Sunday, 30 November 2014

Two Post-Injection Rides

My instructions from the vet after Apollo's injections were as follows;

1) 4-5 days off post-injection
2) Ride for two weeks (lightly) to assess if the injections helped
3) If there is improvement seen then ride lightly for one month

I had my first post-injection ride on Thursday night.  I wasn't expecting much.  He has still seemed quite sluggish on the ground.  Whenever we've in and out of gate he still tries to avoid pivoting his hind end.  And on Thursday he seemed to be in a bad mood.  He was extra sluggish about walking to the arena and then had all kinds of energy to be a turd at the mounting block.  I would normally think he was being a jerk but I was worried he was trying to tell me that he was in pain.

That aside it felt wonderful to be riding my horse again.  I decided to ride on the buckle to let him sort out how his body was feeling.  His walk felt lovely.  He never really felt "off" to me at the walk but it felt a little extra nice.  When I asked for a trot....ugh.  It was ugly.  I felt his back tense up and he took the tiniest choppiest steps.  I let him come back to a walk.  But after his first ugly trot he randomly wanted to trot some more.  I let him move out as he wished and tried to just be a quiet passenger as I assessed his movement.  He had some ugly moments and some nice feeling moments.  He felt crooked (which is normal but needs work too) more than in pain after the first trot attempt.  After our brief ride he yawned a lot and was licking his lips a lot.  Maybe that's a good sign?

That was also my first ride in my newly re-flocked saddle.  I'm happy with the fit but I wish I wasn't trying two new things at once (injections and re-flock).  If he has issues it kind of muddies the waters as to which is the culprit.  Oh well!  I started giving him Recovery EQ + HA this week and am still saving up for Back on Track stuff.

On Saturday I went for a ride after work.  His demeanor changed completely.  When he saw my car coming down the driveway he walked to the gate to meet me (heart melting!).  He seemed to have an easier time pivoting his hind end as we went in and out of gates.  The arena was freeeeezing.  I decided to ride him in a cooler with my bareback pad on top and just in the side pull.  I only rode at a walk but he felt wonderful and was much more willing.  I am feeling hopeful but still a bit guarded about his soundness.

Good pony waiting at the gate for me!

Blurry B&W of us yesterday (in our serious equestrian attire...not so much)

Cute photogenic ponykins

We've had a crazy cold snap this weekend.  This morning was -32. Brr!  I worked at the dressage barn both mornings and I'm so tired from being out in the cold.  Today I am also hungover from my husband's Christmas party last night... After a nap I will be out at the barn again today :)

Bundled/dirty Henry

Mystic's new winter coat is this spiffy pattern (phone died before I took a pic of her wearing it)

Even barn helper dogs are bundled up for the cold!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Blog Giveaway: Spirit of the Season

I know it's a little early to be in the Christmas spirit.  But I love Christmas and I totally am! 

I volunteered as a horse leader on Monday at a local therapeutic riding society.  It was a lot of fun and I met some wonderful people.  I plan to continue to volunteer there on Monday nights.  That experience kind of gave me the idea for this giveaway.

I have had this beautiful halter hanging on a chair in my kitchen table for at least 6 months.  I bought it in an online auction and got a great deal on it.  I bought it for Apollo to wear at the show in August (which was cancelled).  I realized when it arrived that it's too small for him.  I already have extra halters for Apollo and the babies, so nobody really needs a bejewelled halter at the moment.  So I have decided to use it for my Spirit of the Season giveaway. :)

The brand is Ger-Ryan.  It's "horse" sized and is black.  Some of the crystal flowers have a blue tint to them and some aren't as shiny (full disclosure) but it really is a snazzy looking halter. 

Here's a sample posting of one for sale right now:


How You Enter: In the next 19 days volunteer for a charity (doesn't have to be horse-related) and either comment on this blog post or make an entry on your own blog about it.  If you aren't able to volunteer you can also make a donation (even for a dollar or two!) to a charity of your choice and make a comment or entry about that. 

Entries will be distributed as follows:

- Volunteering and a blog comment: 2 entries
- Volunteering and a blog post on your own blog: 4 entries
- Donation and a blog comment: 1 entry
- Donation and a blog post on your own blog: 2 entries

I'm not high tech (sorry!) so I will seriously will be drawing names from a hat.  Apollo and I will be announcing the winners via video on December 15th, 2014.  Maybe the halter will even make it in time to be under someone's Christmas tree! 

I know not everyone celebrates Christmas - but I hope everyone can see the value of donating time/money to a charitable cause :)

If you have any questions feel free to ask! 

Wordless Wednesday: Henry Chillin'

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Catch Up

I have been out of blog land for a while!  I have quite a few things to catch up on.   I'll start with the biggest thing.

Apollo's soundness issues continued and eventually resulted in a proper lameness exam by a vet last Friday.  He was no longer off on his right hind only, the lameness became more minor but looked to involve both hinds.  We did flexion tests and his fetlocks were pretty awful.  I opted to have them both injected.  I have never had injections done on any of my previous horses.  I don't want to say that I'm against it exactly but it was hoping the addition of an oral supplement would be enough to help arthritic changes. 

The vet thought he likely was painful on his fetlocks at all times (he has been more sluggish coming in and out of the pasture lately) and didn't feel that oral supplements would help him enough.  I am purchasing a tub of Recovery EQ + HA this week and plan to start feeding that also.  I didn't do any xrays because honestly I can't afford it.  If the xrays showed nothing/minimal changes the vet said he would still recommend injections based on how poorly the flexion test went.  Fingers crossed that this helps my big guy. 

I feel really guilty for not having a proper veterinary exam done sooner, I had convinced myself that it was a soft tissue injury that just needed more time.  But in my last lesson he still wasn't quite right and I knew it was time to take this funny lameness issue a bit more seriously.

I don't know what this means for my plan of doing some low level events this year.  I don't want to put my dreams above what is in the best interest of my horse.  So I feel kind of stuck right now.  I had told myself that if Apollo gave me one season of low level eventing that he would be officially retired from jumping and would be a light work/trail buddy only.  His conformation doesn't really lend itself to jumping/hard work.  He is somewhat post-legged and being such a large bodied horse that's a lot of concussion/stress on his joints.  It might not even be fair to ask one season from him.   

I don't really enjoy my job but the one thing that cheers me up during is to look at the horse trial schedule and write my show dates in my daytimer.  For years I have dreamed about eventing with Apollo.  There has always been an excuse (some valid and some not).  Money has been a huge limiting factor but more than that I haven't felt that I was good enough.  I would look at the results from the horse trials and dressage shows and think "I wish I could do that."  Now I realize that I am totally capable of that (with some hard work and discipline).  I have to be honest and confess that this whole lameness thing is especially heartbreaking for me right now as he has become such a kind and willing companion.  After all the years of him being hard to catch and naughty, I feel in my heart that he is trying his best for me but his body just won't perform for him like it used it. 

So my head is finally in the right place but my horse might not be up for the task.  Sigh.

A fellow boarder could see I was kind of upset about the injections (not crying but just kind of in shock).  She gave me a wise piece of advice: "Our horses don't have voices.  It's our job as owners to do the best we can to listen to what they are trying to tell us and to be their voice.  All you can do is your best."

I thought those were some pretty powerful words and I am not officially deciding on what the future holds for Apollo and me.  I will do my best to listen to him and let him tell me what his limitations are. 

I hope to have some good news to report soon!  I'm very excited to catch up on reading everyone else's blogs.  I feel like I haven't had a moment lately to sit and read, things have been too crazy!

Here's some pictures of me the big guy from the last few weeks (I have way too much fun playing with the color editing feature on my new iPhone):

A ride a few weeks ago when he was feeling good!:


Post injection on Friday:

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Mandatory No-Stirrups November...

No-Stirrup November is mandatory for me - my saddle was just taken away by a saddle fitter! I  only have my bareback pack for the next week - my only option is riding with no stirrups! Speaking of saddles...I have to step onto my soapbox for a moment.

I bought a custom saddle in 2008. I was a stupid 21 year old (not that everyone who is 21 is stupid, but I was). I struggled with finding a saddle to fit an uber wide Clydesdale cross but had a seat small enough for me. I ended with with a lovely cliff barnsby AP saddle that I loved. But it wasn't quite right on Apollo. It was used and likely a re-flock would have sorted out the balance issue. But it was VERY popular at the time to have a custom saddle made by a local saddle maker. They were made with french leather and air panels (oooh! ahhh!). I was in a pretty serious car accident and decided to buy a cheaper car and use the remaining funds for a custom saddle. And I have lived to regret that decision! Here's why:

- The seat has always felt a bit small for me. Even when I was 10-15lbs lighter it felt small. 

 - The fit was originally decent on Apollo. But the air panels have fluctuated substantially with the seasons, so in winter my saddle feels kind of deflated. Now the saddle is officially "bridging" and the saddle fitter agreed with me that it was a bit narrow. 

- The saddle is supposed to be checked every 6 months. I have had mine checked - never. The saddle fitting company has provided some of the worst customer service I have ever received in my life and I gave up last year trying to have someone come out and look at it. 

- The saddle cost $5700 (ack)and I wasn't 100% happy with it from day one. I should have spoke up but the saddle fitter kind of bullied me, although that's no excuse to accept a subpar product. Especially with that kind of price tag.

- I have tried to sell this saddle two times since owning it. It has been for sale or at a tack consignment shop for at least two years total time. I have had it listed below $3000 (but would probably take 2000) and I have had almost zero interest as these saddles are no longer in style.  

Lessons learned: Don't get bullied into buying something you don't love (speak up!). Don't spend money on stupid things you shouldn't, this purchase was truly ridiculous...the saddle cost 3 times what I paid for Apollo (not that I would sell him for a million billion dollars) and cost more than my current vehicle - that money would have been much better spent on a horse trailer, savings, etc. Also - don't buy from DK Saddlery.  They suck. 

So I'm kind of stuck with the stupid saddle now. I decided to have it re-flocked with wool. The saddle fitter thinks he can tweak it for a decent fit on Apollo, not perfect as it's still a bit narrow. I'm going to use it for this eventing season and then go from there. It is kind of pretty but for a custom saddle there is nothing custom about it. It should be ready for me to ride in the clinic next weekend, fingers crossed.

I had a lovely brunch with my parents today (a late birthday brunch!).   As my birthday present they are going to pay Henry's board for one month. Which is awesome and truly appreciated. November is sort of our "horse-versary" as I paid for him in November 2012. I finally received the invoice for Mystic's two vet visits in October so this is a wonderful surprise. I spent the rest of the day driving on sketchy roads to put proper blankets on ponies. Henry was covered in snow and was a little afraid of the blowdryer but we worked through it.  It's going to be -29 tomorrow with the windchill.... *cringe*.

BRRR!!! Here's is Henry from November 2012 vs. August 2014:

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Clipping Debacle & Final Twopointober Time

Apollo was clipped on October 31st by a friend of mine. I opted for a “low trace clip” after much research (read: googling). I decided to leave his neck though, as I have many blankets for him but none of them have neck attachments.
I have never clipped one of my horses before so the whole clipping thing is new to me. I feel like he gets sweaty just walking into the indoor arena. Since I’m planning to take lessons and riding a fair bit this winter I thought it was the right thing to do. I’m happy to blow dry him for hours on end but I thought this would be better for both of us. Since his haircut the temp has been between -5 and +3 for the last few days/nights. I figured the very light rainsheet would do the trick. But he sweated through it. Twice. It was was colder on Sunday and it snowed so I figured he would definitely need it that day - nope! Sunday night I blowdryed him for the second time and turned him back out naked. The temperature in my car said it was +1. I am kind of feeling like the worst horse owner ever! I have just been leaving him naked but I will be putting a different (hopefully more breathable) rainsheet on him tonight as the forecast is calling for freezing rain.
Also, last Saturday we did our last twopointober time. It was at a walk but my time was 5 minutes and 1 second. I’m pretty proud of my increase! I think I will keep working on this in future months :) Thanks L. for a great contest!