Monday, December 16, 2013

And We Have Liftoff!

We trotted under weight today! And we weren't hobbling lame! We weren't lame at all!

She is so relieved, and so am I. She's got all this pent-up energy, and I had to keep her from jigging when I picked up the reins. Pony wants to GO! I was super nervous to trot her, but it all went great and hopefully I won't ever have to feel that horrible lameness ever again.

My tentative plan is to actually tack her up on Wednesday and give her more of a real ride, maybe put her together a little bit at the walk and start to get back into the dressagey aspect of things. I don't want to let it go for too long and have her regress, her neck and everything is looking so nice that I just want to preserve that.

Last night there was a snowstorm, and she must have flipped out or something because this morning as I was feeding I looked over and saw her in this stallion's paddock (the stallion is in a roundpen in the paddock, fortunately!). It was one of those surreal moments, like, "Is that my horse? Where she definitely should not be?". She crawled through the fence at some point in the night, walked all over the paddock, and got covered with snow. She also lost one of her magnetic boots, which led me to declare "I'm not even looking for that thing!" But luckily enough, it was sitting right in her paddock, on the pathway the horses have made to the gate, easy to see.

I just put in 48 hours at my job this week, and I was hoping to go home today (haven't been home in 6 days), but my car had other broke down in the middle of the street, and I had to call a tow truck and then stand there watching people try to drive around me. Then I couldn't get a ride home, so I just had to pick out what worldly possessions I needed, and walk back to the place where I've been staying (fortunately within walking distance of my mechanic!).

I know exactly what broke on my car,'s a $30 part that I just replaced a few weeks ago when this happened the first time. Ugh, life. Why is everything I own hanging on by a thread and duct taped together?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Good Things Are Happening

The rest/light work/bute/magnetic blanket combo seems to be working. It's been bitterly cold, but Sofie has been sound enough to trot around her paddock without a hitch in her gait (she was also bucking and jumping around the other morning, and didn't go Ouch, ouch, ouch afterward).

The applesauce method has been working well for getting the bute into her. She's not the greatest at taking oral meds, but I can deal with her, and this way I know it gets in her. She's just so fussy. I've been leaving her magnetic blanket on almost continuously. She's had it on since Wednesday, minus a half hour a day. I finally took it off and left it off today for fear of making her radioactive, or something. Although that's probably unfounded.

We haven't been doing much, but I've been enjoying myself anyway. On Thursday we went for a brief driveway ride even though it was like 10 degrees out. It was sunny! And it was nice to get outside and go for a little mini trail ride. Then yesterday the arena was empty, and I was going to ride but I decided to go old-school with some good old free schooling. I turned her loose in the indoor, and she trotted off right away and went several times around at a trot. She looked good - free-moving, pretty even, maybe a little tight still on that right hind but definitely much improved. She has so much pent-up energy from not being worked like she's used to - I could tell she was happy to just move for a change. She trotted both directions without an issue, and then as we were winding down I turned away from her, and she followed me. So I decided to play around with it, changing directions, jogging, stopping and transitioning back up to a walk or jog. She stuck with me the whole time and trotted right by me, close enough to touch. We haven't done that in forever, and I forgot how much fun it is to play the "my horse and I are one" game. She's just stupidly adorable sometimes.

It's supposed to warm up (kind of) tomorrow and Monday, so I'll get on her again and see how she's doing. Depending on how she's moving, I may or may not try a few trot steps. I'm kind of nervous to trot her under weight again, but she is doing way better. I'll just have to judge the situation.

In other news, I recently took the plunge and stuck my novel on Amazon (well, the process was actually sorta involved..."stuck it on there" doesn't begin to cover it). I'm still super new to the process of marketing and networking, but I'm excited to have it out there, and hopefully it takes off!

I'm sure those of you who frequent this blog have seen the (hopefully not too obtrusive) link on the homepage, but I just wanted to share the cover, which still makes me super happy:

Very glad I had a horse person design it for me. Accuracy is so important in the equestrian-writing arena! And I figured, if I'm going to make the investment and put it out there for the world to see, it better look damn good!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sometimes you just have to ride

This morning dawned cold, and I thought I wasn't going to go to the barn. I'll wait 'til tomorrow, I thought. I don't want to drive over there...

Inertia nearly took over, and I thought about leaving my boyfriend's place and just going home. But something stopped me. Peeking out the door, I realized it wasn't that cold. Cold enough that no one else would be out riding, but not too cold for me.

I got out the Friesian mare's stuff, and brought her in from the field. She was agreeable, with good ground manners, and soon I was on her back, settling into her swingy walk and riding out the occasional spook. She was looky, stopping and staring at the snow under the door, or the harrow behind a metal gate, or a light patch in the footing. I was annoyed, and a little tense myself. But I kept riding, praising her when she crept past the scary objects. I took her up to a trot, fumbling through the motions of posting and keeping up with a typical Friesian-cross trot when I'm used to my comfortable, smooth operator. But we worked it out. By the end of the ride I was keeping up with her a little better, and she was walking on the rail and listening to me.

And somewhere in there, I just felt better.

I gave the Friesian mare a quick brushing and rubbed her face. She was sweet and cuddly. I returned her to her field and went to get Sofie. She was walking fine, no better, but no worse after our last ride. I set out her magnetic blanket to put on her later, looped her lead through the D rings on her halter, and climbed on her bareback.

I didn't pick up the contact, or do transitions, or do much of anything. I just let her walk freely, and I just rode. My mind calm, I was able to enjoy the moment. The warmth and comfort of her broad back, the soothing rhythm of her walk, the gentle expression in her eye as I watched her in the mirrors. The promise of what's to come.

We've had many setbacks, and much progress has been made. We're not about to be taken out by a mere pulled muscle. It may take until the warm weather comes, but we'll be back. We'll come back.

And until then, I will relax, and ride, and trust. These little things can be the hardest to master.

We'll be alright. We'll be alright. We'll be alright.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Prognosis: Blah

Things are much the same since my last post. My mom came out to look at her, and she pointed out that her right rump is definitely tight - it even looks visibly smaller than the other side. I walked her around, and flexed and wrenched on her pastern joint some more, and nothing. She is just really super tight and painful on that side, and now that the cold weather has set in it seems like she can’t get any relief.

She’s fine at the walk for riding, but after a little while she starts to rush a little and not be as relaxed. At the trot, she’s bad. I did an experiment the last time I rode her and kept trotting her for a while, doing more transitions instead of just testing it out for a few steps. She actually seemed to work out of her lameness and loosen up somewhat with the continued trot work, which was encouraging, but then afterward she was visibly gimpy at the walk again. She wasn’t horrible, but she clearly wasn’t feeling too great. I’ll see how she is when I go back out on Sunday or Monday. If nothing magical has happened, we’re probably looking at walk-only rides for the foreseeable future.

The good news is that she seems to be getting around fine in her paddock, even now that there is some wet heavy snow on the ground. The only question is how much exercise to give her at this point. Giving her time off doesn’t seem to do her any favors - she had a whole week off recently, and it just makes her go stir-crazy and do dumb things like run around in her paddock. She’s a relatively high-energy horse, and she’s used to being ridden frequently and doing things. I think she needs some semblance of a normal routine, to at least be walk ridden a few times a week. Which I can do, but it’s really hard to take. It’s depressing to see her not getting better, especially when I spend so much time at the barn working. Other people are out riding (or at least have the option to) and then I finally get done with my shift and all I can do is limp around on my horse. It really sucks.

Banamine and time off don’t seem to do any good, so I’ve quit giving it to her (plus I’m running low and I need some on hand for emergencies). I tried putting her magnetic blanket on, and that didn’t make any marked difference in her way of going. I can do massage and stretches, which are probably somewhat helpful, along with the light exercise just to keep her from losing her mind.

The obvious thing is to give her bute, but she won’t eat the flavored powder I have on hand, so if I want to bute her I’ll need to mix it in some applesauce and just give it to her orally. I’m working six days in a row next week, so that seems like the ideal time to give it a try. I’ll be there, so I can dose her (and watch for adverse side effects), and it will be consistent. I see no sense in giving her bute on one random day, and then nothing for a day or more. It’s hard on her tummy, and it won’t solve her issues if it’s not given consistently over a length of time.

On the bright side, the lady who is leasing the Friesian cross mare offered to let me ride her, because she can’t get out as frequently as she would like. So I have a horse to ride, which is awesome. But the days are so short right now that after
working 7+ hours and taking care of myself and my horse, I have to make the choice between riding this other mare or driving an hour home over questionable roads while I still have daylight. Still, I’m hoping to get on her soon. I really just need to ride a horse that isn’t falling apart, just for my own morale, which is pretty low right now.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Well, it looks like we’re in for our annual, ominous start-of-winter, is-this-the-end routine. We were due for one of these.

It’s been over a month since Sofie came up lame, and she is still really bad. Apart from those two promising rides mid-November, when she cantered without an issue and seemed like she was on the mend, she has come up hobbling at some point during every one of our rides since that day she pulled something, or did something, or something happened.

On our last “real” trail ride, she was feeling good, and when I first started trotting her she broke into a canter, which of course disintegrated into hobbling. We went on, and I tested her occasionally. She was mostly okay at the trot, and when I tried the canter once more, she felt great, but then she just broke and started limping again. She was fine on hills, and fine trotting, except occasionally when she’d limp, but then she’d work out of it.

The last time I rode, I just got on bareback in the indoor arena for a few minutes. She was okay at the walk, but she couldn’t trot to save her life. She’s not lame at the walk, and she’s not lame even when she’s not carrying my weight, so we’re not quite back to square one. But it’s still very discouraging.

I’m at the point where I may want to have a vet out and have some flexion tests done, because I can’t figure this out. She did so well throughout this year. She was so strong, and so sound. And this doesn’t feel to me like the typical arthritis flare-up. With arthritis, there’s usually more guarding, and disengaging and self-protecting. There’s more buildup. And when she’s not cripplingly lame, she looks and feels great. Even the other day, her canter was spot-on before she broke. It just doesn’t make sense. It feels more like an acute injury than ringbone.

But then I recall all the things I’ve read about how ringbone can be career-ending and super painful, and I get confused all over again. Maybe this is just what happens. Maybe this is how it goes. But there’s no heat in the joint. The lump on her pastern is cold and hard. It’s set. It shouldn’t be causing this much pain. And besides that, I can pick up her hoof and flex that joint hard, basically wrench it and torque on it, and I get no reaction from her. If I palpate up on her rump, where Chiro Lady said she pulled that muscle, she moves away from me more often than not. And a lot of the muscles on that right leg and rump feel super tight. So, I don’t know.

What has changed? Certainly the mud was a factor. I can blame myself for not being more proactive, but mud happens where horses live, and it has never been a problem before. And, we remedied the situation when it did become a problem. That’s all you can do.

The main thing is that Sofie’s herd has undergone a lot of changes. Horses have been moved out of there, and new ones have been introduced. The new herd seems perfectly peaceful to me, but the fact remains that my horse keeps going lame. Something needs to change, because what I’m doing is not working.

Fortuitously, one of the mares Sofie used to live with needed to be moved out of her new herd. She is a pretty nasty, dominant mare, and she was causing dangerous situations when people went to bring their horses in. Sofie always got along with her, though, so when I heard my boss was thinking of moving her to a smaller paddock I asked her if we could move Sofie, too. She loved the idea, and I moved both horses the day before Thanksgiving.

They have a nice spot right out in front of the barn, with a shelter big enough for the two of them. They even have a slow feed haynet. Sofie is fine being by herself at night (the other mare is on stall board) and she has a friend during the day. The other mare has a friend she likes and gets along with, and she’s not endangering people and their horses. And I’m hoping that being in a smaller space, with only one other horse will be what Sofie needs. As much as I like having her in a big field, with an active herd, it’s no good if she hurts herself all the time. And maybe as she gets older, and with all her fused joints and old injuries, she just needs to be a little less active on her downtime.

It feels like a good decision for all involved. Hopefully it pays of for Sofie.