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

Sunday, June 30, 2013

One Headlight

On the Lily front this week:


Work was weird. I swear all week we've been having delayed effects of the super full moon from last weekend. Our current class of veterinarian interns is finishing up, and the new class just started this past week. Yes, a whole new class of baby doctors to train (if you're a tech working at a teaching hospital, YOU will be training the next generation of veterinarians. Not everyone is cut out for this, but I love training baby doctors and watching them grow, until they get to the point where they know more than we do, and can stretch their wings and fly! :) It's exciting stuff.) One of our more laid -back new baby doctors was spending time in the ER. These interns are SO new out of school that their licenses haven't even kicked in yet-they get to watch and help out as techs for their first 2 weeks, until their licenses start on July 1st. Then the fun begins. The new intern with us on ER, C, had proven to be a huge help, eager to learn, with a happy and outgoing attitude. If she is able to retain those qualities through the most challenging year of her career, she will do fantastic.

On ER we take client phone calls. We had one phone call in particular where I was vaguely warned by the operator beforehand, something that rarely happens. With some trepidation, I took the call. Here is my side of the conversation:

"Yes, that is a normal color."
"As long as it goes back in, it is fine."
"Yes, that is completely normal."
"You may want to consider taking the teddy bear away from him if he's getting that excited about it."
"It can get stuck and then you might have a problem requiring an emergency visit to the vet's office. In a worst case scenario, surgery might be required. Definitely take the teddy bear away."
"If you can't handle him around other dogs, you may want to consider obedience training." I gave examples of places that offer obedience classes and even suggested books.
"Yes, I think neutering is an excellent idea. It will certainly help with the behaviors you have mentioned." I gave helpful suggestions of where she could have her pet neutered at a lower cost, ranging from the local Humane Society to any regular general practitioner vet.

During the beginning of the conversation, I watched C cover her mouth to keep from laughing, while I face-palmed. I was complimented on handling the call well. I've handled some pretty random and downright bizarre phone calls, especially during my brief stint as hospital receptionist while recovering from an injury, but this one was pretty awkward. It really did sound like a prank phone call, but as far as I know, it was the real deal. No radio show host announced a prize at the end of the conversation...

I'm constantly astounded by the number of people who decide to get a pet without doing any kind of research on their behavior and care beforehand!! At least this client was asking questions, though, and she was trying to make the right decision by neutering her oversexed dog.

That afternoon, I went to the barn with the intention of just taking Lily out and hand-grazing her. I put the rope halter and lunge line on her, and took her into her paddock to eat grass. 15 minutes into hand-grazing, I decided I would let her trot for her 2 minutes. Remember now that she's sober. I had her walk for 5 minutes on the lunge, then asked her to trot, going to the left first. She did great-we did 1 minute. Then we changed directions and I asked for the trot to the right.

Airs above ground ensued, including the following:

Because this is TOTALLY what a horse with a hind leg ligament injury should be doing...
I kid you not. This is what you get when you cross a Thoroughbred with an Andalusian!

She was playing. She wanted to play SO bad, and had this uber-goofy expression on her face while trying to change the energy of our interaction. I remained calm. "Trot" I said patiently, each time her feet touched the ground. After the 4th attempt, calmness won, and Lily conceded to simply trot around me to the right for 1 minute. I had her walk for 15 minutes after that, and then moved her to the really good grass outside of the paddock and let her eat for 20 minutes.

I am the owner of one seriously athletic goofball.

I don't think I'll be riding her sober anytime soon, that's for sure!

And I don't think we'll be repeating this day's stunt sober, either.


Sedated her with 3 mls of ace IM, and covered every inch of her with fly spray. Switched out her blingy browband for her mosquero browband.

Fancy, yes. But this kind of browband is a staple in traditional Spanish tack, and its main purpose is to keep flies off of the horse's face.
Then took Lily into the outdoor. We did one lap around the arena, and then I took her into the big field again.

She felt funny...because she was so sound!

We had taken maybe 5 steps into the big field when it started to drizzle. We rode around for 5 minutes, but the drizzle started to get stronger. I turned Lily towards the indoor, and as luck would have it, one of our awesome boarders came running across the indoor at that precise second to open the gate for us!

The skies opened up for real at that moment, and it really started to pour. We had seeked shelter with perfect timing.

We worked the rest of the 25 minutes in the indoor. Lily's trot was, to use my fave of Beka's adjectives, amaze-balls! She's going so well in the mullen mouth pelham right now, too. She still leans a little on the bit at times, but is starting to just stay where she's supposed to. I've been riding her off of the "snaffle" reins of the pelham more than anything.

She even allowed me to take a dressage whip from the rack on the wall without dismounting, and without freaking out over the fact that I had a whip in my hand. (We haven't practiced this in awhile.) It was pretty funny actually-she knew it was there, in my right hand, and kept her right ear cocked in the direction of the whip and was fine with it 99% of the time...until we would walk past the outside gate of the indoor tracking left, when the light would hit the whip (it's just a normal dark green dressage whip; it's not like it's white...). At this moment, she would warily half pass 3 strides towards the center of the arena, in a subtle attempt at getting away from the whip.

Silly mare. If I turned her nose in to the left more, and kept my left leg on, she couldn't focus on the whip anymore, and relaxed. So afterwards, we approached the gate in a shoulder-in around the corner. She was a good girl.

A year ago, Lily used to bolt if she realized I had a whip in my hand.

Afterwards, I took my time grooming her, since it was still pouring outside and I didn't feel like getting wet in the rain. I continue to check her back after rides to make sure she's still feeling good. I got this little video for you guys:

What a pain-free back looks like. :)
Back when I had her on Previcox only, just running a fingernail lightly down her back like I do in the video would elicit a flinch and twitching. Not anymore! And I can press all down her back without any more flinching.
Robaxin is da bomb. I used to think it didn't make a difference for sore backs. I am happy to say that Lily's results have proved me wrong! She has been on Robaxin only (no Previcox since discovering her ulcer signs) for the last 2 months.


Work was horrible. HORRIBLE. Not in terms of caseload, but in terms of what we saw. It was the single most horrible day in my veterinary career so far. I left work supremely upset with the human race as a whole. I really do do my job for the animals, not so much for the clients. But it just breaks my heart into tiny tiny little pieces when we can't do more for them. When we can't save them. When their owners just suck and it's the animal that pays the price. We see less of that here overall than in South FL because owners in general are better educated, more financially stable, and more willing to do what is best for their pets. But Saturday took the cake. I spent most of the day with my hairs on end because I was so, so, so disgusted and horrified, I was having a physical response to it. My skin was literally crawling from the horror. I foresee nightmares in my near future. :( Both Mare and L.Williams have written about this subject when it applies to horses, but it is just as awful when the same thing happens to cats and dogs. With cats and dogs, I do have a problem with convenience euthanasias IF the animal is young and/or healthy, of good temperament with no behavioral problems, with an issue that can be resolved fairly easily/inexpensively. That person should not have pets, period. If you can't handle minor issues in the road of pet ownership, don't have pets! Cats and dogs are much easier to rehome than horses, especially when they are in the condition I mention above. *If* you have tried it all and still can't find your pet (cat or dog) a home, then consider euthanasia. However, you might have a problem finding a vet that will euthanise a healthy dog or cat. But, in attempting to do so, you might find a vet or tech willing to take that animal on as their own pet. I have witnessed this countless times in my 6 years as a tech. This actually happened today, too. We weren't going to kill the healthy pet, we weren't going to let him get dumped in a shelter to be killed all alone, and we weren't going to have him be released onto the streets to try to figure out how to survive on his own.

Because there are things worse than death. One of the cases today was a living example. The dog had been suffering for God knows how long, completely neglected despite living in his owner's yard. In my mind, some people really should be required to have a license to own a pet.

I told Charles about the 3 horrible cases we saw, and he asked what ethnicity and social class they were. In case you are wondering, they didn't fit the norm: all 3 pets were owned by middle-class white Americans.


The highlight of my day was the thought of going to the barn and riding Lily. Back in December, I had ordered the sheepskin cover for the Alta Escuela saddle, called a zalea.

Traditional white zalea
I had originally ordered it in black, but we were in June and still no news about it shipping from Spain. I couldn't fathom that it would take longer to make the sheepskin than it would to make an entire saddle. I spoke with Lisa at El Sueno Espanol, who was in charge of the order, and asked about just getting the traditional white sheepskin zalea instead, figuring Ludomar *should* have that color in stock (black is special order). As it turns out, they did have it in white, so white is what I got. I was excited to put it on the saddle and try it out. Yes, it will be a dirt magnet, but that's what stuff like Leather Therapy Laundry Solution is for. (It really does work!) Mattes Melp works great too.

Lily happily came to her stall door to greet me. I was carrying the zalea in its bag and she sniffed at the stuff I was carrying, until she realized I had a Bag of Death. She snorted and backed away, coming back when I continued talking quietly to her, but she refused to sniff at the bag again. Silly, silly mare. Yes, we have done bag desensitizing in the past. The list of Stuff To Do When Lily Can Be a Horse Again just gets longer and longer...

Lily was really good for her ace injection (3 mls again). I hung out with her afterwards, like I always do, scratching her withers and loving on her. She was a little tense overall, but okay. I left the stall to get my stuff set up and grab my grooming tote, set up her haynet so she could munch while I got her ready, and entered the stall a 3rd time with a currycomb to start grooming her.

We go through this routine every . single . ride. Today, however, Lily gave a huge startle when I went to start currying her. She had been 100% aware that I was going to touch her-I had not surprised her, had not moved suddenly, had not made any weird noises. Just raising my arm slowly caused flinching today. I think I have repeated on this blog ad nauseum that I have never, EVER struck this mare.

With a sigh, I proceeded to do more Kermit the Frog desensitizing, in the stall this time. When she stopped flinching (after 30 seconds; she just needed a reminder), I continued on into a (quiet) Russian dance.

Or as much of that as you can do in an 11x14 stall while still keeping a 4' distance from your mare...Oh yeah, and I didn't do any of those insane jumping jack stunts that occur around 3:00.

Lily initially cowered in the corner (also for about 30 seconds), then relaxed when she realized I was not coming any closer to her. The second she showed the slightest sign of relaxation, I stopped and held still, praising her, "Good girl!" With each "Good girl," she'd turn her head to look at me and give a huge snort, "You are CRAZY, woman!" I couldn't help laughing.

Within 5 minutes I could Russian dance with jumping jacks while doing Kermit the Frog arms, and she didn't care. No more flinching when I touched her, either. I turned her around so I could do this again from her left side, and that only took a minute. She finally relaxed enough to completely ignore my antics and dig into her hay.

Life with the Tiger Lily, I tell you. Sometimes I wonder if I had chosen to nickname her Tiger instead of Lily if her temperament would have been different. Braver overall. I had chosen Lily because it was similar to Lely, her original name, and the name to which she responded. She will turn and look at you when you call her Lily.

I felt better when Jackie stopped by to say hi a few minutes later, and mentioned that the other night while picking Lily's stall, the mare had become extremely nervous for no apparent reason. Lily loves Jackie, and is used to other people going into her stall with her in it to clean it, so there is no real logical explanation for her behavior. Jackie is good around horses, too, especially nervous high-strung creatures like Miss Mare. Jackie had not witnessed any of our most recent interaction, as she had just arrived from work, so I told her about what had just happened. (I was thrilled to realize that Lily continued to eat her hay calmly while I demonstrated the crazy arm-waving I'd been doing). I think Lily is in heat again and might be hypersensitive due to that, but I'm thinking I'm going to have Dr. R check her eyes when she comes the first week of July for summer shots.

About 40 minutes after the ace injection, Lily was starting to look sleepy. I put the zalea on the Alta Escuela (it is a perfect, perfect fit since it is made by the same saddle company specifically for this saddle) and tacked up.

The saddle looks huge with the white cover on it, and Lily has lost a lot of muscle that we are slowly putting back on, so I think this makes it look even bigger! But she worked as well as she always has in the Alta Escuela. We rode in the indoor, since there are less distractions there and she had been so wired prior. Alex was playing soccer outside with his daughter and Kristin, our one single child boarder, and Lily was a little distracted by this whenever we walked past the outside gate of the indoor, but she just looked curiously and carried on.


She did great and towards the end, I simply looped the pelham "curb" reins over the Alta Escuela pommel and rode her off of the "snaffle" reins only. Here's another video of that, riding one-handed. Much easier with one set of reins than two!

Afterwards, I took this little sequence of photos:

It is always hard to get her to pose for photos because she always wants to be close to me.
"What are you doing over there?"

"Come over here, or I'll come to you."
As she slowly turns on the haunches, all by herself...

"What are you doing? Stop taking photos!"
One Headlight by the Wallflowers was playing on Pandora at that moment, so I had Lily follow me around the arena while I danced to the music playing through the headphones. Which she can hear, of course-she always flicks an ear when the music changes while I'm riding her, despite playing it low enough that I can hear outside sounds.

Come on try a little
Nothing is forever
There's got to be something better than 
In the middle
But me and Cinderella
We put it all together 
We can drive it home
With one headlight.

Dancing involved lots of gentle arm waving to the beat of the music while having her follow me, then reaching over slowly and petting her face. She started out rolling her eyes whenever I waved my arms, then stopped reacting when she realized she would get petted every time.

So silly. I love her.

I set up her mush to soak while I groomed her, and she wanted to nuzzle, so I took off the crossties. She nuzzled and sniffed at me, then tried to walk into her stall! I put her back on the cross ties, but with only one of them attached, and she kept turning her head around to watch me, impatient:


"Why are you taking so long? I want my [second] dinner!"

When I was finished, I let her go back into her stall to eat while I put away my stuff.

It was a good ending to an otherwise awful day. This is why Charles is all for me owning a horse, despite our student-loan-poor situation: it is better for me than a psychiatrist!


  1. Um more importantly, you can do that freaking squat leg march nonsense that begins around 1:20 in the Russian dance video? Because seriously, I'm going to make you do that in a few weeks. I MUST witness this.

    In other news, I'm glad someone else dances like a nut and listens to music while riding. Lily isn't alone in thinking her human is a crazy demon on two legs mwuahahaha.

    1. LOL!!! Nooooo, I'd blow out my knees if I tried that! Hahaha...I did more of a Rockettes version of a Russian dance, if that makes sense. Haha!

    2. And glad I'm not the only dancing nut around here! We'll have to find a way for Q and Lily to meet. They can exchange stories about their crazy moms...:D

  2. Omg that phone call about the teddy bear is hilarious :) Also love the saddle cover - that is super cool!

    1. We were laughing about the phone call for the rest of the day. C had to tell all the other interns that walked through the ER about it...lol

      And thank you about the saddle cover! Dirt magnet for sure, but it is soooo comfortable! It's going to be awesome when it gets cold in the winter. :)

  3. Sounds like a lot of ups and downs. My euth anger right now is actually directed at someone close to me with a Dog who won't do anything for it, and its just seriously making me hate on them.

    1. I hate when people will take on that attitude with their pets. We've had clients who just plain don't believe in euthanasia and prefer to take home their heart failure dog who's drowning in his own body fluids because he will "die peacefully". Right.

      It is really one of the hardest things about working in the veterinary field, especially in critical care. Work has to stay at work, otherwise I'd need to be medicated 24/7 to function outside of the veterinary hospital. (In retrospect, I probably sound kind of manic in this post...I promise I'm not.) It really gets to you; you have to really throw yourself into other things outside of work or it really will drive you to depression.