Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 In Review

Because of all the issues we had in 2010, we were glad to welcome 2011. It was an interesting year, full of ups and downs, and even a few surprises. Before we welcome 2012 and all it has to offer, here's a review of what happened in 2011.

We started 2011 at the barn from hell. Lilly was on stall rest because she was in the middle of a series of three shock wave treatments to try and repair the damage from her inferior check ligament tear back in October 2009. We were also keeping an eye on her hoof, which had abscessed back in August and was now growing out with a giant hole in the hoof wall. At the end of the month, Lilly had one final ultrasound to see how successful the SWT had been. She was given two thumbs up and I breathed a huge sigh of relief!

She's cute, but she sure is high maintenance!
We started February at a new barn with a cautiously optimistic outlook on our new beginning. I was happy to be in a new place, my mare was happy to be turned out like a normal horse, and I was able to ride again for the first time in months. Things went well for the first week or so, but then we started having a variety of issues. Lilly was wearing special shoes for her abscessed hoof and low heels and constantly needed to be seen by my farrier because she kept ripping them off her hooves. I was having feed issues with the barn owner regarding Lilly and my gelding AJ, and if that wasn't enough, I was having issues with all of my saddles not fitting Lilly properly. To resolve the saddle issues, I took Lilly to a saddle fitter and purchased a new Pessoa saddle after selling all four of my other saddles.

Here's Lilly at the saddle fitting barn.
After a few sleepless nights and a lot of consideration, I decided it was in AJ's best interests to retire him in Michigan at my parent's place. I knew my parents would take excellent care of him and my dad's horse would be great company. On March 1st he left North Carolina for the long trip to Michigan. It was really hard to see him go, but I knew he would love where he was going.

I miss you, Boo Bear!
Lilly and I were feeling adventurous and decided to try a couple shows. Both of them were a disaster, with her screaming and calling to her pasture mate during the entire show. She was really attached and I tried a variety of tactics to squash the unhealthy obsession she had, but they all failed. Because it was so out of character for her and I was having food issues anyway, I decided to make a big change and take her off grain completely hoping it would help her relax.

Despite all my efforts, Lilly was still obsessed with her pasture mate and I decided to call in the big guns. My friend Alex came out to spend a day with us to work on some of our issues and it was a huge success. She showed me how to use Lilly's overactive brain against her and throughout the month of April we had some great moments together. We showed again and Alex came along with me for moral support and to provide her services. It was a fantastic day!

Using those haunches!
We did a lot of riding in April and Lilly celebrated her 11th birthday. I took a vacation to the beach... boy did I need one!

After I was unable to work out some significant differences with the barn owner, I decided it was time to move Lilly once again. We moved to a barn that was only three minutes down the road, but it felt like a whole different world. Lilly seemed to love it as much as I did, and we spent most of the month settling in. She has a lovely stall, her very own pasture for turnout, and I have peace of mind. We are very happy here.

Breaking in the new pasture!
June was a pretty uneventful and quiet month. Alex came out to visit us again, which is always wonderful, I obsessed over saddle fitting (as usual), and we did quite a bit of riding.

Ready for a ride!
July is the month were I began to ponder what it would be like to have a barefoot horse. My farrier shot down the idea, but I decided to investigate on my own. I posted pictures of my mare's feet and you were all horrified by her underrun heels and tiny shoe size. An outstanding education came shortly after that post by 3 barefoot trimmers, as well as all of you.

I can't bear to look at these...
August was definitely a memorable month. I was able to fly to Michigan for a nice vacation with my family and a great visit with AJ. Shortly after I came back to North Carolina he was diagnosed with Potomac Horse Fever and I was terribly worried about him. Thanks to quick action by my parents, my vet, and a friend of my father's, AJ was able to pull through and was back to his happy self in no time. August was also the month that changed Lilly's life... we took off her shoes! The first couple days were tough for her, but she rapidly made progress and I started to see all the wonderful changes that being barefoot would bring.

A happy barefoot girl!
September brought more saddle woes and a sore right front hoof for Lilly. She was more sore on her right front than her left front and I was worried she had something going on in there that might need attention. The left leg is the one with the repaired ICL tear, so we thought perhaps it had an impact on the right hoof. X-rays were scheduled, but thanks to a pair of hoof boots, we were able to enjoy some wonderful rides together.

Enjoying a nice ride together.
We received the results of the x-rays and it was determined that the cause of Lilly's discomfort was simply thin soles (5-6mm). Thin soles were definitely to be expected, so we made plans to work toward getting them thicker. Hoof casts were applied at her second trim and she seemed much more comfortable. Lilly also found herself on a diet. Everything was cut out of her diet except hay and vitamin supplements.

Ride, rides, and more rides!
I started noticing a huge change in my horse around this time. It was as if I had a new horse. It was the horse I always wanted, and the horse I knew I had, but I was never able to figure out how to get her past certain issues that were always a problem for us. It absolutely must have been hoof pain/heel pain/back pain... the shoes are off and now she is SO happy and SO relaxed.

We decided to try another show this month and had a wonderful time together. We won our showmanship class and placed in a few riding classes, but we were most proud of how much progress we made since the earlier shows. She was calm, happy, relaxed and I couldn't have been happier with her. We have a lot of work to do for next year's shows, but we are certainly off to a great start!

A  much happier show mare!
I started investigating the possibility that Lilly has Upward Fixation of the Patella (UFP) after feeling her "get stuck" numerous times at the show. It is something I'm still investigating and will be looking at closely next year.

Lilly needed a trim and due to some scheduling conflicts, my trimmer was unable to come out so I decided to try my hand at hoof trimming! It went rather well and is quite addicting... it's a great feeling to be a part of your horse's hoof care routine, especially after all my horse's hooves have been through. We had some more great rides this month and look forward to many more!

Such a sweet girl...
Lilly and I hope you had a great 2011 and hope you have an even better 2012. She and I are excited about all the possibilities and hope you are too!


  1. And that is a happy ending to quite an eventful year!

  2. A year that just got better and better! May 2012 be a great one for you and yours!

  3. Happy New Year to you and Lilly!

  4. What a great year it was for you and yours. You were very brave to try something different to help your mare. The success will continue :)

  5. I can't believe I only visited TWICE last year. I promise to fix that this coming year....starting Saturday!

  6. Thanks everyone!! It was definitely a year to remember, for many reasons!

    Alex, we'll count the show as a visit too... so make that THREE visits from you! Lilly and I are looking forward to Saturday for our first visit of 2012!!

  7. I agree, def a year that got better and better! Hope this one is even better for you and yours!