Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Not Much New

I don't have much to report. Lilly is still on stall rest and her leg looks the same now as it did when she went on stall rest. I have been hand grazing her and she seems to be staying sane in the stall, so she is resting as the doctor ordered.

I've still been icing it because I figure it can't hurt and I go over there every day anyhow. I have that ColdFlex wrap that I've been trying too, but I'm not impressed. The container says it won't get cold, but that I shouldn't worry because it's actually working... I need something more tangible than that. I want to feel that her leg is cold, or the wrap is cold, or something. Nothing feels cold... not her wrap and not her leg. So I don't know how it's doing her any good.

I'm still on the hunt for a pair of boots I can use instead.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Last Day of Icing

Today is the last day I need to ice Lilly's leg. I also received my ColdFlex wraps in the mail so it looks like she'll get at least one more day of icing because I'm anxious to see how the wraps work.

The swelling is still the same, so it doesn't look like the icing or the Surpass is doing anything for her. Looks like we're headed toward shock wave therapy.

I let her graze in the small paddock in front of the barn and I set off to take some pictures with my camera. I'm fairly frustrated with my progress, but hopefully I'll be getting the hang of it here shortly.

Here's one of the pictures I took this afternoon. This is Toots and she was enjoying the pond... it was pretty hot today, so she was cooling off. :)

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What Would It Take?

My farrier was out today to reset Lilly and trim AJ. He was surprised to see me icing Lilly's leg and asked what was going on with her this time.

I filled him in on the entire story and told him the plan from this point forward. He asked how pissed I was about it and I told him I wasn't too upset about the original 'misdiagnosis', but I was pretty upset about what it has led to now.

Had we known it was the ICL all along, we might be in a better place today and I might not be preparing myself to spend close to $1200 on her tendon ligament again. I think he was more upset than I am.

So as it goes in the horse world, there is plenty of gossip to be had. My farrier works closely with all of the vets at the practice I use and he was telling me a few months ago about a horse my vet was treating. This horse came up in conversation because my farrier had a large cut on his hand that this horse had given him. He was being treated for a bone chip in his knee. As it turns out, the diagnosis was incorrect and it was actually a soft tissue injury, and the horse has since been euthanized. My farrier said the horse's owner is absolutely beside herself.

Thank God Lilly's issue isn't life threatening, but it is a big deal because how we treat it can mean the difference between a sound, usable horse and another pasture ornament. I can't afford a third horse, so Lilly is all I've got.

There are 4 vets at the practice I use, and I've now used all 4 of them. One of the vets is really expensive and not really for the 'backyard horse owner', then there's the vet who is my usual vet for routine things, Dr Elaine who is Lilly's tendon ligament vet, and then the vet that saw Lilly on cellulitis day. I've been sticking with Dr Elaine because of her familiarity with Lilly's ultrasounds and progress relating to her tendon ligament, but I'm wondering if I should use one vet exclusively (and one that hasn't misdiagnosed my horse) or if I should look outside the practice for a fresh face.

There is another local veterinary practice that I have used in the past. I used them before moving to the barn I was at 2 barns ago. The new barn used the practice I use now so I just switched to make it easy. I could very easily go back to them.

I understand vets can make mistakes the same as doctors can, but what would it take for you to switch vets? Would it need to be something 'bigger' than what I'm dealing with, or would you only consider it if your vet was making multiple mistakes?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Update From the Vet

My vet was finally able to look at the pictures of Lilly's ultrasound from August. I can't remember the exact terms she used, but basically the ligament was about 5mm smaller in August. So it has gotten worse since the ultrasound in August.

I pretty much figured that would be the case since Lilly was put back on pasture and I was RIDING her...

Since cold therapy is shown to be most successful during the first 72 hours after an injury, she said icing for a week is all that's really necessary, especially if it doesn't seem to be helping. Obviously we've missed that 72 hour deadline by oh, about 30 days. So as of Sunday, I don't have to ice her leg anymore.

I just ordered ColdFlex bandages...

Oh well, I might still ice her anyway. It can't hurt.

So the plan is to keep her on 30 days of complete stall rest, stop the icing and Surpass on Saturday. Hand grazing is ok, but she doesn't want her doing any forced moving. At the 30 day mark we'll do another ultrasound and see how things look. If she hasn't improved with rest, we'll proceed with the shock wave therapy.

Hindsight is 20-20, but I wish, wish, wish I would have waited and had Dr Elaine do the ultrasound instead of a vet unfamiliar with Lilly's situation. We might have been able to catch this sooner, keep her on stall rest, and avoided the situation we're in now. I should have known the swelling wasn't just swelling and that something was really wrong. I had a feeling, which is why I had the vet out, but . . .

I know the situation with her abscess was extreme and her ligament went though quite a bit of trauma, but just the fact that she has reinjured it has me worried. I hope this isn't something we'll be dealing with for the rest of her life.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Still Icing

The peas are starting to annoy me... they're the cheapest method of icing her leg and I really wanted them to work, but with all the flies flying around, Lilly just can't keep her feet still.

Stomp!
*peas start sliding*
Stomp!
*peas slide some more*
Stomp!
*there go the peas*

I have to keep putting them back into place so I'm sure her leg isn't getting the proper ice down it needs.

Time to move on to plan b...

Except I don't know what plan b is quite yet. I think I'm going to get some of those ColdFlex bandages and see how they work. That way I can keep researching boots but hopefully have something that works well in the meantime. Perhaps I'll like them so much that I end up using them exclusively.

I do think some of the general swelling in her leg is down. The ligament (I have to catch myself because I'm so used to saying tendon...) area of her leg is still swollen, but it seems to be more localized. The Surpass hasn't jacked up her skin yet, so maybe it's actually working.

I let her out of the stall to graze today. I told her she had to be quiet or she was going back in, and she was. She just walked around eating grass and being nosey.

The other day I noticed she had a touch of diarrhea again (she sprayed the walls in her stall a bit. hehe... right after the BO power washed the barn. LOL) so I put her tail up in a tail bag. It seems to be better now, thank goodness, but I'm not sure why it started to begin with.

The BO wants to charge me $20 more per month to increase AJ's grain by 2 lbs per day, so in addition to the increased grain, I also got AJ some additional supplements to help him along.

He didn't have a salt block until I bought him one the other day (why not, BO?), but from what I've been reading, salt blocks were made for the rough tongues of cows and horses most likely don't get enough salt from the blocks anyway. He seems to sweat a lot too, so I got him some electrolytes that can be fed on top of his food. They're apple flavor but I was concerned that AJ might not eat them. I put a scoop in my hand and offered it to him... he licked it up and gave it the AJ stamp of approval by sucking on his tongue.

I also bought him some Weight Builder. I wanted to get these things added to his SmartPak but it was going to take too long and I wanted to start feeding them right away. I probably won't stick with the Weight Builder when I order the new SmartPaks. He did like the Weight Builder flavor too, though, so hopefully it won't keep him from eating his grain.

I need to start a picture log of his weight progress so I can tell if he's gaining anything.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Therapy Boots

I've been thinking it might be a good idea to ice Lilly's legs on a more frequent basis. Without getting ahead of myself as I always do, I'd like to think that one day she'll be back to regular work and icing after our rides might be something I need to add to the routine to help make sure she doesn't injure herself again. That being the case, a washcloth, a bag of peas, and a polo wrap isn't going to cut it.

So I've been shopping around for some cold therapy boots for Lilly and I was looking at these boots from Ice Horse:

The little ice inserts stay cold for up to two hours and you just toss them back into the freezer once you're done. Because Lilly's injury is so far up on her leg, I'm not sure they'll sit high enough on her leg to ice the area I need iced. Other than that, I like them and they run about $80 for a pair.

Then I stumbled across these Professional's Choice Ice Cells.

You just freeze them and put them under your SMB boots for instant cold therapy boots! I would still be concerned about the height of the ice packs, but two of these run $20.

I'm actually a bit surprised there aren't a thousand ice therapy boots to choose from...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cold Therapy

Behold!

I bring to you my highly scientific cold therapy device! (Patent pending...)

Peas were even on sale this week, so I got two bags. :)

I may end up buying cold therapy boots of some sort depending on how this all goes. It wasn't easy holding a wash cloth over the back of her leg while also trying to get her bag of peas situated. Then I had to try and keep that in place while I attempted to wrap it all up with a polo wrap. It seemed to stay on ok, but one good fly stomp and I think it would have slid down her leg.

While she was being treated, I trimmed her mane and clipped her bridle path. Now she looks all ready to go to the state fair! Oh well, at least she'll look pretty in her stall...

Pretty girl!

Regarding the Surpass, her leg looks ok so far. No redness or anything to be seen, so I applied it again today. Last time, the irritation didn't show up until about day 3, but hopefully she'll be ok this time.

AJ is now with his previous pasture buddy, Lenny. They get along pretty well, but I noticed AJ is still going to be at the bottom of the totem pole. Lenny made that clear right off the bat. If AJ was a dog he would have rolled over on his back and piddled on the ground...

An Interesting Development

My vet called late this afternoon about the ultrasounds she was going to look at before officially diagnosing Lilly. She said she had looked at all the old ultrasounds but wasn't able to look at the ultrasound taken in August because it's digital and still on the ultrasound machine, which is in the other vet's truck. She said she'd be able to get those pictures off the machine on Monday.

Then she went on to apologize because the injury Lilly had back in November was not a DDFT injury... she had incorrectly diagnosed it as such, but it was actually an injury to Lilly's inferior check ligament.

At this point, my mind is spinning in 100 different directions...

She said the original ultrasound was extremely difficult to read because of all the inflammation and scar tissue Lilly had from the surgery and she originally thought it was the DDFT. After the initial diagnosis, we had moved on to treating the injury, not diagnosing, so she didn't give it much thought after that.

She said the treatment would have been exactly the same no matter which tendon or ligament she injured, so other than giving me incorrect information, there was really no harm done.

At least not then...

However, when my other vet was out doing the ultrasound in August, she was checking to make sure Lilly didn't have another lesion on her DDFT. So of course the DDFT looked good because it had never been injured. It was noted how awful the ICL looked, but neither I nor my vet thought twice about it because we were both concerned about the DDFT.

Dr Elaine said if we had been looking at the correct ligament, Dr Tracy could have identified that we actually did have a fairly significant issue because the ICL looked so poor and she had all that inflammation. I wouldn't have been given the ok to put her back out in the pasture and I certainly wouldn't have been cleared to ride.

So I've been riding my horse with a ligament injury!! The whole point of the ultrasound was so that I did NOT ride her with an injury and that's exactly what happened anyway.

That's why I wanted Dr Elaine to do the ultrasound in August but she was too busy to come out right away and I wanted one done quickly...

She said she won't know for sure if the ligament has gotten worse since August or not until she can see the scans, but she feels terrible about the whole thing and has credited my account for the cost of the ultrasound she did yesterday.

So the 'good news' in all of this is that Lilly is back to only one soft tissue injury in her leg instead of two. If it has been the check all along, I suppose that's better than having a DDFT injury AND a check injury.

I told her about the swelling I mentioned in my other post and that Lilly was much less lame today to see what her thoughts were and she said it's possible that the ultrasound had a therapeutic effect on her leg. It could also just be part of her leg's healing process. Either way, it's a good thing of course.

We discussed the shock wave therapy and I asked her if there were any alternative options. Since shock wave therapy doesn't need to be applied immediately in order to be successful like the plasma treatment, she said we can give Lilly some time to see how the tendon does before spending the money.

So she's coming in tomorrow to go on complete stall rest and we're going to give her 30 days to see how the ligament does. During that 30 days I'll be icing her leg twice a day (hopefully...) and applying the Surpass cream (barring any unforeseen circumstances) for the first two weeks. After two weeks, Dr Elaine will come back out to see how the leg is progressing and if after 30 days it's not looking better, we'll start the shock wave therapy.

The roller coaster continues...

Friday, September 17, 2010

More On That Tendon...

I was hoping to hear back from my vet today, but it looks like it'll be Monday.

I took the Surpass cream with me today to apply to Lilly's leg per my vet's request. I plan on taking a very close look at her leg tomorrow to make sure the skin doesn't start looking irritated. I sure hope not, but if there's any red at all I'm scrubbing her leg and stopping the cream.

I took some pictures of her tendon too, and I think it looks strangely different. The way it looked prior to the ultrasound is how it looked in the last pictures I posted on the blog. The swelling was more bulky up at the top of her cannon bone. Now it looks like there's either more swelling, or the swelling has spread out over more of her leg, but the giant bump isn't there on the inside anymore. Or maybe it is but her leg is more swollen so it's not as noticeable. I'm not sure which.





She is also less lame today, which is definitely a good thing. I jogged her a couple different times and barely noticed the slight limp she had.

I don't really know what to expect this time around. Last time, Lilly was only lame for a couple days and then she was sound, but we knew she wasn't healed because we could see the gaping hole in her tendon on the ultrasound. There's no lesion to watch this time around, just ugly ligament fibers, so will we know it's better when the swelling resides? Perhaps the lameness part of it is going to be over here shortly and I just happened to catch it at it's peak? I'll have quite a few questions for my vet when she calls.

I'd also like to thank everyone who posted yesterday wishing Lilly well. I really appreciate all the support I get from those of you who take the time to follow along with Lilly's story. It has been a really rough year for Lilly, but your positive thoughts and suggestions really do help keep me going, especially in times like this.

In the comments, Dressage in Jeans mentioned turnout as a method of rehab instead of stall rest. That exact thought had crossed my mind because I've heard of people turning out horses who have bowed tendons and just letting them be. 6 months to a year later, the horses are sound.

I'm always torn because I feel like I should follow my vet's suggestions, but if I asked another vet he might say turnout would be better. Then another vet would suggest something completely different. I'm just afraid turnout make it worse or prolong the injury if she's not rested since she seemed to be doing better before the turnout and exercise. I do see how rest would weaken the tendons and ligaments, but hopefully the hand walking and slow return to work strengthens them before the horse is returned to regular riding. Key word there is hopefully...

I definitely appreciate all the suggestions and I'm going to talk to my vet more about it when she calls to see what is best for Lilly. I'm not keen on spending another $1000, but I'll do whatever it takes to get my girl back to a normal life.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Here We Go Again

As everyone is aware, the vet was out this morning to vaccinate and check up on Lilly's tendon. I'll start with AJ since his is an easier story to tell.

Dr Elaine's first comment was, "he's skinny!" She said she thinks he needs to gain about 50 pounds, but looks healthy otherwise. His teeth look great, so she doesn't see any reason why he shouldn't be gaining weight other than he isn't getting enough food. She thinks he should be getting about 6 pounds of feed per day in order to put that weight back on in 30 days-ish. Right now he's only getting 2 pounds, and that's assuming he's getting it all (which we know he's not thanks to Lilly).

As usual, he was super good about his shots... I always say if he had thumbs he'd vaccinate himself. :) She checked his cataract and said it still looks small and there aren't any more, so he's good to go.

I later spoke to the BO about the grain increase and he seemed annoyed by my request. He bases the board cost on a specific level of feed, so by feeding 6 pounds per day, I guess he thinks he'll be losing money. So I told him I'd buy the feed myself or pay him more for AJ's board. I don't really care if I have to pay more, I just want him to get more feed. He's going to let me know later what he wants to do.

Now on to Lilly.

She got her vaccines and her coggins done and we moved on to her tendon. Right away Dr Elaine noticed she was standing with her left front foot slightly forward. Lilly stands like that a lot, I think to take some of the weight off her leg. She kept having Lilly stand square, and right on cue, Lilly would put it back out front.

She palpated the tendon and Lilly seemed a little tender, but not much. She wanted to watch her move, so we took her up to the arena and had her trot on the longe line. She was a bit more lame than yesterday and Dr Elaine put her at a 3/5. We did a flexion test and Lilly trotted off pretty lame, so we took her back to the barn to do an ultrasound.

Dr Elaine scanned her leg for a LONG time... she even did the other leg to compare but couldn't find any lesions or tears. She said the DDFT actually looked really good and had healed nicely, but her check ligament was "really ugly".

You may or may not recall me mentioning the check when my other vet came out to do the ultrasound in August. She said the check looked ugly but we both kind of brushed it off since she had the ICL surgery when she was a baby and we were focusing on the DDFT.

For my own understanding, and to give you a little more information about the relationship between the DDFT and the ICL, here's a good description I found from the Atlanta Equine Clinic describing that relationship:

The distal accessory or “check” ligament is an extension of the palmar carpal ligament that joins the DDF tendon at the level of the mid cannon bone. By restricting excessive movement of the DDF tendon through it attachments, the distal accessory ligament functions to keep the DDF tendon in “check”. If excessive DDF tendon tension persists by the time the horse reaches 8-10 months of age, then surgical intervention in the form of distal accessory (check) desmotomy is often elected. Cutting the check ligament physically releases tension on the DDF tendon, allowing it to “lengthen”.

And that's what we did with Lilly when she was 6 months old. I understand the logic behind the ICL surgery, but I guess I didn't think the ICL would still be in play now. I thought it was cut... that's it... out of the picture. Not the case, however. Dr Elaine said those tendons eventually grow back, but will grow back longer than they were previously because now the dynamics of the leg/hoof have changed. However, like with the DDFT, the tendons just aren't as strong or stretchy since they're full of scar tissue.

After printing off some pictures from the ultrasound machine, Dr Elaine wanted to nerve block Lilly's hoof just to make sure we weren't dealing with something other than the tendon. After giving the block some time to work, we took her back to the arena to longe her. She was worse, so it is most likely her ICL.

So what's the diagnosis?

We think during the time Lilly was walking around on 3 legs because of her abscess, she was (obviously) putting a lot of strain on her left leg. The ICL most likely took the brunt of that strain because of what her DDFT had already been through. She didn't show any lameness before because she was already on stall rest and I wasn't riding due to the myriad of other problems we faced during the month of August. Once she was cleared for turnout and riding, the already stressed tendon was strained more, to the point where it started causing her pain.

So what's the plan?

Just to make sure, Dr Elaine is going to compare today's ultrasounds with past ultrasounds and see if she can find the pictures my other vet took of her tendon in August. I'm not sure she took any pictures, but if they're there, she'll find them. Once she makes the comparison (and likely concluded we have a check ligament problem) she'll call me with a more detailed plan.

For now, she had me turn her back out and wants me to use the Surpass cream. The look of horror on my face must have told the story about how I feel about Surpass because she said, "are you scared to use it?" Umm... well, I'm a little cautious, I must confess. I do think the issue was most likely from the leg wrap, so I'll give it another try without a bandage this time and closely monitor her skin.

Should she conclude it is the ICL, the plan will change to 3-6 months of stall rest and possible shock wave therapy. There's no lesion or tear to inject, so the shock wave would be the best course of action.

Another tendon rehab coming my way. Here's where the frustrated me starts to take over.

No State Fair... no riding for probably 6 months... no more shows until who knows when... hand walking every day... and another small fortune on rehab.

At what point do you say enough is enough? Is spending another $1000 on one of Lilly's other tendons going to make a difference in the long run?

I knew her DDFT would be compromised for the rest of her life, but I didn't think that the other tendons in her leg would be at risk. I'm not sure why I thought that, but I did. I thought if anything was injured, it would be the DDFT again. So when does her SDFT become compromised, if it isn't already? Will that leg ever be 'normal' again and will we continue to battle soundness issues?

I am past the point of frustrated. I'm sad, I'm angry, I'm heartbroken... I've been on the verge of tears all day. No way would I ever give up on Lilly, but maybe it's time to give up on showing for a while. This past year has been such an emotional roller coaster for me. Just when things start to get back on track, we go flying off course. I get my hopes up, I get excited, and then it all comes crashing down around me.

I'm getting tired of being positive all the time because it gets me nothing but grief. At least if I expected the worst and anticipated the worst, I wouldn't be disappointed when the worst thing that can happen does happen.

On top of that, she needs her teeth floated because she has hooks and ulcers. She was just floated last fall and checked this spring for crying out loud... we didn't have time to do it today but Dr Elaine said, "don't worry... sounds like I'll be out plenty of times so we can do it then to save you an extra farm call."

Please send well wishes Lilly's way. My sweet mare has gone through more than any horse should ever have to.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

At Least the Vet Is Already Scheduled...

I snuck AJ an extra scoop of food this morning when I took Lilly out of the pasture. She was NOT happy about it, but I gave her a handful hoping she'd forgive me. AJ thought he struck gold. :)

The BO was at the barn power washing so I asked him if he saw my email. He said he did and when he fed last night and this morning, he watched Lilly walk over to AJ's bucket and eat his feed. He said he shooed her back to her own bucket and AJ came back to eat the rest of his feed. He said, "I can't say for sure that happens every time..." Well I can. In fact, I'm positive that it happens morning and night.

So he claims he's going to hang out down there with them and keep her away from his feed until AJ is done eating. He prefers that to tying her up. I suggested he space the feed buckets farther apart so it is more of an inconvenience for Lilly to steal AJ's feed. Right now both buckets are fairly close together and she can easily control both buckets at the same time.

In the meantime, I'm going to give him some extra feed whenever I'm there. I also want to ask the vet what she thinks about his weight when she comes out tomorrow.

That, however, is not the reason I'm glad the vet will be out tomorrow. Before I get to that, though, here are a couple recent shots of Lilly's leg.

Still puffy... and this last one really showcases the extent of the inflammation.

I've been leaving her bell boots on in the pasture, and I always put her SMB boots on when we work in the arena. They're the last thing to go on, and the first thing to come off, just to make sure her legs stay as cool as possible.

She was terrified of the power washer, so she had to put on a brave face each time we walked past. She did pretty good, but it got her a bit worked up. I was wondering how our ride was going to go.

We started by working on our walk. 10 minutes of loose rein walking, 5 minutes of contact walking and leg yields. She was doing really well and seemed to have forgotten all about the water monster. Then it was time for the trot. I've been working on my diagonals a little bit, trying to feel the difference between the inside and outside diagonal (with my eyes closed... lol) so it took me a minute to realize that she was off. I trotted her a few more strides at a sitting trot just to make sure. Yup. So I got off and jogged her in the arena so I could see which leg it was. She was definitely off on the left front, aka tendon leg. I took her out of the arena to the grass and jogged her there as well. She was only about a 1 out of 5 and I didn't see any signs of lameness at the walk, just the trot.

The problem now is that I can no longer say, "yeah, her tendon is swollen but she's not lame..." Now she's showing signs of lameness. I assume it is tendon related, although I can't be 100% sure. I checked her over and her hoof was clean and I couldn't find any other reason she should be lame except for the giant tendon inflammation that's sticking out of her leg.

Thankfully the vet is out to investigate the inflammation tomorrow anyway. I'm assuming she'll want to do another ultrasound. I'm trying to stay positive since she was just a little off, but it makes me think there really is something still going on in there.

Here she is after our ride... you'd swear I worked her for hours by the look on her face! Her muzzle is all shiny from the cortisone cream I've been using on her sunburn.

On a lighter note, this is Gunner... he's my barn buddy. He belongs to the BO so he's not always there, but when he is, he hangs with me and Lilly. He's not even a year old yet, but he is really well behaved for a 'puppy'. He also loves swimming in the pond and then throwing his wet, stinky body against my leg begging for scratches.

Today I misplaced the lid to Lilly's cookie jar. I was looking everywhere for it but couldn't find it anywhere. Shortly after I had given up and decided to head home, Guns came walking out of the barn with it in his mouth... Not sure if he was being helpful or if he was the culprit!

Monday, September 13, 2010

She's a Pig

I took an old banana and a super ripe pear to the barn to treat my horses. Lilly won't have anything to do with bananas, but she loves a pear. AJ will eat anything, so he was happy to pick up the banana slack. :)

AJ barely has enough time to chew and swallow before he has to start sucking on his tongue.

Good stuff! Lilly wanted the whole pear for herself since she didn't eat any banana, but she had to share.

AJ still looks too skinny to me. He was gaining weight while Lilly was on stall rest during the month of August, but now that she's back out in the pasture with him, he looks to be losing weight. I'm guessing their food is dumped in separate buckets and then the feeder leaves. With Lilly being at the top of the totem pole, I think she's most likely eating her food and his. AJ gets more than she does and eats slower, so without supervision, she probably gets to eat twice.

I had emailed the BO about it, but haven't heard back. When I was out there yesterday I found out from a couple other boarders that he's not living at the farm anymore. It's for sale, and he and his wife were separated, but are now back together and apparently he's living with her somewhere else.

That explains a lot...

So we were all talking about trying to convince the BO to let us run it like a co-op. It's such a nice place and has so much potential, we think we could do a much better job. I don't know if he'll bite or not, but I'm hoping.

I got an appointment with the vet on Thursday morning for fall vaccinations, coggins, and a leg check. Hopefully that all goes well!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Bareback

I've been feeling under the weather the past couple of days. I have an icky cold that just won't leave me alone! Speaking of weather, the weather here has been gorgeous, which is typical of my luck.

So I decided to tough it out and go ride anyway, despite feeling like garbage. Lilly was happy to see me (and the cookies) and whinnied to me from the pasture when she saw me walking down the lane. Both of my horses stopped grazing and came over to the fence. I sure do like that. :) I've determined that if I happen to give AJ a cookie before she gets one, it puts her in a foul mood. When she gets the first cookie, she's a happy pony. There's a little bit of sibling rivalry going on, I think.

While I was brushing her today I noticed that her muzzle is a bit dry. There are some areas where it's peeling and kind of rough, almost like it's chapped. I don't know if she got a little sunburn or what, but I was thinking about picking up some Vaseline to rub on it. Does anyone else use that? Some of the nose rub stuff I've had (like the shine-on I use for shows) will actually help burn her nose, so I don't want to use anything that's going to make it worse, but she needs something to help sooth the skin.

Her tendon still looks about the same. It's weird seeing the difference between her two front legs. When I remove her SMB boots and run my hand down her legs to remove any sand that might be stuck there, there is a huge difference between the two.

Poor legs...

I decided to ride bareback today. It sounded like much less work than dragging out the saddle, and since my sick self slept in until 11:00 this morning, I was short on time also. Boots, a bridle, my helmet, and that was it. We were on our way!

We did the usual:
10 minutes of loose rein walking on the rail
5 minutes of contact walking, 30-meter circles, and leg yields
5 minutes of trotting on the rail
1 lap at the canter in each direction
5 minutes of contact walking cool down
5 minutes of loose rein walking cool down

I was trying to decide if I wanted to canter, but I figured I might as well. I figured if I fell off I wouldn't feel much worse than I already do, so what the heck. Lilly was actually really sweet when I asked for the first canter. She took a few strides and then went back to a walk. She looked back at me like, "are you sure? you seem a little wobbly up there..." So I asked again and she very gently stepped off into a canter. Why she can't transition like that all the time I don't know, but I didn't fall off! :)

Going from a canter to a walk was the hard part, because I try not to bounce too much when she's trotting those few super fast strides before we make it to a walk. We did ok, though... I used her mane to help keep me steady. I should definitely ride bareback more often.

The canter in the other direction was just as nice. I thought she might get the wrong lead since I couldn't really set her up like usual, and I definitely wasn't as steady in the saddle. She got the correct lead in both directions, though. Maybe, just maybe, we've got that figured out. :)

It was good to be out riding again and spending time with her. I <3 my mare.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Quick Update

Despite the gorgeous weather, I didn't have time to ride today. That always seems to be the case... when I can't ride her, I have all the time in the world. When she can be ridden, suddenly I'm swamped with appointments and errands that need to be done.

Today I had to take Lilly's chariot in to be serviced. (That would be my truck... lol) It was due for service and needed an alignment. Thankfully it's done now and one more thing I can check off the list.

Since Lilly tore up her other bell boots, I stopped at Tractor Supply to see if they had any of the pull on bells, but they didn't. I ended up getting a pair of Velcro ones anyway since they were only $12. I figure anything is better than nothing, and if she rips them off, I'm not out that much.

Her shoe looked good that my farrier fixed yesterday. He went out to the barn when I couldn't be there, but said she was a good girl. Now we should make it to the 23rd when she's actually due for a reset.

Her tendon looks extra swollen today. The swelling has moved around her leg and is now also on the other side of her leg. It still doesn't seem to bother her, but it looks awful. I didn't have the camera with me to get a picture, but I'll take some more. I like to keep a record of how it looks for comparison.

Do you suppose a judge would say anything to me about the tendon? Or even disqualify me from a class if I showed her like that? It is very obvious that there's an issue/was an issue with her leg, but she's completely sound... I figure halter is certainly out of the question, but what about showmanship and riding classes?

I'm planning to call the vet tomorrow to schedule a time for shots and coggins. The barn has a day planned so we can all split the farm call, but her coggins will expire by then and I need to send in her paperwork for the state fair. No way it'll be back by the beginning of October if she doesn't have it pulled until after October 1st. LOL So I'll mention the tendon again and have my vet take a look when she comes out. I'm going to try and get the vet that saw Lilly through her lesion, since she's the most familiar with it.

I'm just glad she's sound and happy out in the pasture. AJ seems to be doing just fine too. He's still a little on the thin side, but looks to have gained a few pounds so far. The heat is pretty hard on him, so hopefully once we get some cooler fall weather, he'll plump right up in time for winter.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Boots and Shoes

Lilly only had one bell boot on today... I found the other one in the pasture ripped to shreds. Hopefully it did its job and saved her hoof! The only problem is, I don't have another pair. Well, I have the no turn kind but I don't like those for pasture turnout, so I think I might try a pair of the pull-on bells so she can't rip the Velcro off and ruin another pair.

I had planned to ride today but I noticed her shoe was loose. It's the shoe on her old abscess hoof, and the shoe was tacked on with fewer nails because of her hoof issues, so I'm not surprised it's loose. It isn't super loose, but anything is cause for concern where Lilly is involved, so I decided not to ride. I called my farrier and he is coming out tomorrow to reset it.

In other news, her tendon is still really swollen.

She's not sore, it doesn't hurt her if you palpate it, and she's been on 24 hour turnout for over a week now. It's almost time for fall shots, so I'm going to have my vet look at it again when she comes out for that. I don't know what else they can do about it, but I don't understand why it's still so swollen.

Doesn't she look happy to be posing for pictures?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Riding!

I set up the arena today to start working with Lilly again. I wanted to do more than just ride around on the rail, so I grabbed some ground poles to use to hopefully help strengthen her back and improve her topline. I decided 3 of them is a good place to start and the magic distance for her seems to be 3' apart. I have no idea what distance I'll need when we start trotting, but I suppose I can figure that out when we get there.

This jump was already set up, so I lowered it as low as it would go thinking it might be something else fun to walk over. On the lowest hole, it was less than 12" high.

These were already set up in the ring too. I have no idea what you'd use them for other than an incredible amount of sidepassing...

I'm going to follow the schedule I created for her and with any luck she'll be back in shape in no time. Here's what we worked on in the ring today:
10 minutes of loose rein walking on the rail and over ground poles
5 minutes of contact walking, 30-meter circles, and leg yields
5 minutes of trotting on the rail
1 lap at the canter in each direction
5 minutes of contact walking cool down
5 minutes of loose rein walking cool down

She seemed really nervous for most of the ride. It was cooler and breezy today, and this is really only her second time in the arena, but she was spooking at shadows on the ground caused by the light poles. That's a little out of character for her. I rode right around noon and there wasn't a cloud in the sky... So I'm wondering with the sand footing if it's too bright in there for her to see properly. I always wear my sunglasses because of the glare and wonder if I should ride her with a fly mask... it should work like a pair of sunglasses to reduce the glare for her, right?

She did really well over the ground poles, but since she was being spooky, she freaked out when I walked her to the jump. She did what I call the "doggie stretch" and rocked back on her rear end while leaving all 4 feet in place... goofball. I guess it snuck up on her. I told her it was ok and let her sniff it, and then she walked over, clunking it with all 4 feet. That's my girl!

We did some sidepassing over the zig zag poles and she did super. She would pivot on her forehand to turn her body for the next pole. After 2 of those I decided to move on.

The trot work went really well. She was consistent and was collected most of the time. I don't expect her to stay in frame for a whole 5 minutes at this point, but she did better than I expected. After 5 minutes of trotting, though, we were both tired! I'm getting back into riding shape right along with her!

Her canter was not so pretty. She got her leads in both directions, which is something I think she might finally have caught on to, but the canter itself was rough, and she tripped going in both directions. The last one was bad enough that I thought we might go ass over tea kettle... luckily she caught herself and we were able to pick the canter back up after getting settled.

All in all it was a great ride. I know I enjoyed it, and she seemed to as well. She was quite tired when it was all said and done, though.

Poor tired pony!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Just For Fun

Inspired by others who did the same thing, I took the horse personality test for Lilly. If you want to take the test, you can find it here.

According to the test, Lilly is a 'People Pleaser'. Soft, sensitive, and very sweet describes this horse that will try and try to please you. They like to be told exactly what you want and then have you help them perform it. This is not your go-it-alone type of horse. They need you for support and can get very rattled if expectations are too high. This horse is in your life for the relationship.

Wow! Does that describe Lilly to a T or what? She is super sweet, but not very confident and looks to me and other horses when she needs support. When it comes to training, I have to be very precise about what I'm asking and then I have to show her how to do it. That has been difficult for me since the start of our partnership. She's much more of a challenge than horses in my past, but the relationship we have developed because of this is one that I cherish.

She will try and try and try, and gets upset with herself if she isn't able to figure out what I want. We take things very slow to help keep her confidence up and so that she can succeed.

I love the part that states "this horse is in your life for the relationship". Truer words have never been written. :)

The author of the test also has a book that describes the personalities in more detail. Through Amazon, I was able to search inside the book and read the entire chapter on People Pleasers. (That's cheating, I know...) Very interesting and so incredibly applicable to Lilly's personality.

"The relationship is much more important to them than the job. They would be happy to do the same circle for 8 years as long as it made you happy." It states that new things must be introduced slowly and repeated for an extended period of time so that they understand they're doing the right thing. Because these horses try so hard, riders can think the horse has the idea and move on to more advanced work even though the horse is actually not ready.

The book also comments on cantering and how it can take a long time to develop with this type of personality. (Oh so true!!) Lunging can also be difficult because the horse feels like we're pushing them away when we send them out on the line. Lilly has never very good on the lunge line. I may now know why!

Jumping and dressage are suggested careers for this type of horse because they're constantly being told what to do and that's what a horse like Lilly is looking for. Unfortunately, Lilly can't jump because of her tendon issues, but I have often thought about trying our hand at dressage. Pleasure classes seem so mindless at times, and Lilly has a tough time going around all on her own. I can't just set her up and let her go, I have to constantly communicate with her about how I want her to be moving.

"They are touchy, cuddly, expressive, cute, loveable, and smart." She is definitely a love bug and enjoys being close to me. I also think she is incredibly smart.

This test was definitely a lot of fun, and I have even more appreciation now for Lilly and the type of horse she is.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Back in the Pasture

I can't believe today is the first day of September! Where has the time gone?!

At the barn today I found Lilly and AJ happily munching grass in their pasture. Lilly was already dirty and had clay on her legs from the pond. It was reddish clay and for a split second I thought it was blood... I guess I'm slightly paranoid these days. :)

She was wearing her fly mask, but not her bell boots so I put those on to hopefully protect her shoes if she decides she wants to run around the pasture enjoying her freedom.

Hopefully everything will be fine from here on out and maybe I can even ride this weekend!