Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

It was beautiful Christmas day. Cold, but sunny. Just like last year, today would have been a gorgeous day to take Lilly for a ride, but a visit with her will have to suffice. Also like last year, I'm slated to work, but I enjoyed a nice Christmas morning with my hubby and Rylee prior to heading in. I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful day with friends and family!

Lilly, Rylee, and I want to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy, prosperous 2014!

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
~Luke 2:8-14

"Merry Christmas!"

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Trimming Today!

It appears it's been a little over two weeks since I posted last. So what's been going on in Lilly land, you ask? Not a whole lot that's interesting to blog readers, I assure you. My days are filled with hoof soaking, hoof treating, hoof picking, hoof packing, and general hoof obsessing. Throw in some play time with my sweet Rylee, and then it's off to work I go.

The good news is, we're making great progress with her hooves, so all my hard work is paying off.

I'm still fighting the seedy toe, and she has quite a bit of separation on all four hooves. Add to that the tenderness she had with her front hooves, their overall crappy condition, and it makes for a lot of work for me and my trimmer.

Even though it's mid December, Lilly is still on a four week trim schedule. There's always something to trim or address at each appointment, so we've been keeping her at four weeks. My trimmer was out on December 2nd because Lilly's seedy toe hole had started to crack since her previous appointment, so she was trimmed then, and my trimmer came out again today, for our usual four week appointment.

I was pretty excited by the changes I was seeing in her hooves in the 10 days since Lilly had been trimmed, and I was curious to see what C would say. We were both pleasantly surprised by all the sole growth we're seeing, and how Lilly seems to be shedding the bars on her own these days. To me, that means she's not needing them nearly as much for comfort as she has in the past, so she's ready to let some of it go.

C is a 'less is more' kind of trimmer, which I love. She lets the hooves tell her what to do, and this seems to be the key to getting Lilly's hooves where they need to be. The changes since she started coming out in September have been amazing. Here's are some side view pics from her first trim on the 18th of September, and then after today's trim:

Left Front:

Left front on 9/18
Left front on 12/12
Right Front:

Right front on 9/18
Right front on 12/12
Aside from all the great changes we're seeing with the hairline, it's interesting to see how much more scooped her quarters are now. That's not anything C is doing when she trims, that's all Lilly.

For a sole comparison, here are a couple pictures of her left front hoof. The first one was taken after her first trim with C on September 18th, the second one is prior to our trim today (and after only 10 days post trim from December 2nd), and the last one is post trim.

Left front sole from 9/18
Left front sole from today before her trim but only 10 days since her last trim
Left front sole from today post trim
As if all the visible changes weren't enough, Lilly is SO much more comfortable now. She steps confidently, runs around the pasture like an idiot, and can turn around on the concrete in the wash area without taking short, tender steps. She has also stopped squaring off the toes on her back hooves, and isn't exhibiting nearly as much body soreness throughout her back as she was before.

Her left front hoof doesn't look quite as "jacked up" (that's a technical term) when viewing it from the front, her hairline is more relaxed, and the new growth coming in looks fantastic. If I could just get rid of that damn seedy toe, we'd have some classy looking hooves.

Seedy toe... I hate you.
There have been some positive changes on the seedy toe front too, though. There isn't an active infection any longer, and although it looks to be bigger, C reassures me that what we're seeing is actually ok. For your enjoyment, I have created a high definition sketch of what C's hypothesis is regarding the ever growing, but not infected, seedy toe from my nightmares.

The rest of the story...
What we think is going on, is that there was a much larger infection than we originally thought. She had a fairly small opening at the bottom of her hoof wall, which I managed to soak, keep clean, and treat with a number of chemicals, but the infection was much more far reaching and actually got wider as it went up into her hoof. So now that the infection is gone, and her hoof is growing out, we're seeing the areas that were also infected, but that I couldn't see before. She feels that once the dotted line area on Lilly's hooves is ground level, the seedy toe will be all gone. For now, I'm keeping it cleaned out, treated with antibiotic ointment and athletes foot cream, and stuffed with cotton.

Other than that, things are fairly quiet. I haven't ridden her in a really long time, because I'm slightly afraid I'll do something to mess up all this progress. Right now her hooves are healing, her body is healing, and I'm not trying to mess with the zen thing we have going on. At this point, there's really no need to ride... I'll give her some more time and start back up in late winter, early spring once we're really where we need to be. Until then, she can chill out and enjoy life in her pasture. She's really good at that. :)

Just enjoying life.
There are some changes coming in the form of zinc and copper, but I'll leave that for another post. I'll need something else to write about one of these days. I'm still in the research phase of things anyway.

For now, I leave you with pictures of my Rylee. She's so sweet, so smart, and I love her to pieces.

Here she's being adorable...
Here she's being regal...
And here she's asking if she can please have the treat for being so good.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Faces of Lilly - Belly Scratching Edition

Ornery: "If you don't stop taking pictures and start scratching my belly, I swear you'll regret it!"
Happy: "Ahhh, yes... that's the spot. Keep it up."
Sleepy: "Good job, human. Now I need a nap."

Monday, November 18, 2013

ACTH Levels

After much difficulty, I finally managed to get paper copies of the results from all the tests I had done on Lilly over the past two months. It's funny how they always manage to ensure I get my bill, but the test results come much slower...

They always call me with the results, but I'm visual... I need to see the paperwork! Plus, it's nice to have for my records. They claimed their email system kept going down, so I was happy to find the results in my mailbox last week.

I mentioned before that Lilly's mineral panel came back normal. Here are the results of that test:

Mineral panel results.
The IR test results came back about a week ago, but I wanted to do some research and wait for the paperwork before posting anything on here. My vet called me early one morning with the results, and told me that Lilly's glucose level was fine, but that her ACTH levels were "alarmingly high". I didn't even know what ACTH was, so the number meant nothing to me at first. Her ACTH baseline was 126 pg/ml, and the reference interval is 9-35.

So 9-35 is normal and Lilly's is 126?? I freaked out a bit at first, but my vet explained that in the late summer to fall time frame, there is a seasonal rise in ACTH levels, and since Lilly doesn't show any signs or symptoms of PPID (Cushing's), and her insulin level was 2.57 ulU/ml (well below the reference interval of 10-40) she suggested that we test her again in the spring to hopefully get a more accurate number.

I asked her if I should be worried and she said no, unless I start to see changes in Lilly relating to the symptoms normally associated with PPID. Regardless, 126 is HIGH, so I'm worrying. I haven't been able to find a lot of information on ACTH levels... at least not the kind of information I'm looking for. Most of what I've found says that if your horse has high levels of ACTH, you put them on meds. Maybe that's all there is to know, but it's not helpful to me at this stage of the game.

Could this be the reason she suddenly started having what appeared to be mild laminitic episodes when I moved her to the barn with the crazy barn manager? I moved her on July 1st, which is around the time when the seasonal rise starts to occur. Now that the seasonal rise is on a downward slide, her hooves are improving pretty much daily. I sure hope my 14 year old horse doesn't start showing symptoms of Cushing's.

Sweet girl.
My trimmer was out this past Thursday and is still very happy with what she sees. There wasn't as much hoof growth as last time, but that's to be expected. All my soaking and digging and medicating have been working quite well and we're not playing catch up anymore with her seedy toe. It's almost all grown out! I need to get a picture of it... Lilly is also more comfortable than she was last time, and I am very happy with her hooves!

Other than hoof maintenance, I haven't done anything with Lilly at all. I think we're both enjoying the break. We're decompressing and healing a bit. Her mostly physically and me mentally. If it weren't for this whole ACTH thing, I'd be a pretty happy horse owner.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tests, Tests, Tests...

My vet came out today to draw blood for Lilly's IR test. It was a LOT more expensive than I thought it was going to be, but hey, it's only money right? At least now I'll know one way or another and I can move on to other things. We also finished out her fall vaccinations by giving her the Flu/Rhino vaccine. Cross your fingers that she isn't sick tomorrow!

My vet was actually very happy with Lilly's weight. I was surprised, as she always says she's too fat. Being the procrastinator that I am, I still haven't bought a muzzle yet, so she told me I could hold off on that. (Score!) She doesn't want Lilly to drop much more weight, so I'm going to tape her and keep an eye on things in case pigs fly and Lilly starts to look underweight. We could actually see a little bit of her ribcage and her neck isn't quite as plump. Looks like a change in the environment equals a happy pony and happy pony owner!

And in keeping with the test theme (and the diarrhea theme that seems so prevalent with my critters), Miss Rylee had an unscheduled visit to the vet on Monday so they could do another fecal test on her. On Thursday last week she had soft stool, but she's a puppy so everyone told me not to worry... it's a puppy thing. It continued to get worse all weekend, though, and when we got home from watching the Steelers game on Sunday with friends, I found a poop explosion in the bedroom. That's not just a puppy thing, so I called the vet first thing Monday and they got me right in.

She tested positive for giardia, which is an intestinal infection caused by the protozoan parasite giardia. Dogs can get an infection by eating other dog's poo, or drinking from infected water sources. I can guarantee you she didn't eat other dog's poo, and we have a tiny drain behind our house, but I don't know how it would have been contaminated. It's possible she picked it up from the vet's office when I took her the first time, or she might have even brought it home from the breeder's place.

Happier, less poopy times!
She was put on meds Monday for the "just in case" scenarios, and then Wednesday when the test results came back, she was put on some more meds. All her meds will be finished on Monday, and I'll need to give her a bath, wash all her stuff, and scrub the house from top to bottom. Reinfection is very possible, so I need to try and kill as many of those little buggers as possible. She's also quarantined because she's highly contagious, so no play dates or obedience classes for us this week.

Rylee's vet said she could play with dogs after she was done with her meds, and we could retest her in 1 month, but Lilly's vet said she wouldn't let Rylee play until she had a clean fecal. Otherwise she could still infect other dogs and that's the last thing I want. I'll be calling Rylee's vet tomorrow to ask her a few more questions.

The good news is, other than the diarrhea, Rylee is her happy, exuberant self, so we still get to play and have fun. We just have to take a lot of potty breaks.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Low Key

I've been staying quite busy these days, and I don't make it out to the barn more often than once or twice a week. Normally that makes me feel terribly guilty, but I've been concentrating on socializing and spending time with my puppy, which is critical at this age, and I think Lilly is okay with it. I'm just relieved to have her at a barn that finally lets me breathe, with people I can trust. It has been the mental relief I have desperately needed, and I think Lilly is enjoying it too. She is doing fabulous and is all settled in with her new herd. Strangely, she's number 4 out of 5 on the hierarchy, but none of the mares she's with are mean just to be mean, so I'm thankful for that.

Enjoying the easy life.
Love my girl!
Her hooves continue to improve as well. She can walk up and down the stony path to her pasture without being uncomfortable, and isn't ouchy when I need to turn her around in the concrete wash pit. I think she's happy enough that I can start riding her in the arena again, with her boots at first, but it's quite sandy in there, so we might not need boots at all. We will on the trails for sure, but I'm just happy to be seeing improvement.

Speaking of my puppy, Rylee is doing super. She's so much fun and I'm so happy to have her in my life. She is quite mellow for a puppy (which is good) but she does have her moments, and sometimes she'll get a case of the zoomies, and when that happens we go outside and play with the flirt pole until her tongue is dragging the ground. It's been great for wearing her out, but also teaching her to 'wait' and 'leave it'. She has a pretty high prey drive, and the poor kitty gets no relief. Progress is being made, though!

Flirt poles are the best!
I hope everyone is enjoying the fall weather! I've seen snow in some places, but hopefully there are still some gorgeous, not sweltering, bug free days ahead!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Someone Pinch Me

My trimmer was out today for our four week appointment. Since her last visit, I have moved barns, had chiropractic work done on Lilly, stopped all supplements, and had a mineral panel done. As I mentioned in my last post, her mineral panel came back normal (all minerals in the normal range), and we found just the one small issue with Lilly and her L5 vertebra. Lots of changes, which is something I always try to avoid if possible, so that if we see improvement we'll know what to attribute it to, but it just wasn't possible this time.

Lots of onions... and onion breath. Yuck!
When my trimmer arrived, the first thing she had me do was walk and jog Lilly up and down the barn aisle. She said she still looked a little short strided on the left front, but she thought she was moving a bit better. I filled her in on the chiropractic appointment, and we talked about things I could do to try and help Lilly's back muscles, and also to strengthen her core. We know there's an issue with the L5, but we don't know if it's causing stiffness and tightness in Lilly's front end. Since it can't hurt, we're going to pretend it is causing an issue and do some work on her to try and help as much as we can.

Once she was ready to start on Lilly's hooves, the first thing she said was, "wow". I was hoping she'd see what I saw, which was a little bit of concavity. Yes, I said CONCAVITY! I'm not sure it shows up very well in a photo, but you can see where the color is a bit lighter in front of her frog, and that's where we're seeing it. She's still very flat, but we're seeing changes.

She pointed out how the collateral grooves are getting deeper too, and she remembered from last time that the front of Lilly's frog used to just kind of run off into the rest of her hoof. It was very flat at the end, which was indicative of how thin her soles are. Now the frog is raised above her sole all the way down. Her heels have backed up a bit more, the white line has less separation, and her frog has even changed quite a bit. It's less soft, much more robust, and the central sulcus hardly has a crease at all.

Looks pretty good, yes?
To compare, here is the same hoof after our trim four weeks ago. The picture is a little dark, but you can really see the changes, especially in the collateral grooves, as well as with the white line.

Four weeks ago.
There weren't a lot of drastic changes in her hooves that might make people notice, but I notice! It's only been four weeks... FOUR weeks. The fact that we're seeing SOME changes is something that makes me want to sing and dance. Plus, on top of all those changes, we actually had hoof to trim. It's the cooler season, and most horses are starting to slow down hoof growth... but not Lilly. She's pushing out more hoof than I've seen in a long time. My trimmer said that's a great sign and could mean her hoof is healing, and she can put more energy into hoof growth rather than working so hard on healing. The new growth that's coming in looks amazing too. It's very tight, and we're even seeing some relief on her coronary band... she's not so jammed up in spots. My trimmer was very happy with what she saw today and she's quite encouraged by all the changes.

We're still fighting off the seedy toe on her right front, so we have a new plan for that. I purchased some triple antibiotic ointment, as well as some athlete's foot cream, which I will mix together and slather on up in the crater. Then I'll pack it with cotton to keep the cream in, and the icky stuff out. I'm also getting some Keratex to use a couple times per week, and I might also go back to soaking with the Oxine once a week on all hooves, just to make sure we keep the bacteria away, and to help with any white line separation.

So, is it the change in environment that's causing all these wonderful changes to occur? Maybe the teeny, tiny change in trim method? Perhaps eliminating her supplements? (Weird to think they could have been hurting her, but who knows!) I'm just so excited and so encouraged! I haven't felt this way in quite a while.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Not Deficient

I've been super busy with Rylee since she came home. She's been doing really well and I'm so in love with her! She has just the right amount of puppy energy and chill energy. She gets herself into trouble, but she listens quite well, and we've made a lot of progress since Sunday. She's really smart, and I'm having so much fun with her. We've been working on crate training quite a bit, as that seems to be the hardest thing for her right now. She lived outside until I got her, so being stuck in a cage without her people is no fun for her, and she's not shy about letting you know it.

Hubby will be so happy to see that his jammies are on the interwebz.
Because of all the crate work, Lilly has been a bit neglected lately. I'm not ready to take Rylee to the barn yet, and I don't want to be gone constantly because that's too much time for her to be in the crate. I made up for it today though! I put hubby on puppy duty and drove out to see Lilly. I bribed her with a few fresh apples and if she was still feeling left out when it was time for me to leave, she didn't show it.

There's not much new in the land of Lilly. Her mineral panel came back and all her levels were within the normal range. I had even stopped her supplements once we decided to do the mineral panel to make sure what we were seeing was what she was getting from grass, hay, and her Enrich. I was hoping something would show up that might help us out, and we could supplement her to get everything in line, but at least I can cross mineral deficiency off my list of possible culprits. We're doing the IR test at the end of the month, so I'll be curious to see what that says.

She has plumped up a bit since being moved, which is odd to me. I figured she'd get more exercise being outside with a herd of other horses, and she might drop a few pounds. Not the case.

So the search continues!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Puppy!

I know it's Tuesday and not Sunday, but who knew how much work puppies were?! I found out on Sunday when we brought home this little darling!

Her name is Rylee and she's a 13 week old German Shepherd puppy. I've been looking for one for quite a while and I fell in love with her as soon as we met.

She's been keeping me busy, that's for sure! In fact, I need to go take her outside, so I'll have to write more later. :)

Friday, October 4, 2013

We Have A Winner

Lilly's size three Old Mac's came yesterday just in time for me to head into work, so today I took them over to the barn, hoping that they would fit her perfectly. I don't know about perfectly, but I think they'll work just fine. I strapped her in without the gaiters, with the gaiters, and then finally with the Happy Hoof pads. Judging by her body language, I think she likes them. I jogged her up and down the barn aisle, turned her in little circles, and walked her around a bit outside. She didn't show any signs of being uncomfortable so I think they're going to be great for turnout, assuming they hold up. Hopefully they'll be temporary as we someday soon get her back to being comfy bare again.

Fancy kicks.
Over the next week or so, I'll work with the barn manager and get her used to the boots. I don't want to turn her out in them for 12 hours without first seeing if they'll hold up or rub anywhere. I don't think I'll use the gaiters either, unless the boots start rubbing, so she'll just be in the boots and pads. I'm a little worried about moisture because of the boot style, but once the horses are switched over to day turnout I'll worry less about that. In the meantime, I got some foot powder to sprinkle in them to help keep things dry.

Enjoying the sunshine.
My princess had a few more cuts and scrapes today. Not sure if someone is picking on her or if she's trying to move up the ranks. She has a big scrape on her chest, some marks on her legs, and a cut on her stifle. Grrr!

In other news, I have big news! You'll have to wait until Sunday to find out what it is, though. :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Oh Boy! Something New To Learn About!

My vet came out fairly early this morning, so when I got to the barn, Lilly was still outside hanging around the gate with all her mare friends. I decided that was reason #520 as to why I prefer individual turnout... trying to take the horse currently on the bottom of the totem pole to the front of the line, past the dominant mares = not fun. I hissed and hollered, swung my lead rope, stomped my feet, pissed off the number one (named Fancy), and prayed she didn't double barrel me, but eventually they all moved out of the way. Then it was a scramble to get Lilly out of the pasture, close the gate, and make sure no one else snuck out or came charging while we were half way through. (Group turnout is good for her... Group turnout is good for her...)

We were on the schedule this morning so my vet could take blood from Lilly for her mineral panel. I'm hoping when we get it back it'll show us something really important and helpful but we'll have to wait at least a week to find out. We couldn't do the IR test because they have to be off grass and have no grain for 12 hours prior to the blood draw. Plus, it has to go right to the office, so we scheduled that test for the end of the month. Lilly was good for her blood work, considering they needed to take a lot of blood. She shook her head a couple times, and some blood flew all over the floor, but other than that, things went well.

My vet also kept saying things like, "Lilly, you're so fat" and "look how huge your tummy is". I guess getting her off the super green grass hasn't helped her figure any. I've been procrastinating and haven't bought a muzzle yet... I thought I'd wait until after we find out the results of the mineral panel.

After we were done with the needles, my vet started her chiropractic exam. She said her pelvis was out on the left side, she cracked a few vertebrae, and did some work on her neck, but said she was in pretty good shape otherwise. Lilly did a lot of licking and chewing, and by the end she was yawning. All good signs! She also showed me some stretches to do with her because she thought she was a little tight in the shoulders.

There was one thing that concerned her, though. Without doing an x-ray (which neither of us thought was necessary to do today), she couldn't say for sure what was going on, but there is something not quite right with one of the vertebrae in her lumbar region. She thinks it's L5. When she palpates it, you can feel it catching on something. She had me do it so I could feel it too, and it's strange. She said she's never felt anything quite like it in that region and asked if Lilly has been back sore or if I have noticed anything unusual. Considering I haven't ridden in decades, I can't say if she is, but I haven't noticed anything. Lilly isn't one to be stoic, so if she is uncomfortable, it isn't enough to let me know something is wrong.

L5 circled in red.
So after hearing a lot of big words that meant nothing to me, I started researching things like kissing spine, lumbar vertebra, and cervical vertebrae. Normally, I have her adjusted and the vet says "blah blah blah, but everything is ok now, I need to see her again in two weeks" and I pay the bill. Not this time. It appears as though Lilly now wants me to learn about spines. I've learned about ligament and tendon lesions, digestion issues and ulcers, nutrition, and hooves... so what's left? Ah yes, bones!

My vet isn't concerned yet, so I'm not concerned either, but it'll be something else to keep an eye on and monitor once I start riding again. We might decide we need to do x-rays in the future, as it could be having a larger impact on things than we think.

(Just for my records, we also vaccinated her for EEE/WEE)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Boots Have Arrived!

Back when I decided I wasn't giving in and going back to shoes, and shortly after my trimmer didn't think we really needed to cast, I decided I needed to get another pair of hoof boots. I have my Renegades, but I only use those for riding, and the Easyboot Trails I had were long ago obliterated in the pasture. So I decided to call EasyCare and see if there was a boot they could recommend for turnout that I could also use with pads. After chatting with a nice lady from customer service, I ordered a pair of Old Mac's G2. She told me they would be great for turnout and it just so happened they were sized the same as the Trails, so I ordered a tiny size two for my twinkle toe pony.

I also went online and ordered some more Happy Hoof therapeutic pads. I used those back when we first took off the shoes and Lilly really seemed to like all the different pads. We tried three different styles, but her favorite seemed to be the #6 pad. I couldn't remember when I ordered them last time if they came in pairs, and didn't see it anywhere on the site, so I assumed they came individually and I ordered six of them, thinking that would be enough for three sets of pads. They came in the mail today, and as it turns out, they do come in pairs. So now I have enough pads for SIX sets. At least I won't have to order any for a while!

12 pads instead of 6... who knew?!
The boots came yesterday, so I was able to take them with me today to try on Lilly. I was both impressed and disappointed when I opened the box. I was disappointed because they're a lot like the Trails, and those didn't hold up worth a hoot, but I was impressed by how "beefy" these are, and how many straps and buckles are on these things. I hope they hold up better than the Trails did.

Buckles and straps, oh my!
These also come with gaiters, which adds yet another element of beef. I guess these boots tend to rub a bit without the gaiters, but I think I'll try them without first and see.

Front of the boot, along with its gaiter.
Unfortunately, I think they're too small. It's hard to tell with all the bulk in the back of the boot, but I think they would end up rubbing on her heel bulbs. I hadn't even added in the pads or the gaiters and I thought they felt snug. So I ordered a size 3 and I'll hold on to the size 2 boots until they arrive. With any luck, the larger size will work.

Lilly is doing really well at her new barn and I can't tell you how relieved and stress free I have been this past week. I'm SO happy that she's not getting attached to any of the other mares. I was worried about that, but there seems to be no sign of any attachments anywhere. There were three other horses in the barn with us today being groomed and tacked up, and two of them were her pasture buddies, and shortly before I put her back in her stall, they all disappeared. One went out to the pasture, one went for a ride, and the other was put back in her stall. Not a peep from Lilly... not even a paw with her hoof. She just stood there like, "what's your deal, lady?"

"Who cares about those other horses anyway. Do you have cookies?"
The arena is so soft and sandy that I think I'll be able to start riding again too. I'll still boot her up in her Renegades, but I won't have to worry about her stepping on a high spot or a stone. Hubby and I are going away for our anniversary this weekend (has it been a year already??), but when I get back, it just might be time to throw on the saddle again! :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Back To Normal

Lilly has been at her new barn for five days now. She seems to be completely settled in and I haven't seen any signs of her being attached to her herd mates. That was the biggest issue we had when we boarded here before, and why I have tried so hard since then to find her individual turnout. Everyone keeps telling me she'll be much happier now that she has pasture buddies, and I hope she is, but I hope she doesn't get too attached to anyone or beat up too badly.

Me on the other hand, I'm nowhere near settled in. I only grabbed the necessities when we hauled her over on Friday, and my trailer is still packed full of stuff. The new barn has tack lockers, so I can't have my trunk with me, and that's where I keep everything. Today I wished I had my clippers, but they're far, far away, in my trailer, which is parked down the road in another field. One of these days I'll have to buckle down and get organized.

Now that things are back to normal, Lilly is happy, and I can breathe, it's time to focus in on the issues at hand. The first issue being her sore hooves (which is currently being addressed), and the other issue being the diarrhea that's decided to make a comeback. She was clean on Sunday, but today she had some lines of manure down her back legs again. It wasn't worth getting out the hose, but I did wet a towel and clean her up.

I'm seriously considering going back to the "less is more" plan. She's not on a bunch of stuff, but she's getting 1 lb of Enrich Plus, MSM, U-Gard, and SmartHoof. I have been thinking about cutting out all her supplements so that when my vet comes out on the first, we have a clearer picture of what's naturally going on in her body, rather than what's going on with her and all her supplements. The U-Gard might be helping some, but last week she was pretty nasty, so it's not helping as much as I thought. If I scale her back to nothing but her ration balancer, hay, and pasture, then it'll be easier to decide what we should add, rather than trying to decide what to tweak, remove, add, etc.

I wanted to take some pictures of her today so I can keep an eye on her weight and overall condition. She wasn't too enthused about the idea, but she obliged me. Sort of...

Looking very bored...
Showing just a little bit of life...
I love the dapples she gets when she starts shedding her summer coat. They're so pretty! She's not looking too pudgy, but she's put on a little bit of weight over the past couple months. She'll be going from a regular grass pasture (you know, like yard grass... the super green stuff) to a pasture that's bermuda grass in the spring and summer and overseeded with rye grass for the fall and winter. It's quite a change and I'm actually happy that the diarrhea started before the move, or I would wonder if it was simply from the change in her diet.

"Are we done now?"
So that's what I'm thinking... a complete "reboot". Start over with only what's absolutely necessary, decide what needs to change, and make the changes one at a time. That way we know what works, what doesn't work, and how it helps if it does work. I've tried a million different things to help her diarrhea, none of which has made any difference. Perhaps it couldn't work because of something else that was going on... I have no idea, but I'm game to try things I've tried in the past and see if it can possibly help now. I might find the same thing with regards to her hooves, who knows!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The End of My Rope

Well, I did it. I moved Lilly yet again. After what happened on Wednesday, and one other thing that happened on Thursday, I decided I was done being stressed out by the people who claim to care about my horse. Without going into too much detail, because I'm done with it all and I've moved on, I'll give you little taste of what went down on Wednesday.

The barn manager told me that she and the barn owner have a right and a responsibility to make sure the horses at their barn are taken care of. (I was with her up until that point...) She proceeded to tell me, however, that it was totally within their right to call their vet and farrier out to evaluate Lilly even without my permission. If the vet decided that Lilly needed shoes and pads, she could have her farrier put on shoes and pads. They would then send me the bill.

So essentially, one day I'd drive out to the barn and find a bill taped to my tack trunk and a pair of shoes on my horse.

So Thursday evening, I called around to a couple places, put in some requests to my friends to help me search, and ended up deciding to move to a barn I had boarded at previously. The reasons I left this particular barn weren't because I was having problems per se, it was because I found a barn that worked better for my situation. They keep small groups of mares together for turnout and I was trying to find individual turnout for Lilly. When I left, they told me if I ever wanted to come back, I was more than welcome to. He remembered me when I called, so I asked if I could move her out the next morning. He said absolutely.

So hubby and I headed over Friday morning to get Lilly. Normally I'm a strict, follow the rules kind of girl, and I always give a 30 day notice. Not this time. I was afraid of what might happen if I left her there for another 30 days with them knowing my plan was to haul her somewhere else. I was hoping no one would be there Friday morning, but the place was crawling with people. I was so nervous... my stomach had been feeling sick all morning and when we pulled in I was shaking. I was expecting a fight of some kind, but hubby got right to packing up my stuff and went to tell the BM and the BO that it wasn't working out and I was leaving. They weren't happy, but they said ok and watched us pack everything up. When I went to get Lilly, the BO left without saying a word to me and went to his house, and the BM said a brief good-bye to Lilly and we were out of there.

Prior to the move, Lilly was having one of her 'diarrhea episodes' and I had to wash her her behind Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. She had been doing pretty well up to that point, but the messiness came out of the blue. She was messy Friday morning too, but I wasn't about to waste time washing her before moving her out, so that's the first thing I did when we got to the new place.

Lovely flash photo in the wash stall.
They're still on night turnout, but I didn't want Lilly's first time outside to be in the dark, so we turned her out with the one pasture board mare. I was hoping they'd be friends by the time the other two mares (the two dominant mares) were turned out for the night.

Lilly wonders if Marly will be nice to her.
Marly wasn't interested in Lilly, and Lilly wasn't interested in Marly, so despite my best efforts to get them to greet each other, it didn't work. Finally I just removed her halter and let her go. She went off to eat grass and Marly just stood there staring at her. We watched them for a good 15 minutes and then decided to go finish unpacking. The funny thing is, Lilly and Marly were pastured together the last time Lilly was boarded here. Maybe they remember each other from last time?

Marly wants to know why this horse is in her pasture.
Staying just close enough, without being friendly.
When I checked on Lilly Friday morning, she had a gash on her hip and a hoof shaped cut on the back of her left hind leg. I really like having Lilly turned out alone, but it isn't always easy to find that kind of situation. When I checked on her today, she didn't have any new battle scars so I'm hoping the girls got it all worked out Friday night. She seems pretty content, and I think she remembers being here.

I found myself exhaling deep breaths all Friday afternoon. I didn't realize quite how badly I was stressing about the barn situation... it feels great to be out of there. Now I can concentrate on my horse and work on getting her better.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Still No Casts...

I had a very good consult with my new trimmer today. She came out at 8:30 in the morning and didn't leave until almost 11. Granted, some of the time was spent venting to her after she was shocked and surprised by the audacity of my barn manager, and then I spent some time defending her as she was being verbally accosted by the barn owner. That's another story for another day, though.

Even after all that mess, we set up another appointment, so I'm thankful they didn't scare her away. I found her to be friendly, knowledgeable, very open to answering my questions and concerns, and while her philosophy is quite different than what I'm used to, I'm open to it. What we've been doing hasn't really been working, so I'm game to try some different techniques.

We talked for a very long time before she finally busted out her tools. I'm talking a good hour at least. She watched Lilly move, did a little poking and prodding all over Lilly's body, dug around in her hooves, and talked to me about what she was seeing. I asked a million questions and she answered them all.

The hard part is summing up a two hour appointment into a blog post...

First off, we decided not to cast Lilly. My new trimmer, we'll call her 'CW', didn't feel comfortable casting because she hasn't been a part of Lilly's care until now. She didn't want to make a change and then cover it up with casts. Even though I was pretty set on wanting her casted prior to this morning, I agreed with what she was saying, and she told me that if at any time I want her to come back out and cast, she would fit me in and make it happen.

Before we get to the trim, CW had a lot of suggestions to help "the whole Lilly". She feels as though Lilly has some soreness in her pelvis, or perhaps her hocks, because of how she wears the toes on her hind hooves. She noted that as I was jogging Lilly, she kicked up a lot of dust, so she's not trying very hard to pick up her feet. She pointed out that Lilly is a bit "beefy" in her front end, and she feels she's mostly just pulling herself along, and that could be contributing to some of the soreness she has. One of the places she squeezed was along the lower part of Lilly's neck, close to her chest, and she had a moderate reaction... like, "Hey, don't do that!"

I told her that we had done a series of Adequan shots last spring, and I thought it helped. We didn't do any more shots this spring because I felt she didn't need them. Plus, with all the rain we were having, I wasn't able to ride enough to make it worth my while. And now you can't get Adequan until early next year, so that's not an option right now anyway.

We talked about grazing muzzles, blood work, possible allergies she might be having, chiropractic care, massage therapy, possibly trying a different ration balancer, and hock injections. Then we talked about how important it is not to try a hundred different things at once, but to keep them all in mind. So I have an appointment with my vet to do the blood work, test her for IR, and also to do a chiropractic consult. We want to know if she's out behind, since she's had to have her pelvis adjusted a couple times before.

CW also does some kind of body work... I can't remember what she called it (brain overload), but she works with the fascia and suggested that we might be able to do some work on Lilly in the future, in conjunction with my vet doing the chiropractic work.

Did I cover everything not trim related? ... I think so.

First off, CW doesn't like to dig out the hoof wall to get rid of seedy toe. She said it weakens the hoof, and causes it to be pulled in different directions when Lilly lands on her hoof. I can see the logic there, but I also see the logic to digging it out. She prefers to square off the area in front of the infected area (although I don't remember if she said how that helps), and pack it with something instead. But it's too late now... it's dug out, and doing very well, so we have no choice other than to let it grow out. I did fight it for quite a while, though, so next time (if there is a next time) I'll try her method.

Other than the thin soles, CW said she thinks the biggest issues with Lilly's hooves is the hoof wall separation. She wasn't really happy with the way the hind hooves looked either, because there's quite a bit of separation there as well, and suggested maybe they're being overlooked by the front hooves, hocks, and possible pelvis issue. Perhaps they hurt too, so there's yet another variable to consider as a possible culprit.

So, regarding the trim itself, here's what she did.

Bars: She only trimmed bar if it was flappy, really overgrowing the sole, or especially lumpy. She's part of the "if it's there, they need it" crowd, so unless it looks to be causing pinching, bumpy spots, or is flappy and something could get stuck underneath it, she leaves the bar alone. She said she finds this to be especially true with thin soled horses.

Sole: She did some work on the soles, but explained what she was going to do before she did it, then asked if I had any questions. She carefully, and ever so slightly, trimmed down the toe callous. Here's why (I hope I explain this correctly, and I'm still doing some reading on it myself)... because Lilly has flat hooves, doesn't grow very much hoof, and has thin soles, she felt like the callous was too prominent and was causing Lilly discomfort because she was landing on it first (because of her toe first landings). She trimmed it slightly on the front hooves because there wasn't a whole lot to take down, but there was more of it on her hind hooves. You can see it pretty well in the hind hoof pictures I have below. There were a couple spots below the callous that were clearly bruised, and she said that's why she wanted to take those down. I asked her if it would make Lilly sore, and she said she didn't think so. I'm anxious to see how she is tomorrow.

Quarters: If there's one "good" thing about Lilly's hooves, it's that she chips instead of pancakes. If she pancaked, we'd have an even bigger issue with thin soles. So the fact that her hoof wall chips away is good... I guess. She tends to do this mostly in the quarters. CW noticed this right away, mostly on her left front, but also on the lateral side of her right hoof, and commented that she's one of the few trimmers who likes to take just a teeny tiny bit off the quarters. Since Lilly does this on her own anyway, she felt it would be a good idea to do it for her, before it has a chance to chip off, expose the laminae, and perhaps allow bacteria to find it's way up in there.

Hoof Wall: She pretty much said no rasping of the hoof wall. Ever. Unless there's something really super crazy going on, she leaves it alone. She said if you can see it on the hoof wall, it's already too late because something on the inside caused it. Focus on the bottom of the hoof, and who cares how "pretty" they look on the outside. She also talked about the importance of a mustang roll, and how we should exaggerate Lilly's because she really needs the help with break over.

So enough rambling... I'll show you the after pictures of the trim. They'll do a better job explaining the trim than I could any day.

Right Fronts:

Regarding the quarters on this hoof, what you see on the first picture was done naturally by Lilly, but the medial side (not shown) was done by CW. She trimmed this hoof first, and when she went around to trim the left front hoof, we had no issue with her trying to pull her hoof away and she didn't walk her hind legs up under herself for support like she always has in the past. Was it taking down the toe callous a bit, or providing a bit of relief in the quarters? I found it fascinating how something so small made such a big difference.

Left Fronts:

A tiny bit of quarter relief (already done by Lilly, just cleaned up by CW), and it's hard to see, but the toe callous was brought down closer to sole level. A little bit of work on the bars because they were "flappy", and she added the mustang roll.


Right hind
Left hind
You can see the area where the toe callous was removed on both hinds much better than you can on the fronts. She also did some work on Lilly's heels and said she was starting to develop a little bit of a corn on her left hind (you can see the spot on the lateral side of her heel). She wants me to keep after these with ACV or some other type of thrush control product, and keep the crevices clean.

Here's the finished product from the top. You can't really see it very well in this picture, but the area in front of her seedy toe crater has been flattened off, and she said it's important to keep it that way.

Twinkle toes.
She wants me to touch up the mustang roll in two weeks and we have another appointment scheduled in four weeks. Aside from the new trim style and the scheduled blood work, I'm buying her a muzzle (bleh) and a pair of boots for turnout so she can wear them when she's having an off day. I called EasyCare and they suggested the Old Mac's G2. Handy, since they're sized the same as the EasyBoot Trails, so I know exactly what size to buy.

Some of the stuff she did is contradictory to what I've been told and read, but she had logic and reason to back up all her suggestions. For every trim method out there, you can find someone who agrees with you, and someone who disagrees with you. I believe that not every method works for every horse, and when something's not working, you have to try something else. This is me trying something else. I'm desperately hoping for progress.