relaxed Rides

We rode outside again on Saturday, another nice day. I didn’t free school since Sofie was chill, and I didn’t wind up regretting that move. The people across the street were having roofing materials or something delivered, so there was truck activity and other interesting things happening. I walked Sofie around a little and showed her what was going on, but she didn’t care and actually refused to even look at the commotion. Typically, the bigger the thing, the less it bothers her. She’s far more likely to spook at “little” things, like a person gardening in their yard,, or disembodied hoofies under a door in the indoor (eep!).

She was moving fine, but I chose not to work on the canter since I still don’t have access to sufficient dry areas in the yard yet. There are still isolated squishy places, so my real work areas are somewhat limited. It’s still better than the indoor, though.

Since the ground conditions weren’t conducive to canter work, I decided to do slower work and focus on relaxation instead. We had a good ride, and other than one unauthorized canter, she listened very well. I felt like we had a nice connection for the most part, and she stayed relaxed without over thinking things. It was nice to have relaxation out in the yard, and just work on simple, slower concepts. She totally ignored the activity across the street and was quite mellow. It was very nice indeed.

After the ride was over, during our customary Sofa massage I discovered a lump under her chest, down in between her front legs. It was just a firm swelling, about the width and length of my hand or maybe a little larger. It wasn’t hot, it wasn’t hairless and it was not painful. Believe me, I poked and prodded and squeezed that thing to see if it was painful, and I got no reaction. I was somewhat mystified as to what it could be, and I even checked out the other mares’ chest areas to make sure this wasn’t just a normal part of chest musculature that I had somehow never noticed before. The other mares were smooth and flat in that area, so Sofa definitely had something weird going on.

I notified the barn owner about the mystery swelling and returned on Monday, anxious to see if the swelling had gotten any bigger. I was concerned about it enlarging and potentially interfering with her ability to move. I could see the lump when I walked up to her, and at first glance it appeared to be taking over her chest a bit, but it turned out to be the way she was standing. The edema was the same size it had been and it still wasn’t bothering her, thankfully.

It was a damp day and the footing was slick outside, so we were confined to the indoor. I free schooled Sofie before the ride and she burned off some energy, cantering and doing her Arab Trot. She was actually rather spooky, so I picked up my stirrups at the beginning of the ride. Of course, once I was on her back she relaxed and went to work just fine (I think her “spookiness” was just her blowing off some steam). I got involved, though, and never thought to drop my stirrups. Ah well.

She didn’t anticipate the trot when I picked up the reins, and once I asked for the trot, she moved out very forward early on in the ride. She felt happy and free, and it was fun to feel that energy in the stagnant indoor. She was bobbling pretty noticeably to the left (not surprising, considering the dampness factor) and falling in a bit to the left as well. She did have a couple sticky moments when I asked her to transition to the trot on a serpentine, facing the arena wall. She did pick up the trot, she just got a little cranky and reluctant. Something to work on, I suppose. I worked in some halts and did a couple spins on the forehand. Turns out, we can do those on a loose rein now…

Sofie did break to the trot a few times, but she paid attention very well through the beginning and end of the ride. We didn’t do anything too amazing, but I enjoyed myself and we both got our exercise.

I didn’t get out again ‘til Thursday, and I found her edema unchanged. We’re almost certain it’s fluid buildup. I’m not sure what it’s from, but it doesn’t seem like an abscess, and definitely not a tumor, which is good. The vet is coming to do shots on the 13th, so we’ll have him look at it then, if it’s still there. For now it doesn’t seem to be bothering her, and I’m willing to bet it’s just another weird Sofa thing.

Sofie’s been in a pretty good mood as of late. She’s been content in the aisle, her appetite has been good (she’s back on a half dose of her senior ultra mega joint supplement with no apparent stomach irritation), and she’s been a good mare. The last time I went to catch her she walked a short distance away from me, so I went to pet one of the other mares. That did not sit well with Sofa, and she stared at me the entire time. When I went back to her she didn’t move away again.

For this latest ride we returned to the outside, determined not to be stuck in the indoor. I am SO ready for the yard to dry out. Right now the areas that are really rideable are somewhat limited, and every time we ride out there we wind up making holes. I’m hoping they’ll go down as the ground hardens, otherwise I’ll have to go fill them in…

Sofie wasn’t bobbling very much, but we stuck to slower speeds in deference to the ground conditions. It’s good for us to do slower work out there, since one of the things we needed to work on was not rushing and listening to me. I think we’re doing very well with that.

I hadn’t free schooled and Sofie seemed a little energetic, so we hit the trail during our warm-up. We did another big spook at the bunny in the woods (damn bunny! LOL) and were a little high-headed and “keen” to say the least, but we held it together. It helped that we had some interesting footing to go through. I ventured out farther on the trail, and snowmelt made things rather wet and wild. Sofie negotiated it quite well, scrambling up on banks to avoid the worst of it and sloshing through. I just had to watch my knees when she drifted out toward the woods. Once we turned back and found dry ground again I asked her to trot, and she stayed quite calm.

Back in the yard we returned to our dressage. I mostly focused on keeping things calm and quiet, and tried to avoid tromping on squishy areas. Sofie listened very well, with only a little anticipation mid-ride. Heading away from the barn, her drifting did get a little obnoxious, but we’re working on it. She did get a little sulky a couple times in the trot, probably due to her slight unsoundness. Her front end wasn’t bad that day, but I was feeling a possible little “something” behind, and a couple times when she sank down into the footing I heard a pop. Afterward her stifle was clicking a bit when she shifted, possibly due to her scrambling through the sloppy trail conditions. I’m not worried about it…she’s Sofa, and it is not unusual for her to be slightly unsound. As long as we can do stuff, I’m happy.

Other than those few minor issues, it was definitely a good ride. She was responsive, relaxed and she put up with me even when I accidentally trotted her through a squishy place, causing her to sink in with every step. Her transitions were prompt and nice, and she hardly inverted at all. I was really happy with how she trusted my hands. Her head stayed nice and low, reaching into the contact. Her frame is still an “open” frame, but I love how she’s initiating contact on a slightly long rein. It’s definitely a positive change, and I think she looks and feels beautiful with an “open” frame. Feeling what I feel when I ride her, and seeing it reinforced on video, makes me feel proud and pleased. And we've had more than four months of uninterrupted riding, which is certainly something worth celebrating!