Monday, September 23, 2013

Photo weekend

This weekend was very busy. On Saturday, Lucy met her new rider, a local woman who is going to help get Lucy back in shape. I was nervous, as I always am when a new person gets on my horse, but it went great and I feel confident that Lucy will be happy! Maddy will still ride her when she has time, too. I am jealous!! The weather has been soooo perfect and I WANT TO RIDE! :(

On Sunday morning I got to give Maddy a little lesson on Brantley. At their recent show, the judge commented that he would make an excellent hunt seat horse. I was like, LET'S JUMP!

Sunday morning was our first little hunter pony lesson. I laid out a bunch of poles in the outdoor. On one side, the poles were set for a "normal" trot stride. On the other side of the ring, they were set for a longer stride. Brantley aced both of them! The next exercise was a 20 meter circle with four slightly raised cavaletti's at 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00. The idea was to keep the pace even so that the horse fits the same amount of strides between each pole. They did it at a walk first, practicing fitting both more and less strides in there (shortening and lengthening), and then they tried it at the trot. It's a challenging exercise but Maddy and Brantley both did very well.

Brantley going through the poles

The next steps will involve actually setting up a tiny crossrail at the end of some poles. I think Brantely will do just fine.

After we were finished, I headed home, took Cairo for a bike ride, and then drove to MA for two photo sessions! It has been a long time since I pulled my camera out like that but man, I loved every second of it.

The first session was a little family shoot: husband, wife, massive 16 wk old Great Dane puppy, and they are expecting a baby too! It was really fun!

Yeah, that puppy is FOUR months old!! holy moly. He's huge!

The second shoot was with a girl and her pony. I am so pleased with how the images turned out:

Then I turned around and drove two hours home, edited a sneak peek batch of images for each client, posted them to Facebook, and collapsed into bed! It was a very long day for me but I handled it just fine and didn't feel any worse for the wear today.

Friday, September 20, 2013

"Oh no you di'nt"

Maddy has ridden Lucy for me a few more times this week. Lu got the first half of the week off to relax and reflect upon her new old job, of you know, working. Maddy got back in the saddle yesterday and then rode her again today.

I was working when all of this went on but I love that she tells me how it all goes, and she's not afraid to say, hey, your horse was kind of a jerk. During yesterday's ride, Lucy started out really nice and sweet and mild-mannered, and was enjoying her nice long rein. When it came time to trot Maddy picked up just a bit of rein, not even enough to actually have contact with Lu's mouth, but enough that she could have contact if she needed to.

Well, Lucy did not approve. Even though Maddy was not messing with her mouth at all, Lucy's ears went straight back, tail swished, and she kicked out(!!!!).*

Maddy dropped the reins and tried again. Happy ears, relaxed tail, adorable Western jog.

One more time trying out the contact? DEVIL HORSE!

On the buckle? HAPPY HORSE!

Ok, the mare has spoken. I guess she wants to be a Western Pleasure horse?!?!?!?!?

I told Maddy that as long as the horse was happy and sound, I didn't care what she was doing :) If she wants to doodle along on the buckle with happy ears, that is totally fine by me. It's actually what the vet wanted her to be doing, and I was standing there thinking "Lucy? Long and low? Relaxation? Umm can I buy some more Ace?"

Hehehe. I think I'm going to have a lot of extra Ace in my first aid box. :)

*Disclaimer: teeth are UTD, saddle fits great, she's going in a super mild snaffle, feet are solid and UTD, she doesn't give a crap if I poke and prod her all over her back, so I am quite certain this is not a pain-related issue or response.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lucy at work!

Photographic evidence that my horse exists in some working capacity!

given the no-hands approach, you can probably tell that Maddy wasn't very
worried about Crazy Lu returning

Lucy has even been quite tolerant of us touching her ears!

Is it bad I'm thinking about roaching her mane because I have zero
motivation to pull it right now? hehehe

yay! a little trot, no nasty mare face!

going around in an organized fashion on a loose rein

fat mare getting fatter

snuggle session in the paddock

Lucy was not impressed that I was doing this to her when she could be EATING
She is doing really, really well. Maddy rode again today but just walked, and now Lucy will get a few days off with just some light lunging, maybe a little walk on the trails in hand if I'm feeling up to it.

She has remained sound and happy, and the latter makes me feel like this was all worth it in a strange way. I had hoped this time off would do her brain some good, and after seeing her plod along like a cow pony, I am confident I was right!

It helps to have a really great rider to get her started again. Maddy is awesome.

PS - if you like my shirt, check out Bad Pony Clothing. The woman who owns it is a local Rhode Island-based artist/equestrian and her products are so cute!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

3, 2, 1...ride!

First, thanks for all your love and congratulations on our exciting news! Kenny went and bought me a brand new beautiful SUV last weekend so I guess we are well and truly on our way to being in family mode! ;)

Lucy had her first ride on Monday, with Maddy in the saddle. It was fairly chilly, and we had to walk through to the indoor in the pitch black. I am already missing the long summer days! Lucy plodded quietly along the path to the indoor and then lunged without any fuss. The vet wanted her to warm up on a lunge line for at least the first week or so before a rider got on. I don't think I will limit the lunging to just the first week; it is a good way to get her mind in the game, and after a few months of just lunging, she probably equates that to work more than anything else at this point.

After she had gone in both directions at the walk and trot, Maddy got on. Lucy just stood there, half asleep. Maddy started off letting her go in whatever direction she wanted to, as long as she was walking forward. Lucy went to her favourite corner of the ring, where she likes to roll, and I warned Maddy about that once I saw Lu sniffing the ground a bit. I don't think we needed to deal with a rolling incident, especially with her big bulky Western saddle on!

Lucy looked very calm to me, almost weirdly so. But I am happy that she wasn't a freak about going back to work. I didn't expect that out of her but I guess you never know, after the horse hasn't been ridden for six months. The goal for the ride was simply to meander around, long and low, and keep things very very simple. Maddy and Lucy just walked, and only for about ten minutes. Lucy looked a teenie bit short on her right hind leg but did not look distressed at all. I suspect this is a weakness issue, possibly a stifle issue from standing around so much. It didn't get any worse during the ride; in fact she seemed better on it at the end, so I am not worried about that. We called it a night, Maddy hopped off and loosened the cinch, and Lucy got lots of pats and kisses.

Once back at the barn, I put Sore no More on her back and gave her a Stud Muffin. She loves Stud Muffins ;)

Yesterday, Kenny got on her for me and we pretty much had a repeat of Monday's ride. I lunged her first and let her canter once warmed up, too. Her canter looked the best it has to date; absolutely no hesitation behind or swapping off in either direction. Kenny did decide to try a little trot with her but it got tense quickly. Lucy wasn't bad at all, no theatrics or nonsense, but it just was not what I really wanted to see at the trot. The vet stressed that it's very important she remain loose through her topline and keep her head low, and this was not that kind of trot. Kenny gets a bit worried sometimes and tends to pull on Lucy instead of half-halt and release, which quickly becomes a tug-of-war match between him and Lu...not good. I encouraged him to just keep it at the walk for now and we would work up to the trot eventually. He hasn't ridden since last fall, I believe, so I appreciated him being willing to get on her at all.

The good news is that the right hind leg looked almost perfect during Kenny's ride.

I also started casually looking for someone to start riding Lucy a few times a week and help get her going again. It's nervewracking to be opening myself up to a new rider, especially with Lucy coming back from a long break/injury, but I can't expect Maddy to do everything for me ;) she's only got so many hours in a day and she is very busy with work and her own horse, who's doing fabulously under saddle.

Today the weather is making me nervous. We went from high 50's, misty, overcast, etc, to high 80's with oppressive humidity and lots of sun. Lucy has the majority of her winter coat already so I am worried she is going to be hot today, and I'll probably soak her dinner extra well tonight. Horses are an endless source of worries.

I am off to the barn now for her farrier appointment and then she has an acupuncture appointment, too. Tough life!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

possibly the best blog entry in the history of blog entries

The optimistic side of me was thinking maybe Lucy could go back to walking under saddle for a month or two, and then maybe do some trotting down the road.

The pessimistic side of me was sure this horse was never going back to work and would be an expensive and beautiful lawn ornament forever.

The vet hadn't met Lucy before, so she did a whole exam, including palpating her suspensory ligaments on all four legs, palpating her neck, back, and hind end. She flexed her and had her assistant trot her out, which was good because I am in no shape to run! She flexed mildly positive in her front left and hind right, but those legs have a tiny bit of arthritis in them and those findings haven't changed since I got her, so we aren't worried about that. The vet did tell me she takes flexions into account but she never looks at them as deciding factors. Lucy looked fabulous on the lunge line, even stretching down at the trot to the right and left. The vet said if she had any pain in her back she would no be stretching so well! Lucy was feisty at the canter but since I have been so sick, I haven't done anything with her, so she's probably feeling fresh. Typical Lulu.

After she got a little workout on the lunge line, we brought Lucy back up to the barn and the vet palpated her neck, spine, and SI again. I stuffed cookies into her mouth to keep her mind off of it. She is a very touchy horse so it's hard to get a good reading when the vets are poking and prodding her. She just HATES to be poked and prodded! She will pin her ears, swish her tail, and act like a jerk and the whole time we're standing there wondering, is that pain? or is that the classic mare face? The first time the vet palpated Lucy, Lu was a total witch. The second time, after lunging, I had those cookies and she was like, OMG COOKIES and did not even pay one lick of attention to the vet. The vet was really happy with those findings - she was poking her pretty hard so if there was any pain, Lucy would have let us know, and she didn't react at all!

After that, the vet did the hoof testers on Lucy's feet and surprisingly, she was not foot sore at all. The vet said, ok, you have free rein to put this horse back to work! And I said, ok, should I just walk her? And she said, nope, there's no reason she can't trot and canter too. WOW!! Not what I was expecting at all. Of course I am going to take things a lot slower than that. I think it would be irresponsible to rush through putting her back into work when she hasn't had any weight on her back in six months, and she has had such a low activity level. I think walking on a loose rein and encouraging long and low relaxation for a little while is a good place to start. I would love if she could handle going out on trail rides, because she really loves it out there and she is better behaved than in the ring. Then once she is going well at the walk, if she wants to trot (and if she behaves herself!!) she can have a little trot. We'll see how it goes!

So that was absolutely WONDERFUL news and I came home thinking, "that was the best vet appointment EVER!". She didn't even want to ultrasound her, so Lucy didn't have to get clipped! I got out of the appointment spending less than $200, which never happens! I was on cloud 9.

THEN, the day got even better. You see, I have been holding onto a pretty big secret:

I am expecting a baby, of the human variety :D

I am just shy of three months pregnant, and I had a doctor's appointment today. We heard the baby's heartbeat and were given the green light to tell everyone! We had already told our immediate families and some close friends, but I am so glad I don't have to keep the secret anymore because it was stressing me out!!

I have been feeling extremely sick with the pregnancy and then I got pneumonia on top of all that, so the last two weeks were challenging to say the least. I have lost ten pounds, "look like crap" according to my barn owner (lol) and overall I feel like garbage! I can't wait until I am through the first trimester and onto the craving lots of delicious stuff stage!

What does this mean for Lucy? Not a whole hell of a lot, except I won't be the one riding her :( She is just too hot and unpredictable to risk it. I am sad that I won't be able to enjoy any blizzard rides this year because they are truly one of the best parts of living in New England in the winter (actually, one of the ONLY good parts), but I hope someone else can. Maddy and my husband are going to help put her back in work, and if she is well-behaved, I will look for an excellent leaser down the road. I invested in a fresh tube of Ace, though we will try her without it to start.

I debated not doing anything with her until the Spring but the vet said "absolutely not" because she would be starting almost from scratch fitness-wise. Right now she looks really good, even still has a topline and a nice butt. After another six months off, though, she may lose more fitness and then we'd be risking more injury as she started going under saddle again. The vet also told me that with back injuries, keeping them going actually helps the muscles to lengthen out and build up, instead of atrophy. The vet was very happy and impressed that Lucy's muscle tone seems so great even after all this time off. That's a Thoroughbred, for you!

I will say that knowing I'm pregnant at the same time my broken horse is finally coming to the point where she can be ridden again has been really tough emotionally. I am of course thrilled that I am going to be a mommy, but at the same time I love my horse and have made so many sacrifices for her and it just sucks that it's going to be another 7 months-ish before I can ride! I have never gone so long in my life without riding. I hope my patience pays off and that she handles the winter well, with no further injuries. I would LOVE to be able to take her to just one little event late next summer.

So that is the story!

back in the land of the living

After a SECOND trip to the ER last week, I think I am finally, maybe, possibly on the mend. I hope so, anyway, because this sickness business is GARBAGE! I don't have time for this nonsense. I laid in bed Monday through Wednesday afternoon and that is just not like me! Kenny has been a superstar, getting up at 5am to do Lucy's stall so that I don't have to go during the day. Maddy and our other boarder have been helping out with PM feedings on days I just cannot do it. I am really grateful that everyone has been so helpful and flexible.

Yesterday I felt ok enough to eat something and today I woke up feeling pretty damn good, so I will do my best not to abuse my body now that it's kind of coming back to life.

Lucy had an acupuncture appointment yesterday that I dragged myself to the barn for and then sat panting on a muck bucket while the vet did his thing. That's the thing about think you feel pretty good, then you stand up, or even just sit up! and you can't breathe for the next ten minutes.

Anyway, I made it there, and Lu was a good girl for the appointment even though it's been a month since her last one. Between our crazy schedules and me trying to die, we've had to cancel the last three appointments. The vet got six needles in before she started to have an issue, a new record. I have accepted that she will never be a willing pin cushion but given that she had a complete meltdown at the sight of ONE needle when we started, it's great that she will stand there now for six. We've discovered that she loves these treats that Maddy has. They're like horsey crack. They are small round cookies, about the size of a dime. I stand there while the vet is placing the needle and just shove these things into her face...and it works! Cairo is the LEAST food motivated animal you will ever find, and that can make training tricky at times, so I think it's only fair that my horse is the MOST food motivated horse I've ever met.

Today I am a teenie bit nervous, because it is hopefully the *final* follow up exam for Lucy and if it all goes well, she will be cleared to start working under saddle again. It will be just short of six months from the diagnosis at Tuft's to going back to work...a far cry from Tuft's initial guess of two months! But hey, we'll take it, and I'm just glad Lulu was an excellent invalid and did not get stupid when she was out of work.

Unfortunately I did have to request that Lucy and Brantley no longer be turned out together. I felt bad. The romance had started out well, the two of them nuzzling each other and sharing hay, but as time went on, Brantley became pretty protective of the hay and would not allow Lucy to stand by the gate. She was coming in with new battle wounds almost every day (and don't get me wrong, Brantley got his share too!) but she was surprisingly timid around him and I caught him really chasing her around a couple days in a row. The final straw for me was finding two new bite marks on her hind end and finding cuts on her hind legs from running in that tiny muddy paddock. So, I pulled the mommy card and broke them up. They actually seem a lot happier now, each with their own space and their own hay. I think maybe in the future we could try them together again but for now, it just wasn't worth the risk of her getting hurt when we are SO CLOSE to being able to ride! Luckily Maddy was very understanding and we have an extra paddock due to the fourth boarder leaving at the beginning of the month, so it all worked out very well!