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We Are Flying Solo

December 25, 2015

There's No Present Like The Time*

Holidays & I have mixed relations, but there is still no repressing my smile at Solo’s unfailing welcome nicker as I step out the back door.

So I relish every opportunity to lean on that massive shoulder & giggle at his never-ending fascination with nuzzling feet.

I’m filled with gratitude for this time off work to continue Operation Encore (v. 6.0?); we’re on day 9 or 10, I think, of my modified fitness regime. It’s some pretty thrilling stuff, like 20 minutes of walking while on the bit, or adding in some trot transitions on our longer hill walking sessions.

Where did everyone go?
We spiced it up yesterday with some radical Guinea Cutting & I think we’d have scored very well, successfully isolating the same bird three times in a row! You may not have heard of this discipline yet. That’s probably because I invented it yesterday.

Don’t worry, there’s still time to qualify for the Championships the next time Neighbour Vanessa’s flock wanders over (ride times are subject to change at the whim of pea-brained fowl).

It may have rained 427 inches in 24 hours, but at 75F, no one’s cold OR dehydrated.

For all these moments & many more, I say an inadequate thanks. Solo hates it when I press my face against his neck to absorb him with all my senses – so I try to do it often. At least he doesn’t mind my irritating chest congestion visitor (blech).

I hope I get many more chances to harass both of my ridiculous redheads in the coming year. But one thing all of us can do without fail is to seize the wonderful gift of Now.

Our bests to you from Flying Solo Farm -

My highlights
*Yes, I totally stole this from a movie.  No, I do not feel any remorse.  ;P

December 14, 2015

The Double Whammy

While I waited for Dr. Bob last Tuesday morning, I was fully prepared to hear Encore had torn a meniscus or something & I'd have a full-fledged retirement farm.

Oh, by the way, yeah, two days after Solo's "little" clinic visit, Encore decided he wanted to help keep me in poverty too.

But before I tell that story, I want to say a massive THANK YOU to each of you who commented & emailed & sent messages of support following my sad discovery of Solo's injury.  Words can be powerful & their meaning is beyond value when compassion is needed most.  Truly.

May be 1/2-finished clip revenge
Dr. Bob's 2nd Weekly Visit

After an attempt at a "consolation ride" on Saturday, hoping Encore would help lift my spirits, he informed me after a barely-pulse-raising 15-minute ride that his stifles were so sore that I was not to touch them.

I was not very consoled.

Much as I enjoy Dr. Bob's breadth of story-telling & educational treatises, I really prefer not to see him twice in four days.  And given Friday's news, I may have been a wee bit pessimistic as his truck pulled up to the shed.

I Get Somewhat Consoled

He allayed my fears after a hands-on exam & circled my "best case scenario."  Due to my intense work project demanding lots of travel since August, combined with other physical constraints, I've just been caught in a vicious cycle.

As previously noted, Encore gets bored & plays hard.  When he's not fit, soft tissue & joints are loose, & he jams himself up performing impressive sliding stops & other pasture escapades.  Then, because he's made himself sore, I don't push him, so he doesn't get fit.

Phone did something to pics...
However, the cycle shall be broken.  Dammit.

Work project has been wrapped up (ok, I decreed it wrapped up).  Encore got a shot of cortisone in each stifle to bring down inflammatory soreness, along with a steroid to help boost our ability to build muscle & tighten everything up.

I've got a schedule to try out, a back-to-work program - it comes in
versions from a clinic my neighbour has taken several horses to (brain needs small, concrete tasks at this point).  I'll tweak it a bit here & there to fit us.

Our 30 days began Saturday, with a, bareback walking session.  Eh, it was beautiful out.  Barring ginormous storms, hopefully in four weeks Mr. Porky will be a bit closer to Mr. Sexy.

December 5, 2015

In Which Solo Can Fly No More

*edited to add - Solo is still warm & huggable, my apology for any over-scare, but we did discover an injury effectively ending his ridden days beyond the occasional amble*

I tried to type last night, but..couldn't.  But before I continue (warning: it's going to be long), let me say that Beka Burke, of The Owls Approve, is just completely awesome.  For example, when random people send her crazed text paragraphs. 

Solo did achieve some improvement with his newly invented shoes, but over this fall, some soreness returned in both his shoulders & in the past month, his right front foot.  I made him rest (which earned me plenty of dirty Solo-glares) & began my own differential analysis.

Combine a stoic horse with a subtle "NQR" & the result can be a diagnostic rabbit hole.  I knew I needed to consult Batman Dr. Bob further, but to get the best actionable information, I also needed to know what questions to ask & where to point.

I can stare too, mom. (sry, old pic)
Step 1:  Patient Scrutiny

An extensive Solo interview (they do tell you, so long as you listen), a whole lot of staring, & last week, a very helpful meeting with Wonder Farrier's hooftesters narrowed things down to some sobering options.  

The resurfacing of muscle soreness coincided with my observation that both front frogs were fairly pathetic-looking.  This told me Solo was not placing his heels on the ground first as his feet landed, reducing circulatory flow to the frogs, which steals away their fat, healthy cushion.

He was also reluctant to pivot smoothly on that RF & tested sore across the width of his heels.  Pulling up my mental image of hoof anatomy, this all pointed to sidebone, navicular pain, or bruising/calcification along the back of his coffin bone.  He didn't stand with toes pointed like a true "navicular horse," & he's had good hoof care, so I hoped for the "best," a.k.a. least limiting.   

Now that I could circle general region of the problem, it was time to take him in.  

Step 2:  Look On The Inside

I was pretty close.  How I wish I wasn't.     

Dr. Bob deployed his magic hands, his kind practicality, & all the experience we rely on.  After a jog & flexions of fetlocks, knees, & elbows, a single palmar digital (rear of the foot) nerve block confirmed where we'd take pictures.

A lateral & dorsal (front-on) view of the RF told us all we needed to know.  A flexed radiograph of the same knee, taken just in case, was thankfully clean.

Step 3:  Decipher, Plan, Cry

In short, Solo tore his DDFT (Deep Digital Flexor Tendon) where it cradles his navicular bone. Essentially a low bow, only much lower than horses normally have, on the rear of his pastern, nestled between heel bulbs, because it's Solo, & conventional is nowhere in his playbook.

There is some scar tissue in the 2" tear, some still healing, but the navicular bone itself is also degraded in the process, or to quote Dr. Bob, "falling apart."  The coffin joint is still clean, although P2 (the short pastern bone) is slightly pushed up by some fill in the navicular fluid capsule.

So much happy. By Pics of You
Which Means...?
He can never jump even a tiny thing again.  Because if he trips or lands a little heavy on that foot, he could fall & kill us both.  The thing that makes him glow, the lights him up with joy such that he still hunts anything jumpable every time I sit on him, is off limits.  

All flights officially, permanently grounded.  Which is excruciatingly difficult to explain to a horse who believes retirement is a synonym for punishment.  Even when his owner is sobbing like a dying animal.

Not even his hated dressage; he has to move however he needs to in order to be comfortable.  Which means crooked, lopsided if he needs it, whatever is necessary for his muscles to adapt & let his legs travel wherever they want.

There Are Bits Of Good

He can do light hacks if he wants.  The injury itself would have stemmed from a "simple" bad step in the pasture.  So being ridden is still ok & even important to maintain range of motion & muscle tone, as well as circulation.  

And our invented shoes were right; Dr. Bob said they were "the most a farrier can do for him at this point."  And my instinct to rest him was correct.  I couldn't have prevented anything, although it's impossible not to wonder if I could have "done something" (what, magic bone re-grower??) sooner.  

There are many more details & some fantastic sources of information, but they'll have to wait until I can emotionally catch up.

Whatever he needs - for he gave me the world