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We Are Flying Solo

Showing posts with label vet care. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vet care. Show all posts

August 12, 2017

Hope And Home

Before proceeding, I cannot say thank you enough for all of your kind words & support - I have read & re-read them, each one a mini-life buoy amid some seriously rough seas.  I even read your well-wishes to Solo, I think he definitely appreciated them (at least he appreciated that I cannot read to him & squirt nasty medications in his mouth at the same time).

Normal is an unbelievable treasure
Posting delays inevitably result as I struggle to fit work, which forced me to travel last week, & 8-hr intervals of equine nursing duties into days with insufficient hours.  But I can tell you that Solo is home.  Beautifully, wonderfully, shiny-ly (it's a word now) home.

He's gone back for his first hospital follow-up, during which we got to get rid of the catheters that had been keeping the abscess drain tracts open.  The endoscope revealed much healing & no additional signs of new infection, which was a first...& a very welcome one.

We've just finished (I hope) the course of antibiotics.  I am flushing those tracts daily & he has to stay on a special gastric medication until his albumin levels return to normal, as he developed some colitis in the hospital due to the combined stress & intensive pain management medications.

Home.  Free.
But Solo is feeling good.  He looks fantastic.  Grazing with Encore, napping in the shade, rolling heartily after a tasty meal - all without my having to tape his head together anymore (perhaps I will be able to show you all the phases in a future missive).  He gets to be a horse.  And while I am physically, mentally, & emotionally exhausted, while we still have hurdles to clear & work to do, this is a very very very good thing.

Because when I look out my window, I see what I feared lost, so many times, on so many trips to Raleigh, in so many hours with that cold vise of fear around my chest.  I see all the best parts of me embodied in a chestnut larger than his own life:

A Haiku For Hope  

Softly shines again
That heart who defines for me
Every part of Home.

July 23, 2017

Not The Solo Update I Wanted To Post

Solo has been fighting for his life over the past five weeks at the NC State University Large Animal Hospital.

After all this time since the last post (if there is anyone still out there reading, bless you), I wanted to tell you about how he recovered from his tendon bows & went back to frolicking with joy with his big-little "brother" in the fields.  Because he did.

Feeling good yesterday in the "horse-pital" paddock
But in mid-June, following a horrific series of emergency vet calls & midnight vigils, I had to take him in to hospital in Raleigh for an emergency admission.  When it began on a Thursday evening, we thought it was an allergic reaction, but the next Tuesday, we discovered he has an extremely rare infection of one salivary gland.

As in, this is only the 2nd case they have seen on the Soft Tissue service in 15 years.

We will never know the exact cause, it can be anything that irritates the opening of the gland under the tongue, a grass seed, a piece of food, a...?  Like any injury in the mouth, once there is an opening, all the bacteria which normally live in your gut & the soil & the world, get into spaces they are not supposed to be.  The result was large, infected abscesses that are still draining through two surgical incisions under his jaw.

To say it has been a difficult road would be a gross understatement.  Two weeks ago, we were having the conversation about euthanasia, twice.  Solo, however, has remained true to his nature:  his heart defies the limitations suggested by his body.  I drove to Raleigh twice expecting to have to say goodbye to my best friend, but Solo shocked us all & said no, he was far from done.

I do have photos of the progression of the drain tracts, infection, & incredible healing, but they are extremely graphic, so I will not post them directly without a warning (I could link them, but the site I used to use for that no longer offers that service).  I drove home many times after helping with treatments, covered in blood, pus, necrotic tissue, & steeped in reeking anaerobic bacteria. 

Packed main drainage incision last weekend, looking really good
Today, I watched my horse hang out in a paddock, graze on clover, talk to his horsey neighbours, & enjoy a good roll.  It was a gift beyond measure that brought the good kind of tears to my eyes as I smelled his warm fur in a hug.  Even more so because there have been far too many of the other kind of tears in the past month.

He is very close to being able to come home:  as soon as the drainage tract no longer requires packing, I can take over his care.  He is feeling like himself again, fat, sassy, no pain meds for the past week, & eating & pooping & drinking well.

The most difficult part is the currently impossible financial situation, made even more complex because this entire thing has been once of uncertainly & creeping increments.  With no case history in the scientific literature, we had no way of predicting how things would go.  With stutters & complications, there have not been any big "opportunities" to have any kind of budget plan (if that is even possible with horse anything).  And now, we are beyond invested, better beyond expectation, & cannot risk attempts at short cuts. 

I haven't figured that part out yet.  I am enormously grateful to kind contributions made by our wonderful friend, Erica, & my mom.  Huge thanks to my neighbour, who has been sheltering Encore during all of this.  Whenever I get half a chance to breathe between this & the busiest time of year at work, I will have to look into options, as I've already put my own medical care & everything else short of electricity & fuel on hold.

I get the best people
There aren't words to encompass my gratitude towards the incredible team who worked alongside us with compassion, insight, phenomenal communication, respect, & sheer brilliance:
  • Drs. Timo Prange & Callie Fogle
  • Drs. Alex Fowler, Laura Marley, Kelly Shaw & Arlie Manship
  • Solo's Interns - George, Megan, & Emily (& now Leland) 
As well as all the techs & hospital staff going out of their way to give Solo baths, scratches, treats, hold his food when it hurt too much to eat off the ground, take him for walks, & so much more...

This is not something that I would do for any horse, nor has it been embarked upon lightly.  But I have never in my many years among horses &  people, experienced a relationship like this one.  Solo is 21, but looks half that; he remains strong, healthy, & even his student interns have noted his determination & enthusiasm for living.

If Solo had told me he was done fighting, I would have let him go, that was a promise I made to him long ago.  And a responsibility of care that I have carried out for other beloved friends when it was time.  But he didn't.  And he has always been there for me, even through the darkest time of my life that defied expression.  He quite literally saved my life.

So as long as there is breath in me, I will be there for him.  And I will do everything I can to return the favour.  

September 14, 2016

Solo Struggles: The Tendons That Bow

Yes, you read that correctly.   No, the plural is not just a literary reference.

I haven't been able to write about it because in all honesty,  I haven't been able to think about it.  But as Solo & I try to take care of each other, he reminds me that we don't have to be alone.  So I wanted to try & share for the many of you who have been part of our journey.

On August 5th (it still feels like yesterday), I walked out to replenish fly spray layers during my lunch break.  It was a horrifically muggy Friday that was about to worsen by orders of magnitude.  My eyes snapped to Solo's forelegs as  he was standing slightly out in front, unusual for him.  And a pit opened in my stomach when I saw his right front pastern was swollen & there, in mid-cannon, was the smallest bulge of a textbook bow.
This one's sore, mom... (post-first-aid, obviously)
Knowing he was fine at breakfast, it had to be fresh, but it was also the same leg he previously had a low bow on a year ago.  I scrambled ice, hose, standing wraps still scattered from Hell Storm 2016 & got vet on phone.

Day 2, post-hose tendon bow
Long story & 3 emergency calls later, Dr. Bob confirmed my observations when he came out for fall shots 4 days later.  Three months confinement to small pen, six weeks with wraps.  Not the suspensory, which was good, but another insult to the compromised deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) in that leg.

Except a week later, the amazing Erica was visiting to help with care & repairs, when we discovered during a wrap change that the left front had succumbed to a matching support bow.  I am so grateful that she was here for support, as that crushing discovery alone would have been that much worse.

Turbulent Tending

The first few weeks have been full of stressful worry for my shining buddy.  He developed running diarrhea from the anxiety of not being able to follow Encore down the fenceline.  Trying to keep heat & moisture out of tendons during the hottest month in the literal modern record of the planet, with humidity you could drink, was exhausting in itself.

I can report that Solo has begun to stabilize.  We have returned to normal poo (always a cause for equine celebration).  It is 30 degrees cooler outside & swelling has been absent under wraps.  There is hardly any heat at all when the wraps are changed.  No limping, which is critical in such big animals.  And we're down to 1 gram of bute a day just to keep any swelling from temptation.

Prison breaks both our hearts, as I watch the horse who discovered pure joy in a galloping leap, gaze over his fence with longing you can touch.  But he has achieved two jailbreaks, one this week, & after ascertaining no harm done, I took solace from the renewing spark in his eye.  He will never return to a riding career, but all I need to know is that he is comfortable & happy.

Solo gave me an entire world, a sphere of irreplaceable gifts in moments & adventure.  I still need him here to light the path ahead though.

Because he literally walks on water... Photo by Brant Gamma

March 22, 2016

And Just Like That, It's Over

But it was spectacular...
Dr. Bob just left with my last piece of hope.  Encore has torn a cruciate ligament in his left stifle, which means jumping is just not going to work.  I was told there was nothing I could have done to prevent it, I'll have to work on convincing my brain of that.

I'll write more later when I can see, but we won't see a horse trial again.  We did blister that stifle, as it will still tighten the laxity in the joint.  Dr. Bob says we can still hit the trails, still climb mountains, which is Encore's favourite thing anyway.

I'm pretty tired of writing "still."  Rehabbing that stifle will begin in a day or two with W/T work & I can add canter when he feels ready.  Which I'm posting as a reminder to myself that (hopefully, can you cut me ONE dang break, universe??) all isn't lost, because most of my favourite riding experience & memories are our many expeditions.  And I suppose it saves me a lot of money in entries.

But my Training Level horse, who was all ready to take me to my 3-Day...nope.  Horses...why?

   

March 20, 2016

Stupid Stifles Suck

I appear to have an 's' theme lately.   I'm not fond of this addition.

Encore continues to enable my phenomenal overthinking powers.  It's probably easier to just turn the volume up for you (warning: brain insides not necessarily or consistently rational), internal dialogue follows -

Ok, I'm finally able to begin putting us back together.  Topline & butt need remuscle-ing.  Task doable!

Learn your stifles (pic digilibraries.com)
DEC:  Hmmm, he still feels a bit loose behind.  And is sore in left stifle after a brief but focused long line session.   I don't feel evidence of any tears, consult Dr. Bob (wow, thanks Android, for automatically filling in his name in draft, way to rub it in).

No edema or other damage found; cortisone for both stifles & a steroid to help boost us up out of the unfit-loose-sore-more-rest-unfit maddening cycle (want to avoid blister if possible).  Commence Plan Hill-acious.


JAN:  Hey, muscle definition!  We can hop some things calmly!  I'm still getting some slip behind, we just work through it, right?  Bute & baby steps?  Annual back injections (see TFS Injection 101 here), check, they take 3 weeks to settle, patience, right?

Right?!

FEB:  Mmmnggghm, this is still NQR.  I KNOW him, the vibe is off & he's crabby.

Test on hills.  Not terrible.  Test in arena.  Maybe he's better.  Test on longer trail hills.  Dammit.  Not better.

Pampering is so exhausting...
MAR:  Inspect saddle.  Some small lumps, time to fluff, ok, try other saddle, will have fitter out to adjust.  Better.  Wait, what was that?

Put hands on horse.  Oh, maybe the 20 knots along left side of withers, back & butt explain something. *facepalm*  BUT.  Task doable.  Commence Plan Bodywork. 

Test bareback to remove confounding saddle variable.  Better!  And lots of nice new pops in carrot stretches as things relax.  AND I can work deep into hips & stifle tissues without pain response like he had when he DID tear something.  Yay!

Wait, maybe - nope, not better.  But muscles feel smoother, continue bodywork.  What if I - no, waffle time is over.  Let's get to the bottom of this. 

Yeah, that's the condensed version. :/   But we reconvene with Dr. Bob Tuesday.   There will be heinously thorough inspection, but research & consultation indicate: act now, get the rehab done, so maybe, hopefully, please pretty please, we can bloody well MOVE ON.

 At least that's the Plan.

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 hair-raising...er, 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.

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

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!

April 8, 2015

When Bad News Is Good News

Yes, Batman Dr. Bob confirmed that Encore proved his talents yet again by pulling both stifles.  He’d just healed his pulled ass, so naturally he had to think of something new!  :/

What The…What?

I’d noticed a bit ago a new soreness/swelling in the muscle behind his right stifle (of course, he also let Solo bite him there) & had been applying Dr. Bob’s Majykal Butacort Creme (no, seriously, it IS majykal!).  However, since our dear vet was coming to pull Solo’s blood (red blood cell check due) & collect bags of poo for a worm update, I asked him to apply his wizard hands to Encore as well.

Resisting temptation, I won’t rhapsodize on repeat about why I love my Dr. Bob (but I’ll link it!), but after watching Encore take 3 steps & approximately 5 joint pokes, I had my answers.  Not the muscle knot I’d guessed.  A shot of Winstrol to help boost the oncoming soft tissue rehab/strengthening, an Rx of basically what my current work is anyway:  focusing on rebuilding that hind end after our time off.
 
Approximate SE distribution in US soils; horseuniversity.com
In addition, supplement his dinners with a Vit E/selenium compound:  the Southeast is a very selenium-poor region & it is an important part of muscle function.  SE itself is part of the Vit E molecule/complex & horses can store some amount (cows cannot & Dr. Bob reports many problems with cattle toxicity from lack of SE, including his own) in muscle cells, but they must have enough coming in first!

We’ll reassess in 3-4 weeks.  If progress is not “satisfactory,” (don’t ask me for a specification on that, I’m not sure), poor Encore will get internal stifle blisters.  I say “poor” because as Dr. Bob described how it works, my own buggered-up knee began to holler in sympathy pain!

So What’s An Internal Stifle Blister?

Stifle blisters are an old-school treatment that were traditionally externally applied (never did like the look of that), but we science’d & all that, so now we have a better option.  In essence, the stifle joint is injected with an irritating agent, such as a B12 mixture, so it creates scar tissue around the muscle/tendons on the outside of the stifle (same as our patella).

Immediately, I had to know why creating scar tissue was a good thing.  It’s all about tightening up those strained tissues, which have resulted in laxity around the stifle.  Solo had extremely loose, poppy stifles when I bought him due to complete lack of condition, so the concept was a familiar one.  His resolved quickly in regular work, but Encore’s motto is generally “go big or go home.”

Ze Stifle. Thanks to Project Gutenberg.
I do hope we won’t have to go the blister route, although neighbour Vanessa offered heaps of excellent tips, as she’s used it several times with great success.  Still, all digits crossed that he continues his current gradual improvement trend on his own.

This Is Good News?

Indeed – because I finally had the courage to ask the question I’d been afraid to ask.  I’d had a long-nagging background worry about the possibility of neurological issues due to Encore’s “what, I don’t have hind legs!” attitude.  And no one wants that confirmed.

At the same time, he’s done a Training HT with no issues (other than needing more fitness).  But I still needed a proclamation.

He just prefers to be airborne... Pic by High Time Photos.
And The Verdict

Dr. Bob agreed that he saw no neurological indicators whatsoever.  *pause for relief*

Why is the beast so addicted to his vet then?  It is as simple as “it is who he is.”  As a TB, centuries’-worth of moving, running, energy, is in his blood.  As any horse who has energy to burn & is a forward-thinking creature, if you don’t use that energy, he’ll come up with his own methods.  Which in his case, are Pasture X-Games.

Where this backfires:  Encore also has the mindset of human X-Games participants, despite being not nearly as fit due to our horrific winter & my own limitations.  The fact that practicing airs above the ground & racing oneself in one’s paddock when it has rained for a zillion months (approximately) will probably result in multiple wipeouts?  Not a deterrent; just hop back up & try again!  Playing is MOST IMPORTANT THING!  *facepalm*

Solo, on the other hand, has always been very careful about his footing & general balance.  You could ask him to gallop through a mud bog & he would pointedly ignore you & proceed at the pace he felt was safe.  Wipeouts are in his “unacceptable” column.

It's what they do.
You’re Still Happy About This?

Absolutely.  Doing dumb things in the pasture…well, they’re all horses.  One way or another, they just will.  And his professional work ethic under saddle means he is attentive to the job at hand; his X-Games penchant does not extend beyond the pasture fence.  This is definitely a good thing, as if it did, well, that is NOT a ride you’d want under you!  0.0

So it means my horse…is a normal horse.  While it would be nice if he would follow Solo’s more cautious approach, that might just make him perfect & we all know there is no such thing as a perfect horse!!  And I don’t have a saddle that fits “imaginary.” 

February 4, 2015

How Much DOES It Cost To Own A Horse: Vaccination Time

I don't have enough digits to count my encounters with that innocent inquiry, "I want my own horse, how much does ownership actually cost?"

I try not to laugh out loud, honestly, I do.   It was once me.

I may have been known to answer along the lines of:  "Add up everything you can think of.  Quadruple it.  Then, if you still have anything left in your account, throw it in the nearest river just to get used to the idea.  At that point, you're getting closer.  Oh, that doesn't count competing!"

Hey, it's like any relationship:  better to know up front, for BOTH parties!

Wait, You Owe Us A Tale Of Blogger Encounters!

Yes, I do promise, I shall regale you with the tale of the Awesomeness of Archie & Beka from The Owls Approve.  Which means something, because my Awesome standard is pretty damn high.  Well, she may have won a couple extra points for calling me "photogenic," which I find chokingly hilarious & appreciate the shocking flattery.

Fine, Back To Boring, Depressing Bills

The details of the truth, as we all learn at Owned (By) Horse #1, are far more nuanced, regional, & owner-dependent, but that's why they invented spreadsheets.  And the COTH Forums (they are massively entertaining, but do actually contain a great deal of incredibly educated & useful discussions if you have a lot of time & a finely tuned sifter).

However, for whatever little assistance it may offer, I give you a baseline example (click to embiggen):

What I consider my non-negotiables, bare bones.  Sum:  $171. 
The most excellent Dr. Bob administering Solo his spring vaccinations, general (which in Dr. Bob terms means not a detail is missed) health exam, back/teeth check, and pulling a Coggins.  That last is cheaper if we haul to one of the weekend clinics he offers at local venues every spring, but it evens out by costing me $0 in diesel, hookup/load time, or...doing anything.

Unscrambling alphabet soup...
The Quest Gel is an anomaly, I usually buy in bulk from ValleyVet.  But it's included due to an educational/promotional campaign from the manufacturers; I get $7 back for each horse with the purchase of that & my normal EEE/WEE/Tet/WNV vaccine.

Epic Neighbour Richard also uses Dr. Bob, so we coordinate & split the farm call fee, woot!

Add In Hayburner #2

I won't post Encore's invoice, as it includes his annual back injection & may cause cardiac arrhythmia in any viewing humans.  I refuse to be liable, use your OWN vet bills for that!  But his basics are identical, which means, leaving out the wormer, a grand total of $314 for both horses.  If no one throws anything out of whack, gets hurt, or is subject to fecal analysis (translate: unicorn-land).  Twice a year, adding rabies ($18/horse) in the fall. 

In our area, Dr. Bob is a hidden gem, so his prices are significantly lower than others but his experience & sheer talent is off the chart.   

For my partners-in-poverty, where does that fall on your scale? 

She must have many horses; she couldn't even buy the rest of her pants, poor thing...

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.