Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Better things will be just around the bend

I knew I was out of town a lot this past month, so I wouldn't ride much. I was right, I rode very little. I haven't ridden more than 1 or 2 times a week for the past month. I was going to try to go to a small hunter show that was Nov 2, unfortunately while Mia is down for jumping all the things, the rust was too great to squeak out a decent hunter round so I didn't go. Things like half halts, balanced jumps, not rushing, and staying collected were no where near what a hunter show would require and I felt no need to spend almost $60 and a half of a day to go to a show when we were so ill prepared.

After that, I went on a road trip to TX for a full week. To clarify, we drove to TX and THEN went on a road trip. I had originally planned on flying down and participating but forgot to book tickets the day I looked them up. When I looked a couple of months later, prices had tripled and was out of budget so joined the drive down to TX, then did the road trip, then drove back. Dude. 6042 miles in 8 days. 12-16 hour days of driving in a vehicle that only comfortably goes 65mph, averaged 700 miles per day, with 3 people in a van with 2 seats. I was so done and over with the damn trip by the time we got back, I told SO never again. That amount of driving is well outside of the realm of "tolerating fun", I think it would be been okay enough of if I had flown down and back but to drive the whole thing? Nope. No way.

After we got back, our 13.5yr old German Shepherd died. We've been expecting it for a while, but for her to actually pass away hit me a lot harder than I expected. She was ridiculously healthy for being as old as she was, which is a testament to our care and her breeding. I really tried to do everything for her, and went well beyond what most would have done with the issues she had. It is an end of an era, as we are taking a break from dogs for a while. I've had a dog nonstop since 2004, and had a dog (but at my mom's) since I was a young teenager. It's weird not having a dog around. When we do end up with another, it will be a smaller dog than a 75lb dog and not one who sheds so much they explode. So last weekend we gathered up the dog beds (much to the dismay of the cats who claimed them as theirs), food, treats, toys, etc and donated them to a rescue. I wanted to make sure other dogs were helped even if we didn't take a dog on right way. When the universe thinks it is time, it will drop another dog in our lap. That's how it has always worked.

I finally started riding again. Last week I rode 3x. The rides are pretty light, as neither of us are in a shape other than round. It is a lot of reminding Mia that we are still under Operation "We are responsible for our haunches, and they belong behind us!". I did buy bigger spurs, I have little half inch nubbins and she was not actually moving off of my leg. I now have 1.5" knobs and it was amazing to feel the difference, once I actually noticed the difference. Her "moving off of my leg" in the canter before still left her haunches in. I can now actually get her to move her haunches behind her now.

While she is doing it, Mia is having incredible difficulty in cantering with her haunches behind her/haunches out. She is using all kind of evasion techniques, from running, to not cantering, to cantering sideways, to being ridiculously inverted, just by asking her to move her haunches behind her. I know it is  a process, and I am not going to be super concerned with correcting every evasion until a month or so of building new muscle, but our nice collected canter is not to be found the second I ask her to put the haunches behind her lol.

Finally, I do have a lead on some possible lessons, actual, real life lessons. I am going to talk to the lady tonight and see if we can get something scheduled. I am excited, I know we will make so much more progress with the canter with some eyes on the ground, even if it is to babysit my behind and remind me to stop doing stupid stuff.  Fingers crossed, it may be approaching winter but I'm ready to ride again!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Moving on, albeit slowly

Admittedly, I took App's passing a lot harder than I expected. Hell, almost a month later I still get really upset and tear up if I think about it too hard. I was a total zombie for 2 days, and a shell for 2 weeks. I am glad I had Mia, though, because I don't know if I would have went back to horses right way otherwise. We won't even mention the time, 2 weeks later, that I looked to his shed to see where he was before I realized he wasn't there. #Veryverybadday It's been rough, y'all. Like, legit rough, way worse than I expected.
Mia cares not for stupid hooman shenanigans
What else has happened over the past 3 weeks? Mia was lame, now she is sound again. She jumped out of the arena when I was free lunging her, right over the 3'6" half door. I started riding again regularly, something I haven't been doing thanks to the depression issue. The barn had a fun show, so I wanted to make myself go to it. So I dressed up as a black unicorn. And, again, Mia is amazing. She took less than 5 minutes to decide my costume was NBD and didn't care ever again. All it took was about 6 treats. Yep.
First ride with costume, apx 45 seconds after getting on. #NoCares
The fun show was cool and was the first GOOD day I had had since putting App down. Baby steps. I rode Intro C and it was the hardest ride of my entire life! HA! The costume was so extremely hard to ride in, and visibility was basically non-existent, but we were successful and we won not only our costume class, but also high point for the show! The judge ended up being the one who took all of my motivation away at the last show, due to a last minute schedule issue as someone else was supposed to be there. For the costume class, though, she absolutely loved Mia's #NoCares attitude and gave us a 9 for submission. HA!!!!! We ended with a 71.25%! The funny part was the bottom, 6.5 for rider position. LOL! Unicorn LEANS a lot! Geometry, yeah, no joke we needed work on shape of circle, I couldn't see ANYTHING and thought our chances were 50/50 she would just jump out! HAHAHA!


Our second ride was the USEA Training test and it went actually really well! For the very first time, I asked for all of my transitions and didn't blank out during the ride. #WIN That was what I have been hoping to do, fix my brain and I HOPE that I have done that finally. The ride was fairly uneventful, but the judge came down on us super hard again. She didn't like the canter lengthenings, she didn't like the trot work again, said we were just running, Mia's haunches are in, blah blah blah. I don't really care about her opinion though, I didn't ride for her. I rode for ME. I rode to fix my brain and I did. I am really happy about the ride.
This little section makes me laugh so hard! 
My big takeaway, however, is that I absolutely have to focus on Mia's haunches now. We have fixed so much training wise, her haunches are now the next big thing. She will travel haunches in, both directions, while free in a pasture and while free lunging, so I know it isn't a saddle/rider issue. Last week started Operation Haunches, and Mia does not appreciate the new mission lol.

Totally done with the rider's stupid antics
I now have slightly longer spurs (1.5" vs .5") and am riding with a whip, as when I apply my leg I am expecting her to MOVE. I've had 3 training rides and while they are rough rides, we are making progress. Mia is now moving her haunches and I can actually feel her haunches move. The movement is very telling, showing me just how much she has faked it for these 6 years. I can get her to move her haunches in the canter for only a stride or two, but that's fine. We have to build new muscle and balance. The fact we now have actual haunch movement is the win. Onward and upwards, right?

Does not appreciate Operation: Responsible For Our Own Haunches And They Belong Behind Us
I am gone almost every weekend between now and December. I want to try a hunter show on Nov 2, because it is super close to my barn. We didn't get fit enough to do another HT for the year, which really bums me out. There's always next year though, right?

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

And then.... time to say goodbye.

Last Friday was the day I had to say goodbye to App. I have been dreading the date, the lead up is NOT something I would recommend or would do again. Next time I will have a vague time frame and when it is time, I will do it then or with a week or so notice. The lead up of 2 months is horrible and 0/10 do not recommend.

App has been dealing with severe shoulder arthritis since May 2016. There is virtually no joint space left and has significant bone remodeling in his left shoulder joint. It has been challenging to deal with that, as his comfort level goes way down in the winter and on wet days, but we have been managing.


Then 2 months ago he started walking oddly. We had the vet out and he was diagnosed with a hairline pelvic fracture. On his good days, he just steps funny with his hind end. On his moderate days, his back feet step into an almost straight line with one another, like he is walking a tightrope.


On his bad days? On his bad days, his back legs cross like a runway model, he doesn't have great balance, and will sway too and fro while walking. He was a weeble though, he hadn't fallen down, which was a risk he was labeled with, Though I was damn impressed that he didn't fall several times. 


The barn manager has been going above and beyond to help make him comfortable. He started "free ranging" last year, she would regularly send me pics/video of his movement so I could help assess him since I wasn't there, and she would let me know if he was having a bad day and needed more drugs. She has never charged me more for the extra care, thought I have very regularly given her $$ directly.


From cleaning up after him when he pooped/peed in the aisle/indoor/whomever's empty stall he walked into, to receiving death glares after dosing him with Tylenol, to putting boots/wraps on to try to prevent the pressure sores on his fetlocks from getting worse, she played a huge part in getting him to this September. I am forever grateful that she did this for him.

While Friday was hard for me, it was perfect for him. He got to free range with Mia in the morning (yes, Mia got to free range with him), he had plenty of hay when I got there at 2p, and it was a beautiful day. He got about 3lbs of apples and a pound of carrots. He was so full of treats, he didn't even care about grass. He begged for more treats even as we walked to the grave and he was happy and alert as the vet gave him the sedative. Joke was on the vet though, App is super hard to sedate LOL. When we let him go, he simply buckled his front legs and laid down. The vet said it was the best lay down she has ever had in her entire practice. I am glad for that, even in leaving us he was graceful and peaceful.

I know for a fact I made the right choice and would absolutely make it again, but I am still super sad. I wish I could have done this when he was 35 instead of 26. I wish I could have moved somewhere warm in 2016 so the winters wouldn't have escalated things. I wish he was still here. But he is at peace, is no longer in pain, and isn't going to to suffer when it gets colder. My biggest fear was him slipping and something worse happening with his pelvis fracture.


But I did everything right. The vet even commented that for as severe as his issues were, he was exceptionally managed. He even didn't look "old". That I was the only person they knew who managed a severe shoulder injury for as long as I did. That I was the only person who tried everything they suggested and there was literally no other options they could offer. That he was not in excessive pain, as he was in excellent weight and was super alert. I did everything I could and gave him a peaceful, happy passing.


I would rather let him go a month too early than a day too late, so I did. So I shall hold him close to my heart forever, until we meet again for one more ride.

Chip - 5/16/93 - 9/27/19

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

First things first

Why did I not post about the show results? Because the judge destroyed 100% of my motivation and I still haven't ridden a real dressage ride since the 15th. Yeah, that bad. Anyway, the story. Our ride was at 4p, it was super weird to actually DO stuff that is not horse-related on a show day. How does that even work?! 

I took the time to braid. I shouldn't have. Mia hates being braided and I went from chill, cool cucumber to a very annoyed and pissed off person in that 30 minutes. She refuses to stand still, she throws her head, she shifts away from the stool, apparently I really need to step up the braiding practice. So much for the zen I had going on, I threw the shipping boots on and threw her in the trailer with threats of being sold to a petting zoo.

I was calm by the time we got to the show. We took a long time to warm up because we had so much time to kill. I used to require 60 mins of warmup on App and haven't ever actually changed that timeframe. I really need to slice it down to about 20 mins, bc Mia ended up tired and I ended up bored by the time our ride time came. 

The show was a fix-a-test and didn't ride anything like I expected. A fix-a-text is supposed to be ride test, talk about it, and then ride again to fix it. Apparently she was running it as ride your test and get a 15 min "lesson" to fix the bad parts of your test. I told her my issues in the test (holy haunches in canter batman), that I wanted to ride the test at least 2x, maybe 3x if there was time, because my brain had broken in this Training level test and I needed experience so I could stop being stupid. 

Now the caveat, as you know, was that I had ridden dressage exactly 5 days in the 4 weeks leading up to this show. 5 days, in a row. It's not like we were actually at the top of our game, we were doing this specifically for experience. I started the test and no real surprise, the wheels started to come off of the bus. Mia was pulling for most of the ride, her haunches didn't stay behind herself, she put trot steps in the freewalk, she broke into the canter at the lengthened trot, my brain wasn't riding every stride. At the 3/4 mark of the test, when we were in our last canter, my brain clicked and said "Hey! It doesn't matter! We will do this again!" That had me relax and while Mia broke into said canter in the lengthened trot, I thought the last bit of test rode the best. 

After our halt/salute, the judge tore us all apart. Her biggest issue is that I am riding exclusively with my hands. Except...I don't! I don't think I do anyway. I told her as much and she said I am absolutely riding with my hands, and riding her backwards with my hands. She said that I am chasing Mia the entire ride, and she looks like she is trying to run away during the test. She said my lengthened trot was....not and that I just chased her across the diagonal instead. And it went downhill from there. She said on 3 occasions I need regular lessons, which I told her I WANTED them but I can't FIND any. 

She then had me canter over and over and over and over until Mia moved her haunches off of my leg. She also had us practice the lengthened trot, which she had me simply post bigger and give Mia more rein. Apparently Mia only lengthened once, despite doing it 5 times. She wouldn't let me ride the test again, as she said Mia was too tired to go again but that I needed to find a trainer to help fix some of my riding habits and doing that will result in a much better dressage score. 

Deflated is putting the emotion I felt mildly. I had been super pumped going into the show. We were going to hit fitness hard, train, and go to the Training HT this upcoming Sunday. Instead? I didn't ride for a full week. And since? I have only done trail riding and very light fitness. I did reach out to take lessons from the lady that the judge recommended (she was riding after me at the show), but apparently there are politics at play (with the barn owner that I don't get along with) and she didn't respond to me for 2 weeks and finally said she'll let me know. I'm so frustrated and disappointed. I know we won't be ready for the next HT on Nov 3, but it is the only thing I can aim for at this point. I did find out the judge is coming to my barn for a clinic in Nov, I have not signed up for it lol.

And then? Well, that's for the next post. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Slowly marching forward

The final day for App is coming, which really sucks but I know I am making the right choice. Every time I ask the barn manager is she sure I should wait, she says yes. He walks like he is neurological, but he hasn't fallen down, he is still very chipper, and still very social. He doesn't seem to be in above normal pain, and she says to keep staying the course. So I am.

Free ranging App
He had his last farrier appointment, we trimmed only his front feet. He was too unsteady to try his hind feet, but he stood for his front feet like it was 12 months ago. No fighting to hold his foot up, no struggling to keep his foot up, no straining to keep him balanced, it was odd. Nice, but odd. He had his final massage. He got his final round of dewormer. He got a bath last week because he was FILTHY. I think if I keep going as status-quo, maybe the lie to my brain won't register? Overall he is still happy and moving around, so we just keep on keeping on.

With 8lb of apples and 10lb of carrots per week, he sees everyone as a walking treat dispenser now
Mia has had a rough time lately. She had the random lameness from the last post. That turned into a big abscess that blew out right where the two scratches were in the picture. She was better for 2 days and we went on a trail ride and had her feet done, but then her abscess came back and she was lame for another week. Then I went out of state for a week, and last weekend I was out of state again. I rode 2x last week, but didn't work on anything serious because I was gone so much.

That's a massive blowout right there
Since I tend to work best under a deadline, I figured the best thing for me to do since I hadn't ridden any training ride in 3 weeks was to enter a dressage show for this upcoming Sunday. Makes sense right? SMH. I think I am crazy at times. Last week was the first time I had ridden since last Wednesday and we just did some light fitness in the field to help blow off any steam. It confirmed that neither of us are in any sort of fitness condition, unless "round" is a fitness condition?

Apparently a coordinated attempt to block dressage rides
Last week we did some actual dressage and while we had our normal fights, Mia was actually really good. For basically having 3 weeks off, she tried fairly hard and was game to get back to work. She needed a pretty strong reminder to move off of my bad leg, and that moving through the speeds in a gait does not mean GO FAST ALL THE TIME, but I was happy with the ride.
He is always RIGHT THERE
My plan was to ride every night except Friday to prepare for this random dressage show. It is a "fix-a-test" show. I was not 100% sure what to expect, but I entered with my Training A test. I figured if I can make my brain chill TF out over the fact I am doing a Training level test, maybe we can actually do a decent test on the 2nd attempt.  And THEN maybe we can get a decent score when we actually do a HT next month. Because I really want to do another Training HT this year and I am dangerously close to missing the opportunity yet again.

Lengthened trot! 
We DID ride every day last week except Friday. And we did make it to the show. How did it go? Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Another member of the Lame Horse Club

I may have to go on a work trip next week, but I had PLANS. I was going to ride hard this week and get back on track. My fitness has been slipping and that was going to change, dammit. When I got back from the trip, I was going have plenty of time to really work my butt off and I was going to attend my next HT on Sep 15! It is a facility that we haven't ever gone to, and I was super nervous about going without schooling first so my plan was to go XC schooling there this past Sunday. #Plans #Fail

Not the ideal pics of your horse from the barn, BRUISE!!
So of course Mia then walked up for Friday's dinner on 3 legs. Because of course she did. Due to some large equipment going through her paddock, some new rocks have been churned up and apparently she found a big one. She has a really ugly stone bruise and was very reluctant to put weight on her heel. We gave her bute, I put poultice on her and then let her hang in a pasture on Saturday. On Sunday she got AM bute, not PM because she was walking well enough, but then Monday she was 3 legged again. *sigh*

Scaley bit with scratch/puncture. Bruise on left heel
More bute was dispensed and when I went out last night, her leg had blown up enough that you couldn't even tell where her fetlock started. I found two small punctures and possibly a scrape scab on her heel after cold hosing. She REALLY didn't want me touching her outside heel bulb, it is extremely soft and squishy. It feels about the same as the underside of your forearm, versus the fleshy part of your thumb, so I suspect is now trying to abscess on top of the bruise.

She got some more bute and we went on a "trail walk", as we hand walked around the hay field for some movement. The indoor was stuffy and there was a breeze outside, a better option indeed for some controlled movement. When we got back, her leg had reduced it's well by about 25%! She got more cold hosing, a bunch of treats, and shoved into a dry lot to let her hang out. Today the barn reports she is walking better and while her leg is puffy, it isn't huge. #Win

Two scratches, can't see the bruise on the right heel
With her being lame and not being able to go schooling last weekend, my current "Plan B" is a dressage fix-a-text on Sep 15 and then go into the jumper divisions of a H/J show on Sep 22. I do want to to XC schooling again, there is another HT on Oct 6 and I REALLY want to make it to that one!

The last update I have is that I have set a date, I will be putting App down on Sep 27 at 4p. There was a back and forth on dates between the vet who can't do weekends and the excavator, who will bury him, who can only do weekends, so that is the current compromise. I will definitely be there and will be feeding him apples as he goes. The next month will be hard, but I am making the best of it for him. I made a prescription for him, he is to have as many apple/carrots as necessary per day for a Happy Appy. I am buying 10lb of carrots and 8lb of apples at a time for his prescription :) I am also skipping his farrier appointment this weekend, he is having a hard time holding his legs up for any period of time and I'm not going to force the issue. If his toes get overgrown by 4 weeks, that's not the worst thing in the world. I have my own rasp if he tells me he REALLY needs to have his toes done.

Happy Appy is happy with his new prescription!
Until then, positive thoughts! Mia is going to recover from her bruise ASAP so we can get back to fitness and App is going to remain fairly comfortable until he passes. Hopefully things are going better for your horses!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

It's coming :(

The plan for App has been in place since March, when we made the extraordinary effort to get him through until spring. If he couldn't be comfortable when spring arrived, I would put him down. We made it through winter and into spring. And while he is still gimpy, he was moving pretty decently. He then started to lose weight after the spring grass turned into mature summer grass, but changing up his weight supplements AGAIN seemed to do the trick. He is within 100lbs of a good weight and is in excellent spirits.

He is maintained on Buteless pellets, 30k units of MSM, and Equioxx daily with 10g of acetaminophen as needed. He also gets a bi-monthly injection of Pentosan and a monthly injection of Polyglycan. He ends up with a dose every week or two of acetaminophen, overall things are fairly good. He gets a shot of Banamine on top of that for his farrier appointments. The guy is drugged up, for sure. He also gets a massage once a month, bc why not. It does help him loosen up. $$$$

When he got his massage 2 weeks ago, all seemed well. The therapist didn't notice anything odd, and I didn't see anything amiss that night. The next day, I got a text from the barn manager that he was really uncomfortable in his hind end and the barn was giving him his acetaminophen. On Saturday am, I got another that he was really walking weird and was still really uncomfortable. They dosed him again with acetaminophen and I made my way to the barn. When I got there, he was walking really weird in his hind end and being unsteady.


I called the vet out and App was diagnosed with a probable pelvic fracture. A bone scan would confirm, but really there is no point in considering testing since I can't even trailer him. A rectal exam confirmed it at least isn't a clear break, and it is likely a stress fracture from getting up and down so much. He gets up and down  If it was a clear break, I would have put him down because then he would be at even more risk for Really Bad Things.

The solution for a pelvic fracture is 100% stall rest, including the inability to lay down. Basically have the horse live in cross ties for 3-6 months and hope it doesn't drive their mind insane. Which is the absolute opposite solution when including his shoulder injury since he can't stand for 12 hours, let alone 24. That doesn't even consider the fact of the less he walks, the worse he moves.


The plan is to try to keep him comfortable and then put him down. The vet said that even with a stress fracture, putting him down isn't something I have to do right now and that he still looks to be in good condition both mentally and physically. The barn gives me almost daily updates, and I have stressed repeatedly that if he is having a difficult time, I am going to make that call. For now, he has a bag of carrots and apples for people to dispense at their leisure. He is doing well enough. On his bad days, he has balance issues (the vet says their balance comes from their hind end, so when it is awry, he can look neurological and could be a fall risk) and can't walk in a straight line. On his good days, he just has a wonky walk. He is still getting up and laying down regularly and will still trot after something/someone when he wants to.


So far, he has only had 1-2 bad days per week, this being the 2nd week of having the fracture. The plan is to have him buried at the farm next to another old horse that he babysat for about a year who had to be put down last year. I am ready enough to do it at any time, though this is going to kill me. I've had this guy for 25 years now, we've been through everything together. I used to threaten my SO that App was here before him, and App would be here after him, but that isn't going to be true anymore and that guts me. But I REALLY don't want App to go when he is in pain so the plan is to put him down the last weekend of Sept at the latest. I have some business trips in Oct and Nov that will pull me away and I don't want that something to happen while I am gone. The end of Summer seems fitting, so I am showering him with love as much as I can now.