Saturday, May 14, 2011

Good news that's not so good, but still good.

So this happened Thursday - Blogger on the fritz has prevented me from posting.

Basically, we pulled Amber out and she was still doing the sameee thing.

She's not 'lame'. She's just unsound. I feel there is a difference. She threw a couple of "airs above the ground" so to speak when I got after her a couple of times.

I did ride Pumpkin. Very, very different from Amber. Very strong. Heavy in my hands. But nice and I do like her - she's just not my Amber.

Anyway, Bob looked at Amber and basically we decided that it's more than likely the lack of toe and high heel in the back, and also that she carries herself incorrectly. Her nose is in the air and she's crunching her back. He took some split western reins and ran them between her legs and tied them over her back and basically forced her into a more correct angle of headset. Not to the degree of her head being tied to her chest - she had plenty of room. But it has obviously been done to her before because it didn't take her long to willingly lower her head and move correctly. And she moved 1000x better when she did.

The prognosis? I've got to get her head down more, and she is also getting shoes in a couple more trims.

I'm really hesitant about trying to force her head to be down admittedly. I feel it should be something she learns gently and gradually. I know I could easily tie her head down and I doubt she'd get nasty about it, she knows what's up when it happens, but I just don't like the fact that she's not learning to do it willingly from my aids. Because that leaves the door open that she may or may not pick up a habit and muscle memory from it. I refuse to rely on gadgets to get her using her topline for the rest of our lives!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

And still not 100%...

Emma and I had to cancel because she was running late, which, if I hadn't had work, wouldn't have been a problem, but I had to go in at 2 and the lesson was for 12.

So I decided to just groom Amber and hand graze her and see if I could get her to trot a little in the round pen so I could check out her movement.

Immediately I realized that she had contracted the same disgusting fungus that many of the geldings have gotten...something on the clover in the pastures. Not harmful, but the horses salivate buckets. Literally, there are puddles in front of every stall where they just open their mouth and SLOP! Gross...

I hand grazed her for about 15 minutes. She is getting to be a rather large lady and I need to ask Bob to cut her grain a little. So not that she needed any grass...but I thought I'd give her a treat. Then I let her go in the round pen, where she proceeded to flop down in the sand and roll, then, as only she could, actually found a tidbit of grass on the edge of the roundpen to eat, because she's SO starved and all...

I made her trot both ways. To the right first. I got a little hopeful, because she looked pretty good. Then I turned her to the left...very off. Not three-legged lame, but there was head bobbing and she was tip-toeing again. Remember that back in February?

Obviously I'm stressing. I'm going to give it one more week of rest and then she's going to the vet if it hasn't cleared up.

For now, I'll be riding Pumpkin, the Halfinger mare that is Amber's arch enemy. Better not let Amber see me riding her. She's not much on sharing my attention...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

And now we wait.

Bob came out to look at Amber today. She was a little fussy today, which is not the norm for her as of late, but we were having wonky weather so I chalked it up to that.

When I got on she was dead. freaking. lame. At a walk. I sat down and felt like I was going to fall on my nose. She fell on her forehand so hard I though her back legs had been magically suspended in the air. The head was bobbing. She felt like I was making her walk over hot coals. I rode for maybe 30 seconds and got off.

Bob had her trot down the barn aisle. He did flexion tests. He felt and looked. After hearing a brief history of her soundness (at least, since I have had her), he recommended giving her a 1 week rest, then having us pick up and see where we are next week.

His opinion is that Katie overworked her when she came, as Amber is just coming back into work (and is still very green at that), and it might have just pushed things over the edge. Given, she was excellent the first two rides after that, it still might have started something up. It makes sense.

Bob said if she doesn't improve in 2-3 weeks, I should go ahead and take her to the vet - but he said at this point, I'd be paying a big bill for them to just tell me she needs rest. I trust his judgment - he's very experienced and this isn't the first time he's dealt with these issues.

He doesn't think it's in the hocks, he's thinking stifle. He's almost sure it's in the right hind (maybe I should call Andrea and Gogo and have a mares who are lame-in-the-right-hind party?). But we can't really pin-point it because there isn't any significant heat or swelling to be felt, but something is just off. She did get her feet done, but it's a good trim this time. Another point touched on was how screwed up her hind feet are. He suggested that since she's on rest anyway, we could just really drop her heel down big time and see what that does, even if she's a little tender, she's on rest anyway, but he was concerned about the potential of her tearing her suspensory. So for now it's wait and see really.

It's going to take a while to fix the back feet. She's got no breakover on them at all.

I asked if Bob though the hoof dragging was related to something higher up in the leg; and he says he definitely thinks so. I'm giving a big fat middle finger to everyone who kept saying "she's just lazy, blah blah blah, make her go over ground poles to teach her to pick up her feet". Yeah, the poles helped us, but as I suspected, only teaching her to lengthen her stride and balance it.

In a way, I feel relieved that finally, the slight offness, the incurable toe dragging and random fits of attitude are solved: we have a problem in the right hind. And I was right in my feelings that something was going wrong higher up to cause the toe dragging, despite everyone else's obviously incorrect opinions...

No wonder she's been in a bout of funky moods lately. I would be too if something was hurting on me. But she's so good, and wants to please so bad, that she really didn't let on any serious signs until just recently. Obviously, it's not felt great all along. Now, for that, I feel like a moron and I almost feel responsible. Have I pushed her too hard? Should I have realized something was wrong before now? I keep trying to tell myself she was perfectly sound, learning to be soft and round and step under herself just last Monday, and I had no reason to think she shouldn't be worked.

It's true. But I still feel like I should have seen it sooner. Could've, should've, would've though. Doesn't matter now. Now we just need to figure out how to fix this and move on.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Not again...

My laptop charger is on the fritz, and I am computerless. Posting from Jessie's desktop, which also refused to connect to the internet until just now.

After the wonderful ride on Wednesday, I gave her Thursday off and planned to do a brief ride Friday just to get a feel for anything I might mention to Emma we need work on for the lesson Saturday.

She was off immediately, but she was also very looky at something on the "scary" side of the arena. I assumed she was just a little "up" and that was what I was feeling, so I tried to work her out of it. Then when we trotted, she was just crap compared to the past few rides, and I was very concerned, so I got off and walked/trotted her in hand...she wasn't obviously limping or having a problem. So I though maybe she was just having an off day.

Back at Goldsboro, when I was still just taking lessons on her, she did go through a phase as she started to get more work where she wanted to "hop" in the trot, with no obvious lameness in any of the legs. And the farrier confirmed nothing with the feet but a small bruise that shouldn't have affected anything in the soft footing there.

So I cautiously worked her through it. She did better, but was never really up to par with the previous work that week.

Saturday it was quite a bit worse. I asked Emma beforehand to let me know if she saw anything weird, because she was off on Friday but had worked through it. Soon at we trotted Emma saw something right away. She would take normal strides, then hop around a few. Head bobbing, not nearly as soft as she is on a normal day. Almost bracing on my hands at times.

I got off, and Emma got on so I could see it from the ground. It was like it was in the left hind leg, then it switched to the front. But it was never in the same leg. We felt her legs down, no reaction that indicated soreness, and no heat or swelling. Feet looked fine, as they had when I cleaned them out before tacking up.

We scratched our heads, but since she was notably worse off than Friday, we all felt it was best to call it a day and get Bob's more experience opinion on lameness.

I'm not really stressing bad over this. No heat or swelling is a good sign, and the fact that it's not really in any specific leg...but at the same's still something wrong. And because it's just an awkward thing, switching legs, I unfortunately am beginning to wonder if she really DOES need shoes. That too worries me, because I have heard she is very clumsy with shoes. To the point Casey felt she was dangerous.

I won't jump the gun yet. She still needs to see the farrier, the barn is trying to find a new farrier - can't remember if I mentioned that Bob's farrier ditched him (Bob's pretty pissed). I also still want to have a chiropractor work on her at least once. Her feet are all just so unbalanced, and the angles are all different. I'm praying that that's what it is - kind of like if a person was wearing two different shoes, a flat tennis shoe and then a wedge sandal. It isn't out of the question that she just feels wonky and off balance because of the feet, but then I consider the fact that she's been awesome, sound, happy and working well despite the feet, and in one day it changes.

Either way, what a trier she is. Even though she was clearly not feeling good, she didn't act nasty with me or Emma trotting her out, and although she was hesitant she willingly did as we asked. She's such a good mare. She doesn't like to say no. Hoping that will carry over to our jumping and she'll be the kind that will take on anything you point her at.

Usually, she is always waiting and ready for her rider to ask for a transition up or down though, and I always get an instant reaction from her - she loves to trot, and loves to canter even more. That wasn't what we got Saturday (although I did get that on Friday). Something is wrong. We just aren't sure what.

The return of the mystery lameness. Seemingly the same symptoms as last time. WTH?!?!