Monday, November 26, 2012

The Day of Reckoning

This evening, I am meeting with Johnny's potential leaser and the woman who currently has him in her possession. The potential leaser (PL) is going to give him a whirl and try him out. Normally, this would be good news, but now I don't know what to think since his current owner (CO) seems like she is wanting to maybe back out of the lease situation. I can understand to a degree because she is moving barns soon and is short on stalls, but now what do I tell this kid? That the lease fee suddenly doubled to something that I know he can't afford, even though all three of us had already agreed on a different price?

Over the holiday weekend I went home to see my parents and casually brought the subject up to my dad. For the second time, he completely nixed taking Johnny back. He makes a valid point...its not a financially smart situation to put myself in at this moment. I'm going to need a new car in a couple more years and I'm trying to start a life of my own without the support of my parents. Of course, he was a wonderful daddy and after seeing me freak out about my college debt and the lack of jobs in my industry right now, he took my college loans and paid them down monumentally...and is still paying on them as we speak. He made it perfectly clear over Thanksgiving that if I wanted to take Johnny back, that was my business, but he would no longer float me financially. Don't get me wrong, my dad doesn't wire money into my bank account or anything, but my cell phone is still on their family plan, my car is still registered in his name and my loan payments still come out of his checkbook. I understand his logic, that if he's going to try to help me out with some of the little things (cell phone, car, etc) its to help me save money and get ahead, not for me to spend all of my money on paying a second boarding bill on a 19 year old horse who needs foot injections. Never the less, I am heartbroken. Plain and simple.

I called J's old owner this morning and asked her if she wanted him back. That would be my ideal situation...for her to take him back and put him right back into the same field that I plucked him out of and I would never have to worry about his whereabouts or his well being ever again, I would just know that he was okay. Of course, that is never the case in how things really work. M told me what she's told me probably 3 times already, that she is trying to downsize her herd of horses, not add more. She did say that she would ask a few people that she knows might be interested. Ughhh.

I don't even know what to do anymore...I can't sleep at night because I'm tossing and turning and dreaming about calling people to find him a home. His CO keeps telling me that there isn't a huge rush to get him gone, but I know that she is moving barns in a couple of weeks and that deep down, she needs him gone by then. I've asked just about everyone that I know :-/

Standardbred friends of mine out there...would any of you like an absolutely amazing, perfect and wonderful horse? Even just for a little while?

I'll let you all know how the lease trial and conversation goes today.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Little Johnny Update

Warning: This is a mildly depressing post.

Johnny got his shoes put back on this morning, so I was told. I am hoping that the potential leaser can come try him Sunday or Monday, but we will have to see. Everyone keep your fingers crossed that we can figure out a way to work this out....I don't even know if the lease will really work. Still taking donations for the Johnny fund!

The good news is that I got called back for a second "work" interview at he vet clinic! Hopefully it goes well and I can pick that up as a part time job (at least it's something, right?) I know that if I had Johnny half leased with the leaser also taking lessons from me, that Johnny would actually cover his own boarding expenses...the problem comes in if I lose the lease. This is why I had to send him away to begin with :( I know that hind sight is always 20/20, but I wish I would have not been so freaked out about the finances and so hasty to find someone else to pay his bills. I would have never put myself in this situation where he keeps getting bounced around from person to person...and I'm far too attached to him to just let him go. Stupid me :(

I found this photo on my phone yesterday while going through my camera roll...I honestly can't believe that it was 2 years ago when I took Johnny to the CVPHA Classic and stabled him with the big hunter barn. This was the last summer that I got to call him mine :(

He's so freaking gorgeous. What did I do?


P.S. Another little tid-bit of good news (because I really do try to be a "glass half full" kind of person, although I struggle sometimes) is that I did put Emmy back under saddle yesterday! She seemed happy to be groomed and not unhappy to be saddled, however she did clench her teeth a little for the bit. She was also sound! I didn't do much with her, just some light trotting interspersed with lots of walking and a canter each direction. Hopefully she is still sound today! I put her and Cool back on an MSM supplement, maybe it is helping? They are currently getting the loading dose, which is double the normal amount (20,000 mg versus 10,000 mg) Cool is also back on his Anihist. He hates it but if I mix it in beet pulp he eats it! It does seem to be helping with his breathing.

Monday, November 19, 2012

An Update on Cool

Cool's silhouette...such a pretty boy!

Cool's ankle (the right one) with it's swelling in comparison to the white leg (not swollen). Hopefully nothing is wrong with his suspensory...the swelling is in a spot that makes me nervous. After having yesterday off, N helped me flex test him today. I did distal (fetlock) flexion and carpal flexion and didn't get a real reaction in either. He actually seemed to be sound when N jogged him down the concrete barn aisle, so that was good. I'm still concerned with the filling in that right front ankle though. As far as I'm concerned, it shouldn't be there. I iced him for a little while today but it didn't seem to really help. Walking up and down the barn driveway did seem to help a little though. The above photo is from before his walk.

This photo if from after walking a little. I wish I had the other leg in it to compare. It's still a little puffy, but not quite as bad as the photo above. Hopefully it's just a tendon sheath maybe? I'm hoping that some long slow distance work (LSD work), maybe walking up and down the driveway, which has slight hills to rehab him. I think that for the rest of this week I will walk him in hand and after that maybe I will start walking him under saddle.

Out to graze while going for our walk.

Poor Coolio :(

I'm hoping to start Emmy back walking under saddle soon too. I started the LSD work up and down the driveway with her also today. She's seemed a little depressed lately :(


Sunday, November 18, 2012


Yesterday started off as such a beautiful day at the barn. It was so nice and warm outside, Emmy and Cool both went out in the pasture with just their cotton sheets on and had a good canter around the field. It's so beautiful to watch them race each other down across the field and then loop back up and canter side-by-side back towards the gate. Unfortunately, that was pretty much the highlight and the entire day kind of went down hill from there :(

I set up and short low jumping course for Cool, consisting of a diagonal cross rail, a single vertical on the long side and a low 3 stride line down the other long side that was a cross-rail to a vertical. I let him finish his dinner and digest, then tacked him up and went to go school him around and see how he was. I figured that if we were going to head out to the horse show today, I had better jump him around a little bit to see what I had.

Friday he just gotten turned out because I wasn't feeling well, so I figured that he would be ready to rock and roll Saturday.


I got on him and started trotting him. To the right he felt fine, but to the left he was head-bobbing. Not really lame per say, just head bobbing and moving funny up front. It was the strangest feeling ever, like if I let go of the reins and closed my eyes his body wouldn't have felt lame, but he was clearly bobbling his head up and down. At first, I tried to ride through it a little, thinking that maybe he was stiff or the footing was bad (the ring hasn't been dragged in a few days, so it really is starting to alternate between hard and deep spots). I kept him off the rail where the sand was softer and tried to just trot for a while, changing directions numerous times and really sending him forward, then bringing him back. When that didn't help, I let him canter a lap in each direction to swing his back. Once again, to the right he felt fine, but to the left (which is already his bad direction) his canter felt terrible. Very up and down and choppy as if her were locked in his shoulders and just stabbing his legs at the ground. After that, let him trot another lap and then got off. On the ground, I took his boots off and felt his legs. Of course, everything seemed a little warm from the boots but nothing stuck out as being a major problem area. His right front ankle (what is it with my horses and right front problems? I SWEAR I work them evenly on both sides!) seemed maybe a teensy bit fluidy. This is, of course, the leg that he was lame in so badly over the summer. What he did to it then, I will never know, but maybe it was the problem again? I undid his running martingale, ran up my stirrups and proceeded to jog him in hand around the ring. He really did look funny up front, like he wasn't wanting to actually reach forward and extend his leg, but still not really limping.

Deflated and disappointed, I took him to the wash stall, stripped his tack, and started cold hosing. I mainly did the right front, but I honestly hosed every leg for a little bit. His hind legs have been stocking up lately too if he doesn't get bandaged in his stall...something that he has NEVER done before, even while spending multiple days in his stall at home due to weather. I don't understand any of it...and I'm starting to just get frustrated with horses in general at this point. I know that I don't own super fancy, expensive horses. I know that their conformation is not perfect and that their "way of going" is often flawed to some degree, but I also know that I give them the best care possible, the most turnout that I can, basic supplements as needed to support their joints and health, bandages/boots as needed (see above comment about their "way of going") to protect their legs during work but naked freedom in turnout so as not to make them "soft." I take care of them when they are sick or hurt, I ride them on decent footing and I don't ever push them to do anything that might compromise their health or soundness...for goodness sake, I barely even work them. And what do I get for it? Nothing but a barn full of lame horses.

Maybe I should be like some of the other riders at my barn and like other people I know and only clean their stalls every few days when they feel like it...and only turn them out when its convenient for me, and then ride them hard and incorrectly with big bits and naked legs. Maybe I should just do that, because those freaking horses never have a thing wrong with them. Meanwhile, here I am walk/trot/cantering my gelding for maybe 30 minutes and he's unsound? Seriously? Emmy I can understand...she's 25 years old and she's been through a hell of a lot in her life, but Cool? He's 8 years old and spent from ages 8 months to 6 years living in a pasture doing nadda.

Could it be that he just bucked a little too hard in the field and maybe pulled something? Absolutely, and I really hope that's the case...either that or an abscess blowing out. I know that freak, unexplainable things happen; I know that a horse can simply take a bad step and bow a tendon at the walk. I have personally watched a (very expensive) horse with the absolute best care possible, trot across a diagonal on perfect footing and break a hind leg. I know that it doesn't take always take hard work and extremes to make a horse lame. I know that it can happen anytime...but still, it frustrates me none-the-less. Not even for missing the horse show, but just for the simple fact that another one of my horses is (at least kind of) lame.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Photo Update

As promised, here are some of the video stills and photos from this past week at the barn. Sorry, they aren't stellar quality :(

I'm interested to see how he jumps when the fences get to be something larger than just a big canter stride, but I'm a little afraid to over face him! Past experience with Emmy and Johnny tells me that it's a very easy mistake to make and a much more difficult mistake to correct!

Sleepy after his ride!


Friday, November 16, 2012

Show schedule update and a ride on Johnny

Getting ready to maybe take Cool to LEC this Sunday to do some low schooling jumpers (by "low" I mean maybe cross-rails at the maximum! lol)

He has been SO good lately...I don't know what's wrong with him! Hopefully he's finally just growing up and becoming a big horse and not a baby anymore.

I have been flatting him lately in his waterford D-ring and a running martingale. I came across the combination just as a test and I really like him in it! I also have switched from a crop to a dressage whip (also something that I came across just by chance) and it's been a really good combination!

I've mainly just been working on riding him forward at the trot and canter and getting correct leads. We did a few simple lead changes the other night and jumped a crossrail. He was really good! I haven't really started much lateral work with him, but I think its about time to start thinking about it. I did start to get a little stretch in the trot, which is super good for him! His neck was so upside down when we first got him that it's been an accomplishment just to get him to carry his neck level around the arena. I have been encouraging him to relax and go long and low before asking for any collection.

Unfortunately, I have also been getting some fill in his hind legs the day after rides, which is baffling me a little. It's all just stocked up fluid (I think at least...) nothing seems to be warm or injured and it goes down with turnout. Most of this week I have kept bandages on his hind legs and ridden with polos on behind. With the stable bandages, his legs stay tight. Last night, however, I left them off after I just hacked him w/t/c and today he was a little stocky again. His legs aren't HUGE, but they aren't normal either. He's never stocked up before...even on the rainy summer days at home when he stayed in his stall for 3 or 4 days straight. I'm not really sure what to make of it...I'm really not working him that hard! I did however, notice him fall out behind/trip behind a few times this week (on different occasions/days). Could there be something brewing in his hind legs? I really hope not.

I took some videos of him but I have yet to upload them. I'll try to do it this weekend! They aren't very good, since there was no one around to take them and I just set the camera up on a barrel in the arena.

I also put together a schedule of some of the upcoming shows. Obviously, we are not going to all of these, but here is the list none-the-less

18 - Lake Erie College ICTA Schooling Show (Jumpers) – Painesville, OH

            1 – South Farm Jumper Show – Middlefield, OH
9 – Blue Lakes Farm Pleasure Show – Newbury, OH
            22-23 – Chagrin Valley Farms Hunter/Jumper Schooling Show – Chagrin Falls, OH

            5 – South Farm Jumper Show – Middlefield, OH
            6 – Andrews Osborne Academy Hunter Schooling Show – Mentor, OH
20 – Blue Lakes Farm Pleasure Show – Newbury, OH
            26-27 – Chagrin Valley Farms Hunter/Jumper Schooling Show – Chagrin Falls, OH

 I also rode Johnny today!! I miss him so much and still don't know what to do about it. I actually cried on drive to see him, pathetic I know, but it's true. He still has his right lead canter!!! He's so out of shape and started off really stiff, but I put him on a loose rein and made him trot really forward and he felt better.
 He nickered though when I came in the barn and said hi to him and he was relishing all of the grooming that I did with him, especially when I brushed him in his favorite place under his chin! He seemed really happy to be ridden again since he's been sitting basically since June. Oh why can't I just have a money tree that grows in my backyard? Or to win the lottery? Is that too much to ask?


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ups and Downs

Alas, my poor little Moo (aka Emmy) is still not sound :( Not only that, but she just seems so...depressed lately. Nothing interested her except going outside in the field. In her stall, she stands with her face along mine and breathes into my ear as though she's trying to tell me something, but I just don't know what. I take her out to groom her and she stands in the cross ties with her ears flopped sideways like she wants nothing to do with it. I did tack walk her on Monday for about 15 minutes. She didn't make a sour face when I brought the saddle out, but she definitely did not look excited. Normally she LOVES to be ridden, but not lately. When she's in her stall, she hangs her head over her door and just pouts.

I know what needs to be done, she need x-rays and probably some injections to make her comfortable again. The only thing I can think of is that she is in pain and therefore just generally unhappy unless she can go outside and eat her sorrows away in grass. I just don't have the money right now to do all of the diagnostic work...she's lucky that she is getting boarded out at a nice barn that feeds her 3x a day and has an indoor arena for rainy day turnout.

The good news is that Cool has been fantastic lately (KNOCK ON WOOD)...I've been riding him strictly English (save for the lesson that he gives to a little girl once a week, western) and started him with some pole work and jumped him over a little cross rail Monday. He was perfect over the cross rail!! Trotted right up to it, jumped over and then cantered away through the corner in a perfect balanced canter like he'd been doing it his whole life. This Sunday I am taking him back to my alma mater college for a little combined test. We are just going to do the "jumpers," if you even want to call it that...haha. They have a ground pole class and a cross rail class, I'm not sure which one we will do just yet (probably the ground poles) haha but it should be a good experience for him!

The other good news is that I had a "meet and greet" first interview today at a vet clinic for a part time job. Keep your fingers cross that I get called back for a second interview! I really need some steady income so that I can put some money towards the "make Emmy feel better" fund (also still accepting donations for the "take Johnny back fund" as well.) I seriously think that for Christmas I am going to ask all of my family for donations instead of gifts.

Poor Emmy :(


Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Right-Front Plague

It seems to me that I am plagued by horses with right front leg problems.

After a few days off, a couple romps in the pasture and a gram of Bute, I groomed little Emmy up yesterday afternoon and took her for a trial ride...she was, of course, still lame and actually may have felt worse that she did before. Tracking to the right, she feels okay (not perfect, but acceptable for "cold weather Emmy") but to the left she feels terrible. It's not consistent at all, making the lameness hard to pin point. Down the long side (aka on a straight line) she feels fine for the most part. Not actually "lame" per say, but I do occasionally feel her want to bulge her left shoulder in. On a circle though or around a corner (to the left) on a loose rein she's pretty much dead lame. She's dropping her left shoulder terribly and trying to wheel herself around the turn. If I take up my rein contact and ask her to go round and actually lift her shoulder, she does feel better and no longer limps, but she still doesn't feel's almost like she's not connecting through her body at all. If I could picture what she looks like, she would have an arched head and neck and a dropped spine still. Plus, she trots about 20 feet and then wants to walk...which is SO not like her. Emmy is an off the track Thoroughbred and she's always been HOT to ride...especially when she hasn't been in work lately. I know that she's an old lady now, but I also know her personality and she's just not been right lately.

Probably five years ago, Emmy started with a mysterious right front leg lameness. It happened the year before I left for college, back when I was at our old barn (where we met Johnny, although this was long before I ever decided to ride him) which had no arena of any sorts. I was riding Emmy out in the grass when it started to rain. Being big-bad-young-and-dumb me, I decided that we were going to tough it out and keep working on our striding over some poles. The grass got wet from us cantering over it and turned into mud. We finished our ride and I dried her off and put her away. The next day, she was dead lame in the right front. I can't remember if there was heat in her foot or not back then, but there was definitely no swelling anywhere. It took almost the entire winter to make her sound again (this was in the fall). The vet and farrier (without xrays) couldn't find anything wrong with her. The next year she was fine and went to school with me, where she was first half leased by E. However, the next late spring/early summer, it happened again. She was lame all summer and I started to ride Johnny instead (who also had a bad right front leg, go figure). Near the end of the summer, she just one day went sound. That fall, I left her home and took Johnny to school with me (E leased him) instead for the first semester, thinking that it was just time to retire Emmy. Come winter break, she was right as rain and my parents were tired of taking care of she joined Johnny up at school. She was fine for the rest of that year and E eventually switched her lease back to Emmy for the rest of the school year. That next summer, Emmy fractured her hind splint bone (doing god knows what) and again, spent most of the summer sitting out. I focused my attention on Johnny and near the end of the summer (July-ish) Emmy was back in work and doing great. School came around again (Junior year) and I took both Emmy and Johnny back to school with me. E continued her lease on Emmy until, once again, Emmy went lame late in the winter. She bounced back fairly quickly this time though and everything was fine until E dropped her lease for good due to financial reasons and I was faced with finding Johnny a new home.  Emmy stayed sound for the rest of the school year and in April, with Johnny happy in his new home, the bf bought Cool. We finished out the spring at the boarding barn, renovated the barn at bf's house, put up fencing and brought the two horses home. Summer came and Emmy was lame again. This time, I called out our new vet to look at her. She found Emmy to have a mild loss of flexion in her right front ankle, but an actual flex test came back negative. Out of my own curiosity, I had the vet draw a lyme tester, wondering if perhaps Emmy's sporadic lameness was actually the symptom of illness. I was actually praying that it was going to be. It wasn't; the tester came back negative. By the end of the summer, she was sound again though. This time it lasted until the next spring, when after a day of light jumping, she was dead lame.

At that point, after years of dealing with this lameness issue, I was both fed up and heartbroken. Again, I consulted a veterinarian who offered four different options that we could take to try and resolve the issue once and for all. Option 1 was to take an xray, ideally of both the fetlock and the hoof and check for bony changes. Option 2 was to do nerve blocks to localize the area of pain, since we really didn't know if this was a deep hoof issue or a fetlock issue. Option 3 was to inject the fetlock and see if that helped. Option 4 was to do options 1-3 (although not necessarily in that order).

Obviously, if money were unlimited and not an issue, I would have taken the fourth option to do nerve blocks to localize an area, then xrays to check the bones and then inject as necessary. But, as for most of us horse owners, the budget is not unlimited and option 4 was off the table right away. My next thought was that just willy-nilly injecting the fetlock was probably not the best use of my limited money, so that option was off the table also. What if we injected the fetlock only to find out that the problem was actually in the foot? Xrays were kind of in the same boat for me. While the correct way to diagnose would be to take an xray, we still didn't know what area we were even supposed to be looking in, so the xrays for both the ankle and the fetlock would eat up my entire "Emmy Vet" budget, leaving nothing left for any type of treatment. In the end, after a lot of debating and calculating, I decided that blocking out her foot would be the best use of my money. It was the most cost effective method of actually finding which area we should even be treating. Two nerve blocks into her foot would render the entire region below her fetlock numb. If she went sound, we would know that the problem was in her foot. If she was still lame, we would know that the problem was in her fetlock. (I entertained the idea of xrays for a little while until I decided that I had nothing to compare them previous xrays of either regions to even know if what we were looking at was something new. Who knows what that horses fetlock looks like? And whose to say that it hasn't always looked like that?) It took me about a week to decide all of this (meanwhile Emmy was on stall rest) and when I finally made up my mind and called the vet, Emmy miraculously decided to be sound.

Everyone knows that nerve blocks don't work on a sound horse.

So that was where it ended. Emmy was back in business again, I showed her twice and jumped her and she never took a lame step.

Until now.

And here we are, back to square one. Since I don't have ultra steady employment right now, the nerve blocks and injections are off the table for a while, and little Emmy and I are back to bute, bandages, ice and poultice. I still have no idea what I'm even trying to treat, but I am trying.

I'm wondering if she maybe has a floating bone chip in the fetlock that occasionally gets stuck? Or if there is a ligament in the foot or fetlock that she strained back in the mud those 5 years ago and just keeps re-injuring? The farrier took a look at her last time he was out and put money on a ligament strain in the fetlock from hyperflexion of the joint. I'm still not sure, but it's always a possibility.



Sunday, November 4, 2012

Post-Sandy Check In

Well, we made it through Superstorm Sandy alright here in Ohio! Monday we moved Emmy and Cool to their winter boarding barn, despite the pouring rain. Everyone got there safe and sound, although a little soggy! The boarding barn lost power for two days and our house lost water for one night but otherwise that was really the worst of it. It rained for 7 days straight though!! I'm glad that we moved the horses when we did, because at least now they have an indoor arena to get turned out in. I did let them out in the big pasture Friday for a couple hours. Cool was soooo excited to go out! He cantered laps around the field for about 5 minutes! I started them both back under saddle this week and they have been pretty good. Cool has been SO quiet standing in the cross ties and in his stall its been unreal. I think he must still be sick haha! Emmy is mildly unsound tracking to the left but only occasionally in the corners. I'm not sure if its just that shes out of shape and stiff or if her right front is starting to bother her again. I really need to get them both back on a joint supplement, I don't think that Emmy's devils claw/yucca blend is doing enough for her when it gets cold outside. I will update with some photos!