Monday, January 30, 2012

Vet Visit

I have several other posts that I've been trying to finish so I can post them. But life is what happens while you're trying to finish blog posts! So instead, I feel like telling you about our vet visit today. Stay tuned though because I have some important changes to update you on! I plan to get all those posts out this week.

I had Will on the vet list today so he could be checked for whether he needed his teeth floated. It took a bit longer to get the right vet, Dr. B, out but it was worth so I could talk to him about Will's stifles while he worked :-D  Willy's teeth were done about 7 months ago but things have been increasingly pointing to the need for a float since just before Christmas. Or so I thought.

Dr.B felt around inside Willy's mouth for a bit and then asks me what kind of bit I'm using. I was a bit taken aback (no pun intended!) simply because I thought he was going to comment on the harshness of the bit. Because I know the bit isn't harsh, that would mean I am. Those thoughts instantly went through my head as I stammered, "Uh, a D-ring snaffle...uh, double-jointed...with a copper oval peanut..."

This one. I love(d) it.

As it happens, my poor beast has developed a sensitivity to the metal in the bit. I honestly never even thought about anything other than his teeth! Dr. B said his gums were completely inflamed and there was so much swelling he could fold the swollen tissue from the sides of his gums over the top!

I am still paranoid that somehow it's my riding but I've been assured that although it's not excessively common, metal sensitivities do happen and they can take time to develop into a problem. He also pointed out that I've been riding Willy for 7 months and switched his bit ~4 months ago; he asked if I thought for a second it would take that long for crappy hands to hurt his mouth. I had to admit that was highly unlikely since the onset of Willy's mouthy troubles came on toward the end of December and have stayed about the same since.

With that issue more or less put to rest (time will tell!), my task is now to find a new bit. Dr. B suggested I could wrap my bit in vetwrap too. Obviously I think the best long-term solution is to find a new bit and besides, wouldn't vetwrap be kinda scratchy in the mouth?

Anyone else out there think this might be the excuse I need to try a Herm Sprenger bit?  The slightly more reasonable option would be rubber but I suspect that selection is limited (although I haven't really looked for rubber before).

All other news is good. Willy's stifles have absolutely no signs of problems, the ligament is gliding where it should. We discussed long-term prognosis and although of course he can't give exact answers with respect to timeline he could say that the majority of horses like him are absolutely fine and confirmed that "conditioning" isn't something you do in a month or two (like most people at my barn seem to think) but rather lifelong. At the same time, that doesn't mean he will always need this intensity of work.

I also asked what Dr.B thought of Willy's condition and weight. He said he is looking nice and fit and thinks his weight is good. That was nice to hear but I have to keep in mind this man vets a lot of racehorses, so he's used to the racing physique. I don't like fat horses but Will could still use some coverage. But I have progress on that front too, coming soon!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fun Show 2012

This year's fun show was a bit more dramatic than I expected! Will was pretty freaked out at the change in the arena and he began acting up a bit in the morning. After working through some sticky spots - a balance between letting him look and getting after him for not moving forward - he was pretty good. I know this horse well and I know that if he is given a second to look at the scary spot, he will move on and it won't be an issue anymore. Ok, so he might have a mild issue like a bulge of the inside shoulder around a scary corner. Not great but definitely something I can work with.

The morning flat classes ended up pretty solid, considering we've only been schooling for a couple months. In the afternoon I had some issues with my coach that I will bitch about discuss in my next post. A little icing on the cake for what I've been experiencing with her lately.

All that aside, I was very happy with my boy. He has never behaved so badly, lol, but then we changed his whole world. He is currently very fit and fed lots of high-energy feed. Although he is typically anything but hot, it does not surprise me that he has more "umph" for raising a fuss this year compared to last (someone else rode him but he was an out-of-shape, underweight, grass only fed, dead-head). Considering the week before we hacked out again when we saw a snowmobile for the first time, had a horse gallop past us out of "nowhere," and passed several cars on the road, all without much issue. I think he will be fine before too long, if handled well.

Will meeting Laura from littlekeebler.
I was so glad to see her and wished I had more of a chance to visit.

 Will would not stand still so I let him walk a circle around me for a bit.
I think I'm wondering what happened to his brain in this pic.

But he starts to settle down and pay attention once we get going.

Oooh, THAT corner again!
Head comes up but I'm happy anyway because 
of  his activity with his hind legs. Nice lift.

Canter in warm-up.  I haven't had any pictures or video for a long time, 
except for the gallop video, which is hard to see much in. 
I like how I can see his muscle development in his hind end
and the extent he is reaching under himself in canter.


Silly goober.

Facing the scary corner! Note the brace in the hind legs, 
ready to move should the boogey man jump out.

But after a look around, he starts to focus.
Still unsure though and looking for my direction.

 Yip! Careful hind legs but he's looking at something that has 
his attention - something that isn't the next jump! I should have
had a bit more outside rein to straighten him & focus his attention.


He's got some scope, once we get the worry down.
That is a 3' oxer.

Oops! Crash towards the scary corner.
Poor guy, look at where his attention is.

Tried to get a nice photo at the end of day but bay-boy
has had enough. I don't blame him, so have I!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

2011 Year in Review.

I'm a little late, but here is my replay of 2011. I really wanted to do a review this year as I think it can help focus my direction for the year to come. I need to spend more time thinking about that, since I just finished reviewing the last 12 months. 

In January, I attended a fun show with Brumby. He was awesone in warm-up but fell apart a bit with the spectators etc. My coach made us trot through our first 2’6” round which made the horse rather irritable, mwhahahah! We had fun and it was a good learning experience.

February is busy with cooking, travel, and foster puppies.  My mom and her husband fall in love with and adopt the puppy we had through December and January. She is a wonderful dog and they’ve done a fabulous job with her. We also take in a puppy who was abandoned with his littermates on a night that was colder than -20°C. He was only around 4 weeks old and needed 24 hour monitoring for the first week. He gains strength and learns quickly and demonstrates his dominant nature very early but we have no problem working with him and teaching him.

Sasha and start some seedlings and delight in the smell of earth. I also make a public commitment to spruce up my blog design. Um, yeah, didn’t really happen!

I take Laura up on her offer to ride Rusty and feel pretty useless at tacking up with a western saddle. We have a good ride and listen when Rusty tells us the footing sucks.

I snap a tendon in my hand in silly circumstances and it still bothers me to this day. Our little orphan, Logan, grows.

By the end of March, things have progressed with Brumby enough that I’m confident we can make a go of the show season. Which meant I needed show clothes. I spent a small fortune but got some quality clothes. I’ve lost about 12lbs since then, so hopefully everything will still look ok!

Hazel is caught sleeping on the job. Logan is euthanized despite our fight to save him. I come to terms with the decision after a while but am quite devastated at the same time. I am still of two minds about what the right decision was and haven’t been able to foster since.
Alex and I celebrate 4 years together and our fence blows down.

Forsythia blooms on April 28th. Not as early as the previous year, but still pretty early.

Good horse work continues and we start to get to the root of some of Brumby’s issues, even though there are some struggles. I have minor surgery and don’t blog much…mostly a result of having dumped a glass of wine on my new laptop. I start planning the show season despite the rain keeping the jumping course from opening.

I talk about Will and wonder whether his skinny butt is simply due to being a growing youngster who rarely gets anything other than hay, or if there could be an underlying condition. Continued frustrations with Brumby’s owner lead me to the tentative decision to lease Will after the show season is over. This way I can move on from Brumby and get to know this guy better to see if he really is a decent purchase prospect.

My laptop, who drank too much wine in February, is slowly coming back to me, albeit in pieces.

Hazel gets a thundershirt

I am thrilled with the riding progress. Every ride gets better and better. I remember what it’s like to have fun on horseback! I’m not so happy with my game face but readers assure me its normal. Uh-huh. I’m not ugly, I just look that way ;-) lol.

We set a date for our first show. Of course, Brumby loses a shoe the week before but we luckily get it re-set before the weekend. Everything was organized and planned out. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled due to lack of entries. I was really disappointed but started planning for the next one right away.

Two days later, everything changed. It still amazes me that things can do a 180° so fast but there it is.


My garden is growing strong and beautiful and I’m getting some great produce.

August starts with one of the scariest days of my life when I hear about a helicopter that went down in one of my husband’s field areas. Two Geologists and the pilot died in the crash and a couple hours pass before I get confirmation that Alex is ok. This was not just a little worry, the details matched so closely it was all but a sure thing (to me). It took several days before I felt even somewhat normal. Even now, if I think about it too long I feel the horror all over again. So let’s move on J

I decide to try leasing Willy, the horse I’ve been on a few times over the last couple years. He’s young and green but we “click”. It also means I don’t have to leave the barn I’m at, which is a huge bonus. I feel obligated to look at other horses, and I do, but don’t find anything suitable within reasonable distance. Of course, 2 months later there would be all kinds of horses available!

Our new beginning is thrown a curve-ball when it turns out Willy has locking stifles. My coach tells me it’s happened before but she never told anyone(!). We get veterinary advice, which is to put wedge pads and condition. My coach falls off another horse and suffers a serious compound fracture that required surgery. Willy’s stifles are good for a bit and then start locking again.
Vet comes out and prescribes working at least 6 days a week and galloping twice a week. I decide I will stick with it and give it a go, partly because I like this horse and partly because if I don’t do it he will just suffer and no one will make him better.

Taking the vet’s conditioning advice to heart, I ride, ride, ride…and lose 12 pounds in 6 weeks! Somewhere in there Hazel gets skunked for the first time and I’m getting very tired of having to deal with everything on my own. Alex’s return from field “to-do” list grows ;-)

Oh, September. It broke my heart. My grandmother has a fall and breaks a hip. Although the surgery goes perfectly, other complications result in her death after weeks of ups and downs. I miss her. She always looked out for me, especially as a troubled teen. I miss being able to look in her kind eyes.

Willy and I continue our conditioning program and end up riding in a clinic with Per Meisner. I discover just how curious Willy is and use it to my advantage on the trail. My garden is still going strong and we are busy canning, freezing, and dehydrating the splendors of our garden.

It becomes increasingly obvious that Willy’s saddle doesn’t fit. I end up deciding to get our local amazing saddler to fit him and I buy my first nice saddle. Of course, this purchase necessitates buying a matching bridle ;-)

Alex and I begin to struggle with the demands of my riding schedule and having only one car between us. I contemplate some of Will’s behavior and the best way to deal with it and after trying out a new approach I figure out how to manage things.

December sees the end of our gallop sessions. I’m lucky to have been able to gallop that late in the season but I’m still sad to see it go. I’m still eating fresh produce from my garden thanks to a very mild start to the winter and we figure out how to deal with a turkey that doesn’t fit in the oven. I also learn about Xxterra cream, feel horrible for melting my horse, and learn to use a barrier cream to prevent damage to innocent tissue.   
My spirits are lifted when the month ends with a glorious hack through the snow.

Whew, so there it is!

Next up is some goal-setting, which I really need this year, and a post about the fun show I was in today!