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.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Red is Home . . . and Loading Trouble

I had a long and very stressful day, but at least things finally ended well.  I got to the vet hospital at about 12:45 - 15 minutes before my scheduled discharge appointment at 1:00, in order to get hitched up - I'd left my trailer at the clinic.  And . . . there was an SUV and trailer parked directly in front of my trailer.  Not only that, but the owner of said SUV and trailer had gone out to lunch . . . a long lunch . . .  An hour later, the trailer owner pulled in with a friend in her car, and jumped out, very apologetic.  In fact, she'd been told it was OK to park there by a clinic worker (who had already confessed same to me).  They were very nice and even helped me hitch up and we discussed our various horse ailments.

Then I sat around and waited some more . . . perhaps another hour.  Meds and vet supplies showed up, with printed discharge instructions - I had a bunch of questions and was pretty anxious about everything.  I'd popped in to visit Red a couple of times, and he got very excited when he saw and smelled the trailer - I think he was having visions of Pie and called a bunch of times.

Red will be on complete stall rest for 10 days, then stall rest plus hand walking for another 10 days, and then 10 days in a pen for turnout.  SMZs 2x a day, bute once for a few days and Previcox once a day starting tomorrow.  The clinic will send someone out to rebandage his leg on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Finally the surgery tech came out to talk to me.  They do not want the farrier handling his leg for 2-3 weeks - and he's scheduled for a trim next Friday.  My farrier is a bit of a prima donna, although very good, and comes every 6 weeks on his schedule, not mine - he does 3 other horses at our barn besides my 3 - I'm going to have to beg him to make a special visit 3 weeks from now for Red - hope he'll cooperate.  Also, they want me to have him on Previcox for 14 days - I'm very anti-Previcox (it's in the same family as the previous human wonder drugs Vioxx and Celebrex) and think it's way overused by vets today and should be only used for short periods to avoid potential side effects.  They say there's no good alternative, so I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.

Red was lightly sedated and the surgical tech rewrapped his leg with a bandage.  The incision is looking good so far and the swelling is modest.

Then I tried to load him in the trailer - you'd have thought he'd want to get out of there.  No way . . .  45 minutes later he was still refusing to get on the trailer.  I wasn't willing to resort to force, because all of the work we'd done on building trust would have been in vain.  I should have been thinking - if something isn't working, don't just keep repeating what doesn't work but instead try something else . . .

I was completely at my wits' end - the fact he was slightly sedated made him not care too much about our usual go-forward cue.  Finally I put him back in his stall and sat down on a rock wall and burst into tears - I bawled for a while until some of the tension was released.  I didn't know what to do, but didn't want to resort to force and wanted to load him myself.  I was also very worried that all the churning around would hurt his leg - he was doing a lot of kicking out to say that his leg hurt, although the bandage seemed to be staying in place.

I'm sure the vet clinic personnel have seen as bad or worse in terms of horse and human behavior, but I was terribly embarrassed.  Finally I managed to collect my wits and asked if there was a dressage whip around - my tapping with the end of the lead was getting us no where, but tapping with the whip might be enough more of a cue to get his attention, and it was - a few minutes later he was on the trailer.

The surgeon and surgical tech came out and inspected his bandage and said it looked OK, so off we went home.  Red was very glad to see Pie, and Pie even seemed glad to see him, and he seemed to be comfortable with being home.

Don't know if it was the day I was supposed to have, but I'd sure prefer not to repeat it.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Updates on All

Dawn got groomed this morning - she was very snuggly and there was lots of muzzle wrapping.  She hasn't been ridden in a week but that's OK - she's fine with things.

I went out to visit Red in the afternoon and was able to get some clarifications from my regular vet - the surgical folks are less "user-friendly" and I had called to complain about the lack of information they have been giving me.  I had bought and took out some Equilite Relax Blend - it has valerian, chamomile and passion flower to help with calming - to start adding to his feed as well as some U-Gard pellets to head off ulcers.  I've also ordered some pure ground valerian, chamomile and passion flower from herbalcom.com to use going forward.

When I got there Red was fairly unhappy - apparently there had been a lot of activity at the hospital with horses coming and going.  He'd pulled out his neck catheter overnight and his neck was wrapped - we were able to take this off to make him more comfortable.  He was restless and his eyes were big. He was also unhappy with his leg bandage - it's a surgical compression bandage.  I spend a fair amount of time grooming him and doing some relaxation work and he did start to relax a little bit and eat his hay - I think he appreciated my visit.

The surgeon is wanting two weeks of complete stall rest, but my regular vet knows Red and his personality and will talk to him about getting some leeway in that - some hand walking, if only up and down the barn aisles to sniff noses with his friends - as well as being on cross ties for grooming, would go a long way for his mental health.  I told her I don't care a lot what the wound looks like when it's healed as long as it's medically OK.

Bandaging his leg until sutures come out - two weeks - is very complicated - The bandage runs from his hock to his foot and I think there are at least 6 layers.  The vets will come and give me some help with that every other day, so that's a relief.  Red will be going home tomorrow afternoon and will go in his regular stall, which is 12'x14', and either Pie or Dawn will be in the next stall during the day so he won't be alone when the other horses are in turnout.  It does require some moving Pie and Dawn into and out of turnout, but I'll be spending a lot of time at the barn with Red anyway so that'll work out.

On my way home from the clinic, I stopped back at the barn and gave Pie a good grooming - he's been neglected a bit recently and seemed to appreciate the attention.

2014 Mark Rashid Clinic - Day Two Roxie - Leading (aka Directing) Work

I decided to tackle working with Roxie for my first session on Sunday (the second day).

Remember that statement Mark made that I'd had exactly the day I was supposed to have?

Mark said it's not about being wrong or a failure, it's not good or bad, it's just information and an opportunity to learn.  Mark said that's what he'd meant - if I don't find out where the limits of my horsemanship are, how will I ever improve?  That's one of the things I love about working with Mark - he never sugar coats things and is absolutely direct and honest, but he also has no interest in criticizing or running clinic participants down.  There's very little ego there - it's all about getting the best result for you and your horse.

Mark said that we often have a tendency to focus on the negative - my ride on day one was going pretty well for about the first 45 minutes - things only started coming undone at the very end of the ride.  So some things were working pretty well.

Today I needed to start over giving Roxie direction so she could find me to be a trustworthy leader - to help both of us.

We spent an hour doing nothing but leading work - and although I'd have said I have a pretty good handle on defining my personal space and leading, there were lots of subtleties I'd never grasped - this was a whole different level of paying attention to the horse and our interaction.

The leading work was designed to rebuild our mutual trust - the horse cannot trust you as a leader unless you are the one doing the directing.  You have to be at least as important to the horse as any distraction, and the horse always needs to know where you are at a minimum.  (Mark does not believe that it is necessary, or even possible in many cases, to be more important to the horse than a distraction.) If the horse is doing the directing and you are reacting to what the horse is doing, you aren't the leader.  This is not a matter of  dominance or being a horse's "alpha" - Mark doesn't buy any of that and I agree - but it is a matter of trust - the horse can't trust you if the horse doesn't feel safe with you as a leader.

Horses push on things - this has nothing to do with "respect" but is just the way they define their space and their environment - they push on other horses, they push on objects, like fences, and they push on us.  Mark believes the use of the term "respect" is a lazy person's way of making things the horse's fault, and gets us into an adversarial/defensive relationship with our horses.
Horses don't even have the part of the human brain where the human concept of respect resides.

We worked for entire session on refining my leading work with Roxie, to be sure I was clear, consistent, and direct but not abrupt.  The job was to define my space and not have her push me, but rather to direct her - some of this is pretty subtle. This allowed her to relax and have confidence in my leadership.  Mark taught me to pick up very subtle things that she was doing and coached me on what to do.  One example of this is our turns to Roxie's right.  Initially, I would walk from in front of her around to her right and she would start to turn before I asked for the turn - this was a subtle example of where she was pushing me.

By the end of our session, we were doing pretty well.  She was correctly maintaining her position outside my "bubble", and our turns were good, and she would maintain her distance by backing as I walked into her space.  She calmed down quite a bit and was much more attentive, and the feel in the line and between us was really beginning to come through.

It's very hard to describe the specifics of what we were doing, but by the end it was much more about flow and feel than about mechanics.  I hadn't gotten on her again yet, but we both felt much better about things.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mark Rashid Blog Post on Fear, and Red is Doing Well

A subject near and dear to the hearts of many people who handle and work with horses - fear.  Take a read of Mark's blog post today on the subject.

Red's surgery was supposed to start around 9:30 this morning, but the surgeon was delayed and things didn't get underway until around 11:00.  I hung around throughout - had my laptop and a book and talked to the office staff.  At around 1:30, one of the techs came out with a message - the surgery went very well, and Red was in the recovery room and had stood up.  He stayed in the recovery room for about an hour and then went back to his stall.  I got to visit him there briefly - he was still a bit wobbly so I couldn't go in his stall, but he was eating a bit of wet hay - the first thing he'd had to eat since midnight last night - and although he raised his head to say hello he went right back to eating.  It was good to see him alive and well - his hind leg was tightly wrapped from hock to foot, and he was standing comfortably on it.

And I got a souvenir - they gave me the piece of his splint bone that had been removed - it was about 10 cm or 3+ inches as the surgeon had expected:


And here's the fractured tip:


I'm sure glad we took that x-ray 10 days ago.  I'm now discussing with the vets what sort of sedation he'll need to tolerate stall rest and with the barn manager where in the barn he will go for the two weeks he can't leave his stall.

More clinic posts in the works . . .