Monday, March 25, 2013

vote for me (please!)

I have entered a contest for our local polo club to win a hotel stay and other great prizes! Please click on this Facebook link and like the photo of the horse and rider galloping past the crowd and giving high-fives to the spectators. I'd really appreciate it!

Also, check out the contest that Sprinkler Bandit is running to win a free Ninja Rider t-shirt.

I have a new contest in the works - Spring Cleaning is the theme so stay tuned!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

pretty girl

Somedays, I have to deal with hormonal rage Lucy. Other days, like today, I am blessed with a sweet and loving mare.

an hour of grooming, and I missed this one spot.

such a beautiful girl

She happened to look very sound, too, but I have decided at this point to wait until I see the lyme test results before putting her back into work. If she has a raging case of lyme, asking her to go around in circles probably won't make her a happy camper.

The weather was so beautiful today that I took Cairo to the beach. She had so much fun.

someone had written "LOVE" with seashells

Saturday, March 23, 2013

more questions

Lucy had her vet visit this afternoon. I had spoken with the vet a couple times this week and sent her video of Lucy looking lame, so she had a good idea of what was going on. When she arrived at the barn, she started off by doing a basic physical exam. Lucy is usually very well-behaved for vets but today she was a tail swishing, ear pinning wench. She lifted a leg at the vet more than once, I am ashamed to say.

We moved over to the indoor so the vet could watch her move on the lunge line. Lucy gave the vet a nice show, even standing up on her hind legs and waving hello toward the end. She looked sound at the trot, which I was a little annoyed about, but cross-cantered in both directions so I didn't look like a total fool. The vet flexed her and thought she looked ouchy on both hind legs, but the RH more than the LH. The problem with flexing the hind legs is that it's very hard to single out one joint - you kind of have to flex the fetlock, hock, and stifle all together so if there is a positive result, you don't really know which area it is. Lucy was quite difficult through all of this. It was very cold and windy today, she's had a week off, and she is in heat (AGAIN) so it was not a fun time for anyone.

After watching Lucy carry on, the vet asked me about any other behavioural issues. She had seen video footage of Lucy kicking out and being very bad under saddle. She asked if she ever exhibited "studdish" behaviour and I told her she will squeal and strike out at another horse if she is allowed to sniff noses with them. I decided to have the vet do a repro exam on her since she was already there and for the sedation and exam it was only going to be $90. The vet was able to easily palpate Lucy's left ovary but could not find the right ovary anywhere. She searched around, gently of course, for a few minutes before deciding not to poke and prod in there anymore to avoid the risk of damaging the horse, but was very concerned that she couldn't find the ovary or any structure involving the ovary. She said sometimes a tumour can start growing on the ovary and when it becomes large and heavy, it weights the whole structure down into the abdomen so that it can't be palpated internally like a normal ovary can. She said they aren't usually cancerous, but they do continue to grow unless removed, and they will throw all of the horses hormones out of whack. I decided to have her do a blood test to look at all of the hormone levels in her body, and the results will tell her if there's an imbalance or presence of a tumour.

Great, just great.

If there is a tumour, the only option for treatment is a spay, or half spay...meaning she could keep her healthy ovary and be able to have a foal if that was ever in the cards, but she would lose the unhealthy ovary that was causing all the issues. Or the vet could remove both ovaries. Then of course there are two ways to do the surgery: one standing up and sedated but not anesthetized via laporascopic instruments, and the other flat on her back under anesthesia, via an incision in her abdomen (similar to a colic surgery and with similar recovery time). For the abdominal surgery we'd be looking at about $7,000. A friend had her mare spayed laporascopically and said it cost about $1,000.

So basically, I paid $650 today to not only get no answers (won't get the labs back until the middle of next week), but actually get more questions and as a result I feel twice as worried as I did before. The vet was excellent and spent ages with me, and answered all of my questions.

Oh wait, I did get one answer: there is nothing wrong with her SI joint or her back as far as this vet is concerned. Once Lucy was lightly sedated enough to not kick the vet, she palpated her entire spine/SI/hips, and I mean she really leaned into the horse and poked all the spots that could possibly be sore, and there was no reaction at all. She assured me that even under light sedation, if she was hurting Lucy, Lucy would flinch at the very least, and there was absolutely NO reaction at all. So that's good to know.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Horses in the Morning

I moved Lucy's vet appointment up to today and I am looking forward to it! I hope we can get some answers. With almost a week off, Lucy is looking very sound, of course, but I still plan on having the vet flex her and draw blood for the Cornell lymes test.

Not too long ago, I called into the radio show "Horses in the Morning" for their trivia contest. I answered a question about the hind gut in a horse correctly and won a beautiful saddle pad from Riders4Helmets. Horses in the Morning is great because you can live stream it online or call into the show on your phone and listen that way, and it's easy to listen at work while I chip away at my daily tasks.

Horses in the Morning does these trivia contests weekly so check them out to win nifty prizes.

Here's my saddle pad (photos taken last Sunday when I was testing to see if she was still off):

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

a time out, and Cairo turns 3

Happy 3rd Birthday, Cairo! 3/16/13

After Morgan's ride last Tuesday, which went really well, Lucy seemed sore and stiff and that is why we just did some low-key walking trail rides on Wednesday and Thursday.

On Friday I rode in the ring to see where we were at. She looked good on the lunge line, but threw a ton of bucks and romped around. When she had calmed down and was stretching out nicely, I hopped on. She started out feeling ok but then felt not quite right, and then felt lame.

I decided it is vet time so I made the call and set up the appt. I am concerned that if it were muscle soreness, she would most likely work out of it as she warmed up, but she felt worse and worse as the ride progressed. All we did was walk and trot, too. Maddy took some video for me and it looked like her right hind.

She got Saturday and Sunday off and I gave her bute both days, and then on Sunday afternoon I gave her some Ace to make her rideable without lunging first (didn't want to put a ton of stress on her body lunging if she wasn't feeling well). The Ace kicked in and I had a very nice, rideable horse...who was still lame. Notice the hitch in her RH, especially around corners.

The vet is scheduled to come out on April 3 for shots so she will get a little vacation and some hand walking, maybe walking trail rides if we get a really nice day, and as long as things don't worsen we will wait until then. I emailed my vet and included the video and she assured me that Lucy would survive until April 3. She trots around her paddock and looks sound, and stands square on both hind legs in the barn aisle and in turnout, so I am not tooooooo too worried. I let her loose in the indoor today to have a roll and she trotted around a bit and looked totally fine.

I am wondering if Lyme disease may be a factor since she seems sore through her whole body and the "lameness" side of things seems to travel from leg to leg, but I will follow my vets advice in terms of diagnostics and I hope we will get some answers so Lucy can feel better and I can start enjoying her again.

In other news, Cairo almost broke my knees the other day:

Um yeah, OUCH, Cairo. I survived with a nice big bruise on my right knee cap and I felt like I got hit by a Ridgeback sized bus. She looks cute and cuddly but she is at least 75lbs!

I really can't stay mad at her for long...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Change of Scenery

We've been in pretty serious work mode lately but the weather over the past few days has been so beautiful that I could not resist a trail ride -- or two!

always ready for an adventure!
Kenny comes for a visit on his motorcycle...yes, it was that gorgeous out.

Yesterday it was almost 60 degrees and I decided it was as good a time as any to try a trail ride with Cairo, which we haven't done since late October of last year. It was kind of nervewracking because Cairo had been cooped up in the house due to the rain earlier in the week, and Kenny and I both worked a lot this week. So she was nuts, and Lucy of course was her usual perky self. Did I think to lunge her beforehand? Of course not.

Shortly after we got into the woods, a kid was playing basketball at the end of one of the residential streets that connects to the trails we use. I let Lucy stand and have a good long look at the basketball so she could see the movement and hear the noise. The kid was getting nice consistent baskets but of course (OF COURSE!) as soon as we started to actually walk past her, she threw the basketball and it hit the board behind the hoop with a loud metallic noise that scared the crap out of poor Lucy. At that very second, a jogger was trying to run past us on the trail, so that made things a bit worse. And Cairo thought this was all a very fun game and got so excited that she ran in circles, scooting around with a huge grin on her face.

As this all went down I sat up there in the saddle saying, "woah girl, woah...WOAH!" and bless her heart, Lucy held it together even after a few lofty maneuvers and no one died, not even the jogger.

And that was all within the first five minutes!!

As the ride went on, Lucy stopped prancing everywhere, Cairo stopped scooting around through the leaves like a deer on crack, and I stopped thinking I was going to eat dirt every two minutes. The last 20 minutes or so was very enjoyable and both girls had a nice time.

Cairo says, can you hurry it up? Lucy says, I'm trying!!!
Kate says, that's enough out of both of you!

Right before we arrived back at the barn, Lucy was doing her rude "I want to go faster and you're holding me back" head tossing and she managed to get the lunge line, aka the Equine Oh Shit Handle, up over her head and between her ears. She is just about the most ear-shy horse I have ever met and of course this sent her into a panic and she tried to run backward away from the lunge line. Unfortunately for her, it was stuck on her head so this was another time where I was sitting up there trying to calmly tell her to woah, not run the dog over, or fall off the little incline on either side of the trail, or get tossed. Once again, though, she panicked for a few seconds and then stood like a statue so I could reach forward and flip the lunge line off the side of her head.

Bottom line is that "woah" is a very handy tool to install on your horse.

once back at the barn, I tortured her a bit. she was not concerned about the rope on her ears.
good girl!

soaking up the warm sunshine and looking beautiful

Today I worked from home and on my lunch break, Maddy and I went for a little trail ride. After yesterday's glorious warmth and sun, today was a hard pill to swallow: 35 and windy....brrrr! Lucy did very well, though, and we had a lovely trek through the woods.

Back to "real" work tomorrow, both for me in the office and for Lucy in the ring!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


The weather over this past week led to a few challenging rides. What can I say, the horse doesn't love 40mph winds and driving rain/snow. She was super keyed up from the weather on Wednesday night, but I handled it the best I could and used a bit of reverse psychology to encourage Lucy to do the right thing. I first let her zoom a bit in the indoor and she got most of her crazy out. Then I rode her just at the walk and we worked on turns on the haunches/forehand, backing up with her head down low, and "side passing", or at least our best attempt! Part of our homework from Morgan was to get Lucy moving as much laterally as I could and I did my best to deliver the goods. I feel confident that Lucy is better today than she was a week ago, and that's all I can ask for!

The week had a couple of setbacks, though. On Saturday, Cinnamon came back out and we were both in good spirits, expecting another wonderful ride. Lucy had other plans, though. She started out ok but as Cinnamon asked her for a bit more effort, she lashed out in several uncharacteristically (even for her) nasty tantrums. Lucy was extremely tight through her whole body, and was annoyed that other horses kept coming into the ring and then leaving. Her brain had about zero functionality and though she softened a few times into the contact and moved nicely, she would lose her focus a few strides later and throw a few bucks in a row. Now, she does a lot of bad stuff as you all know, but full-on bucking is not really one of her normal tricks. She was kicking out rather furiously and Cinnamon and I had a ten second conference and decided that this ride was not going to be productive. Though I am normally all for riding through the crap and ending on a positive note, and I also tend to think that Lucy's outbursts are attitude related and not a pain issue, that day was different and both Cinnamon and I felt it was best to call it quits and try another day. It was very clear that something big was bothering Lucy. Either she was coming into heat or sore somewhere and she was clearly telling us, THIS HURTS.

We untacked her and cooled her out and I felt very upset about the whole thing because the week had been going well and I didn't like this big change in my horse, but as I have done many many times, I decided to let that day go and try again on Sunday.

Sunday rolled around and I was not excited to ride. I expected Lucy to be very bad. To give her the best chance of a positive ride, I lunged first and let her trot for a good long time until she was nice and swingy and fluid. I also wanted to make sure she was sound because when Cinnamon was riding, she looked a bit foot sore to me. Well, she looked great on the lunge line and seemed to appreciate being able to move out like that. When she was nice and warmed up, I hopped on and had a nice ride. Lucy was very responsive but light, and picked up where we left off with the lateral stuff easily. She is a very smart horse, I will give her that! 80% of the ride was at the walk, just getting her light in the bridle and responsive to my legs, and then we finished with a bit of trot work that was also fairly decent. Nothing groundbreaking or beautiful, but not bad!

Yesterday I rode in the outdoor for the first time in a long time. I lunged first because the neighbour's son was out in their yard through some trees throwing a lacrosse ball at a wall, which was making a very loud BANG. I was concerned that Lu would be scared of that because that neighbour is in the "scary" corner of the ring. She didn't have any problems with it, but was scared of another neighbour using a chain saw. If it's not one thing, it's another! She got over the whole thing quickly and warmed up very well on the lunge and neither the chain saw or the BANG noise were an issue after that. I do love that about her - she can spook at things and be silly but once she realises they aren't a threat, she isn't bothered by them.

I got on and we did the usual basic walk exercises to start, circling often and doing serpentines through the ring. Each time I changed direction, I almost asked her to do a haunches in to move her hind quarters over first, then move forward. She took it all quite well and didn't put up a fight. We trotted around and she was a pleasure to ride! Then Maddy took some video for me after Lucy got a short break in the middle of the ring. Well, Princess Horse thought she was finished so when I asked her to go back to work, she wasn't pleased and pinned her ears straight back at me. She didn't do anything else, though, which is an improvement from the usual kicking out and other sass. She settled down and was very good. We haven't cantered all week, which Morgan recommended until we could get the trot together, but she offered up the most lovely, quiet canter to the left (which is the bad direction!) and I was like, ok, we will see where this goes. Well, it was really, REALLY nice and I am just so glad I trusted her enough to let her continue. She felt round and light under me and was so polite about the whole thing. She felt balanced (or at least more balanced than she has in the past) and didn't throw a single bronco move. She came back down to the trot nicely and then I thought, crap, this means we have to canter to the right!

So off we went, but not until I had her going at the trot nicely, of course. A few strides into it, she tried to pull the reins out of my hands but I sat on my butt and elevated my inside hand to prevent her from taking the reins, and she sat back on her hocks and picked her own front end up, rebalanced and continued on without escalating or getting witchy about it!


At that point, the whole state of Texas could have fit inside my smile because I was thrilled.

Tonight Morgan is coming out for training ride #2 and I really hope Lucy is good so she can see how much progress we've made this week. I took all of our homework very seriously and I hope we will continue to improve.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

first training session

Last night was Lucy's first training session with Morgan. Morgan has a strong eventing and dressage background and was happy to answer alllll of my questions, and I had a lot of questions! She came highly recommended by a few people who said she was great with TB's. I got a positive vibe from her and was very excited to meet her. Work crawled by at a painfully slow rate yesterday as I waited for freedom so I could get to the barn.

I had planned out my day to give me enough time to groom Lucy to perfection, tack her up, and lunge her to get her nice and warmed up prior to Morgan's arrival. As usual, Lucy made my day a little more interesting, this time by throwing a hind shoe sometime during the afternoon. She just had her feet done on Thursday, too.

I was beside myself when I discovered her missing a shoe just 45 minutes before our appointment and was all ready to call Morgan and cancel. However, someone was looking out for me today because a farrier was over at the other side of the barn shoeing some of the other boarders' horses! I quickly went over, introduced myself, and then politely begged him to tack the shoe back on. 20 minutes and $20 later, the shoe was tacked on and Lucy was ready to go! I brushed her quickly and tacked up just as Morgan arrived. PHEW!

The ride itself went pretty well. I wanted  Lucy to behave herself and at the same time, I needed her to show Morgan what her issues were. She did a bit of both, first acting quite innocent and charming and then getting a bit frisky when things didn't go her way. Morgan sure has her work cut out for her but I really appreciated the way she rode and handled Lucy's stunts, and I asked her to come back for round 2 next week!

Here are some photos, posted with Morgan's permission:

Lucy ended up having to reach pretty deeply into her bag of
avoidance tactics. She tried kicking out, tossing her head, poking her nose
out, poking her nose to the side, bucking, kicking out, hopping around...

Morgan handled it all fairly and gracefully

And eventually, Lucy gave up and just behaved herself.

We talked about what I can work on over the next seven days, and how to handle Lucy when she is bad. Morgan talked me through her thought process and what she was doing with her aids as she rode, which was very helpful.

Morgan did not feel that Lucy was being bad as a result of an injury or unsoundness. Rather, she felt it was most likely a result of her being unbalanced and tight through her body, combined with a big attitude and a preference for doing things *her* way. While I am not opposed to having my vet look at Lucy just to be safe, I don't think I will have them out before Lucy gets her Spring shots in April unless there is a change and of course I will keep an eye on her.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Peanut Gallery

Hangin' out in the indoor, watching Lucy go in circles.

"she still seems a bit rushy there..."
"what, I can't have an opinion?"
"omg, you're going to tell her I said that?! crap!"

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Spring Cleaning, Spring Cracking, and Swamps

I really had a chuckle reading my Facebook newsfeed today. A few of my friends are in Florida, and I follow some equine publishing companies that are down in Wellington right now, covering the horse shows and events. All of them posted statuses complaining of how "freezing" it is down there. I checked the weather for that area and saw that it was 60 degrees. Oh my, what a bunch of comedians. Today it was about 45 here, but nice and sunny, and we were all talking about how lovely and warm it was!!

The feeling of "warmth", no matter how subjective, means that Spring Cleaning Fever kicked in and all of a sudden, I could not stand to look at the clutter of grooming stuff on my shelf at the barn. Lucy's first aid kit was scattered about from needing the various goops, gauzes, and powders almost on a daily basis after her accident, and though I've looked at that stuff for months now, today I simply could not leave it there any longer. Her brush box, which had collected about an inch of dirt and hair in the bottom of it, HAD to be bleached and scrubbed out. I accomplished all of that, along with the normal daily chores, and felt so much better. My house, though? STILL A MESS :)

Lucy saw the chiropractor today. This is the second time this particular chiro has come out and I am even more impressed than I was last time. She spent an entire hour working on Lucy, and split her time between watching Lucy move on a lunge line, doing stretches, manipulating her joints and muscles, and doing some massage. Lucy tried to like it, she really did. There were a few moments where she relaxed and let Mariya do her thing but she was mostly skeptical about being poked and prodded.

Mariya said her hind end was a lot better than last time she was out, but she still had a lot of soreness and stiffness. She listened closely to my accounts of Lucy's behaviour and said that the saddle fit issue could fix all of that, but if it doesn't, and if she doesn't get better after today's adjustment, to have the vet out to flex her and watch her go on the lunge line. So, that is what I will do. My vet is coming out in early April to do Spring shots and I hope he can also look at Lucy to avoid having them out twice.

In the mean time, on Tuesday I have trainer #1 coming out to have a look at Lucy. Trainer #2 won't be able to come down for a while, but I don't mind waiting for her as she is a very accomplished eventer and dressage rider, and she has a super reputation, especially with hot TB's. Trainer #1 is a lovely dressage rider and I am looking forward to meeting with her.

The rest of the afternoon was spent all on Cairo. Kenny and I took her for a 2.5 hour hike and she was in Heaven! We got lost in the woods, ended up tromping through a swamp, and I had to pull out my phone and bring up Google Maps to figure out where we were!

I wasn't kidding about the swamp!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

a friend visits!

My friend Cinnamon came to visit and work with Lucy today. C has not ridden for an entire year and yet she was brave enough to want to get on Lucy, who has had three days off (Kenny's birthday, farrier visit on Thursday, and saddle fitting visit on Friday).

When he was investigating the fit of my saddle, the saddle fitter pointed out right away that Lu's withers have widened significantly since he was last out, and the saddle was pinching her quite a bit. That would explain why she gets very upset if my balance is tipped forward at all. He reworked the flocking so that there is now plenty of clearance up front. C's ride today was the first ride in the altered saddle and I was really happy with how Lucy relaxed through her back and softened into the contact. I am positive that  C's quiet and balanced way of riding had a lot to do with that, but I am sure that the saddle not pinching helped too.

The saddle fitter also broke the news to me that I would have to start saddle shopping if Lucy got any wider or her topline built up anymore (which it will). The Stubben I have now has panels that are a smidgen too narrow for her back, i.e. there is not enough displacement of pressure and she is getting sore along her spine. Fixing the pinching issue will help, but he advised me to at least prepare myself for a saddle search. BLAH, I hate saddle shopping!! :(

Lucy has a chiro/massage appointment tomorrow and I am anxious to see what the chiropractor says about her back and hind end.

I was so impressed with how well C rode today. She really is a wonderful rider. I hope she doesn't wait a whole year before she comes back again :)

Lucy started out stiff and unyielding, as you can see here. She was like,
"la la la la oh is that your inside leg? la la la..."

and then she started out at the trot looking like a llama

but before long C had her looking quite nice

a bit of freshness at the canter

but C sent her right forward and had the whole thing resolved in no time.

right about this time I almost felt emotional. It was so nice to see
Lucy going well and looking happy.

a little tantrum (check out the Alfalfa-style forelock sticking straight
up into the air)

but right back to work.

stretching out at the end of the ride

the two ladies after a successful ride!
I also got some video:

Then this little oopsie happened, and I wasn't really sure if I should run over and hold the horse, or stand there and let C do her thing. I decided not to complicate the situation, since Lucy stopped fairly easily and didn't seem like she was going to rocket off anywhere. C displayed excellent horsemanship. Look how calm she remains, and how they go right back to work.