Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
In preparation for visitors of any kind, and especially Craig's mom, the house must be cleaned. Now, my definition of clean and Craig's are very different. His is "If you can see the floor, it's clean." Mine is "If you see anything ON the floor, it's NOT clean." So this evening we will be cleaning the house. It's really not all that bad, since I cleaned before we went to my folks house for Thanksgiving. There is only a little straightening up to do, plus another run over with the vacuum, and bathroom cleanings.
Craig thinks it's a bit silly to get all frantic about it. "Like Mom hasn't seen dirt" he says. And with other people planning to come over he's said "I've been to their house and our is way cleaner so don't kill yourself cleaning." I don't really care what their houses look like. I want mine to be clean enough that I won't be embarrassed when they walk into my dining room and can tell what we had for dinner the last few days because food shrapnel can be found under the girls chairs.
When pressed into service, Craig will help clean. He does the mopping and sometimes the vacuuming, and I dust and have bathroom duty. But god forbid he cleans on his own. Once I kind of let our bathroom get a little gross (I clean the guest bathroom and the girls bathroom but sometimes skip ours if I run out of steam) and when I finally cleaned it he said "Whew! I'm glad you did that! It was pretty nasty." Like he doesn't know how to pick up a sponge or toilet brush.
But tonight it's all planned out. We're cleaning, and everyone is helping - girls included, since they know how to pick up toys and put away books. So get out your mop, copy boy. We've got work to do.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
As soon as I heard the sad news I called my friend Marge. I've known her for 15 years, and met her when I moved my horse to her barn. She was the one who called Dr. Novak to come and see my horse, because the vet that I had been using was too far away from the new barn and he said he didn't come out that way. She has known Dr. Novak and his family for years. She had already heard the news, and I asked if I could stop by her place after I rode Kaswyn (who felt great yesterday).
I used to stop my Marge's house frequently after I'd ride my horse. At the time it was easy because her house is next door to the barn, so I'd just drive one driveway over and I was there. I spent many evenings at her kitchen table with her and sometimes her niece Susan. We'd talk about horses and horse people, and it was great. I went over at least once a week, if not more.
When I moved my horse to another barn I came by less, but I still tried to stop by if I drove past her house and saw her car. Then I had the girls, and it became important for me to get home for dinner with my family, so I rarely went by. I'd call every now and then, but we just fell out of touch.
Last night we had a nice visit, complete with dinner and drinks with her niece Susan. We toasted Dr. Novak and talked about him as much as we could bear. Marge's information about what happened to him came from a vet who used to work for Dr. Novak and is currently boarding her horses at Marge's barn. She's a good friend of the family, having been given an orphaned foal years ago by Dr. Novak when she lost her mare. She said that he had pulled into a driveway, but it was unclear if he was making a barn call or if he just pulled in because he felt something was wrong. The lady left her house and found him in the truck, and called 911.
I stayed at Marge's for about an hour and a half, but then I had to get home. I told Marge that it was too bad that it took the death of a friend to bring us together, and she agreed. We said we'd be better at keeping in touch from now on.
I still don't know if there will be a public service, but everyone I've talked to wants to be there if it happens. I understand if the family just wants it private and simple, but I really hope we can all go and pay our respects to Dr. Novak.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I'm sad about this. Dr. Novak was always very nice to me, and even went out of his way to care for Kaswyn. At the beginning of Kaswyn's hive problems, we talked almost daily about what the hives looked like, if they had changed, what Kaswyn's demeanor was, etc. A few times he was in the area and just stopped by the barn, no charge, to check up on Kaswyn. He said he wanted to keep a close eye on him.
Then that Thanksgiving we had a crisis. The dimwitted barn manager of the barn where Kaswyn was had pestered me to get a second opinion on Kaswyn's hives. He said the barn's vet would be out the day before Thanksgiving and I should really have him look at Kaswyn. I finally agreed to have the vet see Kaswyn, but I told the dimwit "Look, I will be out of town that day, so you have to be here with the vet. Kaswyn has already had many doses of steroids and Dr. Novak said he cannot have any more without risk of founder. So this vet may examine Kaswyn, but should not treat him in any way." Dimwit assured me that he would be there, and I could go out of town in peace.
Craig and I arrived at my parent's house (8 hours away) at around 9 pm the day before Thanksgiving, and I called my trainer to find out what the vet had said. She told me that he examined Kaswyn and gave him antihistamines and a steroid injection.
"What??!! Where was Dimwit?"
"He went to the bank. He wasn't here."
I freaked out.
First thing I did was call Dr. Novak. I left a message with his answering service to please call me immediately. I got a call within 20 minutes. I explained the situation, and boy, was Dr. Novak pissed. Not at me, or at the other vet, but at Dimwit, for not being there and putting Kaswyn in danger. He said he would call my trainer and tell her how to treat him that evening, and that he'd be out first thing in the morning to check on him. He was really great during that whole thing, and fortunately Kaswyn was fine.
Years later when Kaswyn began having his lameness problems I called Dr. Novak. He examined him and then told me I should take him to see Dr. G. You see, Dr. G is a very well known, highly respected lameness doc in our area. Probably the whole state. For Dr. Novak to swallow his pride and tell me to take my horse to a vet that could probably be of more help, well that's just cool.
Even though Dr. Novak was a little more flirty with the barn ladies than he should have been, I always liked him. I'm glad I knew him. And sad that he's gone.
Monday, November 26, 2007
It's the story of what happened to my second horse trainer, who was my first dressage trainer. The story of what happened to my first horse trainer starts here. This story doesn't end the same way, but it was still full of strife. And drama. There's always drama at the barn.
Before I start, let me say that I'm going to use names in this story, but some of them have been changed to protect the innocent. Or those easily pissed off. So lets get on with it, shall we?
I bought Kaswyn as a completely unbroken 3 year old. I bought him sight unseen from my good friend Paul in California while I was living in Ohio. He sent me a video of this chestnut youngster running around in a paddock. When I still couldn't decide if I wanted him or not, Paul said "How about this. You buy him, and in a few months if you decide you don't like him then I'll buy him back and give him to Marcie (his wife). She's always liked him, and this way it's low risk for you." It sounded like a gamble that I'd be willing to take, so I bought him.
When he arrived off the trailer, I thought "Well buddy, lets see if we can get along, shall we?" It was clear after a few days that this was a very special horse, and I fell hard for him. About two weeks later I called Paul and told him that he wasn't getting him back.
I broke Kaswyn when he was three and a half. My plan was to show him on the Class A Arabian Show circuit. I didn't really care what discipline, since I had pretty much shown them all, so I just started him in a western saddle and got a feeling about where he might fit best. It soon became clear that he would be an awesome hunter pleasure horse, so we headed in that direction.
We had a pretty good show year when he was five, picking up many ribbons and a Hunter Pleasure Championship (but not a Regional Championship) at a few shows. In the fall of that year I started noticing that he was being naughty for no good reason. For example, we'd be cantering along just fine, and suddenly he'd turn sharply left. It wasn't a spook, he just dropped his shoulder and turned. So I'd holler at him, he'd dance around for a few steps, then obediently go back to work. Until the next time. Something else he would do is just slam on the brakes at random times. Again, no spooking, he'd just stop, I'd yell "KASWYN!" and he'd act upset, and go back to working.
It became obvious that my pony was bored by just going on circles, and was trying to liven it up a bit by being naughty. I tried patterns, trail riding, days off, but none of it helped. I decided that I'd try him western, but that didn't go so well because he's clearly and English horse. However, not English enough to go English, or even Country Pleasure. I didn't have the know-how or equipment for trail, cutting, reining, or driving, and he just wasn't cut out for Native Costume. I was kind of at a loss.
Then a gal from the barn suggested that I try dressage. She said Kaswyn was a great mover, and that she thought he'd do really well. I didn't know the first thing about dressage, so I'd have to get a new trainer. Blair was really the only trainer I'd had, and since she was gone I'd been just working by myself, so I was kind of nervous to launch into a new relationship with a trainer. There were two dressage trainers giving lessons at the barn, so I took some time and watched them give lessons. Then I chose one of the trainers, Paula, and asked if she's take me on as a student. She agreed, and we set up our first lesson.
To be continued...
Sunday, November 25, 2007
I rode my horse for about 20 minutes. He felt great, and the leg was cold when I checked it before I put his polo wrap on. I tried hard to watch his movement in the mirrors as I rode past, but it's hard to see exactly what's going on due to where the mirrors are placed in the arena. It would be great to be able to see my horse going directly from the side, but as it is I can only see him as he is turning around a corner or on a circle. What I did see looked nice and even, with a decent amount of spring and a nice step. Right now things look good, but I know that the whole situation could go pear shaped at any time.
Oh, and I think I got a call from my vet on Thursday (or Friday, I can't remember which day it was). He called while I was away from my phone, but Craig picked it up. I think Dr. B must have thought he had the wrong number, because he hung up. Craig said the caller ID said "Private Call", which it usually says when Dr. B calls back. So it was either my vet, a wrong number, or a mystery person. Hmmmm... so intriguing!
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Macey perks up and says. "Okay! I go with you!" She follows me into the bathroom. Being a mother means rarely using the bathroom alone, by the way.
I start to use the potty, and Macey says "Are you poopin?"
Yes, I reply, smiling.
Macey says "I give you paper." She takes the roll of toilet paper off the counter (we had to take it off the roller on the wall because she found it too much fun to unroll the whole thing every day) and rips one square off. She hands it to me.
Then she says "Wipe it on yous butt."
I started to laugh. First of all, like one square is going to be enough. And second, as if I needed to be told what to do with it. I laughed so hard that my eyes got teary, so I wiped my eyes with the single square of toilet paper.
"No!", she says, clearly aggravated. "Wipe it on yous BUTT!", pointing at my rear.
Through my laughter, I say I'm going to need more paper. She says "Okay" and rips off one more square. Then again, she points towards my posterior and says, very seriously, "Wipe it on yous BUTT."
Thanks kid. I dunno what I'd do without ya.
Friday, November 23, 2007
I'm supposed to link back to her site and give you the rules.
Rules: list seven random or weird things about yourself.
I have been tagged before, so now I have to come up with seven more things...
1) I hate filling up ice cube trays, so I leave them for Craig to do. Seems ridiculous, I know, but I'd rather clean a toilet.
2) My great-grandmother's names were Myrtle, Pearl, Florence, and Julia.
3) My eyes are the same color as my hair, which might seem weird since my hair is red. However, my hair is actually auburn (a reddish brown), so it's not like I have satanic eyes or anything. Most of the time.
4) I like bugs. I think they are super cool. In fact I have raised silkworms at home. For fun. Luckily my husband is cool with planting mulberry trees in the backyard, building a dedicated bug room in the basement and filling it with worms.
5) I have a tattoo. Those who know about it know where it is and what it is. Those who don't have to ask. Maybe I'll tell, maybe I won't.
6) I have a secret message on the inside of my wedding ring. It's only two words, but it means the world to me.
7) I have no cavities in my teeth. I had one once, in a baby tooth. They filled it and the next day the tooth cracked and fell out.
Pony Rides and Monkey Pictures
Thursday, November 22, 2007
My saddle woes were many. I had this beautiful custom saddle that I really loved, but my horse wasn't very keen on it. Also I really needed to sell my old saddle to be able to pay off this new custom saddle. Which I might also have to sell so that I could buy the saddle that my horse liked. Which is one that I hate. Everything was just ducky.
Fortunately the saddle gods smiled upon me and my Cobra sold as a consignment at the tack store. They shipped it out on a trial and the person bought it. Fantastic! That's one issue down. Unfortunately it was the simplest issue.
On the advice of the saddle company lady, I continued to ride Kaswyn in the SemiFlex. To my great relief, I found that she was right and that he got used to the saddle having less give. I'm sure the new saddle started breaking in and flexing more as well, which was helping. He started becoming less resistant and after about a month he was feeling as good in the SemiFlex as he did in that nasty UltraFlex. I know some people love those UltraFlex's, but I'm not one of them.
This saddle has had an impact on two very important things for me. The first is Kaswyn's back. When I first talked to the saddle company gal she told me that my horse's back would change in musculature after about 8 weeks in either the UltraFlex or the SemiFlex. I was thinking that she was full of it and was just trying to be a good saleswoman because I never thought it would happen. My horse was 16, and his back had looked pretty much the same since he was about 8 or so. I couldn't see how a new saddle would change that.
But IT DID. In a big way. After only 6 weeks in the UltraFlex I could see a difference in Kaswyn's back. It had more muscle in it, looked more filled out, and I could feel that he had more carrying power through his back. It was simply amazing. Over the last few months his entire outline has changed. Now I realize that we'd had a year and a half off of serious work and that we're building back up, but there is no doubt in my mind that he's getting broader in the shoulders and more up in the back. I'm certain that he's more comfortable working, because I can feel much more range of motion in his back and front end. He's more willing to work over his back and really carry himself. It's an awesome feeling.
This saddle has also changed my riding. I think I had been on a plateau for a long time, but now I'm on a steady upward climb. The amount of feel that I get with this saddle is eye-opening. I used to mostly concentrate on his frame first, then my seat, then my leg, and just kind of continually run through the checklist in my head. But now I can just feel what I need to do. And since this saddle puts my leg in a much better position and forces me to use my seat, it's so much easier to get the job done. I'm riding so much more with my seat, less with my legs and even less with my hands.
For example, when we used to go across the diagonal in a medium trot, I would ask for a downward transition back to the collected trot by taking a greater hold on the reins and holding my breath hoping that he'd take the half-halt that followed. One day about 2 months ago I had this epiphany that I'd just sit with my seat, ask for the half-halt, and not touch the reins. It was a perfect downward transition, with no tension and plenty of step and energy into the collected trot without Kaswyn shutting down or getting tight. It was like he was saying, "Yeah, honey. You don't need to grab my face for things like this anymore. I'm trained. I know what to do. Just use your seat, okay? We'll both be happier."
And it's been steady improvement since then as both my horse and I retrain our bodies to do this dressage thing the correct way. And it feels great.
If you haven't already gotten the point, I would highly recommend the Freedom Holistic SemiFlex dressage saddle (or UltraFlex if you happen to like it better). It's seriously the best thing I've done for my dressage career since I broke up with my first dressage trainer.
But that, gentle readers, is another story for another time.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
It was an accident, of course. I was at work and we had just received a shipment of embryos from a patient in Germany. Yes, people ship their embryos all over the world. I don't know what the situation is, so I don't know how the embryos ended up here. Anyway, when we got them we needed to unpack them, check all the paperwork and verify the vials with the paperwork, log them in to our system, and put them into cryostorage.
When we unpacked them, we saw that they were packed in a very unusual way. Firstly, there was supposed to be one straw of embryos, but we saw at least 6 vials and no straws. We freeze our embryos in vials, but many places freeze them in straws, which is just like it sounds - the embryos are in what looks like a four inch long tube a little smaller in diameter than a coffee stirrer straw. The embryos are inserted into the straws with liquid nutrient media, and then the ends of the straw are heat sealed to keep the embryos inside. Usually these straws are contained in a larger tube, which is snapped into a long metal holder (a cane) so they can be taken easily out of the shipping container. Secondly, upon searching around the shipper, we discovered that they had sent solution for thawing the embryos. This is really odd. Usually they just send a paper protocol for thawing and we make up the solutions if we don't have them already.
But we still couldn't find the straw of embryos. Forget the solutions, it's the embryos that are important. Between two of us, two forceps, and one flashlight, we finally located the straw of embryos. It was loose in the shipper, not protected by another tube and not attached onto anything. This is super scary, because the straw is very small and it could have been easily lost or overlooked.
When we had the straw, we now needed to get it into a tube, cap the tube, and then put the tube onto a cane. To make matters more difficult, we need to do all of this work with everything submerged in liquid nitrogen. Now, liquid nitrogen is cold. Remember those Timex commercials where they put a rose in liquid nitrogen, and once it was frozen they shattered it like glass? Well I'm here to tell you that liquid nitrogen will freeze damn near anything solid. And fast. But if that straw were to come out of the liquid nitrogen for more than a few seconds, the liquid inside the straw would thaw and so would the embryos. Not what we wanted to have happen.
With three of us working now with forceps and flashlight, and after dropping the straw once in the bottom of the liquid nitrogen bucket and having to find it and fish it out again, we had the straw safely inside a capped tube. Then we just had to get the tube on the cane. My boss and I put the tube on the cane, and she went to get a protective plastic sheath for the cane. I saw that the tube wasn't securely snapped into the cane, so I reached down with my bare fingers into the liquid nitrogen to snap it back on.
Now, liquid nitrogen is cold, but you can put your fingers in a for a second before it starts to hurt. Two seconds, tops. So I thought I'd just snap it back on and all would be well. However, once I touched the tube it fell off the cane. At this point, I'm committed and I have to put the tube back on the cane, securely this time. Which I do, but I can feel my fingers burning and I can hear them sizzle as they freeze. My boss sees this and says "Oh!". I pull my fingers out of the liquid nitrogen, and they are white.
Ack. This is not good. On a reflex I closed my hand into a fist and covered it with my other hand. My fingers felt numb and I was afraid to look at them again. My boss kept saying "Are you okay? Are your fingers frozen?" I said I was fine, and after a minute or so I opened my hand. Just the ends of my fingers were red, not frozen white, which was good. I had no feeling in them, but at least they didn't fall off or anything.
I really expected the tips to blister, but I got really very lucky and they did not. All I have on my middle finger is an angry red mark. All my fingers (except my pinkie and thumb) are really sore on the tips, so it makes doing my job, and typing, not very comfortable.
So, don't mess with liquid nitrogen, kids! You'll freeze your fingers off!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
He needs to call me back. Tomorrow. Or I shall be very put out.
Not that a phone call from Dr. B can change how my horse is doing, which is just so-so. I rode about 15 minutes today and he felt a wee bit off in the front. It's probably nothing that anyone would be able to notice unless they were looking for it, and he was certainly ready to work, but I could feel it. I still get a nervous little ball in my stomach when I ride him and he feels this way, but I understand the logic behind low level work to continue to put pressure but not stress on the area to keep the healing process chugging along. After the shock wave therapy he didn't feel quite right but Dr. B assured me that if I just went slow with the work that he would get better, and he certainly did.
All I can do is hope I'm doing the right thing. If I am, once he gets back to real work I think that my new training plan will help prevent future injuries. Well, to that leg anyway.
Now I'm off to read more articles on the anatomy of the equine forelimb. Sound boring? If you ask me, it's better than reading about Britney Spears and her latest escapades. At least I'll be learning something.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Today a patient came in who is an exception. I didn't know her before she started coming to our fertility clinic, but now we're on a first name basis. She is really very nice and everyone loves her. However, we have yet to successfully get her pregnant. She keeps an upbeat attitude, and they are trying one more time. Everyone hopes this will be "the " time and she'll have a little baby in nine months. In two weeks we'll know if we were able to make their dreams of a baby come true. I'm sure it will be a long two weeks for them.
In situations like this is hard not to get to know these people. They come in so often, we see them face to face and talk on the phone for days in a row, we know their history (physical and otherwise), and some people just become special to us. Sure, we want everyone to get pregnant, but for some we want it just a little bit more.
This should work for her eventually. There are other patients who have almost no hope of success, but keep trying anyway. These are the heartbreaking cases. I've been in tears here more than once over some patients stories. I'm the first to admit that I'm a huge bleeding heart and can easily sympathize with anyone who has a sob story. So I know that I've got to not get too close to these people. But it's difficult when they are so nice.
It's days like today that I look at the picture on my desk of two little curly red-headed girls and realize how incredibly lucky I am.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I did a little online research about the injury that Kaswyn has, and I read an article that said it's common in performance horses who experience an increase in work level. It's also caused by imperfect leg conformation and riding on hard surfaces. I read another article that said that many horses have some amount of fusion between the cannon bone and the splint bone, with increasing amounts of fusion as the horse either ages or works harder. This made me wonder if there was a way to chemically induce fusion of the two bones, since doing that would stop the motion of the bones and therefore end the pain. It seems to me that's what we want to have happen anyway, and if they can inject joints like hocks why can't they inject the space between those bones?
In the reading I did it seems that a few studies have concluded that pin firing is not effective. The consensus is that it's the long weeks of time off after the pin firing that actually heal the injury and not the procedure itself. All of this information just raises new questions that I'm going to want to talk with Dr. B about.
Tomorrow is another day off for Mr. K. We'll see what Tuesday holds.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
You see, my Nana used to make at least 40 dozen cookies every Christmas. Sometimes it was 50 or 60 dozen. She made chocolate chip (with and without nuts), oatmeal, sugar, ginger, peanut butter, peanut butter with chocolate kisses in the middle, date bars, and probably some more kinds that I'm forgetting. She would let us kids decorate the sugar cookies with that crystallized colored sugar before she baked them. As she finished each batch she would store them in old butter cookie metal tins, each labeled with the kind of cookie that could be found inside.
Why on earth did she make so many cookies? We didn't have a big family so we certainly didn't eat them all ourselves. Nana baked so she could give them away. Anyone who happened to drop by got to take home a bag full of cookies to take home. And people did drop by. Lots of them. I don't know if they usually did but they sure came by at Christmas time. She also took them to work to give away and probably sent them with my grandfather to his work. Nana would usually run out of more than one kind of cookie before Christmas, and since that just wouldn't do she would whip up another 2 or 3 dozen of them. Just so nobody would open a tin any time before New Years and find it empty.
I will freely admit that Craig is a much better cook than I am. He worked at various restaurants during high school and college and just has that knack for throwing a meal together that is fantastic with little or no prior planning. Me, on the other hand, have to get a recipe, make a list, go to the store, and cook. He's faster and better at it, so he usually cooks.
But he doesn't bake. He says it because you have to measure everything perfectly and he finds that to be too much of a bother. In contrast, I LOVE to bake. Cookies, cakes, pies, whatever. My ability to successfully pull off my Nana's fantastic apple pie is possibly one of the reasons why Craig married me. Maybe it's the scientist in me that makes me enjoy baking. Science can't be off the cuff and thrown together and work out like a good meal can. Everything must be measured, timed, and watched carefully.
Or maybe it's a bit of my Nana in me. At least I hope so. She was an amazing woman, and I really do miss her. I'm not the only one.
But tonight I did something I have never ever done, and that Nana certainly never did.
Earlier today the girls were watching Madeline and in one scene the girls in the movie baked gingerbread cookies. Lily said "I want to make gingerbread mens!". I said we could, and started thinking of which one of my cookbooks would have a good recipe. Craig heard her too, and when he went to the store he bought gingerbread cookie mix. In a BOX. And I'm ashamed to write this, but because it was fast and convenient, I used it.
It's heresy, I tell you. Nana never used boxed anything for her cookies, so I never did either. You got cookie dough from flour, sugar, eggs, milk, water, etc, not from a box. She would occasionally use boxed cake mix, but she made a mean devils food cake from scratch (no tub of icing there either). Which, come to think of it, I don't think I have the recipe for. I'll have to call my mom can get it.
So yeah, I used the boxed cookie mix, and they turned out okay. Craig and the girls like them, so I guess it's okay. As she was halfway through her first cookie, Lily even said "Not bad mama. Not bad."
I agree. They're not bad. But Nana's were great.
Friday, November 16, 2007
It ended up being less of a riding journal and more of a riding/health record. Years ago Kaswyn had an issue with hives. I dutifully kept track of every day he had hives, what medications he got, and how long the hives lasted. This came in handy when we finally went to Ohio State Veterinary Hospital for a skin allergy test. I had his entire hive history on the calendar for the vet to review when we were discussing treatment options.
It's also been very helpful during this two year long lameness ordeal. When I was taking Kaswyn to see Dr. G I would bring my calendars with me so we could review and discuss his symptoms and changes in work. The last time he actually took two years worth of calendars and told his assistant "Please copy these and put them in his file."
On Monday when Dr. B came out he asked "Now when did this all start?" I pulled out my calendar and said "October 16. I rode for about 30 minutes working on stretching because I thought he might have been sore from the ride on October 14, when we schooled a particularly difficult movement (I'll explain the movement later - it's complicated). The two weeks prior I had ridden him three days in a row for the first time because I decided to step the training up a notch." Based on this Dr. B made his assessment of why Kaswyn was having this new lameness.
It's been fantastic during this injury/healing process to be able to look back and see exactly what I did with Kaswyn each day. Today I wrote this -
R 15 min
W/T no O's
Which means that I rode (R) for 15 minutes at the walk and the trot (W/T), I didn't ride any circles (no O's) and that he was slightly ouchie and felt like he hurt a bit (sl. owie).
Does anyone else do this? I think only one other person at the barn does. My trainer might do it too, but I'm not sure. Am I overly obsessed?
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I went immediately to the barn to try it out. I tacked up, and got on Kaswyn. After riding in the UltraFlex for 6 weeks, this saddle felt like heaven. It really felt like it had been made just for me, and I was extremely happy. Until I asked Kaswyn to trot.
He tensed his neck, raised it up, and was pretty resistant for the first few strides. He settled down a little after that, so I rode for about 20 minutes, trying trot and canter in both directions. Regardless of what Kaswyn thought, I was loving it. However it was clear that he was not as comfortable in the SemiFlex as he was the UltraFlex.
When I had Kaswyn all put away (and my new saddle cleaned and conditioned with Leather Therapy- not oiled because I was warned not to oil it), I called the gal from the saddle company. My concern was that my horse had gotten used to the UltraFlex and now this SemiFlex was going to hurt his back. We had come so far that I didn't want to go backwards, and I certainly didn't want to hurt him. She assured me that the Semi-Flex would not harm his back in any way, but that some horses do prefer one saddle over the other. She thought what was happening with Kaswyn was that he had gotten used to a saddle that was very flexible, and that because the SemiFlex doesn't move as much he might have thought that it was the old saddle and was anticipating pain. She said that the saddle would be stiff for a few weeks, but that it would loosen up and wouldn't hurt him in the process. She told me to ride in it for about three weeks. If Kaswyn still objected to the saddle then she thought I should have one of the saddle fitting ladies come out and look at it just to make sure it was fitted properly to him.
Then she said "If the saddle fits correctly and he still doesn't like it, you might just have to get an UltraFlex instead." Like I can afford a second custom saddle that I don't like riding in to begin with, especially when I'm still trying to sell my Cobra? Fat chance.
Speaking of which, the Cobra did not sell as a consignment the first go round at the tack store. So I took it home and tried eBay and some other tack classifieds. Still nothing. Then I got a call from the tack store saying that they might have someone who wants the Cobra, but at half my asking price. I told them that I really didn't want to go that low, but I brought it in to the store again. I thought that maybe this potential buyer would see it in person and somehow come up with more money.
Well that didn't happen, so I put it up for consignment again. And waited.
To sum up, I had a custom saddle that I loved but my horse didn't seem to like, and an old saddle that I couldn't sell. Things weren't looking too spiffy.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
LILY: What do you call a truck that runs over your foot?
ME: I don't know, what do you call it?
LILY: A lifesaver! It's a joke! HA HA HAA!
I didn't get it, but I laughed. So she told another one.
LILY: What happens when a glass bangs around and it makes you really angry?
ME: I don't know, what happens?
LILY: Another glass bangs around! HA HA HAA!
Again I laughed, because it was so ridiculous, so she busted out with one more -
LILY: What happens when your brain falls out of your head and you get really angry that you have no brain anymore?
ME: I don't know, what happens?
LILY: Your teeth fall out too!
She still makes me laugh, even when her jokes don't make any sense.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
There are worse things than being presented with three options for fixing your horse. So I listened as Dr. B went down the list.
#1 - Back the training program up to where I was two months ago for 30 days. During that time apply Surpass (anti-inflammatory cream) daily to the left front inside splint bone. If Kaswyn is not back where he was before this this new injury after 30 days, call Dr. B back out.
#2 - Shock Wave Therapy. We had such success the first time, there is no reason to believe that another round wouldn't help tremendously.
#3 - Pin Fire the leg.
WHAT? HELL to the NO.
When he said that and saw the look on my face he just laughed and said, "I told you you wouldn't do it! But honestly if I pin fire that leg it will set it up for good and you'll never have another problem."
Pin firing is putting a hot, thin metal probe into the injury site, which basically burns a little tunnel into the skin, connective tissue, and bone. The idea behind it is to create an acute inflammatory response, which the body will react to in a different and better way than it does to a long term lingering injury. Usually the pin firing will require many sticks with the probe, and usually results in little pin scars. The horse is sedated and the site blocked, so they don't feel it. Most people think pin firing is terrible and wouldn't consider it.
Here is an article from horse.com about pin firing.
I told him that I wouldn't be able to do it, and he said "Let me tell you, I've never had a horse that I've pin fired come back with the same injury. It's always worked for me. I hate to do it because it's so labor intensive, but I'll tell you it works. However, in your case I think we can get by with one of the other two options, so trust me I'm not pushing it."
We talked about why this injury happened again. He said that when I took my horse to the next level of training I stressed the site enough to cause some new injury. At first the injury was at the top of the splint bone, but now it's farther down. The splint bone is only so long, and eventually he might have injured and healed the whole length of the bone. The stress of training is setting up and continuing the process of healing on the previously injured parts, so laying my horse up at this point would eliminate the stimulus and thus dramatically slow any healing.
Our plan right now is Option #1 - back off the training and use Surpass. In 30 days if he's not as good as he was in the beginning of October, Dr. B will come out for another evaluation. And maybe more shock wave therapy.
But pin firing? I just don't think I could do it. Then again, I never thought I'd nerve my horse either....
Monday, November 12, 2007
Luckily I wore my breeches, and my trainer's mom helped me tack up quickly, so we didn't lose much time. I rode at the walk for a few minutes in both directions, then at the trot. I started the trot to the left, then went right. When I went back left I could definitely feel a difference.
I stopped Kaswyn and said something about it, and Dr. B said "Yeah, I'd say he's about a 1/2 out of 5 lameness. It's just that he's protecting that left front. He's not flexing the left pastern as much as the right because he's trying to keep a bit of weight off of it. So it's not a mechanical thing."
We proceeded to the x-rays. He took a bunch of views of the left front knee, plus I asked him to take a look at the navicular bone on the left front. That bone had a cyst in it, and over a year ago I started him on herb that could possibly reduce the size of the cyst. I was just curious to see if it had changed at all or not.
First, we looked at the navicular x-rays. He measured a 5 mm cyst. He didn't pull up the old films, but I remembered that the cyst was more oblong in shape than the one I saw today. I just looked in my old vet report and the cyst was 6 mm x 4 mm. So it just got a little rounder. Not much of a change at all. Makes me wonder if I should continue with those herbs. Regardless, Dr. B said he did not think the navicular bone was an issue at all.
Then we looked at the knee films. The image below was taken from Wikipedia and will illustrate the parts of the leg that I'm talking about.
**Warning! Boring horse leg anatomy discussion to follow!**
This is a side view of the bones of the lower equine limb. The photo is labeled with the medical names. The common names of the bones in question are -
Third metacarpal = Cannon bone
Second (medial) metacarpal = Inside splint bone.
So there are two splint bones, one each on either side of, and slightly to the rear of, the cannon bone. The knee bones sit on top of the cannon bone and splint bones. The cannon bone bears the majority of the weight, but the splint bones do bear some weight from the knee. The splint bones are attached to the cannon bones with many tiny ligaments down the whole length of the splint bone. It's usually a very tight connection, and it's purpose is to flex slightly outward as the pressure and weight pushes down from the knee onto the cannon bone/splint bone complex.
Kaswyn's old injury was that he had torn the ligamentous attachments between his inside (medial) splint bone as his cannon bone. This was partly due to his conformation, and partly because of the work he'd been doing. Conformationally, since his leg is not perfectly straight and he's a little pigeon toed, his weight doesn't land straight down like it ideally should. He gets a little too much pressure under that inside left knee and it pushes down on the splint bone more than it should. When you add that to increased lateral work at the upper levels of dressage and more intense workouts, you get tearing.
We did shock wave therapy on the old injury, and we got great improvement which resulted in Kaswyn being better than he had been in quite awhile. But then I pushed a little to hard, and we ended up with another injury.
This new injury is similar to the old ligamentous tear, but it's lower down on the splint bone. The old tear looks like it's partially filled in with bone, which is just what we want it to do. If it fills in with bone then the attachments can't flex as much, and thus won't be painful. Dr. B was not surprised to see this new injury.
What to do about it? Dr. B told me I had three options. Before he even told me option #1, he told me that there was no way I would even consider #3, but he was going to tell me anyway because he thought it might be the best solution.
To be continued...
Sunday, November 11, 2007
I needed to figure out what to do for a saddle for three months while my custom saddle was being made. Using the Cobra was out of the question. I figured I could get by for a week or two bareback, but then I was going to want to start building Kaswyn back up into working shape again, since we had been off for 8 weeks for our shock wave therapy.
I remembered that the gal who let me try her Freedom Holistic had to send her saddle back to have it re-made when her filly grew. In the meantime she was given a demo saddle to use, which was easy to manage because she was good friends with the gal who worked for the saddle company. I asked her if her friend might have a demo for me to use, and she said "Actually, I never gave my demo saddle back. I'll bring it to the barn and you can call her and see if it's okay for you to use."
Then she told me that the demo saddle was an UltraFlex, which I hated. Ugh. But beggars can't be choosers, so I called the saddle gal and she said I could use it until she needed it for another demo, in which case she'd call me. Fantastic!
I put the UltraFlex saddle on Kaswyn and hopped on. Yep, I still hated it. It bulged in a weird way under my thighs, the twist was too narrow, and I didn't like where it put my leg. I'm sure I could get used to it if I had to, but I really disliked it. I have been told that there are two different saddlers who make these saddles - Barry and Nick. Barry is the only one who makes the UltraFlex, but they both make the SemiFlex. Each saddler has their own way of constructing the outside of the saddle, and I have heard that it's a love it or hate it kind of thing. You either like the Nick or the Barry. It was clear that I liked the Nick saddle, which is what I had tested out and ultimately ordered.
On the other hand Kaswyn LOVED the UltraFlex. He was soft and round and as the weeks went by he started really working over his back. It was amazing what a difference the saddle made to his stride. He had more reach, more suspension, and there was hardly any resistance in the base of his neck and back. I felt I had made the right choice. Now all I had to do was wait.
I did have one other small problem. Not only was I not going to put the Cobra back on Kaswyn ever again, but due to the price of the Freedom Holistic dressage saddle the Cobra needed to be sold. As soon as possible. First I tried selling it at the local tack store that takes consignments. And while the Cobra was there to be sold, my new saddle came in. Which meant I needed to pay for it. Ack!
Thank you MasterCard!
Anyhow, my saddle arrived 6 weeks after I ordered it. Everyone was saying how amazing it was that it came in so soon. I think it might have been because the gal from the saddle company also has Arabians, and she had heard of Kaswyn. She might have pushed it through faster, but I can't be sure.
I couldn't wait to try it out. Would I love it, or had I just made a huge, expensive mistake?
To be continued...
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I'm sure she was too young to remember anything about that show, but she really had a good time today. We didn't stay for long because it was cold and they didn't have donuts (They usually do! We got ripped off!). But we stayed long enough to watch three people do their tests, the last of whom was my trainer's mother. She was the third ride of the morning.
When the first horse came into the show arena Lily asked what his name was. I just happened to know the horse and I told her "Eli". Then she waved enthusiastically and said rather loudly "HI ELI!"
Oh my, was I embarrassed. He was about to start his test and I'm really lucky that he either didn't see/hear her or if he did he didn't care. I then explained to her that she had to be really quiet, and that she can say hi to all the horses she wants to after they get done riding in the ring. She was good with that.
After my friend rode and we went back to the stalls, Lily got bored and wanted to go home. So we headed home. But I think she'll come with me again tomorrow.
Here is what Lily says about the horse show -
"I love the horse show. And it's very fun and I like the horses. And I like everybody. That's all I have to say. It's so much people! And I like the horses and I like all the numbers on the stalls. I liked feeding the horses Honeycomb (her cereal snack). But one horse put horse snot on me. Yuck! It was gross."
Friday, November 09, 2007
For the last 10 days or so Kaswyn's been getting daily alternating doses of bute and aspirin. Yesterday he got bute, and today he got aspirin, so I decided to ride him lightly today and see if there was a difference between the rides from yesterday to today.
There certainly was a difference. Today he wasn't nearly as jazzed about working, but that may have been because he was ridden yesterday. However, the left lead canter felt really bad again today and he broke from the canter down to the trot on his own. This is something that my horse simply does not do. Unless there is a problem.
The vet comes Monday afternoon. There are two areas that I suspect are the problem.
#1 - That old knee/splint bone injury flaring up in the left front
#2 - Something going on with the left front pastern/fetlock.
He'll get Saturday off and a walk on Sunday. And then he'll see Dr. B. on Monday.
Here's to a great weekend. And a wonderful addition to my vet bill.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
His left lead canter felt very poor though. It reminded me of how it felt when this whole mess began two years ago. Thankfully he was in a super mood and was really happy to work, which gives me hope that if he hurts it's not that bad yet. I'm afraid I pushed too hard too fast. Or maybe this is his body saying it can't handle the training.
Regardless, this sucks.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
However, I saw something I didn't like. I was looking in the mirrors and I thought I saw a definate difference in the height of the right and left front legs, with the left not coming as high. It was hard for me to be certain, because the mirrors are not at a spot where I could see Kaswyn from the side while he was going in a straight line. I could see parts of us as we went around a circle, but that meant that we were turning and at an angle every time I could look. So it was hard for me to tell for sure.
My trainer says she thinks that even when he was in his best shape he was never really even, and that it looked to her like he was as even yesterday as he has ever been since the whole lameness saga. She thinks it kind of felt to her like he was body sore when she rode him at that last lesson of mine, which is entirely possible since I had been pushing a bit more then I am want to do. I have to say that yesterday he felt even, excited to work, and eager to please. Like he didn't have pain anywhere.
So I'm going to not call the vet yet, and I'll keep riding. He certainly isn't lame, and doesn't have any noticeable inflammation or discomfort. My plan is to give him two solid days off a week, with one easy day. I'm going to make sure that our four training days a week are split up so that I never have two training days in a row. I think this will give him a chance to rest between training sessions and hopefully avoid further injury.
I'm 90% sure that he's fine. It's that 10% hanging in the back of my mind that bothers me. If my horse were more of a wimp, and had less heart, I think I wouldn't be worried at all. But I'm scared that he'd rather work while he's hurt than not work at all.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
So we start walking down the driveway, and all is well. I'm enjoying the last hours of fall weather when we happened to startle three deer who were in the woods. Now usually it's hard to rattle my horse, but these deer gave no signs that they were there until they bolted noisily away from us and deeper into the trees.
Kaswyn dropped down, jumped to the side, landed with all four legs spread wide, and then snorted in the direction on the deer for a minute or two. I tried to get him to keep walking, but he was clearly thinking, "No way lady! There is something seriously scary in those trees. The only place I'm going is back to my nice, safe stall!"
I was able to calm him down, and we walked not only to the end of the driveway, but a little ways up the street. Snorting and blowing most of the way, Kaswyn even spooked at the cows on the corner which he usually doesn't give a second glance to. Of course this amused me to no end, having my 16 year old gelding act like a two year old. I'm sure I wouldn't have thought it so funny if he'd have gotten loose or hurt himself, but as it was it was cheap harmless mirth.
We got halfway back down the driveway for the grazing portion of our walk. About five minutes before I was going to head back it started to rain. I'm feeling very lucky for being able to get outside for one last time.
And no more hand walking cause I get to ride my pony today! Yay!
Monday, November 05, 2007
While I wasn't really in love with my Cobra saddle, I didn't want to buy a new saddle either. But it was obvious that Kaswyn was bothered by the Cobra, so my decision was made. It was time for a new saddle. Something we both liked.
The gal who has her horse next to Kaswyn had one of those Freedom Holistic saddles. She didn't have the UltraFlex, but what they call the SemiFlex. The SemiFlex has a tree, but it's a very flexible tree. While it flexes and moves a lot, it also gives more stability than the UltraFlex. I knew I didn't like the UltraFlex, but I wanted to give the SemiFlex a try because I knew it would be really good for Kaswyn's back. I asked if I could try it on Kaswyn and she said sure.
So I tacked him up and got on. Immediately I loved the way the saddle felt under my seat. It was very close contact (like my Collegiate!) and I loved where it placed my leg. So we walked. Then I asked him to get on the bit. He was tenative for a split second, but then was soft and happy in my hand. Just like when we were bareback. I wasn't allowed to trot or canter him because this was when he had just had his shock wave therapy, but it was clear to me that we both liked the saddle.
I talked to the gal about getting a saddle. She just happened to be very good friends with the lady who distributed the saddles. The saddle company had just entered into a contract with a local tack shop to sell them, so I needed to call them to have a fitting, because the saddles are all custom. Luckily, it was the tack shop that had the really good saddle fitting people, and they are dressage riders. I also am lucky in that I know them personally because we've been stabled at a few barns together. I found out that they were coming to my barn the next week to do two other fittings, so they could measure both me and my horse.
In all my years of riding, I've never had a custom saddle. While I was excited, I was a little scared too. What if I ordered this saddle and somehow it didn't fit? Or I didn't like it? Or it started hurting Kaswyn's back again?
I decided that I'd just have to order the saddle and see, because I knew that my horse liked it. And if I could buy a saddle that fit him and didn't hurt his back, I needed to do it. So we had our measurements taken, and I was told that the saddle would take a minimum of three months to be completed.
Yikes! Three months?! What was I going to ride Ksswyn in until the saddle came in? Because I certainly wasn't putting the Cobra back on him, that was for sure.
To be continued...
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Anyhow, I'd been avoiding walking him down to driveway because they had just filled in some potholes with rather large gravel and I didn't want to add a stone bruise to our list of issues. However the last two days have been cold, but incredibly sunny and just beautiful so I couldn't bring myself to walk him inside yet again.
And I'm really glad I decided on going down the driveway, because for some reason Kaswyn doesn't try any monkey business when we're outside. It's very peaceful, and we both get to enjoy a nice walk. We go down to the end of the driveway (I don't know how long it is, maybe a quarter of a mile?), turn around, and then I let him to graze his way back to the barn along the sides of the driveway, which are full of really nice grass.
It's been so pleasant. I hope the weather lasts just a few more days so we can keep going outside for our walks. I'll be riding him Tuesday. And I think they're predicting light snow Tuesday night.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Friday, November 02, 2007
I decided that since I wasn't really sure what was wrong with Kaswyn this time that I would really hand walk him instead of getting on him and walking him. This means that he spends way too much time trying to bite me. Now, he's not really trying to hurt me, or scare me, but he puts on this huge act because he wants to get a reaction out of me. And he usually does, because if I don't yank his head out of the way or jump out of the way myself he might accidentally bite me.
We go through this every time I'm on hand-walking duty. I've been trying to mix it up and lunge him at the walk when possible, but I really don't like doing that if someone is having a lesson or trying to ride. I'm going to try very hard and stick to my earlier decision not to get on his back, but he's trying my patience. I don't know how much more I can stand from the little booger. And based on yesterday I'm not sure how much more nonsense I'll put up with.
I was walking him in the arena on the lunge line. I had been making him walk in a large circle, far away from me, but then this gal came in for her lesson on her 5 year old gelding. He is a fabulous horse with spectacular gaits and has a very sweet personality. However, since he was just gelded a few months ago, and being five, he likes to play even when he's ridden. I haven't seen it yet, but apparently during his schooling he'll get over exuberant and just leap playfully in the air, kicking and bucking. They say it's amazingly athletic and not meant to pitch the rider, but still kind of scary. He hasn't unloaded his young owner yet because she's very calm and it doesn't rattle her when he does it. She just goes with him and stays on.
Anyhow, when she started walking in the arena waiting for our trainer to start her lesson, I shortened the lunge line so we'd be out of the way. After a few minutes I decided to switch directions and asked Kaswyn to reverse. He decided to take the opportunity to come closer to me and take a shot at grabbing my jacket. He did get his teeth on me, so I reacted without thinking and took the looped end of the lunge line and swatted him in the shoulder.
Just then I saw that the gal and her young horse were behind Kaswyn as I did it, but it was too late. The young horse spooked HUGE, dropping down next to the arena wall and banging his feet against the boards. Then he leaped up into the air and jumped a few strides towards the center of the ring. She got him stopped without a problem, but it was pretty impressive that she didn't fall off considering the fact that she had been walking him on a very loose rein.
I apologized heartily, and felt really bad, but she didn't seem upset at all. She just sort of shrugged and said "It's okay, we're fine." Kaswyn knew that he had done something wrong, because for the next few minutes he walked very slowly with his head up and eyes front, one ear pinned on me, as if to say "Hey! Look at me! I'm not doing ANYTHING I'm not supposed to! I'm good! SEE?"
Of course ten minutes later he was back to his old tricks. No surprise there, I guess.