Thursday, January 31, 2013

I've talked to two vets now about Bella's lameness.  I'm starting to get a feel for what we're going to have to do to figure this out, and it's a little daunting (the money part) but not impossible, thanks to the sale of one of my good saddles.  (Not The good saddle.)  I can't do it right away because I'm taking payments on it, but that's okay.  I have instructions to mess with her tendons every day for a while and see if I can feel anything or see a reaction on her part.  No luck so far.  Her legs are very hairy!  And she tends to hide her feelings, even about pain.  I also need to get her hooves trimmed up and ready for radiographs.  I didn't trim her last week.  I'll get that done on my days off this week, along with home surgery on Pedro's neck.  Fun times ahead!

But back to Bella.  If it is a tendon affected by the splints on her legs, the vet I work for can't really do anything about it but she thought one of the other vets in the area might have ideas, or I could go to WSU.  I love having so many options.  The other vet I talked to mentioned that navicular is often the culprit in front leg lamenesses, and he's had a lot of (temporary) success with injecting the navicular bursa with cortisone.  My boss also wants to see if there is any evidence of P3 rotation, especially because of that bump of sole in front of her frog.  So we have some ideas where to go.  Can't wait to see what we find.  I'm a little apprehensive as well, but it will be good to finally have an answer.  Assuming we find an answer...

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bella and I had a nice ride today.  It's been several months, and she's still nervous about carrying a rider - more so in the round pen than out and about, but I wasn't about to go exploring after so much time off.

When I first mounted up she was pretty worried about my leg sitting on her other side.  So I hopped down,  flapped the saddle around quite a bit on that side, then stood on the mounting block and waved my arms up and over and leaned over and flapped the off side stirrup.  Then I turned her around and mounted on that side and she was fine.

We walked and practiced backing, moving her front end over in both directions, then moving her hind end over in both directions.  Mostly we just walked.  I played with neck reining a bit, and I don't remember having gotten far with that, but she was getting it really well!

We rode in just a halter since her bosal was in the house.  I may someday require her to carry a bit, but she finds it so utterly disturbing and distracting that I won't do that until she's way more used to being ridden.  I certainly don't need it for gross steering and stopping.  I might need it for more finesse later, but this girl is so sensitive I wouldn't be surprised if she found a way to understand exactly what I want even without the precise communication of a bit.

She didn't limp at all.  But then I didn't trot her but 50 feet without me on her back.

She pays VERY close attention to me when I'm up there.  See those ears?

Yay, she relaxed enough to look around!
(That's old Dyno across the fence.)

 She's such a good, pretty girl.

I love this open, curious look on her face.  A lot of the time she's guarded and serious.  She's an overachiever - I like it when she lets down a bit and has some fun.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Coming Home
 Yesterday was hoof trimming day.  The horses were pretty overdue.  Scout's fronts didn't look too bad but his hinds have a tendency to get weird if left too long.

Cindy's blog inspired me to take photos.  They show so much that you might not see when you're in the moment.  Unfortunately I couldn't get photos of the hooves on the ground - too much snow.  Here's a before and after of his left front.  He probably hadn't been trimmed since November.  My bad, but I didn't feel they looked totally out of hand.  Feel free to critique.  I'll say right away that the reason I trimmed his frog was to keep it from trapping muck in the collateral grooves, and because the tip had a layer that was about to slough off anyway.  If frogs are dry and healthy, and especially if they have a nice callus, I'll leave them alone.


I trim with the lead rope draped over their back, and Scout was feeling a little bit goofy.  He suddenly decided there was something scary down by the creek and he absolutely had to take off  and run around like a dork for a while.  Bella was more than happy to join in.  I don't think there was really anything there, I think it was just an excuse to let off some steam.

"I think I'm done now."

  This is one of Bella's front hooves.  I wish I'd cleaned it up better.  It has a bump right in front of the point of the frog.  You can see a kind of U shape there - that's not just dirt, it's the edge of an area of thicker sole.  So does this mean the hoof wants more support under the tip of the coffin bone?  She's had this for a while.  I wonder if it contributes to or gives a clue as to the cause of her lameness.  She is lame in this leg, but the other hoof has that same bump.  I think I can see here that she's wearing the left side of her hoof more than the right (your left and right as you look at the photo, not hers).  Whatever that might mean.

  I decided to take Bella for a little adventure.
I love her so much.  She's...  She's indescribable.

Thinking her way through a tight spot:
I tend to try to distance myself from Bella, because she's not really sound and I had decided not to go on with trying to ride her.  But she's really amazing.  She and I have a bond that's not like any other.  I swear she's a unicorn in horse's clothing, she carries such inner peace and magic with her, and she only shares it with me.  :)

Which leads me to my announcement that I'm going to try to make her my riding horse.  I have some options.  I can take her to WSU for a full lameness exam.  Sounds like they're pretty thorough.  It's expensive - somewhere between $300-$500.  I might not be able to do it for a while.  OR I can just start her on an expensive supplement like Cosequin and see what happens.  OR I can take her to a corrective farrier for a set of shoes.  That would have to wait until the weather was more shoe-friendly.  I feel like the answer probably isn't in shoes.  I think this problem is somewhere higher up the leg.  Unless she needs shoes to change her hoof angle, which is possible.

Which sounds like the right thing to try first?  I think I know what the right answer is.  I want to do something NOW though, and that will have to wait a bit, while I get funds together.

Now back to our story.  Scout didn't like being alone.
"Left Behind"
Then he really, really wanted to come out for a while.  But I had other work to do.

 Here's Huckleberry feeling very proud of himself for helping me.  Very rarely, when Scout is pounding on a gate with his hoof, I tell Huck to get him.  This time he did, with a vengeance!  He hit that gate so hard his lower body flipped under it.  Luckily Scout didn't step on him.  Boy oh boy was he PROUD of his good job.  This dog really should have been a working dog.  Blue, on the other hand, no.

At the end of the day I squeezed in a little walk with Pedro.  I couldn't resist his forlorn hee-haw, begging to come out.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

 I was thinking I might take lots of pictures throughout my day to share with you all, but the above photo is the only one I got at work.  That's all for one cat.  Poor thing.

We got to see a sheep in the clinic yesterday too. That was cool.  I like sheep a lot.  This one was an Icelandic, with horns and a double fleece.  I've never been up close and personal with one before.  She was really nice, very curious for a sheep, and put up with us pretty well.

Liam and I went out to check fence when I got home.  I was trying to enjoy a short burst of sunshine, but it was gone by the time I got out there. 

Of course we had helpers.  This photo really has nothing lovely about it, but I love the set of Scout's mouth.  I think I had just told him not to try to pick my pockets.

The neighbor cows and miss Bella's BLM brand.  The sky was pretty amazing in person, but it didn't show up here.

Scout has a beautiful mane.  I wish I was an artist.

 Scout finally managed to pick my pocket.

Pedro says "Hello, I love you."

 Bob says, "What's up?"

Huck, waiting for a little furry snack to appear on the mouse trails.

 Liam, and my sweet old Bob.  You can't really tell, but he loves hugs.

Pedro can't stand it when I'm loving on Bob.  He has to stick his nose in.  But it sure is a cute nose!

Check out the length of that winter coat!  I wonder when they'll shed it.  Donkeys don't shed like horses do.

Please ignore Pedro's nasty dirtiness and check out the size of that seroma.  Note that it sticks out far enough to cover one and a half of my fingers.  Ugh.  Pressure bandages and warm compresses didn't help at all.  I'm going to have to poke it.  But then I realized I don't know when they last had a tetanus shot.  So I vaccinated them yesterday.  Their skin didn't seem any tougher than a horse's.  They didn't even flinch.  Which makes me feel even better about trying to jab Pedro with a scalpel and possibly put a drain in (without sedation). I'll probably do it next weekend.

Another pic of dirty Pedro and his icky seroma.

Bob is much cleaner.  And Liam is following my example, taking pictures.  As you can see, the donkeys don't mind the dogs.

And the last piece of my photo journal for the day - donkey vitamins.  I love Equerry's products.  Right now I'm feeding their Economy Supplement, but eventually I'll go back to the more expensive stuff (it's really not that expensive).  These vitamins are the only ones Scout will eat, and it turns out they're so palatable the donkeys will eat them without anything else mixed in.  And these are VERY picky donkeys.

Lastly, I wanted to share this DVD set my sister is selling on eBay.  Parelli Liberty and Horse Behavior.  It really has a huge amount of very valualble information in it.  Even if you don't like the Parellis, it's worth watching.  It has 10 DVDs and starts at only $175, which is a steal for this set.  The proceeds actually come to me because she's buying one of my saddles.  I think I'm going to use the money on equine dental work.  :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

We've had some sunny but cold weather the last couple days.  Yesterday we had to make two trips to get hay, so there went half of the day.  The rest of the day we spent visiting, and then I filled troughs and loved on the donkeys a bit.  

Today I had a bunch of other stuff to do, including unloading the second load of hay, but I made sure I had daylight left for a little horseplay.
Scout's first ride of 2013 was pretty much awesome.  We didn't do much.  Rode around the round pen a few times, left the round pen, practiced one-rein stops, backing, and paying attention to my legs.  He needs some work on that last one. 

 What a good baby.

Except guess what?  He's not a baby anymore!  He'll be 5 years old in a couple months.  That is so weird.

My goal for this spring is to work him for 30 days in an elbow-pull to strengthen all the parts of his body that are dumpy and wrong.  :)  I also have goals to do the same for myself.  Thinking about joining the local gym.  If I want to ride Pedro (and I do) I better lose some weight.

I won't start the work with the elbow-pull right away though.  It's too cold to ask him to be athletic, even if it's only at the trot.  And the footing in the round pen sucks.

Then when the floods recede I might try walking and/or riding him to work.  It's only a couple miles away but we need to be able to cross the creek and he needs to be able to handle traffic on the highway.  I can leave him in the corral at work all day.  How cool is that?

I'm really having a hard time deciding whether or not to shoe him this year.  The one time he had shoes on it was awesome, I didn't need to worry at all about rocky terrain.  But I didn't like the way his hooves looked afterward, and he got a killer abscess.  And you all know I'm a big-time barefoot advocate.  His hooves are so soft though.  And boots are a pain in the butt and the traction sucks.  So...  I guess I'll decide later, when we start riding on challenging surfaces.

Now it's time to go work on that fitness goal.  Going to do my yoga/pilates routine now.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

It's been a tough week.  I made the hard decision to take Dan back.  We just weren't going to work out.

So, what am I going to do for a horse?  I'm back to thinking I have all I need right now.  I'll ride Scout, maybe ride Bella if I ever figure out her lameness, and maybe ride the donkeys.  At least I have one sound horse.  :)  John says I can't have him forever, because he does want to ride, but we'll see about that.

Actually, it sounds like there may be a mustang adoption in Spokane on my birthday.  I've already made arrangements to have the time off.  I don't know if you all remember, but Tonka was a birthday present.  So...  Maybe... ???  I think perhaps there's a big bay mustang gelding out there waiting for me.

On an up note, I was able to get the horse trailer (I'm borrowing my dad's again) out of the driveway and I hauled it on snowy roads for the first time.  It was fine.  Luckily the highways were mostly bare.

Other happy news, I still have yet to find a horse I can't load in the trailer, although Dan had me wondering.  I think it took two hours and I had to put him in the mustang pen so he couldn't get away from me.  He had a rear and twirl trick that ripped the lead rope out of my hands more than once.  But eventually he went in.  He was scared, not just being naughty.  Poor dude.  I hope he finds his perfect someone.

Scout was sad to see his new friend leave.  Dan really taught me a lot about Scout in the short time he was here.  He was very no-nonsense with Scout when Bella joined them, and he made Scout move.  I thought it looked kinda mean, although not violent.  Turns out that's what Scout needed.  A couple days later he was following Dan around like the world revolved around him.  Dan just took it for granted, and there was no warm and fuzzy happy grooming time.  Scout even chose Dan over me.  I think I need to kick some Scout butt and quit loving on him.  :)

I better get off my butt.  I am picking up some hay tomorrow (small bales, YAY!) and I need to get the ice and sand out of the back of the pickup.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Yesterday my sister came over and watched Dan move, and I watched him move as she worked with him.  We both think he's not lame at all.  Anything that looks a little funny is just due to him being uncoordinated when thinking naughty thoughts.  Which is a big relief.  It was windy and cold yesterday, so we didn't stay out long.

Today I am getting sick and I'm going to baby myself.  I'd prefer if I could take it easy today and feel better, and not be sick at work this week.  I can watch some horsey videos to keep me motivated.  I have a Julie Goodnight video on bitting and a Wendy Murdock video on rider position.  I might do a little sewing while I watch.  I need to make a rice bag to use as a heat pack on Pedro's neck.  That big seroma (nasty swollen skin pocket filled with serum) is still there.  I really want it to go away!

So...  That's about it for today.  Sorry, no pictures.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

 Dan and I had fun wandering the property today.  He snorts and worries a lot, but he was a lot better today than yesterday. 

He got to meet Pedro up close.  But then he made his nasty mare face and I didn't want to be near him when he decided to squeal and strike, so we went and did something else.

Sweet boy.

Saddled up again as the sun disappeared.  Played a lot with jiggling and smacking the saddle and stirrups, then worked on giving to the bit and walking up to the mounting block.  I really wanted to climb on, and felt like we would have had a nice ride if I did, but my helmet was in the car and I wasn't going to go get it.  By that time I was pretty frozen anyway, and I was ready to go in.
Dan doesn't ground tie.  He thinks it's stupid.  :)

I still think he might have a minor lameness issue.  It worries me.  But I still have a week before the 2 week trial period is up so I'm going to keep working with him and watching how he moves.  Maybe I'll be able to feel a difference too, when I'm in the saddle.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Pointy Blue:

Contrite Huckleberry:
(He'd been a bit too forward and tried to kiss me on the mouth.  Blech.)

Useful child breaking ice:

 Snowflakes and stripes:


I walked Dan down to the round pen and he met old Dyno for the first time.  It was cute.

After a little initial work to make sure he wasn't going to kick my head off (he did get close), I got my saddle out to try on him.  I didn't actually check the fit very closely.  I need to do that.  I think it'll fit though.

He was pretty apprehensive about everything, and I wasn't sure I was going to get to cinch it up.

But eventually he was okay with it.
 And here he is, thinking.  He really didn't want to stand far enough away for me to take pictures.  He's never had a flank cinch and he didn't care about that one bit.  Granted, it was very loose.

A nice trot to the left:

 And a bit of a fit when asked to go to the right.  He does this a lot when asked to change direction on this side.  I have to slow it down, give him kind of a pre-cue so he knows what's coming (because he doesn't pay attention very closely yet) and just take what he gives me.
  He got over his silliness though.  He actually bucked the lead rope loose from the saddle horn and didn't want to stop moving long enough for me to fix it, so he got to do a couple laps in each direction with the lead rope dragging.  A dragging rope is not a problem for him.  He managed to avoid stepping on it after the first couple of times.  Smart guy.

Later on I turned the three of them out in the pasture for the first time.  I wanted to see Dan moving out in a big area because I was worried about a possible lameness I thought I spotted in the round pen.  So I took a feed bag to shake at them.  When they were done running around they got to play with it.

I adore Bella's eyes.  And her snow mustache is pretty darn cute too.

Later on I'll load some videos.  I have to load them to YouTube from my phone and it's slow.