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

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lily's Crib

So we drove up to Maryland to see Lily on Sunday, about 12 hours before Sandy was supposed to hit land.

The drive was long. It took us 20 minutes just to find the correct highway (270, 495, 66, 370...oh boy), and that's WITH GPS. The GPS wanted us to take the I66 exit, but it was closed, so we had to wing it. Finally we were en route (according to the GPS, as we had no idea), and we were able to arrive at the barn about an hour later, as we did run into some traffic on the way up. It's really only 33 miles from the apartment, but it does take awhile between traffic and the speed limits. It took a few days, but I got used to reasonable speed limits (55-60mph on highways) and the fact that everyone stays within those limits. It's another really nice change...in South FL, speed limits are 70mph average on the highways, but good luck to you attempting to stay below 90, as everyone will ride your ass or attempt to cut you off in spite. I don't miss it at all.

The barn is absolutely freaking gorgeous. The turnouts, even the "small" ones, are all what we would call fields by South FL standards. The terrain is gently rolling-nothing is absolutely flat. This is another thing-in Florida, EVERYTHING is FLAT. Flat, flat, flat. Coming from an island with mountains, not that different from what you see in photos of Hawaii, it was always nearly impossible to get my bearings in Florida, first because of the flatness, and second because everything is the same. All housing is the same, all the streets and malls look  the same, the only difference being the number of signs in Spanish increased the further south you went, and the amount of concrete increased the closer you got to the cities. I invested in the GPS simply because I would panick every time I became lost-there was nothing in the skyline other than the rising or setting sun to allow you to orient yourself. Being lost in the middle of downtown Miami with insane drivers cutting in front of you while you're trying to figure out how to get back to 95 was a terrifying experience. It would take me 6 months to become familiar with the area we were living in, but as soon as you took me out of said area, the minute you took me back I'd forget how to get anywhere. This, above all else, was the one thing I hated the most about living in South FL. I shocked Charles's socks off in the car when we arrived in Alexandria at 10:30pm in the darkness of unfamiliar streets, and even in my exhausted state, was instantly able to orient myself and remember how to backtrack as we were searching for hotels, not because I remembered the names of the streets, but because my body was instantly able to remember how the terrain sloped on the way to anywhere.

Semi-private turnout

View of the main field from the area above the outdoor arena

I love mountains. :)

So back to the barn. We walked around the barn looking for signs of life, and were met by another boarder, who instantly figured out we were Lily's owners, just as BQ was coming down the house stairs. Her and the barn owner, John, live right above the barn! BQ reminded me so much of one of my favorite people in Tampa-Marianne, the owner and manager of the tack shop that I worked at for 2 years. Down to the same gravelly voice. She hugged me after introductions, which immediately made me feel at home, and took us over to see Lily.

All of the horses were in, in anticipation of the bad weather that was supposed to start that night. Lily was in her stall, looking a little antsy to be cooped up. She immediately greeted everyone with her gentle nuzzling, and it seemed to take her a second to warm up to me, but then she was giving me more attention than anyone else. BQ had me take her out to walk around while giving us the tour of the barn.

Reunion after 5 days apart. :)

Ready for the tour.

 Small hallway connecting one barn aisle to the other. The horses are used to going through here as a shortcut.

  Bridge connecting the house upstairs to the upstairs tackroom. This is right above Lily's stall.

  Wash stall. Note the fan in the corner for when it's hot in the summer. There are 2 of these side-by-side.

 Heated tack room full of lockers for boarders.

 Walking across the indoor with BQ.

 Stalls at the far end of the indoor. These are the big Warmblood-size stalls for the oversized horses. Not that the other stalls are small-Lily's is 11'x14'.

 Opposite end of the indoor. There is a gate that leads to the outdoors, and a sliding garage-type door that shuts out the elements when it's freezing outside.

 Outdoor arena.

 Trailhead. Directly from the property-no more riding on the street!

 Trail. Isn't it beautiful?

I loved it. I was extremely thrilled with my choice.

After the tour, I let Lily loose in the indoor to do some groundwork with her, but noticed that she seemed off to the left at the trot, and especially in specific parts of the arena, which I found odd. Later I discovered that the footing was particularly firm in these spots. I felt my heart sink, but did not mention it to BQ, thinking that maybe, just maybe, I was being paranoid and imagining it.

The next day, BQ e-mailed me, and she had noticed the same thing. Bummer. :/ It was not my imagination after all. The vet, Dr. O, was coming out in 2 days to check on another horse, so with my permission BQ made arrangements to have her check out Lily.

We weathered the storm at the new apartment, staying in the next day, and didn't even lose electricity that night, despite the winds howling around the building. On Tuesday morning, I took Charles to work in the rain- he was starting his training at the hospital- but the wind wasn't bad, so I spent most of the day checking out the stores at the strip mall across the street.

On Wednesday, I drove up to the barn to meet the vet. As it turned out, I was SO glad that I had her check Lily-her left hind was fine, but she was honking lame in her right front. Dr. O used hoof testers on all 4 feet, and the biggest reaction was from the right front. Not only that, her pulses were throbbing in that foot. When Dr. O scraped off a thin layer of hoof over Lily's white line, she discovered some very bloody bruising all along the hoof's white line, to the shock of all of us.

My theory: she bruised the hell out of that foot pawing for 5 hours straight in the trailer at the stop in Savannah on the way to MD.

Dr. O recommended booting her, but I didn't have boots on me, and BQ's Simple Boots were too big. I ended up packing and bandaging the foot as if she had an abscess, then applying my spare Velcro wrap with its rubber pad over it. Dr. O approved. I ordered a pair of Simple Boots for Lily's front feet to be Next Day Aired to the apartment (ouch-that was expensive!) and had them on her by Saturday. She has been very happy with the boots on (no bandage under the boots), trotting off sound, and we have been able to continue turning her out with the boots on. The bruising has improved over the last 4 days, lightening in color, with only the medial portion of her white line (where she puts more weight) still a dark pink. After turnout, I re-apply the bandage and remove the boots. Dr. O also recommended Epona shoes for Lily, possibly on all 4 feet. After talking to the barn barefoot trimmer who uses them (and seeing her work on all of the barefoot horses-she does a beautiful job, and I'm happy to report all of the horses have adequate heels and nicely angled feet!), I'm really liking this option, as these shoes are specifically made to help the foot maintain its full function. The trimmer said she has been very successful in getting the horses to put out more sole with these shoes, which is one thing that Lily desperately needs. The vet's concern is that Lily's thin-soled feet will fall apart if left bare after the ground freezes. The Epona shoes would be a temporary therapeutic aid in the goal to keep Lily barefoot. The trimmer comes out in 2 weeks, which is when Lily will be due for a trim again, so I had her add Lily to the list, to see what she says about Lily's feet. I liked her-she seems very knowledgeable, and even BQ herself uses her.

Dr. O is supposed to come out again on Wednesday of this week to re-check Lily.

Lily grazing in her boots yesterday

"Do you have treats for me?"


  1. A few little bumps, but overall everything sounds so awesome! Very excited for you!! Definitely interested in hearing what the trimmer thinks and super curious about the Epona shoes. I've heard positive things, but it would be fun to get your take on it if you choose to install them.

  2. I just found your blog awhile back, and I LOVE it. :) I wish I had known of your plans, perhaps I could have been of some help with them as I was a USAF R.N. for six years, and was stationed at Andrews AFB. Are you living on the Va side and commuting over the bridge to MD? If so, you will very soon learn the best times to do it! UGH, not going to envy you that one! :) Looks like a great place you found for Lily! I hope her hoof does fine. Bruises sometimes take awhile I have found, but none have yet to harm my horse Jackson! I moved to San Antonio, Texas, and then here to Gainesville, Florida after MD. I, unlike yourself HATE any and ALL cold. I want to go further South, but the cost will prohibit too much further! My partner and I are saving for a small farm for our horses instead of worrying about shucking out board too much further down, although I am not discounting areas around Lithia, Florida!
    Nice to meet you kind of; and my blog is on break, so not much to read that is recent there, not sure yet if I will resume it again or not, time will tell! :) If, and when I do, I now have TWO horses to write about! :)
    Kind Regards,

  3. Liz: I'm excited too! The trimmer/farrier is coming out for sure on the 19th to do the shoes, so of course I will be posting about that. I really, really like this trimmer. We'll see! I'm glad you've heard good things about the Eponas! I hope this works-Lily needs more sole so bad...

    Mindy: Hi! Nice to meet you sort of too! :D Yes, we're living on the VA side and commuting. Right now my route of choice is the GW to 495 to 270 to Shady Grove. It's not bad when there isn't traffic: 35-40 minutes. With traffic it can be 2 hours! Ugh. Big change after previously being only 3 minutes from the barn! And yes-I've discovered the best times to go are between 10:00am and 3:30pm! *lol* If I stay after 4:00pm at the barn, I have to stay all the way until 7:00pm if I want to avoid traffic on the way back. To make it better, I just took a job in Gaithersburg...hopefully Charles follows through on the promise to move to Silver Springs or Rockville, MD after this assignment.
    I lived in San Antonio too! As a kid and a looong time ago, but they are some of my favorite childhood memories. My dad was stationed in Fort Sam Houston-I was an Army brat. What prompted you to change TX for FL?
    You should be able to find land dirt cheap in Gainesville for your horses! We had looked at Gainesville among our potential places to move to if we stayed in FL and I had found numerous places for rent with acreage and stalls with a house all for around $600/month. This was on craigslist a couple of months ago.
    If you want to go further south in FL, Lithia is a good place. I really liked the Tampa and Orlando areas. When we moved out of Tampa 6 years ago, you could still purchase land inexpensively in Zephyrhills and Westley Chapel. The St. Cloud area of Orlando I believe has a lot of land available still, too. Lots of barns in that area. The cost of living in both is higher than Gainesville, but still half of what it is in South FL!
    I'm glad you like my blog. :) Thanks for reading and commenting!