"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Vet visit

Dr. Glen Gillard, one of the best vets in our area, if you ask me, was able to come out today after all! I called the office again at 9:00 am, right after they opened, and they were able to squeeze me in for a 10:30am appointment! I was already at the barn to remove Lily's bandage from her foot and clean her stall at that time, so I decided to just hang around and wait.

This is how she's been resting that foot for the last couple of days. See? It's not the normal way a relaxed horse will rest a foot-she sets it off to the side, keeping all of her weight on her right hind.
I did attempt to soak her foot in hot water with Epsom salts, but she was not thrilled about the hot water on her sore foot, and eventually managed to spill the entire tub of water (I used one of our giant rubber feeders for this-if she stepped on it by accident it would give) between trying to talk to Rose and flirt with Bob. She spilled the soak in the process of wiggling her butt over to Bob so she could squirt all over the wall of his stall...when I turned to look, BOTH Bob and Rose (who is a mare!) had their lips up in the flehmen. Apparently Lily's hot stuff...

Iffy about the hot water.
I shooed Bob out into his paddock, "She's MY mare!" (him and I argue about this), patiently made Lily stand straight on the cross-ties again while she rolled her eyes at me, and hosed down the wall of Bob's stall to remove Lily's urine. Mares!

It's a hike to the hot water tap, so I ended up using room temperature water with Epsom salts instead. It's not as effective but this still works-I know from personal experience from treating infected cat bites. This she tolerated better, especially when I put her feeder with bute, crumbled Stud Muffins and a drizzle of molasses in front of her.

Room temperature soak while she eats her bute-and-treats mix

I finished picking her stall while she ate, and then I moved her over to the other, dry wash rack to allow her foot to dry before doing anything with it. Some gunk did come out after the soaking; I wiped the underside of the hoof clean and wrapped a small hand towel around the hoof to keep dirt out of it.

The giant crack in her frog. Nice and clean after her Epsom salt soak.

I ended up not doing anything else with her foot; I let it be so Dr. Gillard could see it as is, and put her back in her now immaculate stall.

Mark and Dianne showed up to do their chores while I was puttering around waiting for the vet. Once she had settled down, Lily was in uber-sweet mode. Dianne and I stood in front of her stall talking about her, and Lily poked her face out, sniffed at Dianne's cheek, then stuck her nose under my chin, and started nuzzling the collar of my shirt, making doe eyes at me (she gets a very soft expression, and her eyelids droop a little). She's always very sweet with everyone, but I was moved by the extra gesture for me. After that, she was extremely attentive, watching my every move as I did the minis' stalls and cleaned up around the barn, even though both Mark and Dianne were working down by her stall.

Dr. Gillard arrived 45 minutes late, which is the norm for all equine vets in our area as the South FL equestrian scene moves into fall and the busy show season. He had me walk Lily up and down the barn aisle to watch her move, and then took a look at her foot. I explained what had happened while applying the Today and showed him the syringe. After palpating her frog and eliciting some flinching, he said she should probably receive a broader spectrum topical antibiotic, plus an oral one (thank God-I did want systemic antibiotics, since I have no idea what that hoof looks like on the inside), bute twice a day (already on it!), and inject the crevice with hydrogen peroxide to get oxygen in there and kill any anaerobic bacteria once a day. He gave me a 20ml syringe for this and a 14G IV catheter for this. Afterwards, I would stuff the hole with cotton dipped in the topical antibiotic medication. He told me to only wrap the foot if she was going to be on damp footing, and to definetely walk her-either hand walks or tack walking was fine, to promote circulation. Yesss! We get to ride in the wide open arena after all!

As soon as the doctor left, I proceeded to treat Lily's hoof. I poured 10mls of hydrogen peroxide into the syringe, removed the catheter stylette and attached the catheter to the syringe; prepared my cotton with medication; and had Dianne hold Lily with a twitch while I did this. Getting that catheter tip into the crevice was not an easy task, as Lily kept kicking out half-heartedly (the twitch did make a difference in her level of cooperation). In the process of her wiggling her foot around, the catheter tip did end up slipping in farther than I originally wanted, but I used it as a chance to quickly inject the peroxide. Bubbles and blood came out. I squirted the rest of the peroxide into the crack, then let her rest the tip of her foot on the floor and with cotton-tipped applicators, I gently stuffed the medicated cotton into the hole. I thought this would be more difficult than the peroxide injection, but she actually tolerated it very well.

I put her back in her stall and mixed up some beet pulp with the Tucoprim powder that Dr. Gillard had prescribed. She ate most of it without a problem.

That afternoon I returned to ride. While grooming Lily and tacking up, I noticed she was either standing square or even resting the right foot, in a normal way. Yay! She already feels better!

We stayed in the arena as night fell, and ended up doing an hour of walk work. She was very "up" to begin with, as I knew she'd be between being in heat and not having been worked in 5 days, and she tried balking at the corner of the arena that adjoins Bali's turnout to protest the fact that she was being ridden while Bali was out having fun. I asked Lily politely to continue, but when she tossed her head in protest, I gave her one sharp kick, where she leaped straight up in the air with all 4 feet off the ground like a frightened cat, then continued walking as if nothing had happened. She didn't balk again.

We did A LOT of lateral work: shoulder-in, shoulder-out, renvers, side-pass, leg yields, shallow loops, turns on the haunches and voltes, and a cool exercise from 101 Dressage Exercises where you do leg yield to half-pass as you go down the long sides of the arena. Basically, you are maintaining the same bend as the horse moves diagonally and laterally from the rail to the quarter line and back again. She actually did really, really well with this, switching from one side to the other as I shifted my weight and leg. She especially gave me a good try tracking left, which is her stiffer side.

Initially she wanted to complain, especially since I was riding her in the pelham with a single set of reins (extra braking power in case she decided to go cuckoo), but I was very quick to reward every little effort, and she soon became relaxed and willing. The one thing she refused to do was the Ackerman Square-she was hypersensitive to my seat, and wriggled forward, backwards, diagonally, and just seemed unable to focus on sidepassing in a straight line sideways no matter how I sat-every correction from me turned into an overcorrection on her part. I switched to turns on the haunches, and abandoned the exercise for another time-I really didn't want to fight with her when she's like this. I love her sensitivity, and I also love that she totally tells on me. 99.99% of the time, when she doesn't get something or can't do something, it is completely and totally my fault-I'm contradicting my cues unawares. She'll still try, though, but will become very frustrated, "You want me to do this thing, but your body is completely telling me to do this other thing! Arrrgh!! Make up your mind!!" At this point, it's best to let it go, avoid the meltdown, and revisit the exercise at a later time when she's more relaxed and I can concentrate on correcting what I'm doing wrong.

We finished the session with a power walk on a loose rein, Lily's nose almost to the ground, her stride long, her back up and swinging. I then gathered her up and had her do 6 steps of reinback in a straight line (she tries to escape sideways), then had her halt and got off, giving her lots of pats.

Even though she has never been trained in this sport, Lily is totally teaching me dressage. She can do everything; I know she could go all the way up to at least Fourth Level if we wanted to. She may never beat the fancy warmbloods, but she can certainly perform the movements.

I just have to learn to ask correctly and accurately, each time. We'll get there.

I let her chill in front of the fan-she was not hot, but she had broken a little bit of a sweat, so I allowed her to dry before grooming her, set up her bute with Stud Muffins in our tack stall (she took 2 steps forward in the cross ties when she smelled them! *lol*), then had Diana hold the twitch while I treated her hoof again. Her reaction was not as dramatic as this morning when I injected the peroxide, and as soon as the twitch was off, I placed the Stud Muffin feeder in front of her right away, so she'd associate it with a reward. She scarfed happily while I finished setting up her feed, with one cross tie attached to only one side of her halter, which meant that when she was done, she was free to wander over to Rose's stall wall to sneak some of the hay from Rose's haynet through the stall boards.

I put Lily back in her stall with her own dinner. Goofy mare. :)

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