Monday, December 10, 2012

A One-Person Horse.

I keep telling myself I'm going to update more often.

Sadly, I think the bulk of the fact that I fail to post on my blog is simply that nothing really interesting ever goes on!

At Amber's last farrier appointment, her farrier and I were talking about trail rides and we might be accompanying him on a mountain ride in the future. I've never ridden in the mountains on anything besides the nose-to-tail packers, so it would be an fun experience. And it would be awesome to have somebody to ride with. Trail riding is a lot better with friends - it's even better with real, legit trails. Which we do not possess at the barn.

So that might make for some interesting blogs, although I don't think we will be able to go every weekend.

I might have some legit trails to ride on in the near-ish future, but the reason I'm not going to post publicly, as I'm sworn to secrecy. It is a very exciting change though.

I was considering half-leasing Amber to a nice older woman who wants to lease a horse to walk-trot in the round-pen once a week, and brush and fuss over.

I was reminded of why I should approach this endeavor with caution yesterday.

I had a really great ride on Amber, she was so relaxed and responsive. Victoria decided to try her hand at riding Amber has not gone well in the past. And not just for Victoria...Amber gets very tense with any new rider and "takes off" in some cases. By taking off, I mean she sticks her nose up and simply avoids the bit and tries to canter away - she doesn't actually get really out of control.

I wasn't sure how things were going to end up really. She was so chill and quiet with me I thought Victoria would have it easy...Amber kept cantering off with her. Tense, rushing and choppy. They eventually worked it out. Amber was still on edge, but she was semi-relaxed. They even got a nice canter! I was impressed.

But it made me wonder how beginner-safe she is anymore. She was pretty lazy when I first met her. Now she likes to go, go, go. And if she starts to worry if her rider is going to hurt her, she goes even faster. It's her way of avoidance and self-defense. I honestly don't believe she would ever do any crazy aerobatics and dump someone, but I know someone like the woman I was thinking of leasing her to, it would shatter her confidence if Amber started cantering off with her, or if she started to trot fast and tense and the brakes weren't working so well.

But it makes me realize just how close she is to me, and how much she trusts me. I have to say, it's very gratifying to know my horse behaves markedly better for me than others. The only person who can get her close to the relaxation I can get her to is Casey. But Casey knows what works for Amber, like me, because she was the one who helped us get there! The best approach is always to keep calm, and above all don't try to adjust everything and nit-pick. Don't ask for too much until she relaxes. It usually takes her a minute once we start trotting and then she's fine. My aids literally have to be whispered to her. And minimal aids are effective because she knows how to go nicely and she only feels comfortable to go like that if the rider is basically sitting there posing.

She wants you in a nearly perfect position. She doesn't even want you on the wrong diagonal - I can't remember if I posted it here before, but she has actually learned to switch my diagonal for me, or at least let me know I'm wrong.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE. I'm getting some serious goodies for Christmas for my sweet girl.

Four, yes, FOUR new saddle pads.

A navy blue Baker baby pad with the baker plaid for trimming. It's going to look stunning on her.

Remember the navy blue fleur de lis pad I had that I spilled bleach on? I gave it to Victoria, but I miss that pad, so I'm getting it in hunter green, since with the addition of the baker pad, I will have 2 navy pads already.

A cheapy cotton pad in lavender. I'm getting this because it will match my tendon boots perfectly.

And finally, a pretty Centaur pad in sage. I've been wanting an "earth tone" saddle pad for a while.

I'm getting ear nets to match all of these, except the Baker pad, because I already have a navy ear net. I'm getting a black one to match my custom baby pad. I'm getting a lavender bonnet that will go with all my purple stuff. I thought about getting a white one to go with my white pad with the purple piping, but it will get dirty so fast I decided lavender will be fine.

I'm also getting a couple of new pairs of breeches, and a new halter and lead in a turquoise color. I'm a little ashamed of myself - I'm totally breaching my purple color scheme! But there's only so many "outfits" you can make with purple, and I'm fairly obsessed with ear net-saddle pad "outfits" lately. I would be getting matching polos for everything, but as of late, I'm way to lazy to polo wrap, and it isn't really necessary with our little 30-45 minute light hacks.

I promise to update more often. I'm sure I'll be itching to post pictures of our new "outfits", anyway.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Team Red Mule

I hate that I'm not as much of an avid poster as I used to be. Full time work, school and several animals just kind of kill extracurricular activities!

I did want to share this gem with you guys. By now I'm sure most of you who follow here know that the inside barn joke is that everything is a cow/mule/nag. Most of the regularly ridden horses have some affectionate name with cow, mule or nag ending it. Amber is, of course, Red Mule.

Which is why my new hoodie is the best thing since sliced bread!

Amber has been doing very well since my last post. Much to my dismay, right when things started getting good after my "epiphany" she when into raging heat. Pretty sure she had some tightness, maybe even soreness, in her hind end from that. She was borderline lame she was so stiff, and let me tell you about grouchy!

I gave her like, 4-5 days off just because I felt like she was starting to get stressed and I didn't want to push her if that was the case. First day I planned on riding, there was a farm show in the field across the road. A ton of mules, drafts, carts and buggies, plows, ect were moving about. All the horses on the property were about to flip. One girl was bathing her OTTB, and he sat back and broke his halter, and proceeded to run around the thankfully enclosed area bucking, power trotting and galloping for about 5 minutes.

That was probably should have been a red flag that it wouldn't be a good day for riding, but I was determined not to change my plans to avoid potential misbehavior from my horse.

I had planned on lunging her anyway, as I like to incorporate lunging now to strength her muscles and help get her bending. I thought it would be a good way to bring her back into work after her mini-vacation. It started off nice enough. She was a little "looky", but she walked on the lunge nicely for me, and started to trot nicely also. But when I asked her to canter - she shot off like a rocket and let out a couple of bucks. I was amused, but I got after her for it. We've worked very hard on lunge manners, and she's come too far since her days of rearing and snatching back from the spring/summer of 2011 to let things slide!

She never really slowed her canter but we did manage to get it under control, even if it was a little speedy. Once she seemed to be listening better, I got on and started working her on something like a 20-25m circle. Getting her bending and listening. She was really looking across the road but she wasn't interesting in acting up anymore.

After I had her attention we went full arena, and she was great. She definitely looked at the commotion across the road, but she remained very focused. And our canter under saddle was absolutely brilliant!

Things have been looking up ever since then. I feel like she gets bored with the flatwork, but I don't think Casey feels we are ready to jump again. And I'm not sure we are either. I don't want to push things. She's been really sound and actually improving on the flat, and I don't want to put more upon her than she can handle and start backtracking on the progress we've made by making her lame again.

We did break rules a bit and go for a light gallop the other day. She did buck twice at first when some birds flew out of a bush, but I've learned her ways from previous similar stunts, and really giving her a little push forward is all that's needed to get her mind back on track. I'm not so sure it wasn't more of an "I feel good!" buck rather than the birds that flew out of the bush.

When we returned home she was super relaxed though. Her whole body was just loose and relaxed, it was awesome. It might be beneficial for her, physically and mentally from time to time!

Saturday it was back to work in the arena and we got some cute pictures taken by Jessie! It was a good workout. She spooked at the neighboring dog playing with a bucket, which was great, and I mean that sincerely, because she never does ANYTHING in the way of spooking, ect...something interesting to happen now and then is appreciated.

But anyway, here are the pictures from my latest ride. Maybe I'll try to actually post and keep up with my blog! I should rename it Team Red Mule...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Epiphany.

I can't even remember where I last left off at. I think it was post-shoeing.

I don't know what's been going on with me. I've been constantly tired and depressed as of late. For the past 2 months+ I have been disgustingly unable to get anything done. My lack of productivity contributed greatly to my depressive state.

I have a lot to update on so I'll start with the big thing:

I had hind shoes put on Amber in August. She did well but in September, a couple of weeks before she was due, several things happened. With the growth she had towards the end of the cycle, we noticed that the farrier had made one hoof noticeably shorter than the other. She either stepped wrong when I was riding, or did something in the pasture - who knows - but her right front ballooned and she was noticeably lame for a couple of weeks. She also threw both shoes within a week of each other.

Because of the unevenness of the trim (probably contributing to the strain and stress on the legs), I went to the other barn farrier that I have avoided. I also had some other issues with the other farrier, which I won't elaborate on as I don't wish to hurt his reputation on the internet. As to the other farrier, I have always liked him as a person, I was just skeptical of his work...but Amber has done better than ever since he started shoeing her. Having only hind shoes seemed to make her uncomfortable on the front. She just seemed unbalanced. So she is now in four shoes, aluminum on the front. I have been extremely pleased. It minimizes toe dragged off, which has greatly improved even so although she still bumps that toe a little in the stride.

At this point, she is happy and comfortable working and after all the treatments, examinations and knowledge I have gained from the professionals who have worked on her, I have chalked it up to conformation. Her pelvis has a tendency to shift to the right, which would make the shorter stride in the left hind and increased difficulty working to the left make sense. It doesn't necessarily mean there is pain. It is something I want to be cautious of to make sure that it doesn't cause pain, of course.

While all that is well and good, for the past month or more, my horse and I have fought nearly to tears every ride/lesson. I can't remember exactly when it started, but at some point she started to rush in one of the front corners of the arena, only when tracking left.

During this time I was having trouble with my equitation. I couldn't seem to sit up. My shoulders rounded and my lower back ached and I couldn't rate the speed of my post. So her rushing in that corner was even harder to control. And it escalated into me snatching, ripping and pulling and working her to frustration in that corner almost every ride. The ride would usually start out good, and then tension and my nit-picking would make everything explode into a fight.

It got to the point where she was just nervous and couldn't relax in that direction, and she anticipated me to rip her a new one every time in that corner.

It finally came to Casey getting on her 3 times in one lesson (possibly a record), to prove to me that the horse COULD do it, and it was me. Thus, the epiphany.

It made me realize that my expectations are my main problem. My perfectionist personality contributes. Before we started jumping in the spring, I had managed to get Amber into a very dressage-y headset. That turned into me expecting that every time I rode, any time I asked. I started to nit pick, and I forgot the golden rule - there has to be a release and reward.

Because I started to get hard with my hands, Casey asked me to drop my contact and float my reins. I missed the point of this entirely and assumed that I shouldn't touch my reins ever, period. I assumed that Casey liked the nose-in-the-dirt way that she went most of the time when I rode like that.

After a talk with Casey, part of my epiphany included me realizing that I can and should have appropriate contact with her. Appropriate contact is something I already know damn well how to have and I am absolutely ashamed that I let myself get to the point where I was ripping and hanging like a spoiled brat that just learned to ride.

I've been somewhat beating myself up over this because in hindsight (oh, how many times have I said hindsight in this blog?), I can't believe I was riding like I was - I know better. I KNOW better. I'm not an ignorant rider, I know what will and won't work and I can't believe I thought my crap would work.

But, fast forward. I have had two wonderful rides since this "epiphany". What Casey and I talked about I kept in mind at all times. I warmed her up on a loose rein and eventually took up contact after she had walked around a few minutes. I can tell she gets tense and worried about certain things, because she is expecting to get hell from me for it, but that will go away with time. She is relaxing so much better than I expected her to. We rode in the indoor one day and the outdoor the next. She only got a little forward in that corner. It was actually not more than a strong working trot. She was very good in her circles, which are something Casey wants us to work on, as well as bending.

I noticed she was almost lazy in her upward transitions, which was good in the situation, because she was at least not worried and ready to rush, rush, rush. We had an excellent canter, both directions.

I think I had greatly misinterpreted what Casey was trying to teach us and what things I should do working and training Amber to benefit us. I had the idea that every ride should be walk, trot, canter on the rail each direction, as per what I thought Casey wanted us to do. I cut out circles, bending, lunging and assumed that I was to keep a consistent pace and let her otherwise do whatever.

And worse, I expected. I expected the same horse every ride, and I expected every ride to be our best ride. I can't expect it, and I know better.

...And that has basically been what has happened since I last posted. Sad, right? Other than another visit from the kinesiologist...nothing major happened there. Just icing muscles and epsom salt poultices.

Well. The good news is, I'm getting a new bridle for Christmas?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Explosives and Horses. NO.

I feel crappy for failing to post regularly as of late. I stay so busy though.

First off, Amber has decided once again that hunters suits her, and is back to dragging her nose in the dirt (not literally, of course), and just generally being fantastic. Nice, consistent, rhythmic trot and canter. GORGEOUS walk to canter transitions. They are frustrating her less and less. Only thing is, I can't ride as much as I would like to because of the extreme heat. The only time I can really ride is in the morning around 8.

Especially since Amber doesn't handle heat well. She really, really doesn't do well when it's 90+. I rode at 11 the other day and she was absolutely drenched from very light work. When I have the same ride, or slightly longer, earlier in the morning when it's only 80, she's usually a little damp on her neck and a bit under her saddle pad.

All she wants to do is stay in her stall, and I can't blame her. I fed up the barn tonight and I always take out two horses at I grabbed her new friend, Ellie, Victoria's new mare, (it's a CHESTNUT MARE, at that!), and decided to grab Amber on the way out. She gave me the most displeased look and turned away. I'm like, okay, fine, you can go out last.

I literally had to turn her fan off to get her to go out. The good news is she isn't stocking much anymore, if at all. Sometimes on the most humid and hot days it will be slight, and you'd only notice if you knew she had been having a problem. And some others in the barn are doing it as well. So at this point I'm not worrying about it.

Still anxious to see if she will jump again. We both loved it, and she's just a natural at it. Of course, even though we know she'll do up to 2'3" with lead changes (and I be she could go higher), I would never do more than 2' out of sheer caution and common sense.

It's funny how I was so opposed to hunters and it seems to be the one thing Amber and I can agree on. Dressage interests her for about two days and then she wants no part of it. And I'm sure I'd get a lot of protest out of the girls at the barn for saying this, but hunters is really NOT that challenging in comparison to dressage, jumpers, eventing, ect. When you get to the higher levels I'm sure it measures up to other disciplines a bit more as far as challenge is concerned, but the reason I've gone the route of hunters is because, at least with Amber, is because it's nearly effortless for both of us. I wanted to make my riding more pleasure focused, and do something that Amber also enjoyed that we didn't really have to work TOO hard at. Voila.

Now. On the note of explosions...

These kids in the house that's beside Amber's pasture were setting off some of those little Cluster Bees - you know, the little mini "fireworks" that fly up in the air and poof? That also have sharp sticks attached that you stick in the ground that go with them when they launch? Yeah those. Spooking all the horses - a couple gave me a scare with some close calls at the fence line. And then I find several that landed in the pasture. Gee, great call asshole parents.


A) See that it is scaring the large prey animals next to your house.

B) Obviously see that these small explosives are landing IN the pasture, that you do NOT own.

C) Must be too stupid to consider that if a horse ran into the area these were landing, they could be injured when the sharp objects fall from quite high.

D) Must also be too stupid to realize that some horse MIGHT be nearly as stupid as you and decide to chew on these.

And today they were setting off some other loud thing(s). Pests.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Unshoeable Wild Mare.


We had some amazing dressagey-type work going on, but them I took a video and realized how absolutely horrible and incorrect my position is. Just BAD. And how bad she likes to duck behind the vertical.

Oh man I look bad. I mean, she looks pretty good. But I don't understand how she does better when I do worse. This is how it always happens. That's just a still from the video. I'll post the video when I get time later this week...

One of the better moments:

You wouldn't know from that or the video that she is absolutely FIGHTING me and running through me like a freight train at the canter. I'm chalking it up to being out of shape and having not been in work for 3 months, but still. She was being STRONG.

She had a day off and then the next day I rode, I tried to correct my position and the ride was just crap. She wasn't going that fast at the canter, but it was choppy and unbalanced and she was totally not listening. Just wanted to fly around and ignore me.

Casey suggested we just trot around "the old way" (hunter-Amber) and let her relax. We are picking back up today with a lesson...a no stirrups and much two-pointing lesson. My muscles are already screaming.

The possibility of her jumping again has been discussed. We will have to see what the vet thinks ultimately, but Casey and I both agree she was happiest and moving the best when she was jumping. I was totally against going back to it at first, but considering that she has remained pretty much the same, except for that one point in time where I feel that Bob screwing up her hoof angles made her lame, through everything we've done...are we really dealing with lameness anymore, or are we dealing with a conformation issue and a horse that just bumps those toes on the ground because that's just her movement. She DOES hand heel first on the hind and she DOES track up. I examined this in our video. She has a ton of "lift" in the canter.

But we will see. If we keep the fences low and the work moderate, and keep vets and chiros involved, I want her to do it if she can because she wants to. might be wondering what's up with my blog title for today?

Well, yesterday her old farriers were in Goldsboro and called Casey to see if anyone needed any of their clients had thrown a shoe. I told her if they had time and wanted to come by, the could go ahead and shoe Amber.

And upon their examination of Amber's hooves, she doesn't even have enough hoof wall to hold a shoe. Super. So we are waiting a few weeks for more hoof to grow down, and then we will see what we have.

The last blog I posted, I was talking to the other barn farrier, Roger. I like Roger, but I've decided to go back with the Stallings because Casey really thinks I should - and they are vet recommended in the area, after all. I still need to call Cat and let her know what's going on. I hate to drop her, but if we are going to come to terms and finally say that after all we have done, if Amber picked her feet up an inch higher and moved the same way, we would call her sound - so the focus for now should be to stop her from dragging the hoof back to a level dangerously close to her white line (or in it!). And who knows? Maybe she does just need support back there.

I don't think it will, but if shoes DID stop her toe dragging, I would probably throw up...and then laugh.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

We're still here!

I haven't posted in forever. I've been staying really busy as of late!


Where we last left off, Amber was still battling a mystery fungus with balloon legs.

Turned out, she HAD gotten into fireants, and she developed cellulitis. It got pretty nasty. After several daily betadine scrubs, SMZs, Surpass cream and stall rest with wraps, she's doing well. Unfortunately because she stocked up so much with the cellulitis, she's now prone to stocking up in her pasterns in her stall.

We got the cellulitis under control in a couple of weeks. I got the OK to start working her again lightly from Dr.Wheeler. After discussing the stocking up with her she also approved that I let Amber be on 24/7, since she only stocked up in her stall.

Well, Amber disapproved. I thought she enjoyed 24/7, but the heat has become so miserable she just wants to come into her stall in the day - this, I am 100% sure of, and this is why: I was opening the gate for a little girl to put her pony away (Amber now stays with all the ponies in a dry lot during the day), and as I was closing the gate, Amber BARGED right out. And ran straight to her stall. So if that isn't a clear message of what she prefers, I don't know what is. It's so muggy and hot they sweat just standing around, and even though she has a shelter in the dry lot, it's still much cooler in her stall with the fan circulating the air.

So that is settled. Hopefully the exercise she's been getting will help curb the stocking up - Dr. Wheeler was hoping that would be the case.

After thought, observation and getting an opinion from Casey, we agree that Amber looks the same as when we started our quest for "soundness". I think improvement we were seeing was wishful thinking, point blank.

Here is what I think. I don't think the root problem has a damn thing to do with hocks or stifles. Being that I can FEEL the difference in her pelvis, I will say that was something that needed to be fixed, but again - I don't think it was the source of the problem.

The bullnosed back hooves are now more of a concern for everyone. They have been bullnosed since the first day I met her. No farrier or vet ever said a word about it, so I assumed that if it was a problem, they would have informed me and make an effort to correct it. Feeling a bit foolish at my ignorance, I now know that Amber has a negative coffin bone angle.

With this bit of information, I'm starting to think about the possibility of navicular in the hinds.

It's a bit of a long shot. It seems to me that what's probably caused her "higher up" problems is from the lack of heel-first landing on her hinds. That's not something I'm too worried about right now, but something I want to keep in mind. Being heel-sore, for whatever reason, is also a possibility.

Dr. Wheeler was suggesting wedge shoes for the hinds. I'm on the fence about it. The Stallings were suggesting eggbars...again, not so sure about it. Talked to the other farrier today, Roger, and he is pretty much in agreement with me that the toe dragging may very well just be something Amber does due to conformation, or even just having sore/poor heels.

Pretty much all the professionals working with us right now are like...well, if she drags despite doing everything possible, it's most important to minimize wear on the toe as much as possible and be adamant to watch for signs of discomfort, or when she's reaching her personal limits of physical ability.

Which brings me to the point of just throwing shoes on the back. She came to Casey a couple of months before I bought her with shoes - I bet there was a reason. I wish I could get into contact with her previous owners. While I still believe that barefoot is better, my opinion on whether or not horses "need" shoes is changing. We will see what it does for Amber. We've tried everything BUT shoes. Maybe it will provide support she needs to do better. Who knows? But whether or not it improves her dragging is semi-irrelevant. Shoes are going on regardless to minimize toe drag. With Dr. Wheelers approval, still pending (I need to call her), I want to try a plain, flat, steel shoe only on the hinds the first time. Even if she goes to the wedges, I'd feel more comfortable giving her time to adjust to the shoes before we use shoes that will pretty significantly change the angle at which her hoof sits.

I really liked my barefoot trimmer's trims. But I don't agree with what she's doing to treat the bullnose (rasping it), and while I'm more than willing to work with her on that, she doesn't offer shoes, and at this point, I simply feel that shoes are one of my last-ditch efforts. I've got that list in my head - try the shoes, if need be, go to wedges. At least it will curb the dragging (which, due to her lack of activity, is nearly gone all together now - but she needs to start working again and building muscle). Another one of my last ditch efforts is an animal communicator. Do I dare mention this plan to the farriers, vets or Casey? No. I feel that any "leads" I get would be stuck down pretty quick. It's pretty far fetched. But right now, I feel my money is best saved for emergency. After the communicator, my very last attempt to figure this out would be X-rays and nerve blocking. This is the last attempt because the cost will be hefty and it will be some time before I can afford it. The communicator cost will be miniscule in comparison, so spending money on that while I save will probably not make a huge impact, and who knows - it could change the whole ballgame.

So that's our plan for now. She's just as awesome as she ever was under saddle. Her manners on the lunge are a lot better. She understands what I'm asking for better. Walk to canter still frustrates her a bit but she does it nicely. Will still soften and collect and round her back like a champ. After she warms up, she will also drag her nose in the dirt like the little hunter I try to make her be occasionally. She drags like nobody's business at the walk and trot, but she doesn't drag at all at the canter.

I feel pretty confident about Roger's suggestion of flat steel shoes. Let's face it - I'm willing to pay for alum. wedges - he has an opportunity to make more money that way. Suggesting the cheaper option because he thinks it will be better is a good sign. I hope we are able to stick with him - I'm stick of trying to find the perfect match for her feet, and it does her NO good to have to get used to a different trim every time she gets done.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Little update!

Swelling was the same today. In all night was no bueno and I knew it but it would have been worse for her to be sliding in mud fussing with the others I figured.

Tonight she is out by herself in the front arena. I think perhaps it's the rain rot on her legs...I had NO idea but found out via google that that can happen. Being that I discovered the OTHER hind swollen today...and upon a closer look...I think it IS rain rot.

It's been very wet and humid this year. It's really unusual, usually it's very dry this time of year.

So there's that...I'm going to give it a couple of days treating the rain rot and see what happens. She trotted out fine today. I won't even have the cash to have the vet out until Friday in any case, thanks to still recouping from the $565 I popped for the trip to Apex.

Unrelated, I think I'm going to have her go back out in the back pasture next month. I would have done it this month, but being that board is due soon, I don't want to spring it on Casey. But not only would it help me save some money for potential future complications, but I think the 24/7 would do her good. I'll just have to keep an eye on her weight...I wonder if there are any supplements that help easy keepers not be SO easy!

She'll still get her supps in the AM, I already talked to Madison, the morning feeder, and she said she'd be willing to bring Amber in for feeding in the morning. Of course, I'll be paying her for the trouble.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The falling apart...

Seriously, there is so much going on with her right now!

Not only does she have a weird fungus/bacterial infection on her skin, not sure which at this point, the hives are still there in small places and to top it all of, she had a big fat swollen leg today. The left hind, of COURSE.

I had gone out to bathe her and apply some solution for the skin problems.

Skin problems are these tiny little scabby places of skin that are just peeling off, hair and scab and all. I don't think it's rain rot. But it makes it look like she has hives, due to the little scabs festering up and the little tufts of hair poking out.

The swollen leg...le sigh. I cold hosed it and put on some liniment. I decided to keep her stalled overnight. While I'd prefer her not to be standing around with a fat leg, I suspect it may have happened in the pasture fussing with the other horses, and it's muddy out there. So I don't want to risk her sliding around fussing with the fat leg.

I didn't find any puncture wounds. It's from just below the hock all the way down, slightly worse just above the fetlock. Alissa said she was fine yesterday, so I'm pretty confident now that it was not due to her going back to "normal" work.

I will digress a moment to let you know how that went.

I decided to lunge her for about 5 minutes lightly just to loosen her up, and also so I could see her. She was very well behaved...except in her supposed "good" direction (or should be good, based on which leg is the worst). She decided to buck and fart a bit. And the proceeded to gallop around me a moment. just have to humor your horse. I got her back to business with some sharp transtions. I rode her maybe 15-20 minutes in the indoor, mostly walk trot. Cantered once around in both directions - this thing is the size of a small dressage arena, mind you.

Then I went for a trail ride. We cantered half-way down the long side of the back pasture, at which point you have to stop for a limb in the way and some low branches, and then we did a slow gallop the rest of the way. Back pasture horses following along behind. We walked the rest of the way back home. Amber was just lovely for all of it. And very happy that she could finally do something other than walk/trot.

We got back. I cold hosed her, as well as those legs (which I had been careful to wrap). She was a happy camper and ate her dinner and went out. Perfect day.

At first I was really worried that our short little gallop might have screwed her legs. But considering I was encouraged to start hill work, I didn't feel that a very brief and slow gallop was more strenuous than that. Not as beneficial, of course. But being that was Saturday and she was okay yesterday...I can't imagine it was that. I had checked on her this morning early, to see how her fungus was doing, and I didn't particularly look at her legs, but I don't think she had the big swollen leg yet. Not positive though, I was in a hurry because I was on my break at work.

Anyway. If the leg is still poofed up tomorrow, Dr. Smith is going to come check it out. If so, perhaps she can clue me in on what's up with the fungus too. Still, mareface continues to be happy as a clam. Fat leg, fungus, hives and all.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


The vet appointment went very well. Amber was well behaved as usual. She was sooo ready to hop off the trailer - after 2 hour ride, understandable.

I lunged her for the chiro, and hilariously, she behaved better on the lunge there than at home. Usually if I haven't been lunging her at least once every week or every other week, she likes to be silly, but she was very good.

Dr. Wheeler was doing some paperwork, and she didn't get to see much of the lunging, but she said from the bit she saw Amber looked improved. The chiro did some adjusting.

As we suspected, the majority of her problems are in her hind, worse in the left hind. She said due to her conformation, her pelvis is susceptible to coming out again, but we will take it a day at a time. Ideally, she needs to be adjusted every week for a while and then taper off to every other week and then once a month until we find a maintenance point, but obviously this is not feasible for me. Not only could I not afford it, but it's impossible to get a chiropractor out to the barn (as I found out last fall). I'm hoping the kinesiologist can help fill that gap with his monthly visits. Dr. Baker, the chiro, did recommend that I have him adjust her as well.

The stifles were injected.

The dex I'd been giving her, 10ccs, Dr. Wheeler seemed concerned at the high dose, and she recommended we not give her any after the injections (too many steroids in her system), and take it down to 5ccs after that. She was on stall rest yesterday and today, and she will be able to go out tonight. On Friday she will go back into light work, and Saturday she will be able to return to normal work. Obviously I'm going to hold off on jumping. I want her to build some muscle again. We will be doing hill work. I'm going to start that probably next week and do it once a week. I don't want to throw her under the bus with that on the first ride!

So basically, the plan is, just limber her up with some leg yields, bending, and walk/trot/canter, big circles and light lunging for the first week. Then start doing a few minutes of trotting up the hills once a week after that. Next month, if she's doing well, I'll consult Dr. Wheeler again and if she's all clear we will start small X-rails again. Honestly I probably won't be doing 18" and 2' again for several months. And it's really a waiting game as it is.

We still don't know how well or how bad she will respond to all this. Dr. Wheeler said it's very reasonable to think she could be sound for lower level and light dressage work if jumping becomes out of the question.

On a side note, check out this new halter!

I also found a fly spray that doesn't seem to be bothering her. Bug Block. We are sort of starting to think that it's something in the hay. Amber isn't the only one who has hives now. *** claims nothing new has been done to the hay, but I'm just skeptical. There's no way I can take her OFF her hay permanently, and really no way I can do it temporarily. Her turnout has roundbales right now because they are locked off the grass so it can grow (which it has - I don't see why they haven't been allowed out again).

At least it isn't the huge welts that it was. I'm thinking that maybe the hay gave her an allergic reaction, and then the Pyhrana irritated the hives (the oil-based mixture is pretty strong), making the welts.

I really wish I knew what the problem was, though.

But yeah. I'm so thrilled. I feel like this is pretty much the final length. We have found the problem, the main problem is a chronic problem, and it's going to be a matter of seeing just how chronic is is, and how it's going to limit her. Finally, finally, I know what's been going on. And we have "fixed" it. But it's not over yet. We have to continue to improve her hind end strength to try to prevent it, or at least prevent it from happening very often. It could still come out that she is limited to flatwork or trail rides.

I just want to take a moment to say to many individuals - I WAS RIGHT. It was everything I thought from almost the beginning. Her pelvis. She was NOT lazy, never was. I have to start trusting my gut more. I was right on the money about what was making her lame before any professional would entertain the idea. I was also right, recently, about her feet - the old farrier WAS the cause of her WLS (which is gone now, thanks to Cat's AWESOME trim). Now her feet and body are finally on the right track. I am SO grateful to Dr. Wheeler, Dr. Heather, Cat, and Dr. Baker. You saved my girl and I will never, ever forget it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Before, and After.

Tomorrow is the big vet appointment. Obviously tomorrow isn't the final news. We will have to see what the chiro work and stifles actually do, and I'm sure there will be follow up chiro appointments...

But tonight I decided to post some before and afters for some black and white comparison of what Amber was, and what she has become. Kind of inspired by a facebook status Andrea (at The Continental Drift blog) posted about unfancy things...just reminded me I had wanted to do this.

Before, December 2010.

After. Some of these are from Summer 2011, some are from this year.

(Ignore me here, I look foolish)

Her tail is even longer now. When it's in a relaxed position, it touches the ground. It's really a gorgeous tail...I'm proud to say it was accomplished by MTG, keeping it clean, conditioned and brushed, and good nutrition. She's not a million dollar warmblood, but she's something more than the $1,500 "mutt" I bought. ;) Or what I thought was a mutt until we found her papers. I'm still not sure I see the cutting/cow horse in her...or the racing QH. Which is what's in her ped. Like, 3/4 of them are ranch horses, cutting and cow horses, I think maybe a couple of reining horses, and maybe 1/4 racing QHs. Go figure.

I'll be sad if she can't jump anymore. She loves it. She drags you towards the jumps if you aren't paying attention.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Vet Tuesday and Mystery Hives Solved!

So we are definitely going to the vet Tuesday. Dr. Wheeler said she was hoping for around noon, so hopefully we won't be too late getting back. Casey wanted to be back by around 3, and that might not be quite possible, but fortunately it won't be terribly late.

I was kind of getting the gist that she wasn't really feeling taking Amber up there this time. And it could have just been me misreading things, but last week the appointment couldn't be done because of the trailer we need to use being in the shop, and she was also busy with some other stuff. That wasn't her fault at all, but she then wanted me to use the hauler that trailers horses who need a ride to the clinic, then she wanted me to get the vet and chiro to go meet us at another barn that is maybe 30 minutes from us, and still an hour to an hour and a half from them...

Just kind of avoiding taking her up herself, or at least I felt it was that way. And I understand she is busy, and this is really something you have to donate an entire day to...but there was no issue helping us before. But really the only thing to do is go up there. The hauler wants to charge me $150 from the barn to the clinic and back. Apparently it was $80 from the barn in the other town...which, I don't know why I would bother with that, seeing as how I have to give Casey gas to take her to that barn anyway, plus the $80 for the shipper...only coming out slightly better. I pretty much knew that there was no way Amber could possibly have the appointment anywhere but the clinic. The chiropractor and the vet are not associated - and the chiro is in the clinic's area. So arranging to have them both travel an hour or more to see Amber the same day is really not fair to either of them, and I'd have to pay a farm call for both of them anyway - exactly what we were trying to avoid. But, Casey wanted me to ask, so I asked, and they were just kind of like "Ehhh, you really need to come back up here like we planned..."

So off we go. Hopefully for the last time for a while.

We did discover that it IS Amber's fly spray giving her a reaction. No hives yesterday when I got to the barn. Sprayed her, and an hour or so later, little hives again. I washed it off immediately. Hopefully it'll be clearing up soon. I wasn't really feeling giving her more dex. She got several high doses last week when it was so bad, and I'm just not comfortable with giving her more. She got 8ccs one day, and then 10ccs two days in a row. At least now we know why the dex wasn't working. Because I kept spraying her, not believing it could possibly be the fly spray. It was kind of a "duhh" thing. But having used it last year and two weeks this year already, it just didn't seem possible. Now I know.

She's ready for summer!

And so is her stall. Yes, I am "that owner" who decorates my horse's stall seasonally.

Since the barn's ATV is broken, I've also had to become creative with getting hay. I refuse to push the wheel barrow around in 90 degree heat. Call me lazy, but sweat, heat and hay do NOT mix.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Another quick update!

Amber's trim went well. I was very impressed with the attention Cat paid to her and her concern, not for making it a quick job, but doing the best job for Amber's individual needs. She took the time to get to know Amber and to also take pictures of Amber's topline. Felt around, I showed her the pelvic misalignment we have right now, and we chatted about it for a bit before the trim took place.

The trim is fabulous and although Amber is still draggy draggy, I can tell she is more comfortable. From just a trim, that is saying something with all her current issues.

She was ouchy the day after the trim, but rock solid the next, so I'm pretty sure that ouchyness was due to her sitting back on the break away tie that did NOT break in the washpit, when a drop of water accidentally got in her ear and freaked her out. Scared the shit out of me, I thought she was going to flip herself and break her neck. Casey runs out saying "Don't scream at her"...I didn't even realize I was shouting, I just kept saying, apparently accidentally shouting, "easy" trying to calm her while not getting smashed in the process.

Anyway. The reason she was actually IN the washpit was due to the huge welts and hives all over her sides and belly. We battled this with dex and coldhosing for like, 5 days. She hasn't had anything new. I don't think it was bugs of any kind. The only thing I have that might do it is her fly spray, but she has had it for two weeks and she used it all last summer with no problem. Makes no sense. Gone now, but I'm going to do a "test patch" to see if it was the spray. Weird.

Tenatively her appointment to get her stifles injected and have the chiro work on her is May 22. We will see if Casey can make it. If not, I might see if I could beg a ride off someone else. I want this done ASAP.

I haven't told anyone about this next part yet, and Victoria is probably not going to be super happy when she hears it, but I have a new plan if Amber will be unsound to jump. I'll be moving her to Windrift Stables or Canamer Stables. If she is sound for trails, she would be sound enough to do baby dressage (Intro and maybe Training) I am sure. I love trail rides, but I am not content with it full time. Nothing brings me the satisfaction of doing good arena work with my horse. Her understand what I'm asking for, and what I am not asking for. And I really don't have the motivation to do it with any horse but her. To everyone else, she is just a too-short Quarter Horse who is too opinionated, more difficult to ride than I make it look, and not sound enough to ever really do squat in her life - which has barely begun at just 8 years old. To me, she is a gem that fell through the cracks and luckily ended up with someone who is committed to giving her a princess lifestyle. Though she is broken right now, she has the potential to be incredible, and if she can't be fixed, she certainly HAD the potential to be great. She is a fast learner, and a mental ride. You will do a lot more thinking with her than you will be using your body. Part of this has killed me - Gulliver and Jack were super physical rides, and after having Amber so long, I have recently realized how ineffectively I ride other horses now.

Anyway. If she can jump, without risk of problems later (or sooner) in life, we will do the hunter thing for a while. Ultimately, I feel I will end up doing dressage and combined training. But hunters isn't quite as intense and I think it would be a good way to start off easy. A NEW start at showing her.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Quick update.

Don't have a lot of time to post much, so this will be quick one.

Amber's appointment is still pending...I called Apex and told them to have Dr. Wheeler call me a day or two ago, nothing yet but she's busy so I'm sure she will get to it. If I don't hear anything in a few more days, I'll call again...I'm anxious to get this done with and see what we have. I think I'm more nervous than anything about her response to the treatments, and what it means for our future.

Her white line is still separating, and I have the barefoot trimmer coming Monday because enough is enough. Our farriers are are nice as they can be, and they aren't "bad" farriers, but it's just not working for us. I need to do all I can to insure she is on the road to soundness, and a balanced trim is a huge part of that.

Kind of feel like everyone thinks I'm loopy for having a natural trimmer do her. She has an excellent reputation and her trims are beautiful from pictures, so I'm hoping when Amber develops some awesome feet it will change some minds. If not, I'm still happy because I'll have a horse with awesome, sound barefoot feet. But she's never had WLS before, and I know it's because of the flare that has been left. Casey said she doesn't see the flare...I don't think Casey knows entirely what flare really is, with all due respect to her. Flare probably brings to mind the pancake-like overgrown feet for her. It used to for me as well, until I became slightly more educated on healthy hoofs. I can't fault anyone for going with our previous farrier - the vet recommends them. But as I said - it's just not working out for Amber and I.

I did go on a trail ride with the "new girl" at the barn, Alissa. She's a fox hunter. Her horse is coming next week, and he seems completely awesome, I can't wait to meet him. We went down the road and around the back. Amber was a good girl! Even when a school bus nearly drove up her rear end, and some horses we passed decided to buck and fart. She even had to take the lead for Mickey (cute OTTB I rode that time that Alissa was on). But he was also very brave for the most part. I'm just excited to finally have a trail buddy.

My grades are still amazing. Average is 99.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My one-person horse.

Victoria has mentioned more than once that she thinks Amber is a one-person horse. I laughed and somewhat didn't believe it. After all, it's Amber. Amber was the beginners' packer before I bought her. She's extremely easy to ride (at least, I think so). She's not spooky, goes wherever with or without other horses. Has insanely good brakes.

But lately, I'm starting to realize that Victoria might be right. After Melissa's ride the other day, it made me think.

Amber has advanced tenfold from when I bought her. Not only have I been her primary rider, but we have worked towards perfecting a lot of things, and maybe I just haven't realized what a "precision necessary" ride I've made her. Melissa and Victoria are both good riders, albeit at different levels of experience, neither are beginners. Amber does the same with both...braces with the undermuscle on her neck, sticks her nose in the air, and trots as fast as she can, occasionally breaking into a canter.

She did this with Katie as well (although Katie made her collect, it was head down, fling it up, head down, fling it up). She sticks her head up higher than any horse I've ever seen when she doesn't like how you're riding. Lately, with me, I've been getting her to go beautifully, the long and low, nose-dragging (not literally) hunter under saddle type. She does this on a loose rein, and eventually stretches down to find my contact on her own. It's not traditional softening, but it's perfect for a hunter class, and if she goes so happily like that, not avoiding the bit, I'm not compelled to collect her any more. But even on a loose rein with Melissa, she did the brace-and-run thing. At first, I thought she was like that for Victoria because Victoria rode her in full contact. So I had instructed Melissa not to immediately take up contact, and just give her someone to stretch into - which she did. It wasn't anything I saw that Melissa was necessarily doing wrong.

I can't understand why she won't do it for everyone else, unless she really is a one-person horse. Victoria also said she thinks Amber is the hardest horse in the barn to ride...I wouldn't go that far, because I'm not THAT good of a rider, and couldn't ever pretend to be.

I also figured out why Amber sometimes doesn't like to be caught. I notice if I spent more time speaking "baby-talk" to her - hugging, snuggling, and generally making a fuss over her...she enjoys being caught. If I have a week where I get in a hurry, and take her out, do what I need to, and put her away...well, refusal to be caught. High maintenance, much?

In other news, I made a 100 on my first "real" exam for my Vet Tech course. :) I had a math and reading accessment before that, and like, 2 or 3 exams on how to study and the legal aspects of being a vet tech as well as general info about a vet office, my relationship with the clients, ect. Made 88, 100, 93 and 95.

Still intend to work in a small animal clinic, but I'm not totally shutting out the idea of working for an equine vet. Either way, I'll have a lot of options for a career as a licensed veterinary technician - super excited! :)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Adventure day.

I rode Amber down the road a little way to the little church. She was extremely well behaved! About half-way to the church, we encountered about 5 beagles/hunting dog mixes in a kennel in a front yard who freaked out and made some serious noise. Then I look to my right and there is a dog at a screen door flipping out at the sight of us. Dogs yapping at us on both sides, and Amber plodded along quietly. We unfortunately didn't have very long to adventure, because I was feeding tonight. I did scope out the neighborhood I posted about a few weeks ago, and it looks decent enough. Kind of wondering what my plan is, should any dogs decided they don't like horses riding around in there. I didn't see any loose dogs, but you never know. If the dogs are scared to approach Amber, I think I'd choose to stay on if she's keeping her cool. If she's losing it, depending on the intensity of her losing it, I'd either guide her as she prances away, or bail as she rears and spins and attempt to make her get a grip. If they are not afraid to get up in her business...I think an emergency dismount is the call to make. It opens me up for an attack, but if the dogs are going to chase her/attack her, I'm even more vulnerable mounted. I don't think there are any people to worry about. But I just intend to run them over unless they have any serious weapons. Definitely need to do it more often though, it was a lot of fun. She wanted to get quick on the way home, so I made her walk past the property a few times before she went back. The only thing she got slightly upset about, was a man getting into his car...and I'm like, really? You march merrily past the dogs that sound like they want to eat you for a snack, and you fear some guy in khakis and a tie getting in his little red car? I had her cross the road, since we were coming up on some tall grass at that time, and I'm wary of tall grass in the summer. She skittered across the road, away from the terrifying man and his car. She pranced and attempted to trot when she saw the barn. A boot with my leg, a little pop the rein (I don't know if I can have an inside or an outide out of the arena?) and she settled down and kept walking. Casey happened to drive by...she said I looked like I was going to crap myself. I probably did, because I wasn't sure how she'd feel about me riding on the roads. Haha. I'm going to try to do it again tomorrow, and ride down the neighborhood. Should be fun!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

R.I.P. Grammy...We love you!

I haven't posted in a couple of days... On Tuesday, I got off work and got out to the barn around 2:30. Grammy, our resident senior citizen, was laying down. I thought she was just being an old retired fart sunning herself, and she got up when I drove by and meandered off in the pasture.
Nobody was at the barn yet, and the new girl Alissa was supposed to come out, so I decided to sit down and wait for her so we could ride together.
I sat down with my tea in the chair at the front of the barn. I could see the part of the pasture Grammy and a couple of others were in. She grazed a few minutes and then she just came to stand by the fence, not grazing, just standing.
After a few minutes, she started to spin. Sometimes on the forehand, sometimes she was actually executing a decent walk pirouette. I though, well, the poor old girl is just stiff and having a hard time laying back down. After 2 or 3 minutes of this, it was getting more frantic and I texted Casey to see if she wanted me to bring her inside. No sooner had I finished sending my text, Grammy goes FLYING sideways. A very unbalanced sidepass. She spun a couple of times here and there, bumped into the fence trying to get through the gate that leads into the dry lot connected to the grass.
I jumped up and ran out to get her. When I got to the gate, she was spinning towards the end of the lot still, but she saw me and sidepassed over frantically. I grabbed a halter and ran in, but I quickly became aware that she had lost control of her legs and after she nearly knocked me down, I had to get out before she knocked me down. Her erratic movement had spooked the three ponies that were turned out with her, and they actually began attacking her.
I'm not sure if they were really trying to hurt her, more than likely they thought she was trying to theaten them, but eventually one knocked her down. I ran in and chased them off, and walked over to her. She got up as soon as I approached. She stood still, so I put the halter on and lead her out...she seemed to have regained control.
I was able to get her out of the gate, and when we were almost to the doorway in the middle of the barn, she started to lose control again. She bumped and stumbled through the narrow passage and I somehow was able to get her in a stall. Not the most ideal place, but there was no way I could get her to the roundpen - she would have crashed all through the barn aisle and could have potentially fell on me. She was extremely hot and breathing heavy, so I grabbed the hose and started hosing her. She was able to stand still a minute or two, then she'd spin again. I eventually just stood at the door hosing her to avoid a potential squishing.
At this point, every single horse in the barn was turned just staring in our direction. The horses outside were FREAKING. Eventually she collapsed, and I let her lie. She tried to get up every time I got near her, and it was better for her to be still and not thrash around in the stall. In a few minutes, which seemed like hours, the vet and a couple of boarders arrived. By this time her breathing had returned to normal. Dr. Smith was able to get her up and we got her into the roundpen outside. She ate a little soaked grain and drank some water. Dr. Smith advised that we hose her again in about 30 minutes, keep her in the roundpen, and call her if anything changed.
She was filthy from laying in the soaking wet stall I hosed her in, so we gave her a little bath. She was seemingly fine.
I put her back in the roundpen and it was then I noticed her skin wasn't looking quite right on her neck. I did a pinch test and she was VERY dehydrated. We encouraged her to drink more, but she wasn't really interested. She munched on hay for a couple of hours and seemed to be doing fine, moving normal again.
Then, about 5, she started to spin again. She eventually went down again for a few minutes. Then got up, ate and drank again, and had another spell very close to the last. When she fell that time, she really fell hard.
We decided to let her be in the roundpen for the night, because euthanizing her that night would mean she would potentially have to sit for some time until someone could come dig a hole, or remove her body.
She survived the night, apparently well, because the next morning she was nickering her very distinctive neighs for her breakfast at the gate. As the heat got greater, she started to have spinning and falls again I was told. They euthanized her early that afternoon, and she was buried a couple of hours later. We planted some little pink flowers on her grave today.
We're all still pretty sad about her death. She did live a long life - she was 30. She didn't always have an easy life, and she was starved before she came to our barn. That's somewhat comforting. Her retirement with us was a good one. She was actually healthy and sound enough to be ridden a couple of years ago.
We will miss the Gram! :( I had a picture I was going to post, but this computer refuses to let me for whatever reason.
I let Melissa ride Amber yesterday, and Amber was okay. She did a lot of bracing, speeding around and running through her. She cantered off a couple of times. She wasn't being bad persay, just trotting around like "I DEFY THEE, STRANGE RIDER!"
It was similar to what she did with Victoria, and everyone else who has tried to ride her. I got on a few minutes and worked her very collected and on the bit for the first time in a long time. Today, I was working her on a loose rein as usual, but she decided she wanted to speed around and ignore my seat, so I collected her a few minutes, and then when she decided to half-heartedly listen to that, I did transitions and made her back when she did those rather unresponsively. A few times of that, and she gave me some really nice trotting.
Waiting for the vet to give us a call and let us know when the chiro can do her at the clinic. Can't's disgustingly boring and Amber is literally dragging me at jumps, even ground poles. She's displeased and bored with her walk-trot lifestyle.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Only Amber...

I thought I was going to miss Dr. Wheeler, because in my brilliance I forgot I had to work until 2. Fortunately, she was still there. I hurried to get Amber. She decided that she didn't want to be captured today.

Amber goes through her moods. Some day she's happy to be caught, some days she pins her ears and speeds away from you. I usually rip her a new one when she does that, and she flails and acts like a moron and then comes quietly. This only happens when she is on stall board. She will come to you when she's on 24/7, and I hate it for her, but that just can't happen. There's no dry lots for her to be on for 12 hours.

She's usually not THAT hard to catch even when she does run. She usually sees me coming to retrieve her, pins her ears and walks/trots away like she doesn't see me. I'll say "STAND" and she knows I mean it, so she stops somewhere and waits. Today, she started to walk off, and it was seemingly her usual "hard" to catch. Then she proceeded to canter rather quickly away. Then Victoria's horse Dylan canters after her. Thanks for offering to help Dyl, but it's probably just going to hinder me.

That stirred her up a bit, and then I tried to corner her up. Usually if I can use my body to pin her in somewhere, she will give in. No. She gallops away and kicks out at me. OH HELL NO!

I eventually had to go get grain to catch her, and even then she was wise to it and almost didn't stand. Man...I let her know something.

By then she had gotten the majority of the horses in her pasture galloping, bucking, farting, generally acting foolish.

I hurried her into the barn and she was, as always good for the vet, other than being lazy and rather disinterested in cooperating with the trotting out part of her check up. She isn't dragging as heavily and she has more flexibility in her hocks, Dr. Wheeler said.

We are to continue doing light walk/trot. She recommended keeping her on the same diet and turnout she currently has. As I suspected, she too thought that gaining weight would be worse than stalling her 12 hours.

I'll be getting a call about our appointment with the chiro and for her stifles. I have a good feeling about this, so let's cross our fingers!

Remember Bob, from Halcyon? He did a drive by today...kind of weird. It was very obvious that he specifically wanted to drive by, since he circled back to the other road. Haha.

I started pulling her mane. Cheater pulling looks great on every horse I do...but her. She has a mohawk every time.

She has probably never had it done. I tried and gave up a long time ago just because I didn't want to deal with it. Well, today she just had to get over it...

She was a WITCH at first. I thought a couple of flakes of hay would keep her busy enough. Nope. She swung around and turned her butt. OH HELL NO. Yet again today. This occurred a few more times, resulting in the same firm whack on her hiney. Finally, she stood for me to do one piece. I praised her and got the halter to save me from further pains. Should have had it all along, but perhaps I was being wishful.

She stood a lot better. She tried to slip away a couple more times, but ultimately didn't spaz and wasn't too hard to keep still. I gave lots of pats and cookies for her standing so nicely - at least compared to the other attempts we've made. I don't think she was threatening me by turning her butt. She's a smart mare and she was careful to keep me from getting on the right side (thus having access to her mane). All she was doing was trying to avoid me. Still disrespectful, but not aggressive. We did about 2/3 of it. Looks better. I'd rather have a pulled mohawk than a cheater pulled mohawk...maybe it will grow out and be normal.

Despite it all, she's in a better mood lately. She's a mare, she's opinionated - it's just part of her being one! And I love mares. They're smart, they're sneaky, and they will let you know exactly how they feel about everything. But that's exactly why she's so quick to learn new things, under saddle and on the ground.

I felt bad for her though during our ride today. We stood in the middle for a few minutes at first while one of the kids jumped a pony around. I didn't think about it, but when we jump we always stand in the middle between the diagonal jumps and wait for the others to finish their rounds. She thought we were going to jump...she was not amused when I steered her away from the jumps.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Trail Fail

Tried to ride in the arena. SUPER windy, big dust cloud in my face. Faithful Ambermare plodded into it like a champ. I didn't do that long, and rode back to the back pasture a minute instead. I tried to ride around as far as I could where the grass wasn't so tall and thick, but we didn't get far.

The Princess was NOT pleased. I have never before had a horse who balked at going BACK to the barn. She was seriously wanting to stay out longer. She took me on a detour around by another pasture of her own accord.

Still draggy, mostly the left hind. But not quite as bad. Still, we aren't finished though. So it's to be expected. Dr. Wheeler is coming out Thursday afternoon to give a pony hock injections, so I'll be sure to be out to have her watch Amber and hopefully schedule an appointment to finish her treatments. Not sure though, we're trying to coordinate with the chiropractor to adjust her at the clinic the same day she gets her stifle injections.

I'm truly hoping that her joint problems are the result of compensating for her pelvis being out. That would mean that if we keep her pelvis correct and balanced, she shouldn't have to compensate and thus her joints shouldn't experience that trauma again. I'm of course worried that it's her joints that caused her to throw her pelvis out.

But isn't it funny? It's back to what I said almost at the beginning: It starts high up. My suspicion was spot-on, but I can't fault myself for not taking action sooner because I did the best I knew working with the vets and 'professionals' I had available to me at the time.

Kind of considering trying the other farrier that comes out to the barn though. Her white line is still separating, and quite frankly I'm pretty positive it's the pressure on the hoof wall from the flare they're leaving on her. It's puzzling because they are pretty much the most highly reputed farriers in the area. But the white line separation is NOT cool...they told me to thrushbuster it. I have, and it's still doing it, which tells me, this is mechanical, and that makes sense. Seems like they leave more on her hinds than on the fronts?

Just a wait and see. But fortunately, it's not horrid flare, so the other farrier can probably take it right off the first trim and I should be able to see if the changes are positive within the first trim. I'm learning more and more about feet with time, I think. Always looking to further educate myself.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Upcoming treatments, and the future.

Amber's appointment for her second round of treatments is still pending. I am actually calling the vet in a few minutes to discuss things.

You can only hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

It's unlikely that she will turn into a pasture puff. But it's still possible she will have to retire from jumping. It's hard to say just yet.

I have decided that if she can't return to jumping, I will trail ride her exclusively. I looked into some prices, the value of my close contact alone would cover my ALL the tack I'd need for comfy trail riding. And then some. So tack swapping wouldn't be a huge deal.

Thing is, Amber is bored by flatwork for the most part. I could show her on the flat, but the time, effort, and expense would just not be worth it if she doesn't want to do it. The two things I am certain my horse is really interested by are trails and jumping.

So if she can return to jumping and the vet says we can compete lightly without issue or risk, we will do that. If it's risky, if it will call for a lot of work to keep her sound enough, or if she just can't at all...trails for us.

She keeps trying to drag me around the back pasture, but the grass around it is so tall I'm worried about snakes. And there is a lovely wet ditch around half of it, so it's a great place for them. I found a quiet neighborhood down the road I plan on riding her around, so that may be a good alternative for some out-of-the-arena riding for now. Hoping our buddies Melissa and Rufus will be able to go with us. Trail riding is so much more fun with friends. Melissa is still recovering from a bad fall though. She very nearly broke her arm, thanks to her project 4 y/o TB who tripped and fell on her.

Ultimately, if she becomes exclusively a trail horse, I will end up moving her closer to home. My dad has been looking at trailers. Ideally, I would like to find a good trail riding buddy that would go with me to different places that also wants to just do mostly walk/trot, a little cantering and generally just pleasure riding and taking in the scenery.

I'd really like to move her to my friend's barn down the road if all this happens. It's less than 5 minutes from my house and she just built a really nice little barn.

But who knows right now?

One thing I'm definitely going to ask the vet about is what she recommends for Amber's diet and turnout. Amber is stalled right now simply because she becomes a whale when she's out 24/7. Too much weight is no good for her joints, but a horse with joint issues would benefit from being out all the time.

I just wanted to update though. Not much has been going on to blog about. We've been walk/trotting lightly, and Amber is offended and annoyed with these workouts. But it's for her own good.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Injections, injections, injections.

Today was the big day.

The morning barn-feeder freakin' screwed us Monday. She was "sick". And there was NOBODY else to feed, so to add insult to injury, it was I who had to help Casey feed up for her because Casey had her 1 1/2 year old with her. Super duper. So sick she couldn't feed, but one of the girls at the barn apparently saw her driving around that morning. Why thank you, for making me cancel my appointment because you are SO sick that you can drive around but not feed. Thanks.

But it was probably for the better, because the farrier came, and I had no idea he was coming, so Amber would have missed her trim.

She NEARLY screwed us again today. We left 30 mins late because she showed up late and couldn't finish before she had to work - so we had to throw hay, water and pull blankets. I have more great things from her today, but I digress from that momentarily.

Amber was looking bright in her purple and green sheet and shipping boots. She hopped on the trailer and we were off.

We got to the clinic about 30 mins late, but the vet was stuck in traffic so it actually became perfect timing. Still annoyed with the barn help, despite her bloopers actually helping me - while everything happens for a reason and they WERE helpful screw ups, it could have turned out badly and it's just rude.

Amber hopped off the trailer, and true to Amber form, after a nearly 2 hour trailer ride, was happy to go pee in a stall while we waited for the vet to see us, and stare casually out the window.

The vet did a thorough lameness exam. We didn't have X-rays, but I fully trust this vet's opinion for various reasons that I may dip into later. She found something though that we had not considered - or at least, nobody else would entertain that I mentioned long ago. Her pelvis is out of alignment. It's sooo far out of whack. The vet had me feel where her spine goes, and you follow it down and it goes way out to the side over her pelvis.

The vet said it's hard to tell if the pelvis is a result of compensation for hocks/stifles, or if the hocks/stifles are the result of compensation for the pelvis. Either way, it all must be fixed. She recommended a chiro to us and tried to get ahold of her to swing in while we were there, but she couldn't reach her.

So Amber got both hocks injected today. The vet was pretty surprised that Dr. Ipock only injected one hock. I have almost no knowledge about injections, but I noticed that they were given at a completely different angle/area than Dr. Ipock did on that one hock. But the joints fluid was watery and almost not there. No wonder she was stiff and cranky.

She is on stall rest, and then tomorrow she gets turn out. In two days I will start walk/trotting her lightly. Then in about a week, I will call Dr. Wheeler back and let her know how things are going.

Right now, the plan is for her to go back up in a couple of weeks or so and have her chiro done at the same time she gets her stifles injected. From what I could tell, the stifle injections may be dependent on what the hock injections do.

But although it's hard to tell so early, the prognosis seems positive that Amber will be able to return to work as a low hunter and poke around the local shows. That would make me super happy.

Dr. Wheeler was impressed by Amber's good attitude. She was, as always, a gem. Very chill and well behaved. She said Amber was a great movement and conformation - can you say super proud?

At this point, I will pop out as much $$ as I need to do make her a sound, happy hunter/jumper again. She's worth it.

Amber is what she is because I believed in her. At times I lost faith. Twice now I've seriously considered selling her as a trail horse. It would be a tremendous waste. Riding other horses has made me realize what an "automatic" she's become - not only because I know how to ride her because she's mine, but because I trained her. 'm sure if I go back and read my first few blogs, I'd quickly see how much training I truly have put into her. Riding other horses has made me realize how easily she moves off my leg, and how sensitive she is to my seat. I barely ever have to use my hands. The way it should be. Her jumping must be natural talent, because SHE has taught ME to jump. But I do appreciate those lead changes...all I have to do is help her time her strides and let her do her thing.

She's still young and a little green, and I might think she's a little less green than she is simply because I know her so well. The way she tenses up and refuses to cooperate for others who have ridden her (I thought she was going to throw Bob into a fence that one day...) is a reminder that she isn't necessarily an easy ride just yet, but she's a mental ride and you have to think about things. Be subtle and don't fidget and try to adjust everything and she's golden. And whatever you do, don't take up contact immediately or you'll go for a ride. She got to the point where she can accept immediate contact from me (though I don't, because I know what she prefers) but it has neeeever worked out for anyone else.

Anyway. The plan for now is light work in a couple of days, chiro and stifles in a few weeks, and when her current joint supp runs out, she's going on Cosequin. Adequan is a possibility later depending on how her joint injections do.

Back to the topic of the barn feeder who has been irking me...multiple things in addition to her interfering with my vet appointments happened later.

She broke the hose I bought to water the pastures. Thanks. Go buy a new one. Now we have to haul the hose for the inside back and forth. She also left without filling the waters for two pastures, so those horses went without water all day. Isn't that special?

And last but not least, there is a strand of tape that is on the bottom of a gate. It's not hot, and we tie it up with bailing twine to keep one of the mini donkeys from walking under the fence. She likes to do that. She tied the stupid thing up there in a way that it could NOT be undone. So I'm standing here with two ponies in my hand, one that's about to lose it because of the tractor behind us, trying to let the wire down.

Let me tell you how much I appreciated her efforts today. And all the other days she has done similar BS.

Oh, I also took the time and trouble to label all the halters with names...only to have them mixed up on horses they didn't belong to today. I appreciated that bit too.

But I can't help but be cheerful because of the good outlook for maresie.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Vet on Monday.

Dr. Smith is coming to the barn tomorrow morning.

I'm hoping she'll just tell me that the specialist thought the best course of action would be hill work and some cavaletti, and throw some shoes on the back to stop the dragging until it stops.

Honestly, I'm not 100% sure of anything right now...and it's very frustrating. I'm the sort of person who likes to be totally organized and be totally certain of whatever plan of action that is going to be taken - especially with horses.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

One of the hardest decisions in my life.

Nothing is 100% yet. But I gave Casey the okay to trade Amber for a potential new horse for me.

I have spent the past couple of days being brutally honest with myself. And it's come down to several points. The options themselves are simple - the hard part is which option to take. I could go through with all the exams and treatments, and sell her. I could go through with all the exams and treatments, and continue to ride her to the fullest extent she can be ridden soundly. I could sell her "as is" (which is not necessarily unsound, especially not for trail riding), skipping treatments and such, as a trail horse.

But I've realized the following:

-I want Amber to enjoy life as a show horse so badly that I often imagine her to be having a better time than she in fact is. Truth is, Amber is just a good, obedient horse that does what she's told.
-Amber is not nearly as attached to me as I am to her. Again - something I want so badly that I'm imagining things that aren't reality.
-Amber won't be able to take me very far in the hunter ring, period. And honestly, even if I decided to do dressage and CT one day, or perhaps if I became really brave, eventing, she just doesn't have the ability. That's just the reality of it, and there again - I'm imagining talent and ability where it isn't.
-Amber has the wonderful ability to be a master trail horse. Lead, follow, alone or in a group, she's just a great little trail horse.
-Amber has NEVER been 100% "sound" for the work she's in". Looking back, I bet the sticky stifles have always been the issue.
-When I bought her, and we can look back and see it in the old blog, I was nervous that her not-so-great conformation in the hind end would be our downfall, and I was right - it has.
-When I bought her, my intention was to do local, lower level dressage shows. My goals are different now and the things I aspire to do, Amber will not be capable of doing.

So I am now potentially trading her for this new horse that, while it's a project, is promising.

This is extremely hard for me. I was alone in the barn and had a pretty emotional moment crying on Amber's shoulder. I love her, and I've put in so much to make her into something she's not. It feels like failure - of myself and her. I'm making a point not to look on it like that. There were good times, bad times. But in the end, she has brought me closer to a fearless rider than I've ever been. Mind you, I'm NOT one, but I'm riding the best I've ever ridden, and doing more than I've ever done.

But, that is what it is. And I'm determined not to over-analyze it. I've put careful thought and reason into it. Reality of often not a pretty thing, and I won't say it's not painful, but in a sense I'm glad for it, because it feels better being true to myself and her. Sometimes being a dreamer isn't the best thing when you are trying to make a horse capable of more than it is and do things it shouldn't be doing and doesn't want to. I've come to a simple conclusion that her stifle issue may and most likely arose when she started jumping - for the first time in her life - a couple of months before I met her. And it's just been a bad combination of not understanding the issue/lack of work/more jumping. I have done the best I could with the knowledge and resources I have had.

On the positive end. The possible new horse is a gelding. Casey was saying something about thinking he's a small Warmblood...I think he's just a leggy QH, but he does look like a small Warmblood I must admit.

He's between 15.1 and 15.2hhs. He came with no name, and Victoria had picked Jack, but I've already had a Jack and it just doesn't feel right having another Jack. So I have, being hopeful, named him Benji. He's a chestnut, with a blaze that widens downward over his nose, and one tall white stocking on the hind.

I rode him around today, and he has noooo stamina right now. Definitely needs to meet a lunge line. Doesn't know how to jump - yet. He wasn't too happy today, and we discovered it was because he had a cut on the corner of his mouth. He also needs his teeth done. But he was a good boy to have such a bad mouth! I was surprised he didn't pitch much more of a fit than the bit of head shaking he did.

He's a little scared of blankets, but we worked on that and he doesn't act like an idiot about it. It's a bit of a tender subject, but he fits my cooler and show sheet. Needs his feet done BAD. Sooo much flare. Toes need to be backed up too.

A little ADD. Needs a little bit of work on manners. He circles at the mounting block like nobody's business. It's a project. A fixer-upper. But he's got a good head on his shoulders. There was a tractor across the road plowing up a dust storm and you'd expect him to be spooky, being in the new place and all that going on across the road, but he wasn't even terribly looky.

Right now, I'm just going to take it as it comes. I'm not banking on the trade off. If it doesn't happen, I'll be going through with deeper investigation of this stifle issue. For now, it's up in the air.

Everyone seems really happy for me and seems to think we'll be a good match. Casey does, most importantly, and I trust her judgement.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Quick post. OTTB cuteness.

I walked Amber for 10 minutes as directed by the vet. It was depressing and somewhat a reality check.

Then I did a walk/trot session with a cute OTTB named Mickey. He needs a job and I apparently need a ride, so I get to poke around on him for a while.

He's not badly put together, actually. Good bone, uphill, powerful hindquarters. He has a little more knee action going on than is probably ideal for hunters, but still not a horrid mover. I can feel every little thing in his walk and trot though. Took some getting used to. I had no idea riding Amber was like riding a couch until I rode this guy.

I didn't canter, because Casey left early and Victoria wasn't sure if the owner/Casey wanted me to do more than walk/trot. For a while I was getting the feeling I was getting on a crotch rocket, which he apparently can be. But Amber taught me long ago about crotch rocket's so sad that there were points in time where she took off with me so much, getting taken off with doesn't even phase me now. I'm sure he would have been fine cantering though. He rides a lot like Amber, despite being very opposite in his gaits. They wear the same girth size too, despite Mick being quite a bit larger. Even on the SAME holes.

I actually found him to be quieter than Amber, though. His bigger stride caused me to have him crawling along, and I realized I felt like my speed was more than it was because of the bigger stride, but I decided to let it be a little too slow since they said he likes to get fast, because I felt if that's the case, it would benefit him to let him poke around if he wanted to. Loose rein. He seems to alternate between actually getting on the bit and hanging on me. It was pretty easy to remind him not to hang, all I had to do was tickle him with the inside rein and he went "Oh yeah..."

He was quiet to lunge, quiet to ride...Victoria said she thought he liked me. Which is good, I liked him too, surprisingly. I was kind of expecting myself to be a little resentful like I usually am when I'm catch riding 'against my will'.

He got a hosing and some cookies for packing me around a while.

So it looks like this is my catch ride for a little while. I'm sure Monica at Chasing The Dream gives it a thumbs up for an OTTB. He's an ex-eventer too, so possibly even 2 thumbs up.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Locking stifle.

Just got a call from the vet.

She talked to Kim, did some research, and based on the fact that Amber has not responded to the bute, she says it's likely we will be able to rule out arthritis (which is great), and she thinks it may be a mild case of locking stifles.

She's got to talk to someone who specializes more in that, but for now it's good news. It can be fixed. She thinks it's very likely she could at least return to walk/trot/canter. She said it may come that she will be able to jump, but she also may not be able to. We will just have to see.

The cost is another issue, but right now we have no idea how much anything is going to cost until we Xray her to make 100% sure it's not arthritis, and of course to see what else is going on.

But heather definitely thinks it's her stifles, not her hocks. We're definitely thinking on the same page here.

Right now, although it's early on, I have to think about my options. It could go so many different ways. If it comes that she can walk/trot/canter fine, we'll see what our alternatives to something expensive like surgery are, see what the prognosis without surgery is, and maybe sell her to someone looking for that with a first right of refusal contract. Honestly, I think my main objection to selling her would be not having control of or not knowing where she could go.

If the prognosis is good and that she will return to what she was doing, then we will go for as much as we can afford. If I can't afford what will return her to that, then probably do the same as above if the prognosis is good for walk/trot/canter without.

And I'm trying not to feel like a selfish, nasty, callous person for considering the sale of my "forever horse" if she can merely not jump. But, at the same time, I've start to come to the realization that it's unrealistic. If I could afford 2 horses, she'd be here forever.

However, from what I'm reading on the internet, there are several cases where horses had it severe enough for surgery and they returned to full work, including over fences.

So for now, I will be happy. It's the first time I've had REAL direction in a long time.

If anyone wants to read up on this, all you have to do is google "locking stifle in horses" or "upward fixation of the patella".

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Your Flight Courtesy of "The Packing Cow"

While Amber is off I'm reluctantly riding other critters.

Today I was going to ride a cute OTTB named Mickey, but he had thrown two shoes so Casey and Victoria suggest I give Cow, the beginner rider packer, a walk-trot workout.

Somewhat disappointing, but hey, I'm catch riding so I can't be picky.

So I get on, and she's barely moving. We walked around a time or two and I had her on a loose rein. I wasn't paying her too much mind, because hey, it's "the packing Cow".

And all of a sudden she shoots sideways. And I did not go sideways with her. I literally just got left where I was. I was PISSED. So I hauled her butt back to the mounting block and she learned something today. I was so mad I was almost hoping she would throw me off one more time just so I could kick her butt all over again. LOL. I think she does that crap on purpose, because she learned that when she acts fruity and dumps her riders, they just put her away. Well, not this time, How Now Brown Cow.

As for Amber, she is the same. The bute hasn't really made a difference. It almost makes me wonder if she has very mild locking stifle?

Victoria also brought up the possibility of Lyme disease. A pony at the barn had it, so it's not impossible, but it just seems so unlikely. It's so rare here. But I have to keep the possibilities open.

Found out my Xrays and lameness exam from the specialist vet is going to run me around $500 total...ouch. Victoria also brought up, gently of course, the possibility that it might be better in the end to sell her as a trail horse. And I've considered it with first right of refusal in writing. My main objection to selling her if she isn't sound enough to compete is where she could end up. I would never forgive myself if I sold her and she went to auction or got into a shitty home. Never.

And then again, it's early to be thinking about such things, but it's still something to be thinking about. This has, after all, been plaguing us since I bought her. Apparently, she hasn't been sound since I bought her. Whether or not my riding her has helped or hindered is irrelevant. I've done the best I could with what I know. At the very least we can be sure it's nothing that I've done that made her do this - the first time I rode her at Andrea's we noticed it.

She was never totally right at Casey's, but she passed her flexions somehow in the PPE.

If I knew more, I'd feel better. The not knowing and all the possibilities is what is so frustrating. The fact that it's not a limping along lameness.

But hey, at least I have a funny story about how a little packer pony made me eat dirt that I probably wouldn't be able to laugh at if Amber wasn't off.

And my rides with the TB should be interesting. From what I hear he rides a lot like Amber, so I shouldn't have trouble making the adjustment. He seems to have a cute personality. He's kind of been a pasture puff so it'll do him good to have a job, anyway.

Friday, March 9, 2012

And back to hind end lameness.

So Heather believes Amber has a hind end lameness. She thinks hocks or stifles, and being that we injected her hocks once before with no real result, I'm leaning to stifles.

It obviously isn't blazingly apparent. Heather was surprised that she picks up either lead perfect and does auto changes over courses.

The good news is, she says even though it concerns her because Amber is young for stifle/hock issues, she thinks it can be fixed.

I feel kind of guilty for continuing this long. But I'm trying not to do that because I've been going with what I knew, and obviously she hasn't gotten any worse.

But no show tomorrow. Heather gave us bute for Amber 2x a day and she said if Amber improves then it most likely means there is a hind end lameness. She said just give her a call next week and let her know and we will go from there.

She said I should keep riding her though, light walking, so she won't get stiff. In a way I think continuing riding her HAS been what has kept her sound as she is. It's kept her in shape and everything loose.

She will be getting Xrayed unless anything changes. Heather recommended it, and I agree. Last time Kim recommended we not Xray because she said it would still lead up to hock injections. This time, I won't do anything without them, and definitely not injecting her hocks again without them.

Amber is my baby though, and no matter what the outcome, she will stay with me forever. Should she become a trail horse, a pasture puff, or return to being a hunter jumper. Casey seemed pretty disappointed for us. We have worked so hard the past few months and I feel like we've improved tenfold. I still can't believe how easily jumping has started coming. I can only pray we will be able to do it again soon.