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We Are Flying Solo

Showing posts with label feet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label feet. Show all posts

February 2, 2019

Little Shop Of Hoof Horrors

A big part of transitioning a horse to a new career is rebuilding his body.  Often it entails changing shape & developing different muscle groups.  How much change takes place is related to how different his new life is in comparison to his old one.

Sometimes this process includes a measure of falling apart before you can get to the re-assembly.  Sometimes you just have to let that happen.  If you have control issues (which I totally, uh, don't, erm...), this can be exceedingly difficult.

As Echo & I worked through Operation Farm-Breaking, the (much bigger) parallel process was his large-yet-small body.  Aside from the several hundred pounds of mass he needed to gain & the leg that needed to heal, his feet, while having ok structure, were too upright & boxy in racing plates that were keeping them too small (his hind shoes had already been pulled when I got him, so better back there).

Unfortunately, I didn't take any foot photos as the very beginning, but I do have a few photos of what happened next.  A couple weeks in, I pulled his front shoes to try to let his feet spread out to a more appropriate size & shape.  They proceeded to disintegrate in ways that I have never before seen a hoof disintegrate.

RF begins its fail, late Feb 2018
RH - I didn't know hooves could peel
His walls were so weak & flaky, they seemed to just fall apart.  You can see the layers just peeling away from each other.  Amazingly, he didn't seem terribly sore on them, but as much as I tried to keep the edges cleaned up with a rasp to slow things down, it mostly just failed.

RF in its most brain-exploding stage, early May.  I can't even...
I'm pretty sure farrier got tired of my barely-contained panic as I texted him ludicrious things like, "I'm worried my horse's sole is detaching & falling off?"  He was nice enough to roll with it.

I suspect that Echo was definitely missing some important trace minerals in his diet.  He was living in Florida, where there is a lot of nutrient-poor, sandy soil which doesn't produce very rich hay.  Either way, I immediately introduced him to my biotin-rich friend, SmartHoof pellets, along with a balanced diet based on Triple Crown Complete & a ton of grass, & tried my best to look at other parts of his body.

To little avail.  Along with thin, structurally-incompetent walls, he had similarly thin soles.  So we got this added to the fun:

One very impressive abscess, April
It often felt like one step forward, two steps back.  As the disintegration worsened, it became clear that his feet were not ready to be barefoot on hard-packed, rock-strewn Carolina summer ground while stomping at flies.  He had to have shoes back on.  That included several of its own debacles, including one instance of stepping on a hind clip:
You can see where it went in on right side
I texted the photo to farrier & told him, "Well, you can definitely see where his white line is now."  We got lucky & he didn't abscess or end up lame on that, he drove the clip into the white line instead of the sole.

We did a stint in glue-ons due to another debacle.  The hind shoes came off as soon as fly season tapered off, as additional bruising from excessive stomping & more wall disintegration had to grow out.  I was buying duct tape & generic vet-wrap in bulk.

If I had to treat one more foot, I was ready to throw up..
We're slowly accumulating more positive progress now, though.  His front feet have already gone up two sizes & I'm sure there's at least one more to go.  His hind feet are currently looking 1000% stronger - remember that peeling apart right hind foot from above?

RH yesterday (sorry, Keratex just applied)
He's actually completely barefoot at the moment.  I know we won't be able to stay this way - when the flies come back & the ground turns back to rock, he will need front shoes at the least.  But I pulled his front shoes at the end of December - I figured this was my last chance to let his heels spread out, while the ground has been VERY soft from the zillion feet of rain.  That right front, the brain-exploder, is much more solid looking (just ignore the dirt packed in the growing-out nail holes & the leftover epoxy from the glue-ons):
RF yesterday, also ignore my sloppy edge smoothing at the toe
We still have a ways to go, but now we have a little more to work with.  His walls actually didn't chip at all through most of January 2019, even when the ground was frozen.  I don't have any hoof boots that fit him at the moment, but he's doing fairly well riding in the field.  There's no rushing any of this - it takes a horse about a year to grow a new foot.  In Echo's case, I fully expect another year on his front feet before we are really stable.

The in-between stages of hoof (or anything) rehab often contain a whole lot of ugly.  Sometimes, the best thing you can do is wait, despite all your urges to Just Do Something.  And even though Echo's feet sometimes looked terrible, he assured me that he felt just fine:
Looking fancy in Aug (ok, maybe I just wanted to see something green, sigh)
If anyone knows where I can get a discount on Durasole by the case, just let me know.

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.

From triplebarhoofcare.com
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

November 7, 2015

Fairy-er Magic: What Makes Good Hoofcare Great

Stud-ifying!
See what I did there??  Admit  it, you snickered.

We all learn within roughly 17 minutes of owning or managing a horse that a farrier can make or break you.  Without a good one, abandon all hope, ye who attempt to enter at A…

But what makes a Good Farrier?  In the US, becoming a farrier requires extensive effort – to write the word after your name, with no mandates regarding skill or experience.  It’s up to us to clamber up the painful learning curve of figuring out who knows what they’re doing.  Because, ya know, we’d hate to make some aspect of equine-keeping easy (I think that might actually be illegal?).

My top criteria (compiled mostly the hard way, of course), embodied by The Amazing Wonder Farrier:
  • Eyes.  He’s watching my horses move even before he gets out of the truck.
  • Ears.  He (no offense to Lady Farriers, I’m just sticking with mine for simplicity) LISTENS.  If this was a numbered list, it’d be #1!  No one knows your horse better than you do & a Good Farrier knows & respects that.
  • Curiosity.  He asks how my horses responded if we changed something.  He seeks out continuing education & is not afraid to try new products & techniques.
  • Experience.  My farrier is actually younger than I am, but has been handling hooves for nearly 20 years.  Experience also means he knows what he DOESN’T know & never lets pride stop him from consulting with other farriers & my vet (see next bullet).
  • Communication.  Ok, he may not agree with me that MY horses are the most important (duh!), but if there’s an injury or special need, I get a response, even if it’s a text at 9 pm (I’m not the only one with an over-committment problem). 
  • Attention.  It takes him two hours to do Encore’s shoes – because he is meticulous.  If he doesn’t like the way Encore blinked when he drove a nail, it gets pulled.  Each hoof gets tested multiple times.  Even before he pulls the old shoes (or trims the bare feet), he walks around the horse & stares at everything thoughtfully. 
Solo: always waiting for me to get with the program
Magic:  Exhibit A

Let’s see this combination in action.  Last winter, Solo became very sore in his right shoulder.  It was perplexing, as he’d suffered no injury I was aware of, had no previous issues there, & was not under any taxing workloads.

During the same time, there was a persistent whisper in the back of my head every time I looked at that front foot.  It just…looked funny, in that way you can’t quite put your finger on.  But that’s his white front ankle & with furry winter fetlocks, there’re plenty of optical illusions.

Dr. Bob (vet) & Wonder Farrier were both consulted, we found some saddle wool that needed to be re-fluffed, but it didn’t quite go away.  Finally, I dug into my extensive collection of “obsessive photos of my horses’ feet through time.
 
You should totally make one of those, if you haven’t already.  Bingo.

When I pulled up a photo from the spring of 2011, when Solo was competing at Training Level, the light bulb practically exploded.  His front feet had just crept out in front of him incrementally.  Enough that his angles were NQR but still so slight if you hadn’t looked at him every day for 9 years, you wouldn’t see it.

Creativity Win!

I’m not sure who was more excited when I dragged the laptop out at our next appointment, me or Farrier.  ANSWERZ!!1!  Now:  a plan.  This is where the awesome happened.

Along with backing up his feet, he needed a slight wedge (which he’s worn before) & a square, rolling toe for easier breakover.  However, the shoe we’d used for that previously was aluminum.  I have come to hate plain aluminum, primarily because it transfers significantly more concussion to the foot.  I won’t sidetrack into the materials science, but a steel shoe, however counterintuitive it may seem, absorbs more shock.

Ready to roll
As I thought about things the Sunday before we met, I sent a message:  “Ok, we know what biomechanics we need & what shape we need.  But how do we do that with steel?”

Farrier:  “Hmmm, I shall ponder while at kids’ horse show…I have an idea…”

And then he invented exactly what we needed.  (Although I told him it would have been much more impressive if he didn’t say, ‘wow, I didn’t think that would actually work,” LOL!)
 
He took a set of steel hind shoes which are made with a tiny wedge & simply widened the heels.  Because there were rounder & squarer (it’s a word now) than a typical hind shoe (sorry, I can’t remember the brand), they gave us both the shape & angle we needed.

Solo couldn’t stop licking his lips as he set his restored feet down.  The next time I got on, I could practically hear him giggling, “Yeah!!!  So much better!!  Let’s go!!”

Not only that, but they worked so well, we gave Encore a set too!  I think I’ll call them The Johnathan Special. 

And that is why it pays to be picky. 

Can we have some more of this?

April 18, 2015

Stagger-By Update Ramble -- At Least It Has Photos!

Even the jump panels are perfect...
Horses offer many gifts; chief among them -- you will NEVER be bored.  In fact, you may come to beg for boredom...

As some of you know, I have a serious problem with overcommittment been working for the past year as the Sponsorship Coordinator for the 2015 Southern Eighths Farm Heart of the Carolinas (HOTC) 3DE.  Oh, and I'm making an amazing program.  And updating promotional materials (view epic new brochure here).  Because, you know, just showing up & doing 10 volunteer jobs over the event weekend was too easy.  Heh.

Combine the fact that OMG THE EVENT IS TWO WEEKS AWAY with the mad rush of Teh Inconvenient Real Job to prepare for field season, which starts in one week...and there you have my posting lapse.  I am open to applicants for Personal Assistants.  Position includes free entertainment, watching me run around like a blind, rabid squirrel, unable to complete sentences!

CD Tremaine Cooper offers steeplechase tips
The event itself is shaping up to be another spectacular experience.  Carla Lake, a fantastic new acquaintance & correspondent for adult ammy central, aka Horse Junkies United, was brave enough to chat with me.  And talented enough to turn my ramblings into a great article introducing HOTC to the interwebz!

Even more special:  our suite of awesome sponsors & supporters this year includes some of our very own from HorseBlog world!  I thought, what better partners for an event by & for the adult amateur than some of the incredibly talented entrepreneurs who are part of the same community??  More brags on them to come, I bet you'll recognize some names, but you can see the current list here.

I suppose not EVERYone in pinned to their seats for my desperate attempts, after very long worksdays, to share the beauty of "So8ths" and the unique & vital long format events I have dedicated myself to.  However, I will give you a sneak peak at my draft "clearinghouse" page:  your go-to lauchpad for event information, updates, & coverage.  It shall continue to grow!

The Orange Monsters

Yeah, that lack of boredom?  Well, Solo is in great need of revamped shoeing, his front feet have changed & he's developed a sore shoulder...except when throwing pasture galloping fits.

Encore, despite my immediate initiation of Operation Hydroxyzine as the spring tree sperm explosion commenced, alongside the return of the myriad of Carolina Bitey Things, has proceeded to rub the skin off his throatlatch.  No sooner did I calm that with the Majykal Butacort Creme, did he come in this morning having rubbed the hair off two large swollen bites on the side of his neck, surrounded by hives.

That could be a start; orderable from premierequine.co.uk
He was obviously depressed, as allergic reactions are no fun.  I was a bit concerned, as his face was quite sad & he stood for some time in a corner after breakfast (at least he did eat). 

Majykal Creme seemed to do the trick though.  The cortisone relieved the burning itch & his hives & swelling went down.  He took a big drink about an hour ago & resumed grazing.

So in a moment, I'll be shopping for some form of insect body armour that is cool, yet somehow indestructible in the face of Solo teeth, along with ground flax seed to add to his already-six-ingredient dinners.  Oh, he has fly boots & a fly sheet already.  But the latter is held together by two jury-rigged broken snaps & is too heavy for our humidity. 

Did I mention he's getting shoe additions too?  Outside hind trailers to help with his stifle rehab.  I'm trying to see if I can buy everything on my farrier's truck at once.

The Farm

Because buying food is tedious, and really, who wants to spend money to do...fun things, I need to make sure there are no hints of positive financial balances anywhere near me!

Worth. It. And it matches runin!
Due to expiration of temporary hayshed (it was only meant to stand in for a year, two winters was a valiant term of duty), emergency order of permanent hayshed was finally completed (roofs are sort of non-optional).  Happy, because we all know hay is THE most valuable equine asset & must be guarded at all costs.  Sad, because I lied, I really would like to go somewhere fun someday, sigh.

And because the universe has impeccable timing, My Precious pony puller was due for its tranny fluid service (not cheap, but waaaay cheaper than a new tranny & the stress toll of ending up on the side of the highway!).  I adore my diesel guy & certainly want him to stay in business.  But was it really neccessary for the water pump to die at the same time?  Yes, it's a wear part, no big deal, but I appear to be missing the door that leads to NOT ALL THE THINGZ IN LIFE AT ONCE.

7.3L Precious gets everything she needs!
Tip learned from several previous vehicles (which thankfully saved my engine; had I not known immediately what the problem was, Very Bad Things would have resulted):  when your heater stops blowing heat, it means you have no coolant.  Bad.

Most often means radiator failure (I bought two of those, learning the expensive lesson that an appropriate pony puller is about WAY more than tow ratings), such as crack through which coolant escapes.  A rattle in a belt pulley led me to my water pump & the observation that it was covered in coolant residue.  That's not supposed to be on the outside...

Conclusion

I think I'll just start eating the horses' grain in milk.  In smells good, can't be that different from granola, right?  Hmmm, do you think I'd have any luck with a tip jar taped to the mailbox?

Gonna need more pennies than that!

January 19, 2015

Hooves: Excellent For Both Exploding Heads & Amazing Healing Powers

No one's favourite supplies
Time may not heal ALL wounds, but given enough of it, equine feet can certainly recover from some gory feats of coordination fail.

Waaaayyyy back in July, Encore felt I needed a reminder of this & my horse of many talents (a few of which are even useful) dissected his own hoof wall.  Long experience means I keep the first aid kit well-stocked and Dr. Bob & WunderFarrier are both nearby.  I am grateful daily for their incredible experience, attention to detail, & ready response when it counts!!

17 July 2014 - the fresh handiwork on RF

17 July 2014 - go big or go home?
Overnight poultice
18 July 2014 - post-poultice
I have doctored all sorts of nasty injuries over the years, from a horse who completely degloved an entire hind cannon on loose wire (incredibly, despite exposed bone, never lame, fully recovered), to draining pus infections, to deep, hot, swollen slices.  Yet I had no idea what to expect from this one, even after the vet assured me that coronet band was undamaged.

26 July 2014 - Out, damned bruise!
(Un)Surprise

A roller-coaster, just like every other horse injury.  Why do I never learn to go back to fish-keeping?

Because, I mean, just duct-taping & doctoring one foot every day, that's boring, anyone can do that!  Let's really mix it up.  Throw in a bruise in the OTHER front foot on the horse who refuses to abscess, so it just floats around in there.  That way you get to spend some real quality time with your horse.

And by quality time, I mean ALL the time.  Then you can become a true master in the art of duct tape boots (I was a bit out of practice, but I really didn't need a refresher...).

Sleep makes things too easy to deal with, so we have to include the midnight emergency vet call on July 27th, while you empty the contents of your fridge's ice-maker into buckets of water on two hot feet. 

Thanks, buddy, that only took a couple more years off my life...
But It Got Better

Thanks to another quick response, our mini-founder passed without incident, & Encore's hoof quickly began to take care of business. 

30 July 2014 - closing fast
5 Aug 2014 - LF bruise defeated!!
29 Aug 2014 - Epoxy & frog pads make things look weird, but one month & it's growing out!
We Were Lucky

Although it felt like an eternity, it was only about six weeks before we were able to start riding again.  Thanks to wonderful communications between vet & farrier, close monitoring saw us through the most unstable stages of grow-out (including just a few weeks ago, where he pulled his LF shoe & twisted the RF, so that I feared I'd find him with his entire RF heel torn off, as the crack was just millimetres from the ground, in need of immediate stabilization).

18 Jan 2015
So here we are today yesterday:  his heel has pretty much entirely grown out.  You can just see the remnants of the injury above the rear corner of the frog pad (& that SOMEone has been thriving on good hay & SmartHoof & is quite ready for impending farrier visit!).  

He still gets his epoxy coating to help stabilize what's left -- so if in need, I have now learned JB Weld can even glue your horse together (ok, so it wasn't ACTUALLY JB Weld, although I did fix a trough with that yesterday...and a cat bowl...).

There's a bit more growing to do, but he's been sound (on THAT quarter anyway, geeeezz...) & once Dr. Bob has him re-lubed, we'll try that whole "work" thing again.

That's damn nice taping, though...
Hindsight Is A Lot Less Stressful

Unfortunately, we don't get to sit back & be amazed until afterwards.  But one of the many reasons I like to track these things (the boys certainly give me plenty of opportunities, it's sort of hilarious that "injury" is one of the largest, ergo most frequently used, in our tag cloud on the right sidebar) is that when we do get a successful outcome (which I would have really appreciated, ahem, Solo), it's like my own little emotional baseline, a reminder that I have to be patient & well, I'm probably going to freak out a lot.

While it confirms my hypothesis that horse owners are batshit crazy masochists, I hope it also helps you feel a little bit less cursed when your own creature induces head explosions.  And a lot less alone, because any of us who have spent enough time around horses have experienced both kinds of results, the successful & the heartbreaking.

But you can't fly on a goldfish...

Dang, I miss this; running Solo is riding joy.  Photo by Pics of You, 2010.

January 11, 2015

There Was Riding! Among Other Things...

I can't see you...
Two horses in one day!!

The Browner Orange One

Ok, fine, be pedantic.  I long-lined Encore as he is due for his yearly back injections (we match, only he gets four & I get three, although thankfully, mine are still holding at three years) & he is quite clear in his reminders of this fact.

One of the almost magical parts of truly getting to know a horse over days & years is learning not only every detail of his body, but expression, posture, & which level of The Horse Finger that tail swish indicated.

So now I am edu-ma-cated:  Encore generally walks up to me in his pasture, begs for work, & doesn't bother trying until a jump gets to 3'.  Around mid-January, he instead walks AROUND me (equine efforts at false nonchalance are hilarious), loses impulsion, falling out behind often, & rushes anything higher than 18". 

It's an odd relief, but relief nonetheless, to calmly surmise, "Oh, lubrication time approacheth," as opposed to the horse owner's traditional spirals of mental agony & the worst torture of all:  the unknown.  So he will remain on a relatively light schedule until his "oil change" (I say, as if I would otherwise have him on a full training schedule during 187% work overload insanity).

I would never...
The Super-Orange One

His little big brother appears to feel this gives him freedom to take over anxiety-instigation duty.  Cod forbid one own a horse calmly, I believe that would break some universal law!

Solo has definitely lost condition.  Sadly, his minion has gone & incapacitated herself; along with our string of simply horrid wet cold weeks, I've had few chances to stretch his legs.  He seems to be running on fumes, though, & I confess to being mystified.

He is still shiny with a winter hay belly, a springy trot, his trademark deep meal nicker, & takes a good prance gallop around the field with Encore.  But his face looks tired & although I enjoyed our ride today, he fatigued very quickly, even though he was not out of breath.

I just wish my favourite face could elaborate a bit?
What's Up, Dude?

Perhaps it is simply muscle loss.  When I first began working with Dr. Bob, he had a similar problem & a simple CBC revealed Solo had a low red blood cell count.  With vet approval of ingredients, I put him on SmartVite, which he's had ever since, & his count popped up to normal almost immediately.  It dropped again when he had a heavy parasite load from a previous facility, but I have dewormed with vigilance & now am in charge of my own pasture management. 

I've added more fat to his diet, although he certainly is working hard at maximizing intake of my lovely winter hay supply!  We'll run another basic CBC in a few weeks, as Dr. Bob comes out at the beginning of February for his spring collection of large amounts of invisible TFS cash (Encore will also get a set of check-up lateral radiographs on his front feet to make sure WunderFarrier & I are on the right track).

An odd sight after so long
There ARE Good Things

Recently, Solo did get his front shoes back.  While his Cavallo Sports were wonderful for trails & light pleasure, when it came to schooling & jumping, he just wasn't comfortable.  He felt like there was too much sole concussion.  He certainly felt happier about his feet today & reached out those giant shoulders with a freedom I've missed, so it's not all bad news!

Let's see...what else can we throw imaginary money at add to Dr. Bob's hard-earned retirement fund next month??

Who knew-there's a WikiHow for "how to solve all horse problems!"

December 24, 2014

A Few Of My Favourite Things!

Sing it with me now!

*dons epic Julie Andrews voice, click if you need to tune yours...*

Haynets on doorknobs and blankets draped sideways,
Horseshoes in puddles and eagles that spy them,

Streams of clear water that drip from hay string;
These are a few of my favourite things.



Merry Xmas to me from Encore!
Poo-coated buckles and stick-tangled tails,
Fetlocks all muddy and rainfall-filled pails,

Notes to the shoer, who can’t wait for spring;
These are a few of my favourite things!







When the boot rips,
When the wind blows,
When I’m charging lamps,




I simply remember my favourite things,
And then I don’t feeeeeel
So daaamp.

Lovely...

August 14, 2014

Life Smacks You In The Face. Horses Reduce The Swelling Afterwards.


If pain must come, may it come quickly. Because I have a life to live, and I need to live it in the best way possible.  - Paulo Coelho, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

give up catThis week has been a rare treat at the real job (and by “treat”, I mean, a quite unexpected awfulness I didn’t see coming).  Every office has its crappy days, but it’s a special occasion when it stands out among a decade.  (I love my job, I love my job, I love my job, I…)

Betrayal, rage, pain, all the fun parts!  I am quite careful & quite diligent at drawing a firm line between my professional life & my personal one, but this monstrosity shoved right through that wall at exactly the wrong time, which naturally just multiplies the offense.  Something tells me I wouldn’t be off base in guessing you’ve been there…

Chocolate helps, but one “normal” person can really only have one expensive hobby at a time.  Which boils down to why we all have chosen to torture surround ourselves with large, suicidal, frustrating, money-burning, unpredictable, mesmerizing, magical, & altogether wonderful horses at every opportunity.  In fact, I find myself wondering if I can substantially increase my tax write-offs by adding “equine-assisted therapy” as a line item.

One of my resident greys
Requirement:  Resident Therapists

The smallest things can save you a drive to the loony bin.  That husky nicker alongside a face that says to you, “Hooray!  You are the bestest sight & I’ve been waiting all day just for you!”


Stomp-whisk-nom slows your breathing in time with horses deterring flies while relishing supper.

Watching the crystalline well-water fill the trough as a hidden broad-winged hawk scolds an uninvited guest somewhere in the oak trees, I can finally feel everything else fade away.  As the grey tree frogs launch their daily chorus, all that's left behind is a very welcome relief.

Could Actual Riding Actually Occur??

Oddly, almost surreally, it is a breathtakingly gorgeous evening:  August in North Carolina has a long tradition of sweating through four shirts a day, as well as fascinating discoveries, such as the fact that you CAN actually sweat underwater.  I guess the memo has gotten lost because my pastures are exploding with green & the air is…pleasant??!

The best part?  Solo digs eagerly in to his favourite spots in the top pasture, which has been resting for a couple weeks.  I carefully pick through Encore’s feet with Durasole, ichthammol, and ThrushBuster, only to find his LF closing up & his RF comfy, and FOUR SHOES ON FOUR FEET (*cough* we may or may not have seen our farrier twice in five days last week *cough*).

bareback solo
Don't be jealous!
How can I help but smile as I buckle the nylon girth of our fabulously stylish bareback pad (bony chick + TB withers = I am not ashamed of my eBay memory foam!!)?  Encore seems to agree: every bridling usually includes a patient pause while I wait for him to unclamp his silly teeth.  Today, though, I lifted the bit to an already-open mouth.  I guess we both got bored!

Yes, you read that right:  bareback pad.  You know, since he’s a “crazy” OTTB and all, after five weeks off, things get very dramatic when I hop on from the trailer fender and we…walk around for a while.  :D 

Getting The Kinks Out

The ride itself was nothing fancy; I mostly just used the terrain for walk work.  Both his front feet still have a week or two of growing to do before I am ready to put them back in full service.

So we wandered around the farm & I even had the gall (says my horse) to pick up the contact & school some lateral work, combined with stretching over his topline (I know, animal cruelty at its worst).  Encore grudgingly accepted once I explained it was simple physical therapy to soften all those tight muscles which have been standing around compensating for sore feets.  I did manage to restrain my “I told you so" once his back stretched, lifted & began to swing as he unlocked his hind legs & loosened into the bridle.
    
Horses Hanging Out 001 (Small) Savouring The Now

Every evening, my pond turns into molten gold when the fading light hits just the right angle.  Flycatchers & a common yellowthroat warbled across the pastures, a perfect counterpoint to the steady four-beat swoosh of hooves through tall grass.

After being grounded for more days than I can count, feeling my horse’s strong confidence beneath me, knowing we both relished the jailbreak, being in each moment & letting it all soak in – well, I don’t need to explain to you how precious those times are!

After I shut the gate, releasing Encore to enjoy fresh grass with his little big brother, I lingered there, watching my happy horses just doing what they do.  Something in that fills you up, as if you were the trough you just tended.  Even if there was old water in it already, you shove the hose to the bottom and the fresh, clean flow revitalizes the supply & pushes the stale, cloudy water out.  You are restored, at least in part, and for today, that is enough
Rock