Friday, April 29, 2016

Remembering the stop - Mare agrees to work

My rides on Mia have been hit or miss since riding regularly again, some days they are okay, most days I am riding a freight train and am desperately trying to just hold on.  It is Really.  Fricken.  Annoying.  On Saturday, I got to the barn a little later than I wanted, 3p, and everyone was leaving.  Nice.  Another day of riding by myself.  The upside, however, was that there was a whole course set up in the outdoor arena.  My plan had been to do fitness, might as well jump some things at the same time, right?  Ha!

Just some random between the ear pics
Mia was ON FIRE.  Our dressage is having the same issue, Mia will be nice and relaxed and then randomly she is hauling ass.  Pulling hard on the reins, plowing ahead as fast as possible while staying on the forehand.  No, just no mare.  No.

After a good 20 minute warmup, which is how long it took before we could not practically bolt, I put her over a small fence.  As we approached it, she took off, lept over it and bolted.  Mother F'er, absolutely not!  She got spanked several times and we then cantered until she remembered to listen.  When she half halted via my seat, a small success, we tried again and went to a jump.  With the same spectacular result.  Okay mare, you want a war?  I can do this, you see, I have had years of training via App with this particular tactic of yours.

App was horrible when we first started to jump, he, too, would bolt to the jump and/or bolt after the jump.  He would jump anything, from any distance, but the approach always, always, always required going from a nice 5mph to about 30mph in the span of about 3 strides.  We worked with a few different trainers before it was suggested that I simply stop him after every fence for a while.  So we started doing that.  And then upped the game so that it was a fairly severe stop immediately after the fence, ideally within 4 strides.  No sense to rush a fence App, you know we are going to stop!  This technique worked and after 6 months, he then waited, stopped (mostly) rushing and stopped his bolting.  Fixed him for the majority of jumping for the rest of his riding career.
Ready to jump school!
Well, Mia didn't appreciate this tactic but it was VERY effective.  As soon as she would land, I would start hauling on her to stop and then back 3 steps and stand for 5 seconds.  She did not like this one bit and threw several tantrums, including once thinking about taking her front feet off the ground.  Not. A. Good. Idea. Mare.  After we did the stopping exercise for about 2 dozen small jumps, suddenly Mia was listening and responding again, woohoo!  We were then successfully able to jump 2 jumps in a row without her losing her ever loving mind.  Who knew!

With the basics now taken care of, I turned to height.  Apparently the winter had made me weak and the 2'6" solid wall suddenly looked big.  WHAT?!?  I can't think 2'6" is big if I want to go Novice this year.  I put my big girl panties on and went over it.  And it was fine.  Mia cleared it well and without a second thought.  If you don't consider the speed issue, she was SO good for this ride.  She went over everything without looking at it and cleared everything easily.  Eventually, we went over the 2'9" jump (easily) and so I bumped another jump up to 3'.  It was part of a 3 stride combo and Mia couldn't have cared less.  We jumped it by itself, at an angle and as a combo.  We had on again/off again speed issues through the ride, and got to practice the stopping exercise, however we ended with a beautiful round that was balanced and speed appropriate.  The only thing we didn't jump is the thing she REALLY wanted to jump, a 3'3" lattice coop out of the arena (you can see it in the first pic).  I didn't know if I needed permission to go over xc jumps so we didn't go over it, but she locked onto it about a dozen times.  She REALLY wanted to jump it lol.

We have had lots of these kinds of rides here in PA.  Monday was
not one of them!
Sunday was brutal, apparently doing a full, hard jump school when I am only "fit" to do 3 minutes of two point was not a good idea.  HA!  I was very sore (and it got a lot worse on Monday) and took the day off from riding.  I went out Monday to ride and Mia was an angel.  She clearly remembered our lesson on Saturday and was soft, balanced and speed appropriate the entire ride.  She was good enough that I called it quits after only 25 minutes!!  Winning!

Tuesday wasn't as good but we have finally gotten the Michigan Mia back, this is how I left her last year.  She had a couple of disagreements, and is having problems keeping her lead in the hind, but overall we had a good ride.  We rode all 3 dressage tests (BN A, BN B, N A) and aside from the canter issues, she rode well enough we could have done a show. Woohoo!  Progress indeed.

After every single ride.  Every. Single. Ride.
I really want some pics or video of a ride, I am going to have to figure that part out.  Kinda hard to get it when I am the only one there but I will figure something out.  If she looks as good as I think, I will be very happy.  I was invited to two shows in May, one I cannot do and one I may do.  There is a Combined Test (dressage/stadium jumps) on May 21st that I am considering.  It is a time frame in which I think I would be ready and it is *only* a little over an hour away.  Fingers crossed, I think I will do it, first show on the calendar!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Official retirement

For the past  few months, App has been NQR.  Sometimes I thought I could put my finger on it, other times not.  Rest didn't really help, neither did Bute.  I tried riding him to make it worse so we could pinpoint it to no avail.  It stayed consistent, sometimes there, sometimes not. When I had Dr A out, before we moved to PA, we did some lameness blocks and blocked from the knee down with no change.  Alrighty then.  We needed some imaging and we ran out of time, we had to continue down this path in PA if we wanted to find the issue.

After the 12 hour trip to PA, App seemed to be getting a little worse.  It is possible that it is the change in ground making it worse, in MI it was very sandy and soft and here in PA we are literally on a mountain and it is pretty hard and rocky.  App now seems to constantly shift his weight and stands with his front feet as close together as possible, at times stepping on himself.  I rode him a few days when we came to PA to work on getting him back into shape, however after the 3rd ride he just seemed too uncomfortable.  Hmmm.  I had the barn vet look at him, Dr M, and she agreed with Dr A.  It certainly looked like it came from his shoulder and imaging would be needed.  The field x-ray machines just aren't strong enough to go through a shoulder.  She recommended taking the 2.5 hour trip to Mid Atlantic Equine Hospital, fun times!

Does he look lame?  Not really?  Yeah, I know!

On Thursday we hauled out at a bright and early 7a and got there at 1016a for an 11a appointment.  The vet was very nice and personable and even knew Dr A, apparently they did their internship together. Small world!  He wanted to block Apps lower leg just to rule it back out, and so we did and not surprisingly there was no change.  It certainly is somewhere in his shoulder.  We brought him down to the ultrasound room so they could block his shoulder and as the vet was preparing the block, he asked if I was a gambler.  Uh, not really?  He said we could block his shoulder to confirm, however in looking at the ultrasound he is seeing really suspicious things that make him think the issue is around his shoulder joint.  We could take the xray to see what was going on, which is what we would do if he blocked to sound in the shoulder, but if it wasn't the shoulder, we would have the cost of an xray we didn't need.  Did I want to gamble the cost of an xray or the cost of a block injection?  I told him I thought it was his shoulder and wanted the xray, so let's gamble!

I commented during the exam that App was hard to drug, that the amount of sedation for TWH to be falling over drunk, for example, would barely touch App.  We had a laugh over it as Apps can be hard to sedate and App is a grumpy old man.  Well, during the xray, App was so uncomfortable that they went ahead and tried to sedate him.  They apparently gave a "very healthy" dose of sedation.  For their efforts, App was still quite alert and unable to get into the position they needed for a shoulder xray.  So the helpful vets then gave him an IV dose of bute to help him out.  Which apparently it did help, but he was still much too alert for the xray to get done so they had to give him a second "very healthy" dose of sedation. Ha!  That did the trick and they were able to get their pictures.  Old man can take his drugs, that's for sure!

I was then able to come into the xray room to see the pictures.  App was obviously out of it, he was quite drugged but you could see him thinking and watching instead of floating on the cloud like most do.  And he had such a hard time turning around and then walking out.  HA!  I am such a bad parent, laughing at my kid being so drugged up, but it was very amusing.  The vet pulled up the xray and *boom* instant retirement.  Unfortunately, App has significant bone remodeling in his shoulder joint and is walking bone-on-bone, with minimal to no cartilage.  The vet said he has seen horses with 10% of this much arthritis/remodeling who were way lamer than App is being now.  He called App a very tough cookie who has a high pain tolerance.  Dude, you didn't ride him in his younger years, I would agree with you.  App had no problem doing his thing regardless of the amount of your pulling, spur or crop LOL!  Unfortunately there isn't anything that can be done for him now, App is currently working to fuse his shoulder joint, though he may not end up doing it, and unfortunately there is zero that can be done other than keeping him comfortable.

By the time we got back down to the ultrasound room to do a shoulder injection of steroids and HA (about 10 minutes), App was already coming out of his (heavy) sedation.  He was alert enough that they had to twitch him to get the injection done.  Ahh App, of course you did.  The vet tech even commented how surprised she was with how alert he was after how much sedation he got.  I ate some lunch while giving him some time to make sure he was good and alert, got loaded up, made it back to the barn and got there at 520p.  Nothing like an almost 12 hour day to really kill your day.

I am pretty sad about App being fully retired, he has so much training and could have done so much when brought back into work but it just isn't to be.  The vet said he is in excellent condition with none of the muscle wasting that he expected to see and that his lameness certainly doesn't match his xray.  If the vet had seen just the xray, he would expect a horse to be virtually 3 legged lame, not just NQR.  It is apparent that App has had this for a LONG time and seems to have simply adjusted to the pain level.  If nothing else, I guess it is good that he has been virtually a pasture pet for the past year.

Someone is having a hard time accepting retirement
So now I have an expensive pasture pet on full retirement, but after over 20 years of being together, he deserves it.  Enjoy your retirement App, you have earned it.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The new life

Short updates because...well...busy.  Better than no updates!

Things are going pretty well here in PA.  We have our house about 75% unpacked.  We FINALLY got my home office set up, which is important since I work from home.  For almost 2 weeks I worked on a folding table with milk crates.  I now have an actual desk.
My temporary desk.  Snazzy huh?  You are totally jealous.
This past weekend we did all of the maintenance that was delayed due to the move.  Every fluid and filter was changed in the small tractor (that we brought from MI).  We changed the oil and rotated the tires in the truck.  We painted the inside of the car trailer.  We sold the stove that came with the PA house and moved our stove in.  So much done.
New office! carpet.   Blech.
All has been going well in the horse front.  Fairly well anyway.  Mia is going pretty well under saddle.  Last weekend I rode with some people at the barn and Mia was able to actually be a decent mare.  Woohoo!  She is bobbing her head up and down in contact again, I may swap her bit out again and see if it makes a difference.  Ugh picky mare.  We have started some fitness and Mia is nice and sweaty after two 5 min trot/3 minute canter sets.  It is a work in progress.  I can't say I am even close to being better.  I can be in two point about 3 minutes.  Ha!  I need to make it back up to 5 mins before I can even consider going to a show.
Some free lunging.  Can't say she doesn't have suspension!
We jumped some small things last week.  Mia started out really bad, forgetting everything she knew about jumping.  Rushing to the jump?  Check.  Bolting after the jump?  Check.  Head to the ground?  Check.  Grr.  I was able to fix them eventually and we ended on a good note.  Because, no mare, we will not act like that.  Thursday we did some free lunging because, in all honesty, after a day of fitness and then a day of jumping, I was a bit too sore to ride.  Ha!  Working on it, fitness work in the future!
Girl got some reach, love how much she is stepping under
App is set to go to New Jersey on Thursday for further diagnosis on his lameness issues.  Hopefully we can get some answers and the solutions aren't too bad.  He has now also come up lame in his right hind, though I can't find exactly where it is coming from.  He has developed thrush in all 4 feet so I am treating that aggressively, gosh my poor old man is just falling apart.
Nice hock action
So that is the quick recap.  Super duper busy with not a lot of down time.  My "downtime" usually includes unpacking boxes and getting things moved, removed, and moved again lol.  The biggest knock my new house has is a significant lack of closets.  The downstairs has a total of 2 closets.  One as a pantry and one as the only coat closet.  I have no place to put the vacuum for instance!  Or dog/cat food.  Ugh.  We bought a big floor cabinet and put it up this weekend so we can move the "pantry" to the cabinet, I am not sure where the vacuum will go yet but it at least is a step in organization.  Any suggestions, what the heck do people do without closets??

So...yeah...that is the scatterbrained, no real time to make an organized post, post.  I should have some time on Thursday after the vet visit, keep your fingers crossed for App!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Relocation part 2

On Saturday we rested and relaxed, we bought a couch and loveseat (we sold ours in Michigan), we drove around a lot and then visited the horses.  Mia seemed no worse for wear but App was very sore.  Apparently pushing himself against the back of the trailer for who knows how long makes one's ass sore.  LOL!  He did it to himself, I can't feel that badly.  He was extremely tender for grooming and wanted no part of grooming past his hip.  I gave him another bute and let him just relax.  The horses seemed pretty happy and the manager said they enjoyed my horses, they were easy to handle.  Nice!  Love hearing that about your children!

On Sunday S, SO and I drove all the way back to MI and started the grueling process of moving out.  We packed up the little tractor, refrigerator, stove and everything else and thankfully it all fit in the car trailer.  We said goodbye to our friends and shoved off at 1015a on Tuesday after a final walkthrough.  The drive was thankfully uneventful and a good 11 hours later we arrived at our destination, PA!  We spent Wednesday and Thursday unpacking the trailer and trying to put things back together.  We bought a washer and dryer (also sold in MI, we needed to sell a bunch so it would all fit on the trailer!) and visited the horses.  There were 2 people riding in the outdoor on Thursday and invited me to join.  Uh, okay!  I couldn't find my girths so I threw my bareback pad on.  I've been riding bareback all winter, no biggie right?

Mia could not horse.  It was embarrassing, she would alternate between trying to rear and trying to bolt.  Even at the walk.  Ugh!  The two nice ladies left the arena after about 10 mins and I took the opportunity to throw Mia on the lunge line.  I mean, we have made an EXCELLENT first impression, can only get better right!  Mia GALLOPED for 5 minutes straight.  Full on gallop with full bucks.  Nice.  I had a hard time getting her stopped too.  Ugh mare.  After we changed directions, she was very fast in the canter but at least it wasn't a gallop.  After some transitions where she seemed to think again, I hopped back up.  Mia was much better, relatively speaking at least.  She wasn't trying to rear or bolt but she certainly wasn't relaxed or listening.  We worked on walk/trot/walk transitions and called it a day.  I mean, my mare was a super sweaty mess, why not!  Ugh!
Cannot horse today

Zooms?  We gots em!

Friday I hurt my back and didn't even go to the barn.  Saturday we unloaded the trailer and brought my stuff to the house (note, it is all still in the van, unpacked lol) so I could start resorting and storing it.  Sunday I rode in the indoor with another boarder.  Mia was VERY forward, with a huge case of the zooms, but was manageable at least.  The boarder said she likes Mia's movement, she is very flashy.  Aww :)  I groomed App and he decided to drop ALL of his hair at once.  The pile of hair that came off of him was very large, 2 full pitchfork scoops plus 2 small scoops.  Thanks horse lol.
Tired trots

Last night I went out for my first day of my "new normal".  I will be riding Mon/Tues/Weds nights plus weekends and the occasional Thurs or Friday.  I had hoped there would be more people out at night but I had the ring to myself until I was almost done, a boarder showed up to free lunge her gelding.  Oh well, it is only day one I said to myself.  I rode Mia first and she was AWESOME.  I really wish there had been someone there for some video or to at least see it, she is obviously out of shape and not feeling the "full workout" yet, but she was very nice to ride.  At the end of our ride, I was able to get crisp, clean trot/canter transitions that were balanced and at a speed I asked for.  WOOHOO!  Apparently it took longer for Mia's brain to travel from Michigan than expected.  I am looking forward to working her, I think she will slide back into work pretty easily.
Let's go REAL slow so we can have some control
I rode App as well, he isn't doing so great.  His shoulder is really bothering him still, despite the steroid injections.  I am going to have to have a vet out and see what they can guess.  I did ride him though, as he needs more muscle and stamina, and he was the horse I loved.  He can either be Captain Asshole or Mr Awesome and Mr Awesome showed up last night.  Bareback, in Mia's bridle (which is too big), in a brand new arena, in a brand new state and he walked around like it was old news.  No spooking, no antics and went right to work with everything I asked him to do.  Love him (most times lol)!
Mr Awesome making an appearance
So now you are caught up, it has been a really crazy 2 weeks and I am glad it is over.  The amount of stress reduction is amazing, it took days, DAYS for my brain to realize I didn't have a bunch of stuff waiting on me back in MI.  In another week, I think things will be settled and hopefully a great routine will be developed.  Thanks for joining me on this crazy ride!
Mia being awesome, finally.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Relocation part 1

Guess who was barely able to survive the relocation?  Me!  Holy cow was that not fun but thankfully nothing horrible came up.  Originally I had 3 friends who offered to come to PA with me while I moved the horses and then that dwindled down to two and then a possible one.  Sigh.  SO was freaking out and was considering buying a $800 one way ticket back to MI so I wouldn't drive it alone, I am all "Dude, I am fine.  It will majorly suck, but I got it".  Thankfully S confirmed that she could come on 3 days before we left so he calmed down.

As stated in my previous post, I practiced loading/unloading twice a day until we left on Friday.  I had zero desire for someone to exercise their freedom to say No while we were on the road and on a deadline.  It helped so much, App went from a hesitant loader to one that will load by himself (as long as you have a whip in your hand).  Mia also fine tuned her skills by learning to load into the rear slot of the trailer.  Win!
How much stuff can be shoved into a 2 horse trailer?  A lot!
Thursday was extremely busy.  Originally I had the entire day for final packing of the trailer and house.  Well, best intentions right?  The closing was bumped up from April 4th to March 24th and was at 10a.  Yikes!  That meant I spent Weds night and Thurs morning cleaning for the 9a walkthrough and then didn't get back to the house and start packing until noon.  Of course.  I needed to be in bed by 830p, my all-day plan was just reduced down to 8 hours.  I loaded everything up which took most of the day.  My tack trunks had been reduced to 5, everything consolidated.  Took everything down, filled 4 hay nets, set aside 3 more bales of hay to bring, bought some Purina Hydration Blocks, brought 10 gallons of water, cleaned the barn and was ready.  The kicker is that it was 30 degrees and raining the entire time.  And not misting or sprinkling, but raining steady the ENTIRE DAY.  I got so freaking cold that eventually I went in the house for an hour and hugged the woodstove to try to warm up.  My jacket was soaked completely through despite swapping it out halfway through the day and only being "out in the rain" on trips to/from the trailer from the barn.  Ugh.

You will not count my saddle pads.  Or half pads.  You will not, judge free zone here!
Friday morning, at the bright hour of 5a, I was outside finishing up.  I strapped the 3 bales of hay on the back of the truck (since it had finally stopped raining) and wrapped everyone up.  App was surprisingly calm, usually wrapping for a trailer means 4-7 nervous poops and he gave only one.  Progress!  We loaded up without incident and S and I were off at 610a.  We stopped for fuel and drinks about 20 mins in and App was not a happy horse.  He was shaking and had himself pushed as hard against the back of the trailer as he possibly could.  His hind legs were well under him as he was pushing hard against the back wall.  Poor guy.  I brought him forward off of the wall with treats through the window and let them rest for a good 20 minutes before we continued on.  Sorry App, you are going to have to relax at some point!

Stopped along the PA turnpike
We stopped for breakfast about 2 hours later and App wasn't shaking anymore but he was certainly still pushing against the rear of the trailer.  Mia seemed pretty okay with things, though, which was nice.  We gave them a 30 minute break before continuing on.  When we reached the PA/OH boarder, we stopped at a rest stop and gave them a good rest.  We unloaded them and walked them around on the grass.  Mia was very looky and spooky at the big trucks going by on the highway but App couldn't have cared less.  Sometimes he really is Mr Awesome, I LOVE Mr Awesome!  Both horses LOVED the hydration block and much preferred it over an actual drink of water.  I was able to get about 4 gallons into them as they slurped on the hydration block/mush and it made me happy.  After an hour, we loaded them back up and surprisingly, they both went on without any hesitation.  Woohoo!  Groundwork for the win!
Just where did we end up?!

No matter, treats solve all issues!
We stopped for fuel about 2 hours later and offered them more water, which they didn't want, but when offered the same water with the hydration block they were all GIMME GIMME!  Ahh horses lol.  A 20 minute rest came to an end and we headed back out for the final leg.  Woohoo!  Thankfully the barn is pretty easy off to get to off of the interstate and despite the constant up/down of the mountains, we made it with no real issue.  The horses unloaded easily and gave us no issues as we settled them into their pasture.  I gave App a gram of bute to help him with any soreness and went home myself.  It was a full 12 hour drive and it sucked.  It was long and tiring but at least we had great weather, no traffic issues and I had a friend to help pass the time.

The appys in their new home