Thursday, July 24, 2014

Vet Coming Monday . . .

It's been a month, and Red's still off in the right hind.  He's improving, but the improvement is very slow lately.  He has a lot more trouble when he's having to sit back and use his hind end when slowing down or going downhill.  At this point, I need to know what's going on so I know what to do with him - if it's a soft tissue injury, he may need some months off, or if it's minor, riding at the walk wouldn't hurt him. If it's hock arthritis flaring up, more exercise rather than less may be beneficial.  If it's some other sort of joint injury, I need advice on how to deal with it.

Anyhow, my vet is coming on Monday to do a full lameness evaluation.  My vet is very good and affiliated with a nearby veterinary hospital.  She's good in lots of ways - listens well, has a pleasant manner with horses and people, is very thorough and careful, and is also very smart and knowledgeable.  We'll know more on Monday . . . more vet bills . . . sigh . . .

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ground Work - a Rare Thing for Us, and a Note on Red's Soundness

I almost never do ground work of any kind.  I usually do ground work to check things out progressively with a new horse where I don't know what the horse knows or doesn't know, to teach the horse a specific skill (ground driving can be very useful for this), to help a horse who is too distracted or fresh to be able to focus and work (and to allow for some "bucks for safety"), or to briefly lunge to check soundness.  One thing I don't do is a lot of lungeing - I don't like the wear and tear on joints, and I don't need to lunge to assess my horse's mood - that's usually pretty obvious as we groom and tack up.

I usually just get on and ride.  But today, for a change, Red and Pie did some ground work with me.  It's a great way to do some work when I don't have the time or inclination to ride.

Both boys worked on "trailer loading" - as in loading into the wash stall or into their stalls, with me giving a go forward cue from the side with a dressage whip - gently tapping until they take a step, repeat.  Both boys "loaded" well, and also backed into the wash stall too.

Red and I worked on his inside turns, just at the walk.  He tried some trotting, but I kept him at walk - we're not trotting yet.  I wanted clean turns, where he turned and stayed out, not cutting in.  It was easier in one direction than the other, but he did it very nicely by the end of our session.  We did zig zags back and forth across the arena.  The trick for me is to make sure I lead with my new leading hand and turn my body so he knows to turn and keep going, and that I don't step away from him as he turns, since that tends to bring him in towards me - most of this is about how clear and precise I am with my body language, rather than about what Red is doing - he's a great feedback mechanism.  Red and I also did a bit of side passing and turn on the forehand in hand.

Pie and I worked on getting him to go forward on the lunge at the walk.  Pie makes it clear that he doesn't think there's much point to lungeing - too much unnecessary expenditure of energy - but he grudgingly cooperated.  (Pie doesn't think there's too much point to most things people do - except when the provide hay or grain.)

Yesterday I had the chance to observe Red moving in the pasture.  It was beastly hot, and I was bringing Pie in because of the heat, and Red came after us at the trot and then the canter.  He was perfectly sound, including when cantering on the left lead, which puts more stress on the right hind (the leg that's been troubling him recently).  He broke to trot, trotted sound, but then as he slowed to a more collected trot in preparation for walk, he wasn't sound on the right hind - he can't collect, which puts more stress on the joints and supporting structures.  I'm thinking joints - either the hock or the fetlock joint - but then I'm not a vet . . .  I'm not riding him at all this week, and this weekend I'll put him on the lunge again to see if he's improving . . .

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Red is Still Lame . . . :(

Red is still lame on his right hind at the trot on the lunge.  No worse, maybe a little bit better.  There's no heat, no swelling, no tenderness that I'm able to detect.  The lameness came on a day or so after he was apparently kicked with a glancing blow on the front of his cannon bone on June 24 - just a nick, although there was some swelling of the extensor tendon along the front of his leg.  The swelling resolved pretty quickly with some icing, and his soundness improved as well although he's not been 100% since.

I have no idea what's up with him, so I guess it's time to call the vet . . . again.  The problem could be anywhere in his hind leg, and he doesn't seem to be improving much.  He's completely sound at the walk under saddle - in fact his walk is big and swinging - and he motors around pretty happily out in the pasture.  It's a mystery - just hoping it isn't an expensive one, considering all the vet bills I've already had this year . . .  And he's not a horse who can tolerate much if any stall rest or penning up - and of course that's how Pie, his companion for his recovery from splint bone surgery, developed ulcers . . .

He's happy and otherwise healthy, so I'm trying not be discouraged . . .  I love riding this horse, and he's amazing to ride - the most athletically gifted and sensitive horse I've ever ridden - but it seems that we get to do very little riding.

As one of my friends at the barn says, with horses if it's not one thing it's another.  The corollary of that is that with horses, it's always something . . .

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Norman (and a Girlfriend)

I realize I haven't had much on the blog lately about the retirees - Norman, Lily and Maisie - who live in Tennessee at Paradigm Farms.  But today there was a photo on their blog I had to share - it's Norman-the-pony with one of his girlfriends.  He's a little guy - only about 12.2 hands - but he's got a big personality, and the mares in his herd seem to really love him.

It's good to see him so happy in his retirement.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Red Slowly Improves, Dawn is Eating Well, and Pie is Perfectly Pleasant

Red is still not sound at the trot on the lunge, but he's slowly improving, and considering how much cantering and even galloping he's been doing in turnout, the fact that he's improving is a sign things should continue to get better.  It's the right hind, where he bruised the front of his pastern joint and the front of his fetlock when he fell in the barn aisle, and also got a glancing kick to the front of the cannon bone - it's likely he has a minor strain and bruising of the extensor tendon.  But his walk is sound, and free and swinging, and his trot isn't bad - short striding with the right hind - not bringing it forward quite as far as the left hind - and worse when the right hind is on the outside of the circle.  This is consistent with it being the extensor tendon, since the outside hind has to travel further on the outside of the circle, and if he's not bringing it forward far enough that's exaggerated when the right hind is on the outside.  There's no heat, swelling or tenderness, although he still has hard lumps at the three impact sites, which I've been massaging.

We're just going to keep on with our program - all day turnout and walk rides.  Today he even offered up a bit of trot that wasn't too bad at all when we were doing our big walk - I brought him right back to walk since we won't be trotting under saddle until he's sound at the trot on the lunge - we'll check again in another week.  In the meantime, there's lots we can do - shortening/lengthening the walk, halt/walk/halt transitions with backing thrown in, figure work and some lateral work.

Dawn is still "resting" after her dental surgery last week - I won't ride her for about another 10 days.  But she's doing very well and eating up a storm - she's able to eat hay much better now and is really enjoying it.  She's still on antibiotics, and had her last dose of banamine today.  After the other two teeth come out in a month, she'll probably feel even better.

Pie's turnout time in the pasture has gradually been increasing, and tomorrow is the first day in three months that he and Red will go out to the pasture with the other geldings at turnout time, and will stay out all day.  Pie had more than 7 hours of pasture turnout today, and his feet are doing fine - no pulses or heat.  He and Red were very cute when I turned them out this morning - Red walked ahead and waited for Pie, who broke into a canter first but Red then led the way - they cantered off with Red in front at quite a relaxed canter - it was very cute to see Pie following along in Red's tracks. I'm starting to taper off Pie's ulcer meds - he had 3/4 tube of UlcerGard yesterday and today, and we'll back off to 1/2 tube tomorrow.  Once we're down to 1/4 tube, I'll keep him on that for a while.  He's now a Perfectly Pleasant Pie - no grumpiness for grooming and tacking and very happy and forward at trot and canter - what a change!  He's doing some of the best canter work he's ever done, relaxed, soft and balanced.