Sunday, December 31, 2006

I know I've said it before

Let me just take a moment to say how much I love my horse. Well, more so why I love him.

Today was a very nice day for the end of December in Cleveland. I decided instead of walking inside again that we'd take a walk down the driveway and possibly up the street a little way. The barn is on a dirt/gravel road and there's not a lot of traffic on it, so I figured it would be a safe thing to do.

Now, when I've been walking my horse lately I've been riding him bareback. I love riding my horse bareback because I feel so much more connected to him. It also gives me a really good sense of where my balance is, because if I lean too far one way or the other I feel like I'm going to fall off. I think it's a great exercise and I highly recommend doing it from time to time.

I've also been riding him using a halter and leadrope instead of a bridle. On some horses this would be sheer suicide because they cannot be trusted to heed your wishes. Kaswyn, however, completely understand what is expected of him and will do whatever I want him to do. In fact, I can school my horse bareback and in a halter. He'll "get on the bit" and have a very nice dressage frame even without a bit and bridle, and I can school shoulder-in, half passes, and flying changes. I've tried everything but canter pirouettes on him bridleless. It's so awesome.

Anyhow, today I decided that I'd ride bareback and in a halter again down the driveway. I wore my helmet, just in case something bad did happen, but I really wasn't worried. We walked down the driveway and street for 20 minutes. Cars passed, the wind was blowing stuff around in the culvert, both perfect things for my horse to spookat and take off. But he didn't. He really was solid and very good about everything.

On the way back to the barn I marveled at how much I can do with him, and how enjoyable it is to have him as my riding partner. I had a huge smile on my face, but it wasn't from riding an awesome test at a show. It was from taking a walk with my buddy.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


One of the things my vets recommended for me to do while treating Kaswyn's knee injury was to ride him lightly. This was to see if the treatments of aspirin and bute were helping the situation. After the first week it became clear that my horse was definately sound, confirming that the meds were helping the inflammation.

I did some reading about bone injuries and then had a nice long chat with Dr. B. My concern was that riding him while he was healing might prolong the healing time or put him at risk for re-injury during work. Dr. B agreed that the most conservative route would be to give him about a month off. After 30 days we can take new x-rays of the knee to see if there is improvement. If not, shock wave therapy would be very helpful in the healing process.

I had done some reading about shock wave therapy for bone injuries prior to our conversation, and it's a very interesting therapy. It involves applying high-energy sound waves to the injured area with a special machine. Research shows that shock wave therapy can recruit osteoclasts (bone building cells) to the injured area, thus promoting healing and new bone growth. It also suggests that the shock waves effect the nerves of the area to provide temporary pain relief. Soft tissues don't seem to be effected. However, circulation is increased which also speeds healing and helps to reduce inflammation.

Dr. B didn't think we should do shock wave right now, as he thinks that time off will heal Kaswyn's problem. However, he also thinks that if there is no improvement in 30 days that the injury might have stagnated and plateaued in it's healing. In this case shock wave would be an excellent way to kick start healing. And get us back to training.

So we're walking. Again. This time I'm riding him while I walk and doing one lap of trot each direction to keep the joint weight bearing and hopefully keep the circulation up in the area without causing injury. We'll x-ray again in mid January.

So, a little recap of my horse's treatment in the past year -

Left hind pastern injection
Injection of all four hock joints in both hocks
Neurectomy left front
Multiple diagnostic nerve blocks
MRI both lower front limbs
Many x-rays
Possible (I'm guessing YES on this) shock wave therapy

So, lets have that be the end of it, huh?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Kaswyn's Way

Amazingly, Kaswyn is still sound. Although I'm excited to be riding a sound horse after a year of vet visits and medications, I'm anxious to do something more then just walk and trot. At least I know that when we're able to do some lateral and collected work that I won't have to re-teach Kaswyn everything. Once he knows something, he's got it and knows what you want. That doesn't necessarily mean that he'll do it correctly. My trainer and I joke about my horse and say that he does things "Kaswyn's Way."

Heres what my horse might say for some of these movements -

Instead of staying straight and balanced in the half-pass to the left, I'll just fall on my left shoulder and drag you to the left. That's Kaswyn's Way.

Or how about that left canter pirouette? How about if I just stab my back legs into the ground and spin around in as few strides as possible? It's a pirouette, right? Close enough. For Kaswyn's Way.

The traditional rein-back is so overdone. I'll just do it Kaswyn's Way and fly backwards in quick, uneven walk steps.

Most of the time after one of these episodes I'll just get on his case and make him do it properly, which he will do without much fuss. But if I don't get that half-halt, lose my rhythm or connection, or don't have enough impulsion or bend, he figures I'm leaving it up to him. To do it Kaswyn's Way.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Good knees and crusty eyes

It's amazing, but Kaswyn was sound both Saturday and Sunday. Right after the vet visit I was instructed to work him to the left only, because the injured area of bone is on the inside of the left leg. Working him to the left will relieve the pressure on that area. It's been so strange to only ride my horse one direction because it's always been drilled into me that you must work equally both directions in order to built the horse equally on both sides.

However, I just got off the phone with Dr. G, and he recommends that I work him 2/3 of the time to the left, and 1/3 of the time to the right. He wants me to keep him in light work, which is hard when he feels so good, but I'll do it. He also wants me to continue with the meds and the Surpass, plus add cold hosing after exercise. He wants to continue this program for 2 weeks, and then I'm to call with an update. At that time he wants to try and reduce the meds and see how he does. If we can get him off the meds, then we can eventually increase his work.

This is all very exciting! I know, I know, I can't get too excited. But I just can't help it. I can't wait to ride tonight!

Oh, and Lily has pinkeye. Which means that Craig is going to get an eye abcess or something, because he can't get anything the girls have unless he gets it ten times worse. Craig took her to work with him today, armed with portable DVD player, DVD's, books, and toys. That should be fun. For her.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Because we needed something to focus on when we were blowing off work

My friend Meghan and I used to do research in the same lab. When you work in a lab it's generally accepted that you'll have hours of down time while you're waiting for gels to run or things to incubate for various reasons. At those times you're expected to be reading articles that are pertinent to your research, or other paperwork. You're not just supposed to goof off or surf the web.

Well Meghan and I did plenty goofing off. One day we were sitting in the kitchen area and were talking about the Seven Deadly Sins. Somehow we got on the topic of how there should be things that aren't deadly but still suck. We came up with the Seven Not-So-Deadly Misfortunes. This took us a few hours, during which time we should have been working. But as we came up with each one we would laugh and laugh. I might have even peed just a little. We knew that we shouldn't be calling attention to the fact that we weren't doing work, but we really didn't care. It was so damn funny. I know that other people working there frowned upon our activities that day, and our bosses might have even received complaints. Ah well. We didn't get fired or anything, so pfft!

We wrote them down on a napkin, which Meghan kept in her desk for years. Every so often we'd pull it out and laugh until we cried, every time. I think that napkin was thrown away when Meghan quit that job and cleaned out her desk. Unfortunate.

Today I had reason to recall the Seven Not-So-Deadly Misfortunes, but couldn't remember them all. I headed over to Meghan's desk and we re-visited the list. And, of course, laughed a lot while doing it. The following might not be exactly the original list, but we think it's pretty close. And freakin' hilarious.

1) Halitosis
2) Flatulence
3) Purulence
4) Curpulence
5) Repugnance
6) Putresence
and lastly,
7) Stupidity

What's that light? Is it the end of the tunnel?

I rode Kaswyn yesterday, and he was sound. And even. It's amazing. He felt almost back to normal - how he used to feel over a year ago. Well, for me it was two years ago because I took a year off of riding when I was pregnant with Macey. When I started riding again he never felt right.

Granted, he is on aspirin and bute once a day plus a topical application of an anti-inflammatory cream (Surpass) right on the spot of the bone injury, but still it's nice to know that we might be getting to the end of this lameness road. I'm trying not to get too excited about this, but it's really hard when I can see and feel my old horse back. Dr. G. feels that the prognosis is good and that all we have to do is decrease that inflammation in the bone and he'll be just fine.

I'll ride this weekend and see if he's the same. Both my trainer and Craig have cautioned me to be hopeful but not overly excited. I'm trying, but it's really hard not to be jumping for joy.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Stress - it's not just for finals anymore!

Okay, quick update on the sitch -

Kaswyn - he has an area of increased density on a bone in his knee on the inside of his leg. I'm supposed to give him bute and aspirin until my vet gets back from his conference on Friday, and ride him to the left only. I'm not sure if it's an injury or a permanent condition, but we'll see if the meds improve the lameness.

Water Woes - We have major problems, this time stemming from the fact that all the backyards around us drain their water into our yard. Over the years all of this water has eroded our landscape so that our yard tilts towards the house instead of away from it, causing all the water to flow right next to the basment walls. Consequently the water pressure has cracked 3 out of 4 of our basement walls. Our estimate to fix this problem is thousands and thousands of dollars and involves an extensive drainage system and grading of the yard. I am currently working with the city engineers to solve this problem. My main beefs are -

a) it's not our fault that everyone around us has diverted their water into our yard
b) our drainage system should not have to handle run-off from 4 or 5 yards
c) if we make it so that their water doesn't come into our yard, then you have 5 people with water problems instead of one
d) no matter what, we should not have to pay for something that is obviously an engineering problem and poor planning for water management when the development was built.

The city might eventually call in the county for help fixing this. We'll see what happens with that plan. Either way I'm pushing hard not to have to pay anything, and I want something done before the rains come in the spring, or we'll have a flooded basement again. And we don't want that. Although I didn't write about the flooding saga, aka The Night of Never Ending Water, trust me when I say that it SUCKED BALLS.

That's all I have time for right now. Updates will be forthcoming. I know you're excited.
Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr