Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Ahead to 2011

Everywhere I look I see thoughtful posts looking back at 2010 and hopeful plans for 2011.  Unfortunately for me, at least where Lilly is concerned, 2010 wasn't the best year.  My only goal for this year was to do everything in my power to help Lilly return to a normal life and we're obviously not there.  Setback after setback followed us all year long and kept us from achieving just one goal...  I can feel good about the fact that it wasn't for lack of trying, but it just wasn't meant to be.

So I happily leave 2010 and welcome 2011.  I hope 2011 is better to me than 2010, but I'm going to remain cautiously optimistic just in case.

Speaking of setbacks, Lilly had no appetite this morning and hadn't eaten much of her hay last night.  She even turned down cookies, so her tummy is definitely not feeling well.  The diarrhea was better this morning but she is definitely still experiencing digestive issues and she still looks pretty drugged.  I decided to call my vet and ask her if this is normal, abnormal, cause for concern or what. 

When I told her how drugged Lilly looked she said, "She must be really sensitive!"

Of course she is...  because it wouldn't be Lilly if everything went according to plan!

She said Lilly's drugged appearance and the diarrhea should subside after a few days but if things still aren't better on Monday to give her a call.  I ran out and got some probiotics to add to her feed, but those won't do her much good if she won't eat breakfast and dinner.  They didn't have the tube probios or I would have purchased those instead, so hopefully she'll feel like eating again soon. 

She also has a lot of scrapes on her head.  I think she's stumbling around the stall and whacking her head on the hay/grain feeder.  She's got 5 different marks on her beautiful face.  :(

We had a beautiful day today.  It was sunny and 60 degrees so I took AJ's blanket off before turning him out in the pasture.  He's definitely filling out, but I can still see his ribs a bit.  If I can ever get my head above water with Lilly I think I'll have a drug panel run on him just to make sure everything is ok.  Seems like he would have put on more weight than that by now with all the calories he's consuming.  On the plus side, he's been drinking a fair amount of water overnight in the stall.  He still goes right out to the pond to drink, but at least I know he's drinking something in there!

I tried to take Lilly's blanket off too but she started shivering.  It's a bit cooler in the barn but I was surprised that she was so cold...  I hope it's related to the Sedivet and not from something else.  She's lost a bit of weight as well, I think from fretting so much in the stall when AJ and Baby are turned out.  M said she wasn't eating much during the day and with as much carrying on as she's been doing in there I think that's why she's dropped weight.  She had a bit to spare, but she's lost more weight than I'm comfortable with.  So when I bought the probios, I decided to get a bag of SafeChoice and put her back on that.  I've not noticed any positive things since putting her on the Strategy Healthy Edge, so back to the SafeChoice we go.

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year!  Bring on 2011!  

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Oh, Sedivet...

How I despise thee...

I forgot to mention one thing about the Sedivet injection in my post yesterday.  Apparently, one of the side effects is diarrhea.  We all know how delicate Miss Lilly's digestive system is, so giving her a drug with a known side effect like diarrhea probably wasn't a good idea.  My vet didn't mention that little fact until after we had given her the shot, but perhaps I should have inquired prior.

I'll go ahead and apologize for my vulgarity now, but there's only one way to describe Lilly's stall this morning...  it looked like a shit bomb exploded in there.  Her blanket was covered, her tail bag was covered, her hind end was covered, and the entire stall had to be stripped of bedding.  The walls will need a good cleaning too come spring...

I'm not sure if this side effect is only temporary, or if she's going to have explosive diarrhea for the next 30 days.  I'll give her another day and see how things go, but I'll probably end up calling the vet to see if there's anything we can give her to help.  Washing her butt and stripping the stall every morning sounds like the worst way I could spend the first 2 hours of my day.

The Sedivet was also supposed to be undetectable.  My vet said it wouldn't be noticeable but would take the edge off.  When I called M today to tell her about the diarrhea she said she could tell right away last night when she went to feed that Lilly was drugged.  She looks sleepy and is slightly unstable on her feet. 

She still managed to paw impatiently before breakfast and at the door after I turned Baby and AJ out.  I gave her some extra hay, closed her in, and she calmed down after a few loud cries for Baby.  I hope she did a bit more resting today than she has been.

So, I can't win for losing.  Either she's in the stall pawing up a storm, or she's outside where she can run around do who knows what out there.  If she's inside the stall doped up on Sedivet she's pooping all over the stall and everywhere else.

The fun never ends where Lilly is concerned!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shock Wave Therapy Part 2

I made it back safe and sound but I wasn't happy to see the 6 inches of snow that had accumulated here on Christmas night. It's still quite cold, although most of the snow has melted now. It looks like we'll finally be getting a break from the chilly weather this weekend. Saturday looks lovely with temps in the 60's and lots of sun!

The horses seemed happy to see me, although I think they just wanted out of their stalls. Perhaps they thought I had given them away to M? In any case, everyone is doing well. I pulled AJ's blanket up a bit to see how his body condition looked and he's definitely gained some weight. I'm anxious for Saturday so he can go out without the blanket and I can really see how he looks. I'm sure he can't wait to roll around naked in the mud...

Lilly has been quite a handful for M. She said she was really restless in the stall and seemed to be on some kind of hunger strike during the time her friends were outside. Yesterday and today I just turned her out... she ran around a little bit but then settled down and seemed to enjoy the sunshine. I figured she'd be more calm outside than in.

When the vet was out to do Lilly's second SWT treatment today she saw Lilly was turned out and asked me how she was doing. She said she figured things weren't going well since she wasn't in the stall.

After a little sedative we were ready to get started.

Getting started with the treatment.
Dr T had to give Lilly a little bit more sedative because she didn't want to stand still. She just isn't a very happy camper these days. I guess if I was on and off stall rest for the better part of a year I'd be tired of standing still too... just a little longer Lilly!

1500 pulses later...
Sedatives cause ponies to get sleepy.
I also asked about the best course of action as far as stall rest goes.  She said to put her wherever she stays the most quiet, which right now is the pasture.  She would be much happier with her in the stall, but the amount of pawing that mare does in the stall isn't good for anyone.  We did decide to give her a Sedivet injection, so I'll be anxious to see how Lilly does in the morning when I turn the other horses out.  It should last a month, assuming it works at all, so that would take us right to the end of January, which is hopefully when she'll be coming off stall rest.

And just because the sky looks gorgeous, here's a picture of the oak tree in my front yard.  The snow we got was really wet and heavy and covered all trees.  If the snow wasn't so dang cold it just might look pretty!

Too much snow!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Wishes

I'm heading out to visit friends and family for Christmas so I'll be missing from the blogosphere for about a week.  Strangely enough, the weather I'm headed to isn't much worse than what we've been having here, but I hope it's much better when I return!

A week from Wednesday is Lilly's second SWT treatment so when I get back we'll pick right back up where we left off.  M is taking care of my babies, so I know they're in good hands.  I feel bad that she has to deal with Lilly acting the way she is, but I've left her some new instructions to start as of Monday.  Hopefully it will help.

I really need this break from reality and I hope all of you get time off for the holidays as well.  It's good to step away from our hectic lives and appreciate what we've been blessed with.  Sometimes a few days away from it all is just what the doctor ordered.

I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

More Feed Woes

I thought I was finally done with nutrition stuff for a while.  Both horses were getting the appropriate amounts of grain, hay, and nutrients and all was well.  I thought all that research, and all that math, and all that trouble I went through to find a good feed for my two horses was paying off.

So what happens when the feeding plan you've worked out to be the best for them isn't the best for them?

AJ is doing wonderfully.  He loves his grain and his supplements and waits very impatiently for his nightly beet pulp ration (according to M).  He doesn't even want his hay until he's had his beet pulp.  He's even been drinking some water in his stall...  not much, but about half a bucket.  I'll take that without complaint!

Lilly is the problem.  What else is new, right? 

Well, I think it's a feed problem...  for as many months as that poor horse has been on stall rest, she has never had an issue with being crazy.  She was stalled next to Baby for just about 3 months straight and I never had an issue with her when Baby went outside.  As long as she had hay she was content.  For about the last week or so, when Baby goes outside Lilly goes crazy!  Her legs shake and she paws constantly...  she paces around the stall and whinnies.  I have to keep her window closed or she'll paw all the bedding away from the back wall.  Even when I take her for a walk she's nervous.  She never settles.  M says she's just as bad when she feeds at night.

She was switched over from Nutrena SafeChoice to Strategy Healthy Edge about a month ago (November 19th to be exact) but it took me a while to switch her completely over to the SHE.  She's been through 1 full bag of the Strategy and I just bought a new one.  The Healthy Edge was supposed to provide all the "goodies" of regular Strategy, but with fewer calories that can make them hot, as Strategy has been known to do.

The only thing I can think of that could have changed her attitude this much is her feed.  I'm thinking about ditching the bag I just bought (except what I need to swap her over) and switch her back to the SafeChoice and see if it helps.  I was shopping around for a calming supplement, but I'm thinking it might be her feed.  I don't like her so hyper...  she was bucking in her stall this morning.  Not a happy camper!

If that's the case, I'll have to figure out a way to make the SafeChoice work for her diet. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Just For Fun

For all of you following the Horse Psychic thread on COTH, I decided to donate and have the psychic ask Lilly a question.

I wanted to know how Lilly likes her new shock wave treatment.

The psychic spoke with Lilly and Lilly says "eh, it's alright." But wonders why I had to change my hair? She liked it better the other way.

LOL!  Guess she wasn't impressed when I got my hair cut earlier this year...  :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Encouraged!

I am very encouraged by what I see in regards to Lilly's ligament a mere 2 days after her SWT treatment. Take a look at this picture I took today:


It still has an obvious bump, but it looks a lot smoother than it has before. The size of the bump also appears to be smaller and the back of her leg is a straight line instead of a bulging line!!

After the other 1,683 ultrasounds she's had in the past year, the swelling and bump size has also gone down for a short period of time and then returned to "normal", so I'm being cautious, but I think this is the best the leg has looked so far!   :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

SWT Treatment

I'm a terrible blogger because I didn't get any pictures of Lilly's SWT treatment yesterday.  I had my camera in the ultrasound wing of the barn because I figured we'd do it there. Instead, she pulled Lilly out of the stall and did it right there in the aisle.


For the $360 it cost me yesterday, I wasn't impressed. She came out, gave Lilly a little sedative, got set up, and 5 minutes later we were done.  It looked very similar to an ultrasound machine, but the wand on the end was much bigger and it made a very loud 'POP POP POP' sound.  She just ran it over Lilly's bump until she had reached 2000 pulses and that was it.
 
I asked about treatment after the SWT and what the plan would be, and she said it would depend on what the ultrasound showed.  That would be scheduled about 2 weeks after the last treatment, and if things look ok I can pretty much start riding right away.  If not, well, she didn't want to talk about that unless we had to.  Staying positive! 
 
I'll definitely be ready next time with the camera so I can document some of the procedure.

One down, two to go!

It has been cold, cold, cold here!! We had a wind chill advisory last night and this morning it was only 21 degrees! I know that's balmy compared to the weather some of you are having, but darn it, I live in North Carolina!! We don't usually have temperatures this cold for this long, and certainly not in December.

I'm ready for milder temperatures... I'm sure they'll come just in time for me to drive up north to Michigan for Christmas.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Two Spoiled Ponies!

It was a nasty day today.  The temps are in the low 30's and it's raining...  I believe it was snowing when I first arrived at the barn but that only lasted for a short time.  Lilly is on stall rest, of course, so I didn't have to worry about turning her out, but I wasn't sure what to do with AJ.  He's used to being outside and he has his fancy new blanket, so I decided to go ahead and turn him out.  Baby stayed in today so I put AJ back in the gelding pasture.  He walked down to the pond to get a drink of water and then walked back up to the gate and stared at me. 

I went about my routine cleaning stalls and getting everything set up for tonight and decided I'd throw Lilly in the small paddock out front so she could get some fresh air and stretch her legs.  Stretch her legs is exactly what she did...  It started raining harder shortly after I let her go so I went back out to get her. She decided she wasn't going back in her stall and there was nothing I could do about it.  She took off running...  and she ran and ran and ran...  and if I even looked her way she ran some more.  Wondering when she was going to slip and break a leg, I decided to go back in the barn and leave her out there and let her do her thing.  After a few minutes I went back out to try again and she took off, so I tried to herd her into the corner but that wasn't working either.

AJ was still standing at the gate watching all of this transpire.

I finally caught the little brat after screaming at her to STAND and threw her back in the stall.  REST, LILLY!!  REST!!  So I guess if I take her out I'll be walking her by hand from now on.

I left to go to Tractor Supply and pick up a few things.  When I returned AJ was still standing at the gate and he looked as pitiful as he possibly could.  I spoke to him asking if he wanted to come back inside and he let out this whiny, squeaky, little whinny.  It was the saddest thing I'd ever heard!!  So I put some of the new bedding in his stall and went to get him.  I opened the gate and let him out, figuring he'd grab some grass while I latched the gate, but instead he walked himself into the barn and went right into his stall.

My rough and tumble pasture pony has turned into a high maintenance stall pony!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Time Out!

I've been a day behind since Wednesday and I thought today was Thursday.  It's actually Friday, and I had made an appointment to pick up some hay at 11:30 this morning.  Luckily I remembered in time, but I was quite rushed at the barn this morning and hadn't taken anything out of my horse trailer yet.  It still had shavings in it, carts and carriers, tubs, fans, and hay bags.  I had to hook the trailer up to my truck too!

I had to quickly turn Baby and AJ out before I left and decided to turn AJ out first.  When Baby goes out first she's quite a brat at the gate when I try to turn AJ out.  (We decided to try them together again so Baby didn't have to be outside all by herself while Lilly rests...)  Even if she's wandered out into the pasture she'll run over to the gate when she sees AJ and then turn her butt to us at the gate.  Not ok...  turning him out first seemed to remedy that particular issue, but seemed to cause another.

Miss Lilly was NOT happy...  she's been in the stall since Tuesday, so there have been 3 other mornings where the horses were turned out and she was left behind.  She was perfectly ok with that.  Today, not so much.  She was being such a pill that I had to pull her out of the stall and put her in the cross ties so I could clean her stall.  She was whinnying and pawing like a lunatic.  Of course she stopped all of it when I peeked my head into the wash bay...  "It wasn't me mom...  it was that other horse over there.  I would never break the rules like that!"  When I put her back in the stall she stood over at her window and pawed and pawed and pawed. 

So I fixed her little red wagon...  I shut her window and I shut the bars on the stall door.  "You're in time out!" I yelled before I left to go get hay...  I don't think she cared.  She was busy trying to find a way to see out the window with the door closed. 

When I got back she was doing much better.  I opened the window and the bars on the stall door and she definitely looked, but the demon in her had moved on.  I don't know if she was just having a bad day or if the change in turnout was just too much for her to handle.

I absolutely cannot stand a pawing horse...  unfortunately, mine does it a lot.  But only when I can't get to her to correct the behavior.  Little brat!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Second First Opinion?

As I mentioned before, my usual vet was at the barn today adjusting a boarder's horse. Without obviously trying to avoid her, I made sure I stayed on my side of the barn so I didn't have to answer questions about Lilly. I didn't want to tell her I got a second opinion. I'm a wimp, but that's what I decided.

My plan went to crap when she asked the BO if she could use one of the stalls on my side because the horse also needed his teeth floated and she saw me... She said she was glad I was there and wanted to know if I had time for her to look at Lilly's leg because she was anxious to see how it looked. I told her I could wait, and when she finished with Lenny she came over to Lilly's stall.

She asked a lot of questions, like whether I had started riding, how long the swelling hung around, and if she was still on her regular routine. She said she thought her leg looked "great", and looked the best she's seen it. (Maybe on the outside...) Then we started talking about why the leg swelled and went over a bit of history from the past 13 months. She was telling me about a conference she went to and how rehab for injured tendons and ligaments will most likely be changing within the equine community soon. The consensus is that it's better not to rest them, but rather allow them to continue moving around and even exercise them during rehab.

That's counter-intuitive to me, especially since Lilly seems to end up lame when I ride, but she said that's what the research shows with humans. I think the big difference between humans and horses, though, is that people can talk. A human can tell a doctor what's going on and how they feel, whereas a horse is limited in his/her communication. Plus, if you have a very stoic horse, I can see the potential to do more harm than good.

After our conversation was over, she said she thinks I should keep up the pasture rest through the first of the year, and then I'd probably have to ride her at the walk only for the first few months of the year. Maybe even just trail ride her rather than riding her in the ring. I kept asking why the swelling and why the rest if the ligament looks ok. She really didn't have an answer for me.

I never told her about the second opinion from the other vet. There didn't seem to be a right time and I didn't want to interject and say, "hey, by the way..." I feel really good about where Lilly and I are headed with Dr T and hope to make some real progress. Her first appointment is Monday, so I'm anxious to see how it goes. We'll be done with the treatment by the middle of January, but I don't know what the plan will be from there.

I got my amateur renewal form in the mail today from APHA. Last year I filled out and signed up for all the usual stuff with gusto trying to stay very optimistic, but this year I think I'll wait. :(

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Second Opinion Ultrasound

The vet I called to get a second opinion on Lilly's leg was out this morning.  She's actually very nice and I've worked with her before, but when I moved to a new barn some time ago they used a different practice and it was easier just to switch.  She also has a lovely SPB gelding that she shows and has beat me once before in showmanship with him.  :) 

The first thing I did was fill her in about the saga that is Lilly's leg.  I mentioned the misdiagnosis and how I was riding her injured and how her leg very recently swelled up again (showing her the picture on my phone).  She wanted to take her to the arena and watch her jog.  I usually longe Lilly because that's just how I am, but Dr T's assistant insisted that she longe so I could stand with the vet and watch.  Lilly was such a good girl...  despite the fact that it was 27 degrees and windy outside, she jogged around quite lady-like.  She wasn't lame at all, and even after a flex test trotted off just fine.  The swelling is also gone in her leg, so we didn't have much to work with.  Which was good, of course, in the grand scheme of things!

Dr T said we really had 2 options.  Either I could go ahead and start riding again and see what happens, or we could ultrasound today and see if there's anything still going on.  She said the injury area felt cold and tight, and since Lilly was sound, we could take the wait and see approach and I could call her if anything went wrong after starting her back under saddle.

I am so sick and tired of the wait and see that I could scream!

So we did the ultrasound.

She asked how Lilly did during ultrasounds and if we needed to sedate her.  I told her Lilly is an old pro at this unfortunately and she would be just fine.  True to form, she got very sleepy about half way through and fell asleep in the assistant's arms.  She's so sweet...

Dr T had been scanning for about 3 seconds and right away started pointing out problems.  "See this right here...  and this...  and then this whole area here?"  She very clearly still has some issues in her check ligament.  It looks very mottled and not very fibrous.  Her ultrasound picture was a thousand times better than the other vet's machine, and it was very easy for me to see the areas she was pointing out.  Dr T even showed me a spot on Lilly's DDFT that was probably causing issues, and said it was a little ironic that she really does have an issue there.  She showed me the difference between what the scar tissue looked like, and then what we were dealing with in regards to the mottling.  A much different bedside manner that I can appreciate.

So Lilly definitely still has quite a bit of healing to do.  Dr T said that if I had started riding her she would have expected a call from me within 2 weeks about Lilly being lame again.  There's that much still going on.  So why in the world my other vet has done numerous ultrasounds with the same response, "everything looks good", I have no idea.  Is it because of the not-so-good ultrasound machine?  I mean, they're looking at the same thing.

Dr T suggested shock wave therapy as the best course of treatment.  She said she's had good luck with it, even on horses with giant holes in their tendons.  They're back to full work and doing really well.  She said Lilly's ligament needs help to heal the rest of the way because we can can safely say resting her hasn't helped, so it's time to move on to something else. 

She said she probably would have suggested SWT as the best treatment plan from the start, rather than the platelet rich plasma treatment I did in November.  She said it helps keeps scar tissue from forming and in Lilly's case can help reduce the amount that's there already.  So it is possible that the bump on her leg will decrease in size.

So time to spend some more money on Lilly, but hopefully this time the treatment will finally get her healed up and back to a normal show pony.  I'm just glad I have the answer I was looking for a plan to focus on.  Since Lilly can't behave herself in the pasture, she's banished back to stall rest for the next 6-8 weeks.  The SWT treatments have to be done 2 weeks apart, 3 separate times, so I need to get with the office and set up the appointments and try to work around Christmas and New Years as best as we can.  Hopefully it won't have to wait until after the holidays.

Now the question becomes whether or not this is residual from the original injury, OR if this is what happened when the abscess and all that mess happened in August. Before August she was back to normal work and only since the abscess started having all these other issues. I'll never know the answer, but I'll obsess over it nonetheless.

I'm pretty upset because I feel like I've wasted a lot of time on this. 

Thursday morning my other vet will be out to adjust a horse at the farm.  She'll be out during the time I'll be there taking care of my two and Baby.  I just know she's going to ask about Lilly...  should I be honest and tell her I got a second opinion and we're doing SWT?  For some reason I feel bad about going to someone else for an opinion and I'm not sure what I should say when I see her.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Snow?

It is currently snowing in North Carolina...  and we aren't just getting a dusting of snow like I had hoped.  We've got accumulation on the tops of vehicles! 

Speaking of vehicles, everyone forgets how to drive them when they see a snowflake.

Good thing my ponies are in their nice, warm blankets!  M should be there now getting ready to feed them dinner, so they might already be in the stalls.  I hope the blankets didn't get too wet and did ok with the weather.  That's my worst nightmare; the blankets get wet and they end up wearing a cold, wet blanket all day.  They both claim to be waterproof, so hopefully it was money well spent.

M mentioned the other day that AJ likes beet pulp.  I guess she gave him some of Baby's to try.  I told her there isn't much AJ doesn't like.  :)  I decided to buy him a bag today when I was getting a few bales of hay.  I also decided I'm going to start soaking his Equine Senior.  He doesn't like it sloppy, but he gobbled it up this morning when it was less wet than I had made it before.  He's still not drinking very much in the stall, so between the beet pulp and the wet Senior, he'll be getting a little bit more moisture in his diet.

I have no idea how much I should feed him...  considering he's still underweight, I'm hoping it will not only get more water into him, but help with that as well.  So for those of you feeding beet pulp, how much dry beet pulp do you get out of the bag to soak?

I also bought him one of those flexible buckets with the handles on it...  I think it holds 6 gallons of water.  The muck bucket was just too big to try and use as a water trough, so with this I can still put it down on the floor but it won't take up as much space or get as dirty.  I'm running out of idea to try to get him to drink water...

Some of my friends have given me ideas for things that will make him thirsty, but I have no doubt he's already thirsty.  He goes directly to the pond when I turn him out and stands for about 5 minutes sucking up water.  I think he'll just be more thirsty if I add anything else.  Once his electrolytes are gone, I don't think I'll buy more of those either since they're not helping.

He just needs to drink the dang water!

Stay warm, everyone!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I Gave Up

I've been scouring the Interwebz for blankets... I've been reading reviews, calling tack shops and online stores, wondering about fits, sizes, and weights. I wanted AJ's blanket to be a little bit bigger and I wanted Lilly's blanket to be a little bit lighter and have surcingle closures instead of buckles. I wanted AJ to have blue and Lilly to have green...

The blankets I really wanted to try are on backorder until after Christmas, and who's to say that I'll like those when they get here?

So I finally decided I've had enough.

AJ is wearing the Amigo and Lilly is wearing the Schneider's blanket. Yup, AJ's is a tad too small, and Lilly's is a tad too heavy.

Oh well!!

Please don't eat the blanket, AJ.
It was quite chilly this morning and this coming week is going to be even worse. Highs only in the mid 40's and lows in the upper 20's. I ran out of time to get my blanket situation figured out, so now I don't have to worry about it anymore! :)

AJ doesn't have as much of a coat as he usually does by now, so I'm not sure if that's because he's been in the stall at night when it's the coldest, or if there's another reason. I don't want him to be cold while I'm trying to fatten him up.

I sure hope he doesn't decide to snack on his blanket in the stall as he's been known to do.