Thursday, January 20, 2022

Positive steps in the right direction

Slow. That is the best way to describe how things are going. We keep getting hit with subzero weather plus snow and ice storms which is making riding time scarce. Add in the fact that life has been busy, a recipe for disaster? Not quite, but close. That said, there are some things to celebrate. Since 2020/2021 was so shitty, I am trying to find the little wins. Like what you ask? Let me tell you!

The first thing to celebrate is Mia's Chiro results. 30 days ago she was all out of whack and very tender. The chiro did wonders for her and she was much better but I did another visit after 30 days because I wanted to make sure nothing fell back out of sorts. Which they did. She said while Mia regressed a little, she so much better than before. Lots of back, neck, and poll adjustments were made and we will do one more 30 day recheck. Then hopefully Mia will be ready to go back to as-needed treatments and the chiro thinks most issues will be gone. Success!

Tell me that isn't a beautiful image!

The second thing to celebrate is Mia's Lyme results. When we started this ordeal last April/May, her number was quite high at 4676 (I thought it was 6600, I was mistaken). When we stopped Doxy at the end of August, her number was 1165. Anything below 1000 is considered negative, and because she had been responding to the Doxy so well, the vet wanted to see if her natural immune system would kick in. I had her retested again at the beginning of January because I just needed to know. Did things get worse? Better? Stay the same? Was the soreness the chiro was finding a result of lyme or was it just the stall rest? Her results came back at 480! She is officially negative, and the vet was impressed with how low her numbers were. #BigWin

The last thing to celebrate is our trotting. We've only been trotting for a week, and only 3x thanks to the bitter cold/ice/snow, but it has gone exceptionally well. Mia has been completely nonplussed about the entire situation. No theatrics, no spooking, just happy to move. I have been able to stay bareback to work on my own fitness and intend to start riding in my jump saddle to really focus on my own muscle recovery while she comes back with me. Mia is definitely stiff in the trot and has no endurance, but she went from stall rest to a big pasture that is completely rutted with frozen ground. There is no running around happening so her fitness is going to come back through riding and that is okay. 

Moving well!

I finally threw her on the lunge line and let her canter vs her cantering while I was trying to evaluate her trot soundness, she is still sound and moving wonderfully. She is very weak and had a hard time staying in the canter, but we can work on that. She really wanted to canter and kept picking it back up, but she couldn't hold it for very long. I will likely start letting her canter on the lunge after some of our rides to help her build muscle. I am not supposed to canter under saddle until next month, so if she can build up some muscle and endurance without me, even better.

Fingers crossed things continue to move in such a positive direction. I still have zero expectations on the year 2022. I DO have the USEA show entry in June that I use or lose, but I am not even worrying about that for now. There is also a schooling show in April and a clinic in March, but I need to get us both back into a better place first, one step at a time.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Dusting ourselves off again

 Happy 2022! 2021 was such a crap year. Lyme disease for almost 5 months. Abscesses. 4 farrier changes. Soft tissue injury with 3 months stall rest. I am really putting as many good vibes as I can to make 2022 be decent. Can 2022 be decent? Even a little bit? The expectation isn't very high. At all. Like, barely above rock bottom low, can 2022 do it? Only time will tell.

I bought new boots to lift my spirits! And breeches!

We are, however, off to a good start. Dec 15th marked the 3 month mark of Mia being on stall rest and she had an evaluation. That was the first time she was allowed to really move on a lunge line in 3 months and she went nutso. Lots of bucking, galloping, and head tossing, but also had soundness. That's right, she was sound! We then had a chiro appointment which showed Mia was all out of whack, which I knew. She was getting weird with grooming and what not so I wanted her checked. After the adjustment she really did move even better, I am having her done again next week for a recheck and adjustment. I am hopeful she "held" the adjustments and we don't need monthly adjustments for a while. After that, Mia was also moved out to an actual pasture, which resolved basically all of the behavior issues she was exhibiting. Being bossy and pushy during feeding time? Eating hay out of the net as it is being hung? Throwing a tantrum when a horse is removed from the paddock beside her? All gone now that she has the ability to M-O-V-E again. 

She ate her feelings. Apparently she had a LOT of feelings.

Thus started the walking sessions. We were told 4 weeks of walking. If she stays sound, we can do 4 weeks of trotting. If sound, we can go back to full training. If she comes up lame, she goes back in the stall/jail for 3 months. The first ride was a ride with a saddle and bridle, as I had no idea how she would behave, and the old Mia showed up. Perfectly behaved, completely happy to toodle around. From then on, I've been riding bareback. Sometimes with a halter, sometimes a bridle. We spent a week just walking before introducing contact. Then we spent a week doing that before starting lateral work. Currently we are riding 25-50 minutes, 3-4 times a week. Mia is doing a very nice shoulder in using only the outside rein, moving off of my legs beautifully, including square corners, tranvers, renvers, half pass, and halts with only my seat. 

Our first ride outside in over 3 months!
Bareback, on the buckle like the crazy mare she is.

Let's throw positive vibes out to the universe and let 2022 be a better year. My goals of going Training level this year are non-existent, but maybe we can get back to BN or Novice this year. Maybe. It sounds easy enough, but accomplishing it for the past 2 years didn't happen either. All of my goals and ambition were in a train wreck during 2021 and they certainly have not recovered. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

So what now?

 Mia has now been on basically stall rest since Sept 13. I am not supposed to do much of anything with her until Dec 13th. I am constantly asked "How is Mia doing", to which I reply "I dunno. She's alive." I go out 4x a week and brush her, give her treats, clean her feet, and apply Keratex. Also make sure she has an Uncle Jimmy's Hanging Ball and hay. That's it. I try really, really hard not to even watch her walk because if even think I see lameness, I am going to fall into depression again. No one wants that. 

That said, it has been 6 weeks of stall rest and with 2 weeks until the farrier is out again, I just couldn't help myself. Is Mia sound? Still lame? Ugh, how would I KNOW! So I threw her in the indoor for about 4 minutes to see how she moved. 

By all things that are great, she looks SOUND. It was such a morale boost to see she was looking good after 6 weeks of standing around. I had lightly trotted her after her farrier appointment on the 27th and she was lame, so the fact she was sound made me feel SO much better. I gathered her back up and threw her back into her tiny paddock. Every time I get antsy about her not having room in that paddock, I remind myself she is supposed to be on stall rest. The fact she has a paddock is more than the vet wanted to begin with.

So what I am doing? Letting her hand graze a few times a week by headlamp because it is dark by 7p when I get to the barn. I am also riding a 20yr old OTTB who hasn't done a lot in recent years. It is a lot of walking and lateral work to get her loose again. It is also a lot of kicking and whip smacking because she will dead on stop and refuse to go like a 4H pony, but it is better than not riding at all. The owner says she does this when she is in heat, so fingers crossed it gets better through winter. 

I am cautiously optimistic about Mia's recovery, here's to hoping that 6 more weeks of stall rest will take care of the rest of what is wrong and we can come out of the other side of this and get back to work. I know the rehab will be slow, a month of walking at least, but if this WAS a DDFT/SDFT injury I am not taking chances. Super slow and steady is how we are going to come back from this. We will compete again damn it! 

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Photo dump!

Her never-ending quest to injure herself - this kept her down for a week

Her 5 acres of grassy goodness, at the bottom of a big a$$ hill.
Great for hooman and horse fitness, even when we hates the hill

Fun riding times! One of our fitness rides

Prepping for our show - with braids!
She really isn't great for braiding. Was almost for sale.

So shiny and clean, she cleans up so nicely

Time to shine! Well, in the rain anyway

We looked good even when getting wet

Walking in the trees

Oh hai human!

They are not supposed to look like this

That's not supposed to be there

Hopefully you enjoyed some media. I will try to find something more to talk about!

Friday, October 8, 2021

Then it all fell apart. Again. Pt 2

 The vet visit was frustrating. My normal vet didn't come, the other vet in the practice did. He said Mia was def lame but while she has been lame on her left front since we came home, that day she was more lame on her right front when going to the right on a lunge. To the left, her right front was sound but her left was lame. We blocked her right front and here is the rub. His notes say she blocked to 75% better. That is not the number I swear he told me. He said she was 30% better if her other foot was blocked, it would likely also be 30% better. He was convinced it was a soft tissue in her hoof, likely a Deep Digital or Superficial Digital tendon injury, but the only way to confirm would be a MRI. 

He did take a bunch of x-rays and we also found a small fracture to the inside of her left front coffin bone. He said she should be in shoes, on Equioxx, and stall rest for 3 to18 months and that was that. The surgeon he sent the x-rays to said they didn't think it was a fracture, but a calcification that just floated off and a MRI would be needed for further diagnostics.

I sent the x-rays to a podiatrist who said the fracture is actually fairly common in horses that have a clubby foot, the opposite foot loads harder and it happens. He would like to have further lameness evals before sending her for MRIs, but that would also be due to the percentage differences mentioned above. 75% better is different than 30% better after a block.

I had the new farrier out on Sept 27th and we talked about what happened, how she is doing, and what the different docs have said. The farrier did not want to put shoes on her without knowing what we are stabilizing, as supporting the different tendons would have different shoeing requirements. He studied her x-rays and gave her a very nice trim while also finding that she has very soft soles. It is super easy to depress her soles with a tool, and even a hard press via a finger. Her sole depth is good based on x-rays, but her soles are really soft.

The current plan is to stall rest her for 3 months and find a way to strengthen those soles. I am using Keratex 3 to 4 times a week for now, as I have a bottle and a half sitting around. If that doesn't do the trick, I will switch over to venice turpentine and then durasole. The thought is that perhaps she is sore because of her hooves and once we can fix that issue, I will have another lameness evaluation done. The poor mare is bored out of her mind and is not very happy that she was taken off of her 5 acres of grass, but is handling it all well. I still go out and brush her and feed her treats, so she isn't being totally ignored, but I am picking up some boredom treats this weekend too.

Fingers crossed something goes better soon. I did a very short lameness check on her last night and while she is still lame at the trot to the right, it was a very mild lameness. I didn't even try to the left. Back she goes to stall rest for a few more weeks and hopefully some rest will fix whatever she has going on. Until then, I am riding a 20yr old OTTB mare at the barn. She is quite out of shape, but is nice enough to ride and I am super thankful for the opportunity. 

As one can imagine, it is hard to come up with things to say when there are no answers and nothing is happening. One day we will be ready to kick ass again, one day.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Then it all fell apart. Again. Pt 1

The good news? Mia finished her last dose of Doxy on Aug 26th! Her final Lyme results came back as 1165 which is enough to be considered negative. WIN! It was a happy day indeed. So what else has gone on? A recap...

I had the USEA Horse Trial entry I had paid for that I needed to use or lose for Sept 5th. I decided to enter the BN HT, because I had no concerns about Mia jumping 2'7". Heck she barely jumps until you hit 2'6"! Despite not really being prepared, I entered and then immediately traveled for basically 2 weeks straight, I left on August 12th and got back on the 17th. I went out to the barn and Mia was off on her left hind with an abscess that had just popped. She was given treats and I immediately left for another week, getting back on the 24th. The new farrier trimmed her on Aug 23rd (I wasn't there) and could see where the abscess started, but she was still ouchy. He gave her a "passive trim" and she was still lame on that foot until Aug 27. On Aug 28th she was sound! 

We went on a trail/light fitness ride on the 28th and Mia was ready to GO. She was super excited to be out and moving, and while she was fairly tired fairly quickly, it was a good ride. We did a small XC schooling at the farm on Sunday. While we don't have a lot of jumps, we do have some and Mia ate them right up. I was getting optimistic about our chances at the show! On Monday and Tuesday we had dressage rides that went....okay at best, but at 930p on Tuesday night I got a call from the barn owner. There was a dressage clinic on Weds/Thurs and the first 3 riders of the first day had cancelled because of the hurricane coming through, would I be willing to ride? Uh, sure?

The clinic ride was excellent, much better than my ride with Becky in May on the borrowed mare. Becky helped us with a lot of basics, but also with some refinements to get Mia really engaged. With 4 days to a USEA HT, I was so PUMPED and 100% ready for the show. I was now quite confident in our ability to score really well, and was actually excited for the dressage phase! Possibly a first ever??

On Thursday we had a stadium jump session, and Friday/Sat we had more dressage which were both excellent rides. Sunday AM we loaded up the trailer and headed to the show, which had changed from a HT down to a CT due to the extreme water the hurricane had left. It was one of the few times I can say with 100% confidence that I was looking forward to the show, I wasn't anxious, and I was very comfortable with our chances. Things were looking GOOD, including Mia. I had bathed, clipped, and even braided her, she looked amazing!

We got down to the show and it was lightly raining. Mia was perfect at the trailer. I got on and walked from the trailer to the warm up ring. I walked the big warmup ring 2x before trotting. The ring was super wet and sloppy, though not slippery, but Mia was really not moving forward. I asked for some long trotting to get her forward, and she just didn't seem right. I trotted another lap before walking to the in-gate and asking the question I already knew the answer to. "Did my mare look lame? Because she feels lame". The answer was yes, she was lame and after riding another lap, she was not only not working out of it, she was actively getting worse.

We scratched before we even got to the dressage ring, packed up and went home. Based on the scores in our division? I am so confident we would have placed 1st or 2nd. It was disappointing, but I am 100% confident in making the right choice for my horse. Mia was fairly tender in her legs, I was afraid it was a suspensory issue. She got 7 days of bute and poultice before I finally called the vet out for a lameness eval on Sept 13. How did that go? Stay tuned to find out! 

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Lyme update - Getting closer to clear

I had some blog posts started, everything kept going downhill, I abandoned it all. The end. So what has gone on?

In June, Mia was retested for lyme after 30 days. Her numbers went from 4600 to 3300. Great reaction to 30 days of Doxy! And she went on another 30 days of Doxy. 

We started work again after the 2nd round of Doxy, had good progress, signed up for a show. We had to cancel the day before because Mia was quite uncomfortable. This happened twice, because why not pay show fees for things you won't go to anyway.

We started lessons again, working on some fitness and seeing how Mia was feeling. She was feeling very good, until she would not. Very hit or miss, as Doxy tends to do, but when she felt good, she felt very good. We gave up trying to aim for shows after the 2nd cancelled show.

July came. 

My trainer retired abruptly due to some drama unrelated to me or my barn, giving a 1 week notice that I could not take advantage of. My farrier fired my barn over drama unrelated to me. My job started imploding. Covid is on the rise. Mia got retested for Lyme after her 2nd round of Doxy.

August arrived.

Mia's Lyme went from 3300 to 1600. One more round of Doxy and then she will be negative, good news finally comes! This time, when she is negative, I am insisting on the Lyme vaccine even if it is the double dose of the dog vaccine. I had asked for the vaccine last year when Mia was negative, however the vet wanted to wait until the equine version came out. I am not waiting anymore. I lost a whole show season because of waiting.

I am leaving for almost 2 solid weeks on various trips starting next week. There is zero chance I will have Mia fit enough to do the USEA horse trial in Sept that I have already paid for unless I went BN or N. I need to think on this, go to a BN or N show or just lose the money? We have BARELY jumped this year, less than 5 times? I don't know if even going N would be fair to her or her ligaments, so maybe BN? I am at a loss without a trainer to bounce ideas off of. It's funny how quickly I grew to love the "sounding board" of her mind. The only other instructor that has been coming to the barn is the one who didn't get back to me in 2019. I am not sure how well we would get along, but I don't know if I will have many other choices. I took me almost 4 years to find this trainer.

Mia is, however, feeling really good when she feels good. She has even given up and is now eating the Doxy in her grain without needing to doctor it 5 different ways! #littlewins We jumped last weekend and she reminded me that I need to jump with a pelham or xc bit. She was quite happy to be the driver and to let me be a passenger, except that is not what was supposed to happen! Silly girl. We did a fitness ride last night and while she doesn't have a lot of stamina, she does really enjoy getting out again. We have done some dressage and she is finally getting some muscle and tone back. She still has the intermittent day where she is sore, but those days are getting less and less. 

Fingers crossed things keep looking up. It's been down all summer, I sure 2021 was going to be our year and every single time we start doing something, we get knocked back to zero again. It is going to get better again, at some point anyway!