Wednesday, April 23, 2014

2014 Mark Rashid Clinic - Day Two Pie - Feel and Timing

Finally a ride outside!  Of the 24 work sessions (three days times 8 sessions), only three were outside - and Pie and I got one of them on Sunday.  It had rained quite a bit on Saturday, but the outdoor arena has excellent drainage, and after dragging there was a rim around the outside that was useable and also one smallish circular area near one end.

The clinic hosts had managed to order a 5 1/2" Rockin' S raised snaffle for me - it's not generally available but can be special ordered - in fact sizes up to 6" in any of the Rockin' S snaffles can be ordered - Pie had long ago outgrown his 5" one that we'd gotten at the clinic back in 2012.  This is an unusual bit that Mark worked with the designer of the Rockin' S bits to design specifically for horses that have large tongues and low palates - this would be Pie. Although my ported Mylar snaffle was an approximation of the shape of the Rockin' S raised snaffle, the Mylar is a more rigid bit whereas the Rockin' S actually opens a bit wider with rein pressure.  As soon as Pie had it on, he was quieter and more relaxed and settled both in terms of his mouth and his head and neck position - he tried to dive much less and didn't want to use my hands as a fifth leg.  Here's a picture of the bit:

All the transitions we worked on the day before were pretty much completely fixed - all variations of halt with walk with trot.  All I had to do was feel the transitions on the inside of me and offer that to Pie, and bang perfect transitions.  The slight popping up of Pie's head on the transition I'd been experiencing was due to what horse naturally does with his head and neck - he pulls them back slightly which creates an opening to go up if you don't follow the motion of the head and neck with your hands.  If you keep the feel with your hands, this doesn't happen.

Then we worked on walk/canter and trot/canter transitions.  It was great that we ended up outside, since we wouldn't have been able to work on this in the very small indoor.   The work was the same as with the other transitions - feel the rhythm and energy of the canter - canter yourself - and exhale for "now" to get the actual transition.  We didn't worry about leads too much at first.  It was initially easier for us to get good walk/canter transitions than trot/canter transitions - Mark said that this was because we tend to carry forward/get stuck in the feel of trot even when we're trying for canter, which confuses things.  A simple trick to get the correct lead - cue with exhale as you come down from rise in posting trot - this is when the engaging hind leg is leaving the ground and therefore can be called into action to initiate the canter.

Pie was really excellent despite it being cold and windy and our being outside for only the third or fourth time this year and in place he hadn't been to for two years.  Many people complemented the quality of his gaits and how responsive he was - this from the horse that had almost no forward two years ago - Mark said he was a really nice horse several times and offered to take him off my hands since he was clearly so messed up - I politely declined.

Pie, unlike Dawn and Red, is a literalist - he doesn't fill in or compensate for me - Red and Dawn are overachievers and do their best to guess what I want and compensate when I'm communicating poorly - Pie on the other hand will always try to do exactly what he thinks I'm asking, so if I'm not getting what I want I need to look hard at what I'm doing and how I'm communicating with him.  Mark says I'm very lucky to have such a literal horse - he's a great feedback mechanism for me and will tell me when I'm riding correctly and when I need to fix something.  This turned out to be important on day three as well . . .

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Red Update - Keeping Fingers Crossed

Yesterday afternoon and evening Red was much quieter - the long-term sedative seems to be starting to help as the Ace would have long ago worn off.  His Previcox may also be starting to work to make him less uncomfortable. He did pretty well with Dawn through the late morning into early evening, and was glad to see Pie when I brought him in after lunch.  There were only a few instances of kicking. I put more Neosporin on his pastern rubs when I picked his feet.  He and I have worked out a way for me to pick the foot on his bandaged leg - I can't really pick it up so he rests it on its toe so I can pick it that way.

Last evening when I went by to give him his evening SMZs, he was resting quietly and his bandage was intact.  And he'd eaten all his hay and had a goodly amount of water to drink - when he was fretful he wasn't eating and drinking well - too busy kicking and churning around in his stall.  As he ate his meds, I slathered some Corona ointment on his bandaged heel to help keep rubs at bay.  Then I gave him some more hay which he eagerly started to eat. And I was able to pick his stall with the manure can in the stall door without him trying to push his way out.  Much improved over the night before.

This morning I got to the barn about 6:15 a.m. to see how he was doing as horses were turned out.  He was much better than yesterday, but still a bit worried and moving around the stall.  But there was very little kicking and the bandage was pretty much intact.  The vet got there around 8:30 and repeated the Ace/Reserpine injections - he's now had three doses of Reserpine.  And, for the first time since the hospital, his bandage got to stay on for more than one day - this is important to keep the swelling down.  Tomorrow at his bandage change the vet will use a shorter bandage, which should help with the rubs. Throughout the day he was much quieter, with both Dawn and Pie as a neighbor, and he only stamped the leg a couple of times.  He was also less insistent on escaping the stall, which made it easier to pick.  When I left him this afternoon, he was eating quietly next to Pie.  I'll be going back at 7:00 p.m. to give him his evening meds.

Keeping fingers crossed that he'll have smoother waters from here on out . . .

And I managed rides on both Dawn and Pie today - they were both very good.  Dawn is showing some mild EPM symptoms - not lame but just a bit "funky" - and when I did the foot placement test, she failed with both the left front and left hind.  She was vaccinated for rabies two weeks ago, and it's likely that this symptom flare up is due to that - vaccinations often trigger minor symptom recurrence in former EPM horses in the 10 day to two week time frame.  I'm not too worried about it, and unless the symptoms persist or get worse, she should be fine in a few days.  And Dawn's dental surgery has been rescheduled for June 4 - she was originally scheduled for May 8 but she's eating well right now and I've got my hands full with Red.  The dental surgery vet team will try to do her surgery on the farm and we'll only move her to the clinic if it's absolutely necessary - keeping fingers crossed on that as well.

Monday, April 21, 2014

More Drugs Needed . . .

Poor Red is really struggling with his confinement and how his leg feels.  Early this morning I arrived at the barn to find him very agitated - despite Pie next door quietly munching hay.  Red was churning around in his stall, was wide eyed and high headed, screaming and was kicking the floor constantly with his bandaged leg.  And then he started lifting his hind leg and tearing at the bandage with his teeth and quickly succeeded in starting to tear it off.

Another call to the vet.  I went in his stall, haltered him and tried to distract him so he'd stop tearing at his bandage and would kick less until the vet could get there.  The only things that seemed to help were rubbing his hindquarters and tail - both done carefully to avoid getting kicked.  He finally settled a bit with his butt to the stall door where I could stand outside and massage his tail through the bars.

When the vet got there, she gave him 1 cc of Ace IV and another IM, for a longer lasting effect, and gave him another 0.5 cc shot of Reserpine - that is the long-term sedative where we're trying to reach a loading dose.  Since morning when the horses are turned out and I do the Pie/Dawn switch seems to give him the most trouble - and when he's worried he started kicking and trying to get his bandage off - the vet will come each morning to repeat the Ace and Reserpine.  We'll stop adding Reserpine once he's calm on it without the Ace, or if he gets diarrhea from it we may have to continue the Ace.  He also got another gram of bute to help with the swelling and soreness from all his moving around and kicking - the incision looks very good but there's a fair amount of swelling, which isn't helped by all the bandage changes we're doing - the bandages are supposed to stay on for two to three days.  Poor fellow, he'd also developed rubs on the back of his pastern from the bandage which were also contributing to his irritation - he got some medicine on those.

Red noticed when I did the Pie/Dawn switch, and was still kicking a little but not as much, and as I left he gave a couple of whinnies that were subdued versions of his usual scream.

Now, if the vet had just had some medicine to give me . . .

Sunday, April 20, 2014

One More Day with Red in Recovery . . .

Red's bandage looked pretty good this morning.  I swapped Pie for Dawn in Pie's stall and left the barn for a while.  When I got back at around 1 p.m. to reverse the Pie/Dawn swap, Red had clearly been churning in his stall, had not eaten his hay and was kicking with his bandaged hind leg continuously - every couple of seconds - he had completely cleared the shavings from the middle of his stall.  The bandage had slid down several inches and had come loose at the top, and the more it slid, the more he kicked.

His long-term sedation hadn't really done much good - he was extremely alert and worried.  (He gets another dose tomorrow, and may need a couple more doses before things really kick in.)  The only thing the sedation seems to have accomplished is that he screams (slightly) less, and when he kicks, he tends to kick the (padded) floor of the stall rather than the concrete wall or wooden partitions - small but important blessings.  He's uncomfortable and aggravated.

But his bandage was a mess, and at some point he'd managed to get it wet, probably by running into his water bucket.  So another emergency vet call - I got the same vet as yesterday.  Red did stand like a statue without more sedation for her to cut the old bandage off and put a new one on.  The incision looked clean but there was a bit more swelling than yesterday - no wonder considering the amount of kicking he's been doing.

Another thing his visit at the vet hospital accomplished was to make him head shy for medicines by mouth - he'd been perfect for that before.  Either too many meds or being manhandled had made him resistant.  Tonight was his last dose of bute, so we worked on that with approach/release, and he quickly got better again - another small mercy.  He's eating his dissolved SMZs with grain as well as his Previcox well, but he still seems pretty uncomfortable.  And after the vet left, he was still doing some kicking and I actually caught him lifting his hind leg forward and bending his head and neck around and trying his teeth on the bandage - bad boy.  Bitter Apple may be in our future as well . . .

We have another vet visit already scheduled for tomorrow, and it seems likely that we'll need it to redo his bandage again.  At least the vet will be able to give him another long-term sedation dose, which may calm him down a bit (here's hoping).

And finally, at the end of a beautiful spring Easter day, I had a very nice outdoor ride on the wonderful Pie - a bit of a relief and a few moments of relaxation.

One more day towards Red's recovery . . . I don't know if I'll be as glad as he will when he's back to normal but I know I'll be mighty glad . . .

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Another Long Day

I was at the barn early this morning - around 7:00 a.m., to give Red his meds and see how he was doing.  I had left Pie in his stall for company - Pie wasn't very happy about that.  Red was somewhat worried, and seemed uncomfortable.  He did manage to eat his Previcox and SMZs, which was a good thing - the Previcox with a little grain, and the SMZs with another small portion of watered grain so the pills dissolved.

I brought Dawn in and groomed her and she promptly flooded the aisle - she's in heat.  I put her in Pie's stall and turned Pie out.  Red immediately became very agitated and started kicking hard with his bandaged hind leg and screaming for Pie, and churning around in his stall.  Not good.  Red kicked the partitions - hard - a couple of times, so I went in his stall to hold him and keep him from kicking the concrete back wall - as hard as he was kicking he would likely have hurt himself.  He was both very uncomfortable - the bandage had slipped down in the night due to him sleeping on it - he had shavings on that side - and due to him constantly kicking.

I called the vet and they said they would send someone out to take off and redo his bandage and start him on longer-term sedation - that clearly was going to be necessary, as I'd suspected it might be.  It took the on-call vet a while to come, so I stayed with Red in his stall, holding his halter and attempting to calm him and keep him from kicking where he would injure himself.  For some reason, I remembered something a horse acquaintance had taught me years ago - she used to do Linda Tellington Jones TTouch work, and taught me to place a fingers on the inside and outside of the horse's ear and stroke upwards to help calm them.  Darned if it didn't work - Red got a little calmer and we survived until the vet got there, although it seemed like an endless time.

He was slightly sedated, and the vet removed his old bandage and did him a new one.  She also gave him an injection of Reserpine - this is a long-lasting sedative, and he can have a touch more every couple of days until he's sufficiently calm, at which point we'll hold him there.  He's already a bit more relaxed.  Apparently the only possible side effect is diarrhea, which we'll keep an eye out for.  (Reserpine is the drug that is sometimes used to deceive buyers into thinking they're purchasing a calm horse.)

Once Red was done, the vet on call ended up having to do double duty.  There was an elderly Arabian at our barn who had coliced badly about three weeks ago and then had recovered - he was in distress again - a lot of distress - he was throwing himself down and struggling, rubbing big scrapes on his body, and was in obvious severe pain.  His owner knew it was time, and had called for her regular vet but he was a ways away and said to have my vet put him to sleep so he wouldn't suffer.  I was there with her and held his halter as he was euthanized - he was a brave old fellow.  The vet was very respectful of him, closing his eyes and rearranging his head.  It's always sad when an old horse passes, but he had a good life and his owner took care of him always.

I did have a very fine ride outside on Pie (finally) at the end of the day, but it was still a very long and stressful day - I'm hoping Red will be settling down tomorrow.