Tuesday, June 30, 2009

So I say, "My horse is so lame...."

...and the crowd responds,"How lame is he?"

Then I say, "He's so lame that, um, well, he's not lame!"

Wait, you didn't think was funny? Neither did I, when the vet came out today only to find my horse not lame anymore. Well, just a teensy bit off, hardly noticeable, and much more sound than he has been.

Here is how it went down - as you recall, Dr. G saw a video last Friday (taken Thursday) of me riding Kaswyn that clearly showed the horse was off on his left front leg. I got specific instructions on what the game plan was. I stopped all medications and worked him every other day, admittedly not hard because he felt terrible and I didn't have the heart. But he was ridden, and continued to get turned out every day. This was presumably to keep him lame enough that Dr. B could have something to see and treat today.

Well, I started off at the trot and Kaswyn felt much better than he had on Sunday. Loads better than Thursday. In fact, he didn't feel hardly off at all. He took a few funny steps to the left, and then when I went to the right he just felt like he didn't want to go but didn't feel off. Dr. B watched me go for quite some time, and finally I stopped and said, "So, what do you think?"

He said "What do YOU think?"

I said "Well, this is the best he's felt in a month. He feels better to the left, which is weird."

He said "Really? Because he looks better to the right."

I said "Well to the right I just can't keep him going, and he doesn't feel like he wants to work. Actually it's kind of hard for me to tell a difference between the sides."

He said "Yeah, he doesn't look off today, except for a slight favoring in the left hind. He just looks like he's protecting it but I can't even call him lame. You really have to watch him go left and right and watch the left hind and how it travels slightly differently than the right. He's just not bringing it up as high and as far forward as the right."

"So what do you want to do?"

"Well I don't need to do anything to the left front because he's sound and even there. I don't know what was going on Thursday but it's not going on now. But lets go ahead and block the left hind and see if he improves."

So he blocked the left hind, then I rode again. I got more energy, but he took a few funny steps to the left. He felt better to the right because he actually was okay with going when I asked him to.

Dr B said "So? What do you think?"

I said "I think he's better except for those funny steps every now and then to the left."

He said "I agree." He also commented that Kaswyn looked good in the hocks and didn't seem to be having any hock issues today.

Then we had a discussion about how to proceed, what caused it, and the prognosis. First, since Kaswyn has improved Dr. B thinks I should keep him on a light work schedule, keep up with the Surpass on the left hind, ice after working, and use bute if needed. We discussed shock wave but he thinks that Kaswyn will continue to improve if I keep doing what I'm doing work and medication wise. He does not want to inject the joint.

Then we talked about how this might have happened. Basically what Kaswyn has is a very slight case of ringbone, the common name for arthritis in the higher pastern joint. Since I started working him hard in February I probably aggravated it. Dr. B said that laying him off could cause other problems when I try to bring him back, so I need to work him to keep him in shape while allowing him to heal. Working him lightly to moderately every other day, with at least one light day a week, plus the Surpass, ice and bute should work out well.

Lastly we talked about Kaswyn's future. Dr. B says that ringbone typically gets flared up by one thing or other (the horse takes a funny step, gets overworked, or over stresses the joint) and it takes a while for it to calm down. But once we get it under control he should be able to train moderately and show without a problem.

So I'm going to take it easy with him for the next few weeks and see where that leads us. Like I've said before I don't need to do any hard core training on him because he knows his job. I just need to keep him in shape and practice small bits of the tests. And keep him sound.

In other news, Skyy and Albert are both doing well. Skyy is really making a nice connection with the bit and the canter departs keep getting better. I get more good ones than bad ones from him lately. And Albert is working on shoulder- in and half pass. Since the show we've had some issues with the trot lengthenings. I feel like he got a chance to really move out at the show where we had a lot of room, and now in the small arena he's not relaxing his back and coming through. I'll have to get him outside or in a big arena and see if it's mental or if I'm doing something wrong.

Another show for Skyy in less than three weeks! And hopefully continued healing and soundness for Kaswyn! And, er, big kisses for Albert!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Another video session

After a week on Equioxx and Surpass I got Skyy's owner to video Kaswyn again for me. He still had not felt right and I knew he was in pain because he was not keen on working. Also when he was hurt before in the left front he would blow out through his nose when I was riding him, and he started doing that this last week. Not like he was blowing snot out, but a rhythmic blowing out as he worked. He didn't do it on the video but you can certainly see that he is off.

When he saw the video he said "Now he's off left front. Right hind looks good, still slightly off left hind."

I told him that Dr. B was coming out Tuesday, so he said to stop the Equioxx ans Surpass. Then he gave me a set of instructions for Dr. B. First, he's to watch me ride Kaswyn. Then he is to inject the left front neuroectomy site to block it. Then I ride again. Is he is still lame block the left hind pastern. Then I ride again.

I asked what happens if he's still lame then and he said "Then you look at the suspensory, but I don't think you'll get that far." I asked about his hocks again, and asked if he did a Churchill test (it checks for hock pain) last time Kaswyn was there. Dr. G looked confused and said "No, I don't think this is hock pain, and I didn't do a Churchill." I told him that Dr. B would probably do a Churchill and if he comes back positive he's going to want to inject the hocks and Dr. G said "No, he doesn't need to do that. Tell him that the old man said inject the left front neuromas, then the left hind pastern, and then go from there." I reminded him that Kaswyn also had that splint injury on the left front and he said "I doubt that's it, but you never know. But this is all really good. We keep solving the problems as they come. You see horses will always react to the thing that hurts them the most, and when we fix that then they go to the next thing that hurts them. Nobody ever wrote a book that says when horses are lame they only hurt in one spot. This is the way it goes. We're making progress!"

So I'm supposed to ride him until Dr. B comes on Tuesday. It is so hard to ride him when he hurts because I know he hurts and I feel so bad for him. I know he will work if I ask him to but I feel lousy doing it. I went out today and rode Skyy, and was going to free lunge Kaswyn, but he was taking a nap and I didn't have the heart to disturb him. I'll do something with him tomorrow - probably ride bareback in a halter just to get him moving.

Tomorrow Susan and I might be bringing Albert and Skyy to the nearby polo fields to ride in the dressage arena there and also to ride a bit down the trails. It's kind of a pain because we have to haul them over there in the trailer, but it's worth it if I get to work in an outdoor arena. We might not go, but that is the plan. I'm sure the horses will love getting out there!

Since there are only two people going we can only bring two horses, so Mr. K has to stay home. I feel a little bad about it but since he's not 100% I don't want to push him. Certainly once we get him fixed up we'll take him out. He'll love that!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ladies, let's talk...

Men, you'll probably want nothing to do with this post. You have been warned.

If you read my blog on a regular basis you know that I work in a fertility clinic. I do lots of embryo transfers, which involve a procedure that is very similar to a regular pelvic exam or pap smear. The patient is undressed from the waist down and is covered with a sheet. When we are ready to do the transfer the patient is instructed to scoot down to the end of the bed, lie on her back, and put her feet in the stirrups. Then a speculum is inserted into the vagina so that the physician can view the cervix. When placing the speculum the doctor needs to clearly see the genitals of the patient. This is why the stirrups are set widely apart.

So, the point is ladies, we need to see your business. All of it. This is not the time to be modest here. We've seen it all before, trust me. Please, when your feet are in the stirrups, don't try to keep your knees together. You're having a pelvic exam, not tea with the Queen. Open your legs! It does not mean that you're slutty. We will not think any less of you.

Another bonus is that by keeping your knees apart you will be relaxing muscles that will make the speculum feel less uncomfortable. I'm not saying that you'll LOVE your speculum, because very few people enjoy having a metal medical apparatus jammed in their hoo-ha. But it will make it better. Try relaxing your butt muscles too. No reason to clench at this point.

So remember - next time your feet are in stirrups that are not attached to a saddle, keep your knees apart! Your doctor and your hoo-ha will thank you for it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday show Videos

I didn't ride until the afternoon on Sunday, but I still came out early to watch the other people from our training barn ride, and to help out where I could. Truth be told I didn't do all that much. Everyone that was at the show is very self sufficient and everyone is capable of getting their own horse ready.

Albert was first with First Level Test 4 again. He was feeling a bit tired, especially in the right hind. I think this could be from me insisting more than usual that he stay straighter at the canter to the right. This forces him to keep the right hind properly placed instead of putting it to the inside like he does most of the time, and it might have made him a little bit sore.

For some reason I don't have video of this test. Probably technical difficulties with my camera, since I know Skyy's owner was there to video the ride. Regardless, it was a very nice test. On that first lengthening I gave him just a little too much gas and he broke to the canter. My mistake. The second one was nice even though I didn't give him that extra push. The rest of the test went very well.

I rode for the same judge that I rode for on Saturday when I made the walk error. After my test was over he asked me how I finished in the Saturday class. I said "Fifth place." and he said "Fifth!? Damn! I thought you'd have been higher!" I said "I did have an error, so that affected my score." and he said "You did? Huh." I said "Yes", he started writing, so I said "Thank you!" and walked on. It's really nice to hear that the judge wanted you to place higher in the class. Obviously he likes the Bert since we got another 65%.

About one hour later I was supposed to show Skyy. I gave him only about 15 minutes of warmup time, because I gave him 35 minutes on Saturday and it was much too long. I was lucky on Saturday that they were running early, but on Sunday I was going right after a scheduled break so I knew I would not be early.

This test started out wonderfully. It was for the same strict judge that I rode for Saturday, but the test was all 7's at the beginning so she liked what she saw. Then we did the walk, or jigged instead, and things started to go wrong. Skyy got impatient and tense and the second half of the test was icky. She really nailed me on that last canter to trot transition - we got a 3. What started out as a test that could have gotten a nice score turned into a 58%.

I know what I need to work on with Skyy. Steadier connection with the bit, more push in the canter departs, and the ability to walk calmly in the middle of our workouts. He broke from the walk in all three tests, and that must stop. I have been practicing walk work at home, but obviously not enough.

Albert just needs fine tuning. More bend in the canter right, as well as more straightness. Better positioning in the leg yields so the haunches don't trail. More jump and slightly more round at the canter departs. Other than that this boy is ready.

And then there is Kaswyn, sweet Kaswyn. We just need to get that boy sound and free of pain. He knows his job and was actually a little wound up by Sunday afternoon because he didn't get to show Saturday and it wasn't looking good for Sunday either. I went into his stall and he ran up to the door and pushed me a little with his shoulder, like "Hey, it's my turn!" This horse really loves to show. I have got to do what I can to get him there again.

So only one more big recognized show before Nationals, and this one will only be for Skyy so that he can qualify. The rest of the shows will be schooling shows just so I can practice the tests. I'm not allowed to have a reader at Nationals, so I better get those tests memorized. You can bet your buttons that I won't make a mistake on the walk work in Training Level Test 4. I've got that movement down.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Movie time with Dr. G

After a week of bute and some time off I rode Kaswyn three times. I had Susan video the third ride Friday morning because Dr. G wanted to see how the stifle treatment went. He also wanted to see if the Surpass on the left hind pastern had made any improvement.

Before I headed over to the clinic I rode Mr. Skyy. That little boy is really getting the hang of the canter departs. I got three nice departs in a row each direction where he did not toss his head in the air. Very good boy.

Here is the video of Kaswyn -

Dr. G thinks that Kaswyn is better but still off in the left hind. He wants to put Kaswyn in Equioxx for one week and then see a new video. He said keep working him. This is hard for me because my horse does not feel right and I hate working him like that, but it seems like that is what I must do in order to help with diagnosis. The next step will be to have Dr. B come out and watch me ride. Then he will block the pastern and see if Kaswyn is sound on the block. If he is, we do shock wave therapy. It worked very well with the left front injury, so we'll try it again. Shock wave is preferable to injecting the joint because Dr. G said that sometimes you can get a fracture of the pastern after injecting there. And we certainly don't want that.

So I'm in the process of making an appointment with Dr. B. He's usually very booked so he'll probably not be available until after our week on Equioxx anyway. Hopefully I can get him out soon and we can start therapy. I have deadlines to meet, people!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Saturday Show Videos

Saturday I had Skyy to ride first at Training Level Test 1 again. His warmup was even better on Saturday and I was anticipating another very nice ride from him.

I personally think this ride was better than Friday's ride, but this judge was much tougher. I wouldn't say that she didn't give out high scores, because some of the horses who rode before her got high 60's. I think she has a clear idea of what she wants to see, and if she sees it you get a nice score. However, if she doesn't she's pretty critical.

She wanted to see much more of a connection than Skyy has had before. It's too bad because I think this test went really well. That connection to the bit is coming, it just wasn't there yet.

Since I had a six hour break before my next ride, my trainer and I went out to the lunging area and took video of Kaswyn. At the beginning of the work he actually looked pretty good and I was starting to think I was a little quick to scratch him. However, the more work he did the more the lameness showed up. At the end of the video he takes one of those "stepped in a hole" steps that are obviously painful. Then I knew that I had made the right decision to scratch him.

Later when Dr. G viewed the video he thought he looked pretty good in the beginning but then the lameness showed up on the left hind, especially during turning and changing direction. He said the canter wasn't really helpful to watch and that the trot and the walk are the most important to see. I'll keep that in mind when I video him next time.

I was so happy when it was finally time to ride Albert in his Training Level Test 4 class. Again the little trooper was right on the money and laid down an awesome test.

So, here is what happened in the walk. The movement is Walk at C, Working walk from C to B, Free walk from B to V, Working walk at V. First, I didn't look at the test enough before the class, which I should have done - shame on me! Then, when I heard my reader say "Working walk from C to B" I thought she said "C to V". B and V sound a lot alike, and I totally don't blame her. But I started to head towards V, and then I heard her say "Free walk from B to V" and I thought "Wait, there is something wrong here, I'm already going to V."

Then I heard a whistle.

There were three arenas set up for the show, right in a row. They try to have the judges in all three rings have a different signal to tell the rider when to enter the ring, or when the rider had made an error. In the past it's been brass bell, whistle, and cow bell. This time they had the two brass bells on the outside arenas and the middle arena had the whistle. When I heard the whistle it sounded like it had come from the other arena, and not mine, so I kept going. I didn't hear another whistle so I never stopped.

I realize now that it was in fact my judge blowing the whistle at me. The reason I know this is because I just happened to be riding in the far left arena at the same time that my trainer was riding in the middle arena, and her trainer was in the far right arena. As I was leaving the show area after my test I happened to be coming out at the same time that my trainer's trainer was coming out too. His arena also had a whistle, and I think he was doing Second Level. There is no way his judge could have blown the whistle to tell him to enter the arena while I was walking and have him finish his Second Level test in the time it took me to do half of a Training Level test.

I told this to my trainer later and asked her if I should have stopped since I was unsure if the whistle was for me. She said that if I was unsure I should not have stopped, and the he probably saw that I had gotten back on the right track so he didn't blow the whistle again. She said that if there is a doubt as to if the judge blew the whistle or not that I should keep going, because if I had stopped and the whistle was not for me then I would have to get an error for nothing. If the judge really wants to stop me they will blow the whistle (or ring the bell, whatever it happens to be) again more forcefully to stop me.

Anyhow, I was already partway to the centerline when I realized my mistake, and I wasn't sure what to do. You can see that for a second I decided to head back over to B, but I realized I would not make it so I just did a free walk over to V. I was really bummed about this because the test had been going so well up till that point. The whole test is 7's until my error, which got a four and a five, and that really effected the score.

I'm still frustrated with myself for making this mistake. I know he still got a 67%, which is an amazing score. But it was my error that kept him from getting a higher score. He was on his way to a 70%, and 70% won the class. I can forgive the horse for making a mistake, but for me to make such a stupid error that cost so many points is just poor preparation on my part.

One more day to go!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tuesday rides

Thank goodness the dcotor gave me antibiotics for my sinus infection. I feel better today, but I still have have some pain and pressure. Last night the pain got really bad so I took a Vicodin. Boy was that a bad idea. It gave me some pretty intense nightmares, so I didn't sleep well at all. At least I think I'm getting better.

Since I'm at work, the plan is to ride today! I'm hoping to continue some of the work I did on Tuesday. I might not get through all three horses, but I'm going to try. On Tuesday I started the evening out with Skyy. I didn't really know what to expect. We had made great progress at the show, and by Sunday I felt that he was making a much steadier contact with the reins than he ever had for me before. I was hoping that he'd remember this and we could just pick up where we left off from the show. However I wasn't expecting that to happen.

Well he surprised me by making a pretty good connection. He wasn't as steady as he was on Sunday at the show, but still better than before we left. The canter departs were hit and miss as far as him staying on the bit. For most of them he threw his head in the air and ran, so then I would have to stop him and ask him again. He got really frustrated so I put him on some small circles with changes of direction to distract him. Then the next canter depart was very nice, round, and pushing, even if it was a little quick. I was able to get two nice ones each direction before I quit.

I also interrupted the trot and canter training four times to concentrate on the walk work. He broke into a little jiggy trot during the walk phase in each of his tests so I made sure that we practiced it at home. He was very good at home, so I think I'm going to have to take him away from the farm and work in the big public arena nearby. He might be a bit more wound up there, like he would be at a show, and then we can work on calming his nerves at the walk and insisting that he walk like a little polite man when asked.

Kaswyn was next and he did not feel right. I couldn't exactly tell what was off, I just know that he wasn't quite right. But per Dr. G's instructions I worked him for ten minutes. He'll have tomorrow off and then another ride on Thursday. Susan will be able to video me riding him on Friday. After the taping session I will run the video over to Dr. G's and he can evaluate.

Albert was last. We warmed up and he felt great, so I started work on the walk pirouettes. I started off with a large turn on the haunches. He was fantastic to the left, but didn't get what he was supposed to do to the right. When my legs and seat weren't getting the idea across I did some tapping with the whip on his left heiny. He did not like that and tried to jump around and get all tense, but I talked to him and just kept going. He started to get upset and put his neck in the air, but I put it back down and started again. Since he is such a smart fella he figured it out and was able to accept that the whip was not a punishment but a tool that I can use to help him understand. We'll work on those some more on Thursday.

We also did some trot half-pass work, which was pretty nice. He still gets tense like he did when we were working on the leg yields at first, but he is slowly starting to relax. He's going to have a very nice half-pass when he relaxes and pushes through them. The canter half-passes still make him very tense, so we only worked on a few of those. They will be nice eventually too.

So I had good ponies after the break. Good job boys!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Last night as I was loading up the Friday test videos I started to get a bit of pain in my teeth on the upper left side of my mouth. Then I sneezed. That simple act blew something up in my head and now I have intense pain in my sinuses. I've had this before, so I know what it is. A sinus infection.

I'm at work, and I have a doctor's appointment at 11:00. Hopefully I can get some antibiotics and some kind of pain medication. This is such strong pain that ibuprofen or Tylenol just is not going to cut it. I need real drugs, man!

Now I just have to wait until 11:00. During that time I'm going to suppress the urge to yank all of my teeth out, or drill a hole in my check to relieve the pressure. Fun fun fun!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Friday Show Videos and Tests

My first ride on Friday was Skyy. He had been a bit of a booger on Thursday and I was worried that this behavior would continue into Friday. I was pleasantly surprised when he went into the warm-up and was a completely different horse. He was focused, calm, and ready to get down to work.

He was really very good for his test (Training Level Test 1) and we got that qualifying score of 62%. I was thrilled and hoping this newfound work ethic and concentration would continue!

My next ride was Kaswyn in the fourth Level Test 3 class. I wasn't sure how he would feel, since this was the first day that he was supposed to be in full work after his stifle injection. He felt just a bit off in the warm-up, especially at the beginning. Then he faked us out by improving after a little bit of work. My trainer and I discussed what I should do, and I decided that he didn't feel bad enough to scratch, so I'd go in and ride the test.

You can see that at times he just doesn't look quite right at the trot, and just as he does the down transition from the trot to the walk he takes a funny step. He got a nice score but I could tell that he didn't feel right. I was concerned that it was the right hind, so I scratched him for the rest of his classes. He's already qualified so I didn't think it was worth possibly injuring him further by showing him when he's off.

Next up was Albert and First Level Test 4. This is a horse I can always count on to do his job. He will get a bit rattled if he thinks he's in trouble, but he knows what is expected of him.

In this test during the second direction of the canter work he either got bitten by a bug or he *thought* he got bitten (or was going to be) and I could feel his swishing his tail to the right and bringing his right hind up and out a bit like he wanted to kick out at the bug. I'm surprised that you can't really tell from the video, becasue I was sure he was going to break and kick at the bug. He got a 64% which qualified him for Nationals.

One day down, two more to go.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The downloading has begun

I'm just now starting to download all the show videos. It's going to take quite a while. Also I need to figure out a way to scan the test sheets, since I broke my scanner after I scanned the test sheets from the last show. It was up on the filing cabinet and I was fussing with the computer connection and sort of pulled the scanner down. It fell on my back and the glass broke. I really don't want to buy a new scanner so I'm going to try and convince Craig to take the test sheets to work and scan them for me.

I will finally ride again tomorrow. I took a week off from riding to take care of some stuff at home and to get Kaswyn to Dr. G's. It's been nice to have time to do other things besides ride horses, but I'm feeling pressure to "get stuff done" and make some progress on those ponies.

Yesterday and today I did ring maintenance, since nothing had been done to the arena since before the show. I had to pull all the footing off the kickboards, fill in holes, level out some uneven spots, water, then drag. When it was all finished I was able to lunge Kaswyn today. He looked sound, but it seems like he's only off when he's under saddle. So I will ride him tomorrow and Thursday, and then on Friday Susan can video us. My plan is to run the video right to Dr. G's and have him take a look. Hopefully he'll see something that will help him decide if it's stifle or pastern, and how to deal with it.

Skyy hasn't done anything since the show, and I feel guilty for that. However now that I've taken care of some things on the home front I feel like I can dedicate some guilt-free time to riding him. Albert hasn't done any arena work but he's done some police horse work at parades. Those are long days for him and Susan said she thought he was pretty tired after that, so I'm okay with him having some days off. He is seventeen so I need to watch how hard I work him. I guess I'm learning from my mistakes with Kaswyn. I don't want to hurt Albert too!

It will feel good to get on a horse again. I'm very much looking forward to it. I hope Skyy hasn't forgotten all the great progress we made at the show. Actually, I'm counting on him not forgetting - I'm going to expect much more from him at home now that I know what he is capable of.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Skipping over

I know you all are expecting show videos and test sheets, but those posts are not even close to being done. I got the videos transferred from the camera to the computer but now they all need to be downloaded onto the blog and that takes a lot of time. And time, even a little extra time, is something I have had very little of since the show.

I do have some time right now at work (amazing!) so I'm going to sum up the past two visits I've had at Dr. G's in the past week.

Monday after the show I went to Dr. G's to let him see the videos of Kaswyn at the show. We watched the first half (the trot work) of Kaswyn's Fourth Level test, and after the first two movements he said "Left hind. No doubt about it. You can see when you change direction that he hikes that left hip up just a little. It's subtle but it's there."

I asked him "So what would you like to do?"

He said "Bring him in. We need to figure out what going on there."

So yesterday I was able to use the truck and trailer and bring Kaswyn to see Dr. G. Susan was stressing about me driving the rig, so she and I took a little drive around the block on Tuesday. I hadn't hauled a trailer for five years since I had gotten rid of my old trailer, but it all came back to me quickly and I had no issues. It is a wide trailer and on some of the smaller back roads by the barn I had to go over the line on the right so I wasn't over the yellow line on the left, but it all worked out.

Anyhow, we got to the clinic and Dr. G started with his usual flexion and trotting lameness evaluation. When he had done both legs he smiled and said "If you don't put a saddle on him he'll be fine." Then he winked at me. He had his vet tech walk Kaswyn in small circles left and right, and you could see a slight lameness to the left. He pointed it out and explained "We might not have picked this up if I hadn't seen the video of him working under saddle. Because of that video I know something is bothering him."

Then we went in and got x-rays of the whole leg, from foot to stifle. Kaswyn is so fantastic about being there and getting poked and prodded, and when the vet techs remarked about it I said "I think he likes to come here to get his fix. He's really a junkie and wants you to hit him up with those tranquilizers! He loves it here!" I know we shouldn't be making fun of my horse when he was all doped up, but we all had a good laugh. He didn't seem to mind.

Then Dr. G took at look at the x-rays. He found the area in the pastern that had been found by his son three years ago. It's in the front of the pastern and there is some slight remodeling of bone which indicates stress and inflammation. It's at the point where a few ligaments attach. He also found a large OCD chip in the left stifle that was also discovered by his son. An OCD chip is a chip that comes off of the main bone due to a developmental defect in the bone, meaning that Kaswyn has had the defect and probably the chip his whole life. Kaswyn's OCD chip is in an area that is non-weight bearing. He said the hock looked really good and found nothing remarkable in it.

We started a discussion about what it could be and what to do. He thinks it could be either the stifle or the pastern, but he's not lame enough to be able to block the pastern and see a difference. So that leaves us with treating him and seeing what helps or not. Dr. G initially said he wanted to inject the stifle and the hock, but I told him that I've injected his hocks twice now and have not seen any improvement from it. He said he'd stay away from the hock then, and just inject the stifle.

I asked about injecting the pastern, but Dr. G didn't want to inject the pastern because he said that once you inject there the horse is prone to get fractures in that bone. So instead he wants Kaswyn treated with Surpass (anti-inflammatory topical cream) on the pastern twice a day. The thought is that if it's the stifle that Kaswyn will be sound in 6 days. If he's still off, then it's the pastern. I asked about working him, and told him that Kaswyn doesn't need to show until September so I could lay him off, and Dr. G said "No, right now he needs to be treated and worked. Once we figure it out then we'll lay him off if he needs it. But don't stop working him now because we need the work to help us diagnose."

The OCD chip is causing the stifle joint to carry more fluid than usual, and since Dr. G could definitively see lameness in the left hind leg he wanted to be more aggressive in treating the left stifle than the right. He injected into the joint with more fluid (Hycoat, which is hyaluronic acid, the typical joint injectable) and then added some prednisone around the joint to help bring the swelling down.

During our discussions we talked about Kaswyn's lameness history over the last three years. My take on it is that at some point when I was not riding while I was pregnant with Macey, Kaswyn hurt himself. I don't know if it was in front or behind, but it got to the point that he was uncomfortable both in front an behind, but not enough to be really lame. Just enough to be off. Eventually we pinpointed it as the left front splint bone, and that took a long time to heal. When that finally healed I put Kaswyn back to work, perhaps a little too enthusiastically. The sudden increase in work could have aggravated both the OCD chip area in the stifle and the arthritis in the pastern, or one or the other.

So, the plan is more hand walking, light work Sunday, normal work Monday. If he's not off then it probably was the stifle. If he is off, then it's probably the pastern. In either case I don't know where we go from here. Dr. G said the prognosis is open since he doesn't really know which is the problem.

Before I left, I asked him again "Honestly, do you think I need to retire this horse? Because a few people have hinted or outright said to me that it's time to stop this."

He put his arm around my shoulders and said "I have been doing this for a long time. I've seen horses with problems worse than your horse come back and be just fine. You have to understand that these people don't like to see you going through all of this. They think this is making you unhappy and that if you retired him that you would be happier. They don't realize that retiring him would make you more miserable than all this that you are going through. Your horse doesn't have anything that we can't get him through. When it's time to retire him, believe me, I will tell you."

I said "I think some people are also concerned about Kaswyn, but I know he loves his job and I don't' think he wants to retire either..."

He said "Oh no, this horse would not be at the level he is if he hated the work. Let me tell you a story. We were watching this big jumping competition on TV here a few weeks ago. These were big jumps, it was a jump off, and these horses were going all out. It was a big time competition. You know who won it? A 21 year old horse." With that he patted me on the back and walked away.

When I got home I called Marge to give instructions for Kaswyn over the next few days. Marge has said to me a few times that she thinks it's time to retire Kaswyn, so I relayed this story to her. She has known Dr. G since he graduated from vet school, and in fact used Dr. G's mentor as her vet. She said "Well, I trust him completely. If he says it's not time to retire him then it's not time. He is a brilliant man, and if he told me that my horse needed a fifth leg I would go out and try to find a donor." HA!

So hopefully this latest round of treatment will give us a clue as to what direction we should go in next. Right now I still have time if Kaswyn needs to be laid up for a few weeks. Regardless I will make sure that I don't work my horse too hard. I'll stick to very other day and even make sure that one of those days is a light day. He knows what to do, and likes doing it. I just have to keep him sound enough to do it.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Sunday Show

I was going to write about the show on Sunday when I got home, but instead I played games with the girls and then watched a few episodes of The Office with Craig instead. So you're getting an abbreviated version today. I don't have the score sheets with me, so the percentages and placings are approximate.

Albert was first to go yesterday, and he felt a little tired in his right hind. He was still willing and put down a very nice test for me. He got a 65% and was 4th in the class out of 9 I think.

Skyy was fantastic for the first half of his test, but when I asked him to walk things went a little pear shaped. He got a 58% and a 5th place put of 7.

By the time we got all packed up, back to the barn, unpacked, and I was heading home I could barely stay awake I was so tired. But then I got home and got involved with the girls and the games, and I woke up a bit.

All in all it was a great show. Skyy will be going to another show in July, but Albert is all qualified. We'll just go to a few schooling shows between now and September to brush up on the movements. Kaswyn is still a mystery as to what we're going to be doing over the next weeks, or months. I'll be meeting with Dr. G today to find out what the plan is.

Eventually I get all the video downloaded and test sheets scanned. Then I can give the whole rundown of the show. It probably won't be anytime soon since the littlest girl has her birthday tomorrow (!) and I have to at least pretend I'm a wife and do some laundry and housework. Wouldn't that be something!?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Saturday show

Another quick rundown, then shower and bed for me again.

Skyy was even better today, but the judge we had was a bit more strict. He got a 59%, so I'll need to take him to another show this year to get him his qualifying score.

Bert was SO good, I can't even tell you. Well, you'll see the video. He got a 67% and a 5th place out of 18! The only reason why he didn't place higher was totally, 100% my fault. I'll explain later, don't have the energy to get into it now. I just feel stupid. But at least he got his score so now he is qualified for Nationals at both Training and First levels.

One more day to go!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Friday show

I'm tired so this is all I can post today. I'm still sick and my asthma is acting up so I have had to manage my coughing with my asthma meds as well as my inhaler. Not having a clear airway is more tiring than you might think.

So, Skyy was fantastic. He got a 62.1%, which is a qualifying score, and won his class. I'm thrilled! He just needs two more scores.

Kaswyn didn't feel quite right, or look right to my trainer. He wasn't lame, just slightly off. We debated about scratching him, but he got a little better with more work so we decided to keep him in. He didn't feel right in the test, even though the judge didn't mention that he was a tiny bit short on the right hind. He got a 61% and a second place, but I decided to scratch him for the rest of the show. It's not worth injuring him over since he's already qualified. Tomorrow we're going to get video of him trotting and cantering in the show footing (which is level and even) and then we're going to call Dr. G and my blacksmith for consulatations. Those two men aren't big fans of each other but I'm going to urge them to try to work together for the sake of this wonderful horse.

Albert was a star as usual and got a 64% and a third place. He is now qualified for Nationals at First Level. I'm so pleased with the way this horse works. He is an absolute pleasure to ride and show.

Of course there will be videos, test sheets, and more details once the show is over. But now I'm going to take a shower, some medicine, and get to bed. I'll update tomorrow unless it gets too late.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


Yesterday was hectic!

I had a full schedule of things to do at work, and then I had a bunch of stuff to do at the barn. First I rode Kaswyn, and he felt very good. I didn't ask him to collect or anything since yesterday was supposed to be a light ride, but he didn't feel off anymore behind. Then he got clipped and got a bubble bath.

Next was Skyy. I wasn't going to have time to ride him, so he got clipped and bathed. He was better about both than I had hoped. I thought maybe he'd be scared of the clippers but he let me clip his birdlepath, muzzle, and even the feathers on his fetlocks. He wasn't happy about getting his face washed (who is?) but he let me do it without too much fussing. Unfortunately just as I was rinsing him the guys pulled into the parking lot with a bunch of big equipment and started banging around like crazy. Skyy was pretty scared but managed to keep it together. I had a bag of carrots so I kept biting them into little pieces and giving them to him. That kept him occupied and his mind off of the racket long enough for me to finish and get him out. I was very proud that he held it together, since he dislikes both the washrack and loud, banging noises that he can't see.

Next Bert got clipped, but then I ran out of time and I had to go. Susan will bathe him today.

There is still so much to do! Grain needs to be bagged up, hay loaded in the truck, tack and buckets and brushes and other equipment needs to get in the trailer, all that stuff. Luckily my boss is going to let me go early so I can get to the barn and help Susan with the remaining stuff. I'm hoping to pull out of our barn at 2:00. That might be really optimistic, but we'll see. Since we have to get there, unload, set up, and then I have three to school I'd like to get started as early as possible so that I'm not there until 9:00 tonight.

Here are my ride times, which don't seem bad at all -

Friday 8:45 AM Skyy Training 1
12:51 PM Kaswyn Fourth 3
1:57 PM Albert First 4
Saturday 9:59 AM Skyy Training 1
11:14 AM Kaswyn Fourth 3
4:42 PM Albert Training 4
Sunday 11:53 AM Kaswyn PSG
2:12 PM Albert First 4
3:17 PM Skyy Training 2

The weather is supposed to be very nice Friday and Saturday- partly cloudy, low to mid 70's. However, Sunday is supposed to be 80 degrees and a few showers. Ugh, I might be showing in the rain. Everyone hates that.

I'll try and update every night, but no promises. I think I'll be kinda tired!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


I am still sick. I think I might be getting worse. I have too much to do to be sick! Someone needs to stop this.

Anyhow, I lunged Kas-Man today and boy did he feel good. Better yet, he looked good. I don't know if it was just my imagination but he seemed to be picking up that right hind better. I expected that he might bear weight on it better, but I didn't expect that the entire motion of the leg would improve. Kind of makes the left look a little lazy. Not bad though. I was very pleased. Tomorrow I will do a light ride, clip, and then bathe him for the show.

After I lunged him I decided to put him out on the grass for about an hour with Tao (he's a 34 year old Morgan gelding!) and Albert. Susan said "He's going to run." I said "No, I'll walk him out there and keep him on the lead line for a few minutes, he won't run." She said "Yes, he will." I said "Come and watch, he won't!"

Well, Little Miss Know-It-All (that would be ME) was wrong, wrong, wrong. He was a spaz just getting out to the grass part of the pasture, and then he wanted to trot circles around me. When I thought he had calmed down I let him free and he TOOK OFF! He cantered around and bucked and kicked. I'm sure it felt really good after being inside for six days. It lasted all of about 30 seconds and then he stopped to eat. He looked fine on that leg so I don't think he hurt himself, but I'm going to stick to my original plan of not putting him out anymore. It was a dumb idea, but I just hate locking my horse inside!

Then I got on Skyy, and he was pretty good. He did have a little tantrum at the canter and really took off with me. I was afraid that we weren't going to make the corner, but somehow I got him turned and stopped. That little episode cost him four more good canter departs. Tomorrow he'll get a clip and bath too.

Bert was my last ride. I only had 20 minutes to ride him, but he was a star. He had a little bit of an issue with the canter when he thought I wanted him to make a loop and I what I actually wanted was a change of lead through the trot across the diagonal. When he realized he had made an error he freaked out and bolted a few strides with his head in the air. I got him stopped, told him he was fine, and we started again. The next attempt was prefect, if a little tense. He always expects that I'm going to beat him up if he makes a mistake, which I have never done. Some habits just die hard, I guess. Tomorrow Albert will go outside at night, so he'll get his bath at the show on Thursday after our training ride. I'll clip him tomorrow if I can to save some time on Thursday. Now that's going to be a long day.

So I have a lot to do for the next few days, and all I really want to do is stay in bed. Luckily Craig looked at me during dinner and said "Look, if you feel bad why don't you take some medicine and go to bed after dinner? I can handle these kids while you get some rest." Now, how wonderful is he?

Some kind of wonderful I say.

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr