Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Prep / Lameness Update

Oh joy, a hurricane is on the way. It seems like Rhode Island is going to be right on the edge of the affected area and we will be much better off than New Jersey and New York, but we are still preparing for the worst. I stocked up on grain yesterday, filled the outside water tubs, soaked pelleted bedding in case I need more. I also stacked some hay in the barn. I am trying to minimize the time I'll need to spend outside in sustained winds of 50mph ;) and all of our hay and bedding is stored in a garage that isn't connected to the barn, so bringing the hay and bedding into the barn will be helpful.

I have been really struggling with Lucy's lameness, partially because she's uncomfortable but mostly because I am really so irritated that I am in this situation. I really have to question if her wellbeing was taken into account during this clinic. We have jumped big jumps, galloped across fields, done clinics, events, and hunter paces back-to-back, and I have NEVER seen her lame like this. Before she went to the clinic, she would occasionally take some funky steps and I would kind of watch her for a second, wondering what was going on, but within a second she looked fine. I watched her move on Saturday and she was so incredibly sore in her right hind that when asked for a left lead canter, she immediately swapped her lead behind, unable to canter properly to the left. I asked her to trot and then pick up the canter again so that she could fix her leads but it was the same thing each time. Yesterday I rode her in the indoor and she felt much better, so I really hope we have turned a corner.

I wouldn't be as frustrated if anyone who was associated with the clinic had checked up on her, since the organizers and the person who used her knew she was lame by the end of it, but I haven't heard anything. If I had borrowed a horse and returned it lame, you can bet I would be calling, emailing, and probably sending a horsey care package! I would feel terrible.

UPDATE: The lady who borrowed her called me this afternoon and we had a nice long chat. I feel much better.

She has a chiropractor appointment this week, and another massage appointment next week. I tallied up the costs I have had to try and get her sound before EA and I am at over $200. If I am unable to do EA, I will be out another $200 between entry fees and the hotel reservation that I cannot cancel. Absolutely ridiculous, but I just really hope she feels better.

Thank you to everyone who voted for Cairo in the photo contest. We are still in first place! Voting continues until the 31st so if you haven't voted and wouldn't mind, please check out the contest :) The link is here.

Here are a few photos from this week - we had some beautiful warm weather so I took Cairo to the beach.

an exceptionally beautiful jelly fish that washed up on the beach

Cairo telling a young black lab who's boss

She met a little hound friend and they were instantly in love

taking a wave to the face! what a beast.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Vote for Cairo!

As if Cairo hasn't been through enough trauma lately, I made her a Halloween costume this year to reflect her heritage as a lion-hunting doggie:

because every good lion hunter needs equally good camouflage.
And YES, I made this bad boy by hand, from felt and yarn. I fashioned a crude hood out of some tan felt and then put about 200 holes in it that I threaded yard through. I tied the yarn in a knot so that it would stay, and then unraveled the yarn to give the mane some body. The whole thing took me about six hours.

oh Caicai...

"Pride Rock, Rhode Island Ridgeback Style"

The whole reason I spent six hours of my life making this ridiculous thing was for a photo contest.


So if anyone is willing, I would love if you could vote for Cairo, my little Lion Huntress. Here is the link.

The winner gets a gift card to the store sponsoring the contest and with the winnings, Cairo will be rewarded for her cooperation with lots of yummy treats.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I should have seen this one coming.

Well, this past weekend ended up being interesting to say the least. First of all, Cairo's surgery went great on Thursday,and she is on the mend. Her incision is already healing very well. The best news came yesterday, when the vet called to say the margins were clean and she is cancer-free!

Lucy had her clinic this weekend and I really have mixed feelings about it. The clinic ran for three days, and each horse did three hour sessions once a day. That is 9 hours of work in just three days, and while I think Lucy probably gained something from it, I do think that was a lot to ask of the horse. Clinics are a great way to introduce yourself to some new concepts but the idea of going to a clinic and having all of your problems magically fixed in a short amount of time is very false in my opinion. I really liked the clinician and thought his approach was very effective.

When I went to pick Lucy up, I was told that she was off just slightly in the hind end, which was not a very nice surprise. Of course she still worked for the whole three hours on Sunday, too. So now I have to figure out what is going on, how sore she really is, if it's an injury or a strain, and then decide what to do about it. Lauren jumped her on Wednesday and she looked fabulous, not off at all. I have watched the video of her riding that day about 8 or 9 times and I can't find any hint of unsoundness.

Lucy got Monday and today off, and she will get tomorrow off as well. She got bute with her dinner, too. I had a massage therapist out to look at her tonight to pinpoint where she is sore, so that I could have help deciding if this was a vet issue or not. The massage therapist determined that she was very, very sore in her hind end and when I told her about the exercises she did at the clinic (sometimes being backed all the way around the ring), she said, "well that will do it!".

Lucy enjoying her massage. My friend Maddy is
holding her for me :)

The massage therapist recommended that she should have tomorrow off, but we can go for a nice long walk in-hand to let her stretch her legs, so I will take her for a walk on the trails. She'll like that. Then on Thursday, she can go for a low-key hack. We'll do some stretching and easy trail rides this week, have a flatwork week next week, and if she seems ok then we will do some very low gymnastics in preparation for Equine Affaire. I also emailed the chiro to see if he can come out and look at her. If at any point she seems to be getting worse or not improving, I will have to get the vet out and cancel Equine Affaire. I really, really hope this isn't the case since I am looking forward to EA and it is all paid for. It would be very disappointing to not go but I will absolutely put the horse's best interest first.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

like sending a kid off to camp

Lucy is going to another barn for a clinic tomorrow, and staying until Sunday. I had a lot of things to get ready for her little sleepover, and after work today I went to the barn and spent ages checking things off my list.

I really felt like I was sending my kid to a summer camp! I portioned out her grain for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and put each meal into labeled plastic Ziplock bags. I cleaned her tack and put little ID tags on everything, including her blankets, bridle, saddle, and girth. Since she's going to be away for a few days, I cleaned her paddock out really well and re-filled her water, so she can have a nice clean space to come home to on Sunday. Finally, I got all her paperwork together, including a sheet with contact/emergency info for her stall, rabies certificate, and coggins.

No, I don't have a life.

I also took her on a quick trail ride with Cairo, who is going in for surgery tomorrow (I'm trying not to think too much about that).

I am kind of looking forward to not having to clean her stall for three whole days.

tell me about yourself

I think the last time I looked at my stats page, I had 30-something followers and a few thousand page views. As of today, I have over 115,000 page views and 181 followers.

Lucy says, "What you mean is that I have 115,000 page views and 181 followers. I mean I am really important."

My watch list is good, but could use some plumping, and I'd love to follow some of your blogs in return.

So, leave me a comment with a brief description of your blog! :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

someone is feeling good!

Here are Lauren and Lucy rocking out today:

Lucy thinks this is SO much fun.

Lucy was quite peppy, but as usual, Lauren reeled her in just enough and they had a great ride.

Here is some video:

And here are Kenny and Lucy, being equally badass, considering he has ridden once, maybe twice this year:

So all around great riding, and I was so happy and impressed with how well Lucy did with Kenny. I also think it's adorable he sings country songs to her.

Monday, October 15, 2012

jump school

Thanks for all your sweet well-wishes for Cairo. She has no clue that anything is amiss and I just hope Thursday goes well and the margins come back clean! Then we will have to have a party to celebrate :)

Yesterday I rode Lucy in the outdoor. We set up a few jumps and did a little jump school. Here are some photos:

first time through these little cavaletti's. Lucy thought it would be fun to trot
the first two nicely, and then just jump the rest...together. It felt similar to a
"one, two, LAUNCH!" countdown.

Second time through, I gave her some pretty definitive half halts, saying,
"don't you even THINK of it!"

She trotted through like a lady, and by the fourth cavaletti, she had even
figured out how to arrange her legs properly.

she felt rather important.

3'3"...apparently not enough to pick her feet up.

And a little video:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

all things cruel and unusual

Our sweet, young, vibrant 2yo Ridgeback was diagnosed with cancer yesterday. Every time I say that or type it, I think, "no, that can't be right." She looks incredible, she has energy to burn even after a long hike or trail ride, she is a happy dog with a shiny coat and a huge personality.

Life is truly NOT fair.

I really can't believe I am having to deal with my young dog having cancer at the same time as my 16 year old Golden Retriever is dying of advanced lung cancer. My Golden, Cassie, has had a good long life and we caught it too late to treat it, but we are all at peace with that because the treatment would have been brutal at this stage in her life. Cairo is just two years old! We are lucky (ugh, if I can even use that word) that her cancer is external - she developed a small bump under her chin about two weeks ago that quickly grew to a pea-sized growth. She had an appointment at the vet yesterday for her annual shots and I asked them to look at the growth. I thought it was a skin tag, but the vet was immediately concerned because dogs this young don't typically develop skin tags. They did a quick in-office needle biopsy and before she left to look at it under a microscope, she warned us that she's not a pathologist and can only tell if the cells were "really, really bad" or "nothing to worry about".

About ten minutes later she came back, gave us a sad look, and told us that Cairo had cancer and we needed to have the growth removed in the very near future. It's the type of growth that looks very innocent but it likes to send little tentacles into the body that metastasize to the other organs or her bones. We agreed to have the growth removed so on Thursday, she will be going into surgery. The whole thing will be sent out to a pathologist, who will make slides of it and check to make sure they got all of it and the margins are clean. If the surgeon gets nice clean margins, Cairo will most likely be good to go without having to endure any additional treatment. 

Kenny and I left the vets office in tears yesterday. Poor Cairo didn't understand why we were so upset. I know she will receive the best care on Thursday and I am glad I caught this growth so early and got it looked at. I am very much the wait-and-see type with myself, but when it comes to Lucy and Cairo, I tend to go overboard. This was one instance where "overboard" could have saved the dog's life.

We took Cairo to the beach a couple of weeks ago. Here are some photos from that day:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Hunter Pace and Event Report

I've got to hand it to Lulu. She was superb this weekend.

Tyrone Farm Hunter Pace

On Sunday, my barn owner and I went to the Tyrone Farm Hunter Pace in Pomfret, CT. Lucy and I went to this one last year, too, and the footing was unfortunately just as horrific as it was a year ago! The mud was awful! We decided that if we both stayed on and the horses both came home with four shoes each, we'd be happy. Well, both those things came true but two other horses from our barn ended up lame this morning because of the conditions. Prudy and I were pretty careful and walked whenever we came upon bad mud, but even with just walking, the horses had to really labour at times to get through the mud. We were also very selective about what we jumped because some jumps had very slick footing on either side.

Lucy was hot, hot, hot. I had a LOT of horse under me at the hunter pace and I was so glad I used the Kimberwicke. She had a few tantrums and wanted to get silly after jumps, but she settled down about halfway through and used her energy to think and not leap around. We had to go up a LOT of hills and she used her hind end quite a lot!

Prudy and I somehow managed to get 9th place in our division and we were awarded the most beautiful silver ribbons! I was thrilled.

The forecast for the day had been lots of rain, but it turned out to be sunny and beautiful right up to the awards ceremony, and then the clouds thickened and it started sprinkling. We were in the truck snuggled up in our heated seats, ponies happily munching hay in the trailer as the rain really started coming down. We couldn't have had better timing!

Lucy loaded on the trailer in perfect form to go to the pace and to go home. Once back home, I wrapped her legs and fed her dinner. She was all tucked in for the night and I went home to get ready for today's event!

Valinor Farm Schooling Horse Trial

6am came waaaaay too fast today, but my alarm begged to differ. I got up, got ready, went to the barn and did all my barn chores, packed the last few things on the trailer, and got Lucy. She took one look at the trailer and was like, OH HELL NO. But she quickly came around and got right on. I was very happy with her!

We got to Valinor in time to check in and mosey around before tacking up. Lucy stood like an angel tied to the trailer, which was a first for us. I have been working with her on tying to things and she has been so good that I decided to try tying her to the trailer. She was very quiet and stood nicely while I brushed her and tacked up. We had started the day off on the right foot!

Lucy warmed up pretty well for dressage. She got a little excited at the canter but quieted down when I pushed her forward. I felt confident going into our test, but as soon as she got in the ring she tensed up and we had a rather unrelaxed test. Still, it was a vast improvement on our last test! She was obedient except for one canter. Our downward transitions were much much better and I was pleased that all our hard work has paid off at least a little bit. The final halt was nice too! The judge gave us a 47, which was probably fair, but I hope we can really improve over the winter and do better next year.

We had a ton of time between dressage and stadium, so we untacked the horses and put them on the trailer to relax while we walked the course and got organized. When it was time, we unloaded the horses and tacked them up, and then went down to the warm-up ring. It was INSANE. I stand by my mantra that the warm-up ring is the scariest thing about the whole show!! There were probably 10-15 horses in there zooming around in all directions, people were jumping the jumps the wrong way, and Lucy developed a particular aversion to this one little Haflinger that sounded like a mack truck cantering around. The horse passed us very closely and Lucy had a tantrum...sigh. At that point I just let her walk around and take a breather. Soon the person at the gate called my number and I was relieved that I could get out of the warm-up ring!!

Stadium went GREAT. We trotted about 50% of the time, which was my plan to begin with. The jumps were in an outdoor grass ring that had some pretty good-sized hills in it! It looked very challenging but Lucy handled everything so well. We jumped clean and I didn't forget any of them. PHEW. I was feeling so happy.

We went straight to XC and Lucy calmly walked into the start box on a loose rein. I have seen so many horses that look at a start box and lose their marbles, so I have very consciously NOT made a big deal of it. Everyone standing around remarked on how calm she seemed. They counted down from 10 and when they said "ok go!", I picked up the reins and we walked out onto the course. We picked up a little trot and went to our first fence! I was having a great time, and Lucy seemed happy and confident.

We got through the first half of the course with no issues, but we had to trot down a windy, hill path that opened out into a clearing with a jump. She refused it twice :( But I was determined not to be dq'd again so I got after her and we got over it on attempt #3. After that it was clear sailing and we had a blast!

I was so happy and relieved to cross that finish line that I threw one hand in the air and said, "WE DID IT!" Prudy was up waiting for me at the finish line and we congratulated each other, then happily walked back to our waiting friends and family. We were both on cloud 9.

I finished in 7th place, just out of the ribbons, but I was just so pleased with Lucy and also proud of myself for getting out there, getting her over that one "scary" jump on XC and narrowly missing getting disqualified, surviving dressage and improving on our last score, and of course staying in the saddle ;)

We met all our goals and overall I couldn't have asked for a better day!

Here are some photos:

dressage warm up (the test was in and indoor and we didn't get any
good shots)

Kenny came to support me and was such a big help.

in the stadium warm-up ring


cantering around like a lady, my barn owner and her horse Merlot
behind us

Merlot is so handsome! He and Lucy are in love.

ahh yes, there's the tail

a quiet moment in the ring; I took advantage and did a little jump

Prudy and Merlot showing off!

Lucy and I out doing our thing :)

the jumps were so tiny she basically cantered over them

all done! I was giving her a huge pat and saying good girl!

Prudy and Merlot showing off again. He is so fancy!

in the start box. she looks WILD, huh? :)

off to the first jump, a very inviting log

up a nice big hill to the second area of jumps

Prudy and I returning from XC, all smiles!

go team!

I love this shot, we both look so happy.

she was exhausted, but what a sweet face.