Friday, December 2, 2011

Why So Serious?

November was weird. For a while there, I wasn’t having any fun. Everything seemed dire. Just after getting the walk and trot really nice, I tried a canter and we started dealing with tension issues and renewed soreness in Sofie’s left shoulder. There were also incidents, like the day barn employees decided to burn brush piles near the mare field, causing thick smoke in the middle of Sofie‘s living space, that caused me to obsessively worry and not think very clearly.

For several rides in a row, I got bitchy. I picked at Sofie’s inadequacies, and I was rather unkind to her, and unfair. I couldn’t stop myself from picking and complaining, and I felt really badly about it after that fact but then I’d go and do it again. It got bad enough that I considered giving her to someone who might be kinder to her.

At around the same time, we were also dealing with a minor Sofie health crisis. It was a typical Sofa malady, non-dramatic, apparently non-life-threatening, yet somewhat perplexing and worrying. It started the day Annie came out to trim Sofie. The trim went great, and Sofie was very cooperative. As I was holding her I noticed a lump on her neck. I figured it was another kick wound, but then I started finding more. They were small, firm lumps, maybe five of them in all, running down her neck and on her chest. Then my mom noticed Sofie’s face was a bit swollen, right underneath the side pieces of her halter. She had also developed a minor cough the previous day (for Sofie, a minor cough means like one cough during the two or three hours I spend with her on any given day).

We took her temp, which was normal. She was eating and drinking fine, but her eye was dull and she was a bit lethargic. With no major signs that she needed veterinary attention, we asked people to keep an eye on her and left.

The next day, I went out early to check on her. We were both worried, since that facial swelling could’ve interfered with her breathing if it had worsened dramatically. But when I went out to fetch her from the field her face was back to normal, and the lumps on her neck were all gone except for one, and even it had softened to almost nothing. Relieved, I brought her in, planning on just to playing with her a bit. I was massaging her hind end like I typically do when I felt some swelling on her upper hind legs. When I checked, her udder was swollen too, and she also had some edema on her belly. I of course had a minor freakout, then talked to a knowledgeable barn worker (and boarder). She thought that exercise would help the swelling go down, so I hand-walked Sofie in the arena while I called up various vets. Our local vets were both out of town (of course) so I called up the office of another vet we occasionally use (Chiro Lady). Chiro Lady was off that day, but I spoke with another equine vet, Dr. Way. She was super nice and very helpful, hearing me out. She agreed that it was likely an allergic reaction, and said it seemed to be moving through her system normally from the sound of it. We talked about potential causes, and although it had been a week since the brush-burning day and you’d think she would’ve had a reaction sooner, she said not always. She agreed that it could have also been something in the hay, since I hadn’t used any new products on Sofie to bring on such a reaction. Feeling much better, I thanked Dr. Way and got off the phone. I walked and jogged Sofie some more, took her temp again (still normal), gave her an apple and put her back out.

When I next checked on the magical traveling swelling, it was still in the same places, and about the same if not slightly reduced. Her eye was brighter also. After our ride the edema went way down, and it appears her little allergic reaction has run its course with no ill effects on Sofa.

In other (quite possibly related) news, Sofie got herself kicked out of the mare field. They recently added new panels on the run-in shed to make it more enclosed, and Sofie decided to start chewing on the brand new, treated (TREATED) wood. I heard this all secondhand, from Cathy while I was still dealing with the allergic reaction. And I went AHA, THIS must be the source of the allergic reaction!

And then I thought, SOFIE, YOU IDIOT.

I was worried sick about my dumb horse, and then I find out she brought this all on herself! By chewing on treated (TREATED) wood. That stuff has all kinds of noxious chemicals in it, and she decided to EAT it? Ugh. What a moron.

Then a few days ago I went out to the barn, and found Sofie not in with the mares, but in the smaller dirt paddock right out behind the barn with Dillon, Vicky’s show QH gelding. So I went hmm, why is Sofie in with Dillon? I thought maybe someone just forgot to put her out with the mares after she had her breakfast (sometimes they put her in that paddock to get her supplements because it’s empty at night and it’s more convenient that way).

Nope. Apparently Sofie was chewing wood excessively, and wouldn’t stop, so they had to put her in with Dillon, who has an old, regular three-sided run-in with no new, yummy panels. And she’ll have to stay there until the grass comes in, at which time they will attempt to let her be with her friends again.

At first I was upset about this, too. I was happy with her living situation. She had friends, she was happy, she had a big field to be in and a long walk to the water from the shed. Sofie doesn’t like geldings, and I don’t like that paddock. It gets really muddy sometimes, and it’s not as big as I’d like and it’s just kind of…bleh.

But I think it’s going to be okay. On the way home from the barn that day, my worrying kind of reached critical mass, and I was tired of it. So I went home, and I pretty much assumed Sofie would be fine.

So far, so good. We had a nice ride in the newly-dragged indoor the other day. Our straightness wasn’t too horrible, and she was willing, not crabby. She started out a little high-headed, but I just left her alone and she soon started reaching down.

I think I really needed to just chill and not take everything so seriously. If it’s not fun anymore, there’s something wrong. I hope not to get into that place again, but I know I probably will. I just hope I’ll remember what I’ve learned.

Yes, Sofie has limitations, and that can be frustrating. But we also have a history, and I enjoy having a horse I can just do whatever with. I can ride bareback. I can ride her down the road, cross the highway and go exploring. I can drop her lead rope, and she’ll stand wherever I put her while I close a gate, find my glove that I dropped or change clothes. I can do stupid things like crouch by her legs when I groom her, or squeeze in between her and the wall, because I know her and I trust her by now. And that matters to me.

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