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

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Trimmer

Marianne Allen the trimmer came last Sunday and did Lily's feet.

It was a pretty awesome experience to watch a real trimmer at work. I had spoken to Marianne extensively about Lily's diet, riding and turnout schedule, and about wanting to learn to trim myself, and she was pretty excited about meeting me, especially after telling her I'm a certified vet tech. The feeling was mutual. :)

She took measurements of all of Lily's angles, compared medial and lateral angles on each foot, length of toe from the front, and length & width of foot from underneath. As the current (now previous) farrier had said, she said that Lily's clubby foot is actually the ideal, as it is wider. All it needs is to allow the heel to grow. Her other "normal" foot is the width of a pony's! :( Hopefully it gets wider over time and with correct trimming. Her hinds had overgrown bars-they had flattened and started to invade her soles. Also her toes in the back were so long and her heels so flat that she had a negative angle to her coffin bone. Think about walking with a 2" wedge under the ball of your foot, with all of your weight on your heels. Nonstop, 24/7. Yeah: ouch! This puts strain on her rear suspensories (maybe why they seemed intermittently sore...) and on her loins, sacrum and croup. I confirmed that she had always been sore in this area since I've owned her, and had always assumed it was due to the dressage. When the chiropractor came out at the beginning of the year, her sacrum was the only area of her body that needed major adjustment. It will be awesome to see if this improves over time with the new trim!

Marianne took off all of the excess bars on Lily's feet and trimmed her toes back, especially her back feet. After she was done, her hinds looked textbook-perfect! Her fronts finally look as short as they should be, and she rasped off all of her flares. The way she was standing changed right away: her hind feet came up right underneath her, and if she rested a foot, she kept it right next to the other instead of off to one side like she used to (I always thought this was odd.)

Photos taken the day after the trim:

Front feet. Note both hinds on the floor!

Left front

Left hind. This was her worst foot of the 4.

Right hind

Right front. See how much more upright it looks? :)
Left front. Sorry-I rinsed off her feet so the undersides would be clearly visible, so all 4 feet were wet.

Left hind. You can't see it well in the photo, but in real life you could clearly see the puncture wound towards the end most proximal to the frog apex. What now appears to be a crack is just a ridge of frog tissue-no crack anymore; it has healed. She was very good for the trimming of this hoof, indicating that it doesn't hurt anymore.

Right front. Her flat and slightly crooked foot. This is a horrible angle; I had it tilted forward too much. The lighter part of the frog is where she took off some excess tissue that had not been worn down properly. The trimmer said it is sometimes possible to correct the crookedness of the foot if the anatomy of the horse hasn't been completely compromised over time. We'll see. Hopefully this can still be fixed.

Right hind. Another horrible angle to the photo, but one heel really was lower than the other. However, this was the best of all 4 feet, and the one that looked the most picture-perfect after the trim.
 I lunged her on Monday, then let her move around at liberty just to watch her go. She seemed a little tentative at first, and then she was off-she did her lovely extended trot, snapping her feet forward and higher than she ever has before, simply because she could now land heel-first! No, she did not look like Totilas, and she never will, but in the Lily Trot department, this was the best she's ever moved. Her canter seemed less lateral, more of a 3-beat. Afterwards, I tacked her up and rode. She was light on the forehand, extending and collecting easily, on the bit 90% of the time, and lateral work, while always easy for her, seemed even easier than usual.

Our following rides this week have been very, very good! We have done more of the same, especially focusing on getting lateral work done at the trot, since she has been doing so well at trot and canter. My problem at the trot is that she has discovered her medium, and now loves it! It is hard to bring her back from it into a more collected trot, so we have been transitioning from medium trot to canter, or from walk to the collected trot. Now, transitioning from collected trot to medium trot feels like soaring! I think it is her favorite transition right now. She arches her neck proudly, her ears come up and relax, and she zooms along. I can't help but grin like an idiot every step of the way. This is such tremendous progress for her!

On another note, we have continued practicing trot-halt-trot, and she has stopped being impatient. I am starting to feel that lift of her withers that is so beautiful when seen from the ground, when she takes off into her floaty trot from a standstill at liberty.

The biggest difference in her, however, is in the way she stands. 24 hours after the trim, she was standing with her hind feet in front of the vertical, a sign of heel pain. This was an improvement, though, from her constantly shifting her weight from one hind foot to another while standing. She was standing square, but with both hinds a little further forward than normal. Heel pain, yes-she's most likely always had that due to the previously long toes, and this stance is a sign of heel pain. But the fact that she doesn't have the overgrown bars digging into the underside of her feet nor the long toes meant that she could finally put weight on her soles to give her heels a break, instead of just resting one foot or another.

48 hours after the trim, I saw her standing square, normally, for the first time since I can remember. Her head was high and ears forward, and I swear she was smiling. And no, it was not feeding time. :) She really seemed the most comfortable I've ever seen her, just standing still.

Standing square!! :D

Go Team Barefoot!

Friday, September 21, 2012

10 Happy Things

I was over at Funder's blog, and found this, and thought it would be a good idea to do this too (*lol* actually, the pun wasn't intended, but there you go.) This is from a post of hers from 2009.
Does anyone else here read other people's blogs from the beginning? I do. If I discover your blog and like your recent posts, I will go aaaaaallllll the way back and read it from the very beginning, just so I'm not lost while reading your recent stuff. This keeps me entertained at night when I'm at home by myself while Charles is working. :) I got a lot of awesome training ideas by doing this with Stacey's blog and Eventing-a-Gogo. If you haven't read Stacey's posts from when she was in Hawaii, you totally should! LOVE the way she conditioned Klein!

I will quote Funder, as I completely agree with her:
"I don't believe things can make a person happy. Other people can't make a person happy. Happiness comes from inside oneself. I'm sure you know somebody who "has it all" who's totally miserable, and you know someone with "nothing" who is just genuinely happy to be alive. I strive to be the latter."

Well said!

So here are 10 things I enjoy about my life:

1. Charles - I'm living the life I'm living right now thanks to him and one of the most enormous leaps of faith I've ever taken. We knew each other as kids. One of my aunts, Lucy, was a kindergarden teacher, and Charles was in her very first class. He was a HELLION of a child. His mom says my aunt tamed him, and they became lifelong friends as a result-they are close friends to this day, some 30 years later! I couldn't STAND him. He was that annoying little kid who would come and poke your shoulder repeatedly, "Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey..." Yup. That kid. Our families would hang out a lot when we were little and then as we got older, and we were all teenagers doing Very Important Things, we all kind of drifted apart for a little while. I stayed good friends with Charles's younger brother James, and even invited James to my junior prom. He was just easy to be around, and he was a good friend. Charles was the older super cool brother, who had an attitude that he was too good for us at the time, so we kind of ignored him. Flash-forward a couple of years to the summer of 1997. I was 17, and I'd been working as camp counselor at my mom and aunt's art camp, plus working extra shifts as counselor at my barn's riding camp too. It had been a very long day, and I was taking a ride home with my aunt Lucy, but she had to stop by James's mom's house to pick up some papers for her master's degree (they did their masters together). I was exhausted, but I perked up thinking I'd be able to hang out with James. As it turns out, James wasn't home, but Charles was home from college. I had not seen him in a few years, and had even forgotten he existed. His hair was long and he only wore contacts at the time, and I looked up into his hazel-blue eyes and it was like the world stopped.
I was never really the same again, and neither was he. Years later when I asked him about that moment, he said that at that instant everything in the world had gone silent-it was just him and me, in that second.
He was in a group of Sea Scouts, and I joined, not only because it would be awesome finally getting to camp out around the island, but also because it would be a chance to get to know him better. One of our best adventures was Mona Island, a small island off the west coast of PR used exclusively for research. It's called the Galapagos of the Caribbean for a reason-not a soul lives on that island, other than Dominican and Haitian refugees, and there were stories of pirates too. There's a small research station on the opposite side of the island from where we camped. It was one of the wildest places I've ever stayed at, and on top of that we got trapped on that island for 4 days due to some major storms that rolled in. All of the tents flooded except Charles's and mine-we were the only ones who had set up our tents properly. Since the 25 of us didn't fit in 2 tents, we moved to a run-down shelter by the one dock. Our food ran out, and our last 2 nights on the island, we slept on the sand on the beach. But we had an absolute BLAST, exploring the internal cavern system of the island, and trying to swim all to the way to the sunken ship off the beach. Yes, a sunken ship. We were eventually rescued by the Coast Guard. Everyone was anxious to return home, but Charles and I would've been happy to just stay on that island forever! We made some lifelong friends on that adventure, and being the ringleader of the group with Charles made me decide that I wouldn't mind hanging out with this guy forever.
For the next year, I waited to see if he'd come around. He showed signs of liking me a lot, but our relationship was limited to the Sea Scouts. I loved talking to him-we never ran out of subjects, and he could be so incredibly annoying at times. We'd get into these verbal skirmishes where we would try to one-up one another. I was the only one in our group who could beat him at this. The look on his face when he couldn't come up with a retort was worth a million bucks. It was never boring being around Charles.
And then I went to college-I was accepted into the Natural Sciences program of the University of PR, the same department he was in. One day, in utter frustration, I gave him a really long letter where I basically told him I adored him, and wtf? Did he like me or not? Just stuck it in his hand when dropping him off at our department's parking lot, and left him with it. The next day I asked him if he'd read it. He said yes. He admitted he liked me a lot, but he was not ready for a serious relationship at the time, and he didn't want to lead me on. He explained he was doing a lot of things that I would probably never agree with, and our relationship would be doomed before it even started. I appreciated his honesty, but I was devastated. As it turns out, he was absolutely right: he was active in the Puertorrican rave scene when it was at its strongest. He was correct-at the time, I would've been horrified.
We stayed friends, however. That letter I gave him? He kept it for years after. I moved on and had other relationships, but I was always looking for another Charles, and of course, there was no other quite like him. Charles left the island and moved to Orlando to get an A.S. in film, and we stayed in touch via an occassional e-mail every few months. It was bizarre when we reached a point where we were giving each other relationship advice. I still loved this guy, but I was in a serious relationship at the time.
And then, one Christmas Charles came to visit his family. And he wanted to see me. He had been back to visit before, but this was the first time he'd wanted to hang out with me, ever. I don't remember what movie we went to watch-I was just hyper-aware of him in the seat next to me. We said good-bye that night, but for the first time I KNEW that he felt exactly the same way about me as I did about him. I saw it.
After that, we stayed in touch by phone. We'd call each other once a week, like clockwork. And then my grandfather died, and a part of my world as I knew it ended. I decided that you just can't sit around waiting for things to happen-sometimes you have to make them happen. James was getting married, and Charles was coming for the wedding. He'd asked me to be his date.
Well, I was his date and a whole lot more, and that was that. Before the visit was over, he'd asked me to move to Tampa with him.
And I kind of said yes. I spent 6 months travelling back and forth, first because I wanted to make sure I liked Tampa and had a chance of doing something productive with my life over there, and also because I wanted Charles to be sure that this was what he wanted. He was a bad boy and still had to grow up a bit before we could actually live together. At this point in his life, he had no problem growing up-he changed, on his own, without me ever having to ask, because he wanted me there. I won't deny that throughout those 6 months I was terrified he'd one day wake up and say, "F- this, I want to stay single!" I felt like I was jumping from a cliff with my decision to move in with him, hoping that somehow I'd be able to fly. But he never once showed any kind of doubt or hesitation in his commitment to me. He was in, 100%.
In December of 2004, I shipped all of my books and clothes to Tampa and flew in with my cat, Shakti, and my laptop. Nothing else. And that was it-that was the beginning. I jumped, and I flew after all. Life with Charles is definetely an adventure, every day. I love him more than anything, and he is truly my best friend.

Summer of 1998
(And in case you're wondering, his T-shirt had a drawing of a plane with Santa and all his reindeer smashed on the plane's nose...This photo was taken at an art summer camp that we worked together as counselors...with kids....that's typical Charles for you)


2. My mom - I'm probably weird for this, but my mom and I are really close. We've been through some tough times, but we survived. She is also my best friend, and we have pretty much talked on the phone every day since I left the island. It makes the distance seem nonexistent. She is the best cook on the planet, and everyone says she should run her own catering business-I have met few people who love to cook as much as she does. I inherited her ability to make something out of nothing with food, without needing to follow a recipe, and have it taste really good, but I don't enjoy cooking anywhere near as much as she does. I wish I did, but most of the time nowadays, I just don't have the time. I just wish I could wave a magic wand and have Mom's home-cooked food! She raised my brother and me with my aunts' and grandparents' help, dedicating her life to us. She walked me down the aisle on my wedding day. I couldn't have asked for a better mom.

My mom and me, at Charles' and my wedding

3. Lily - she's our kid, basically-she requires the same amount of time and money, for sure! Charles actually refers to her that way, and his coworkers ask about her as if she really was his daughter. She's my therapy, my workout, and my escape, all rolled into one. Some days she still drives me nuts, but for the most part she's the sweetest little mare I've ever met. And that's not just me saying it-everyone who meets her says the same thing. It's pretty cool to see how far we've come this past year!

4. My cats - Shakti lost a long battle with cancer last week. I had her for 12 years-not old for cancer, but it's not the first time I've seen this happen. She chose me at the shelter; she was a funny-looking gray kitten with white paws, stripes, spots and orange patches-she was every color at once. She MEOWED and MEOWED when she saw me walk in the room, and just about had a fit in her little cage trying to get to me. All the other cats ignored me, so I figured I might as well take the only one that wanted to be with me! She was my first cat, and she taught me so much about them-I am a better tech because of her; not every tech or ever doctor "gets" cats, but I do, especially the difficult ones. She was the only pet I brought with me from PR (I had another cat, 2 dogs and Lucero over there), and she rode with me in the car from Tampa to South FL, sitting loose on the back seat, happy as a clam. Unlike your typical cat, she was an adventurer, and always took our moves in stride; she was also part of the original trio: it was Charles, Shakti and me. She left a big hole behind her; I miss her every day-this will be our first move without her. Shakti means "cosmic energy" and is also the Hindu goddess of creation. Hey, cats think they're gods. Just ask them-in their world, they rule! We started a theme with her. My other two, Astarte (Phoenician warrior goddess. Aphrodite was her equivalent in Greek mythology) and Dio (for Dionysius, the Greek god of food and wine, and yes-he is the most food-motivated cat I have ever met!) are certainly also little gods, with very individual personalities. Astarte was my brother's cat, and she is also a Puertorrican shorthair-my brother moved to Ohio and couldn't take her with him, so my mom brought her to me during one of her visits to after we had moved to South FL. She is a calico, THE coolest cat on the planet, almost doglike in her adoration of people, and is eerily smart and expressive. One time Charles and I were arguing and she actually jumped in my lap, yelled "GAUUU!" and covered my mouth with one of her paws! Needless to say, Charles and I completely forgot what we were arguing about, and burst out laughing! Dio is a boy, and we adopted him from the Broward Humane Society. He chose us. He's a tuxedo Manx mix, and has the cutest bunny tail and the pinkest nose. I used to call him the Bunny Cat. Now he's just the Girly Man. He talks A LOT-he is permanently banished from bedrooms because he will start talking to himself in the middle of the night. He has a very high-pitched voice for a boy. He will fetch, and he will get into cabinets and hidden garbage cans in search of anything edible he can get his little fuzzy paws on. He's a bit ditzy at times, but he's a goofy sweatheart and we love him. These little ones are the salt and pepper of our lives.

Dio & Shakti

5. Diana - Diana and I have only known each other for 3 years, but it feels like much longer. I've never been the best at making friends, but like Shakti when she saw me at the shelter, there are a few people in my life with whom I've just clicked instantly and hung onto. Diana is one of them.
I was boarding Cloud, my Quarter Horse gelding (go to My Equestrian Journey to read what happened to him), at the boarding facility/horse rescue that I'd adopted him from. It was a weird place-rickety and kind of falling apart, except they did have a nice arena. The barn manager was pretty cuckoo and definetely chemically imbalanced (I finally really understood what "manic" meant after meeting her...) I was kinda sorta friends with this whackadoo simply because it was wiser than being her enemy. It was rather lonely at that barn, however, until Diana arrived.
Diana was hugely pregnant and she had this big Percheron cross mare who had the biggest poops in the entire barn, and yet she still insisted on doing her stall herself. She said taking care of Bali kept her sane and got her out of the house. We all tried to help her, but she would insist on grabbing her 2-wheeler wheelbarrow and pitchfork and mucking her stall herself. I don't know what it was about her, but I just adored her right off the bat and wanted to be her friend. It was like I'd met a long-lost sister. When she first arrived at the barn, she had Bali in my same row of stalls, but further down at the end. Her stall flooded from beneath with the first rains, and she had to move Bali. I encouraged her to come over to my end-the stall next to Cloud's was empty, and we could share a tackroom. The barn manager was surprised about my offer, as I had always enjoyed having my own private tackroom for all my horsey stuff, plus I ordered a month's supply of 3-wire timothy at a time, which took up a lot of room. But I was willing to compromise just to share a tackroom with Diana. We were like college roommates when she first moved her stuff in, getting all of our stuff sorted so it made sense (all our hay and feed on one half of the room, and all of our tack and supplies mixed together on some shelving units I had on the other half) and we called each other "Roomie" for the longest time. She took 2 weeks off from the barn when she had her baby, and I took care of Bali for her, making sure she got plenty of turnout, cleaning her stall, setting up her feed. Bali and Cloud became friends too-she had a huge crush on him, and he would play with her, running around in the paddock next to her. He didn't do this with any other horse-he'd always been somewhat of a loner. When Cloud was taken from me, Diana kept an eye on him, and made sure he always got fed and had fresh water, and would give him kisses for me. She helped make sure he got adopted into a good home. She was my heart horse's guardian angel.
And now she boards her horse next to mine, our mares are friends, we share the tack hook rack in front of Bali's stall for our mess of halters, fly masks and lead ropes, and share the same wall of our tack stall. She'll do my stall if I'm having a sucky day at work, and I'll do hers when I know she's had a long day. I'm not a big sharer, either, but I'll share the whole universe with this woman. She talked me out of one of my biggest funks since I left PR when Lucero died, and more than once has given me better advice than the vet himself when I've had issues with my horses. I will miss her terribly when we move.

Lily and Bali

6. My career - Being a vet tech is tough. Especially when you work emergency and critical care. When you work general practice, you get to play with puppies and kittens and establish wonderful long-term relationships with your clients, and watch their pets grow up and age. These pets often come to recognize and like you. The bulk of your patients are just coming in for vaccines, skin issues or for the occassional vomiting and diarrhea. When you work ECC, you see the old, the chronic, and very sick animals, and work with distraught, angry and sometimes uncooperative clients. I can't tell you how much I hate walking into a room with the estimate from the doctor to tell a client how much it's going to cost to save their pet's life. Veterinary care is expensive, but then so is human health care if you don't have health insurance... Charles was once charged $1500 just for an EKG when he fainted in the OR during one of his nursing school rotations! People don't realize this. The medicines and the level of care are the same, just in smaller doses and proportions for smaller patients. If you have a puppy or a kitten, get it insured! It's about $15-$20/month average, and it pays for any health complications down the line-it is totally worth it! It will even cover chemotherapy-that's more than can be said for a lot of human health insurance policies!
The hours often suck, and there are days when I wouldn't mind having normal 8 hour 9a-5p shifts like most human beings. 13 hour shifts are brutal on your feet, legs and back sometimes, especially when you're restraining fractious patients or wrestling large dogs on an x-ray table. The pay definetely sucks most of the time-veterinarians and techs are GROSSLY underpaid for the amount of schooling, knowledge, and training we have to have. A human doctor only has to know one species-we have to know all species that can be kept as pets! Their diseases, treatments, husbandry, and the individual way each species must be handled in a hospital setting. Example: a sick bird can die just from the stress of being taken out of a cage; a rabbit can break its back if restrained incorrectly.
BUT I love what I do. I love noticing things the doctor missed, that make a difference in the patient's outcome. I love making friends with the cat that won't allow anyone else to touch it, or getting my face nuzzled by the dog whom I just drew blood from but who instantly forgave me; I love being able to place an IV catheter and having my patient not react at all because I did it smoothly and pain-free; I love reading my patient's body language and expressions to gauge how they feel, and using my knowledge of their vital signs to see if my guess was correct; I love the fact that I've saved a couple of animals simply because I noticed something was off from way across the other side of a room; I love when treatments work and the patients get better and go home cured; I love the rare moment when a client bothers to ask my name and thank me.
Now. Can someone please open up a veterinary hospital where the medicine is good, the doctors respect each other and their techs, the techs work together as a team, the schedule is predictable, and the pay is decent? Is that really too much to ask?

With one tiny patient
7. Electronic music - I used to HATE techno or anything in that realm-I was a soft rock & alternative kind of girl. The whole electronic music genre made me think of video game soundtracks. Until Charles. Mr. Ex-Raver Boy turned me onto a whole new world in terms of music, and I love it. The song that started it all was Above and Beyond's remix of Dido's Sand in My Shoes. Charles played it one morning when we were getting ready for work shortly after I moved in with him in Tampa, and I was gone, gone, gone. The music wrapped itself around me and poured itself into me. This song still does that to me, 8 years later. I asked Charles, "What is that?" Trance. This song is classified as trance. In my search for more trance, I discovered Junkie XL, Tiesto, Sander Kleinenberg, Armin Van Buren, Above and Beyond (of course), and more recently, Kaskade. Moving down to South FL, I became a big fan of house music. The punchy beats can be found on most local radio stations, especially during the evening. I've also been introduced to breakbeats and dubstep. The Ultra Music Festival, the event of all events here in South FL, changed the way I saw people in general. Have you ever hung out with a group of ravers? If you haven't, you should. They are the happiest, most loving people. The last electronic music festival Charles and I went to with our friend Pudge, this totally random guy came up to us, beaming to see us, just to say that he loved us and give us hugs. It was completely innocent, and contagious; he was grinning from ear to ear like a little kid. We hugged him back and told him we loved him too. He wasn't hugging everyone though-we watched him go, and he was picking certain people in the crowd whose energy and vibe he was drawn to. Really cool. These people function on a whole other level that is beautiful, care-free, and completely energy-influenced. Granted, it's a drug-induced state, but it is beautiful nonetheless-the drug brings out this part of people- this part exists in them. It is very, very different from hanging out around a bunch of drunks.
Now imagine a whoooole park full of people like this. Thousands and thousands of happy, goofy people, all dancing to music they love, talking to one another because they all have this music in common. No one fights, no one says nasty things about another person, everyone just coexists, happy, dancing, free. At moments like this, I truly believe that world peace is possible.

Above & Beyond concert back in May. This gives you an idea of what Ultra looks like-this is the same park where it's held at, except this is just the amphitheatre. Ultra will have dozens of stages featuring every kind of electronic music imaginable, filling up the entire park.
8. Cell phones - it's weird that those of us in our 30's and over can still remember a time without cell phones. How on earth did we cope? Someday Charles and I will have iPhones. For now, I have my LG Lotus, which takes somewhat decent pics and has a proper text keyboard. Lord, how did we exist without texting????...

9. My feline patients - they just make my day. Not because they're sick-that's a bummer- but because I can help them feel better. At my previous job, the other techs gave up-I was always assigned any and all hospitalized cats. I'll fawn over them, tell them how pretty they are (even the old and crunchy ones-they're still pretty) and do my best to get them to purr at some time during their hospitalization. My reward? They will let me do almost anything to them without stressing out. The no stressing out part is key in their healing process. Now every once in a while you get a cat that feels sooo crappy that touching them just makes them feel worse. Especially liver disease and pancreatitis cats-any kind of stimulation, be it good or bad, turns their stomach. Just carrying them can really make them feel yucky. So you get an individual that you can tell wants to be nice, but every time you handle them they will hiss, growl or even vomit. It really sucks because most treatments involve touching the patient in some way, so for awhile the stuff you have to do to them to make them feel better, actually make them feel momentarily worse. These guys I will talk to, make sure they are comfortable, and basically leave alone as much as possible until their treatments kick in and they start to feel better.
Cats really do sense when you like them, though. I swear they respond when you tell them how beautiful they are. I'v heard feline behaviorists say the same thing.
I've had feline patients I've never seen before zero in on me from across an exam room, sit up and deliberately make eye contact. Once during morning rounds, a very fractious kitty that had given the overnight staff a hard time, started meowing looking right up at me as I was standing in front of his cage listening to my coworkers. They were saying how absolutely naughty this kitty had been all night. I sat on the floor when he meowed at me, opened the cage door, and he jumped into my lap, purring and rubbing his head against my hands. To say the overnight techs' jaws dropped is an understatement.
Another time, we had this enormous Maine Coon mix named Blackjack who was a gorgeous chocolate color with a white undercoat. Very unusual color. He was very opinionated and none of the techs wanted to handle him because halfway through a treatment he would turn on them. "Okay, that's ENOUGH!" he'd say. I reeeally liked him-his attitude just cracked me up, and the feeling became mutual after the first time I did treatments on him myself. He let me do everything, as long as I was quick and gentle about it, and petted him a lot before and after! By the end of the day, he would howl for me if I walked out of his line of vision!
So yeah-love my kitty cat patients. :)

10. Cold weather - we get none of this down here in South FL, but hopefully someday we live in a place where we do. Unlike your average Puertorrican, I have experienced snow. When I was 5 years old, we lived in San Antonio, TX, and we had a record-breaking cold winter: it snowed! For the first time in I don't know how long. It had not snowed again in that part of TX until 3 years ago-that's how rare of an event that was. But we had a good foot or more of snow on the ground for about 2 weeks-it was there for Christmas! I still remember. The snow came up to my knees, and towards the end when it started to get warm, the top would melt and re-freeze, forming an ice crust over the top of the snow that made it hard to walk through. I loved it anyway. The next winter we didn't get snow, but we did get frost, which was a regular occurence over there. The road to school wound through green fields that sparkled like glitter in the morning light with the frost. I begged Mom to stop the car-I wanted to see it close-up, to touch it. The grass crunched under my shoes, and I picked up a blade of grass. The frost was stuck to it like crystals. It was beautiful. I remember like it was yesterday.
I wouldn't see snow again until the summer I turned 18, while hiking in the mountains in Yellowstone with my dad. That was pretty awesome.
I love cold weather. In Tampa we at least occassionally had frost in the wintertime-one very chilly morning I woke up at 4:30am, before the sun came up, just to run outside to see the frost. I loved seeing the vapor of my breath in the air, and riding all bundled up at sunrise before work, cantering around the jump field at Brass Ring Equestrian Center and seeing the horse's breath in the air.  One evening Charles and I stepped outside to go for a jog at dusk. A cold front had just swept in. We didn't make it around the corner in our exercise clothes-we were too cold! We turned around and ran back home to make hot chocolate instead.
Down here we're lucky if it drops below 60 degrees at night. 3 years ago, the northeast was hit by the coldest winter in the last 20 years, and we received the tail end of it down here. I was working overnights at the hospital, and one of my coworkers was scheduled to finish her shift at 5:00 am. She went outside, then came running back inside: there was a thick layer of frost on her windshield and she didn't know what to do! Really cool. We all rushed outside to see it-I have the photos of my car covered in frost, all sparkly and glittery.
I look forward to those colder days every year. I start obsessing over the weather forecast towards the end of October, anxiously awaiting cooler temperatures. It's kind of pathetic that what we consider cooler here is what a lot of other people consider warm in other parts of this country.
I hope that some day soon we live in a place where it at least gets chilly in the winter. 4 real seasons would be even better. Cold weather definetely makes me happy: bundling up to go outside, deciding how many layers to wear to go riding or exercise, hiding under a warm comforter at night, making chili for dinner (I make a mean chili!) and hot chocolate for dessert.
Yup, can't wait.

Monday, September 17, 2012


We had another ride today, this time without lunging prior. Lily was moving fabulously, very forward. Even during our walk warmup she was forward-usually she'll suck back away from the contact when I initially pick up the reins to organize her, but today she just reached for the bit and moved on, back swinging. I had her do some weird crazy loops and circles around the arena, changing bend and from one direction to the other...it felt as smooth as ice skating. She even gave me a few steps of true walk half-pass! We've been playing around with this for awhile now, but the bend was never quite right before-her front end would be mostly straight, vs the leg yield where she is bent opposite the direction we are moving. Today we got it-she bent to face the direction we were going! We'd then finish each move with a real walk pirouette (BEAUTIFUL!) then flowed into a larger circle to change direction. Lily never paused, never complained, never hesitated-my cues were accurate, without the need to contort myself, and thus 100% clear. Since the powerlines incident I've been riding her in the pelham with double reins, but I've been very, very careful about using the "snaffle" reins for all of the cues, and just touching the shank reins if I want her to bring her nose down a bit. She has not tossed her head a single time with this method. I think it also helps that I'm not using the curb chain hook to attach the chain under her jaw-the chain that came with this bit was just long enough for Lily's jaw, but though I could get 2 fingers between her mandible and the chain, she would toss her head until the chain came off if she disagreed or my cues were too strong. Diana's kimberwicke came with one of these instead of curb chain hooks:

I can fix a lot of things and wield many power tools when I don't have a guy handy to do it for me (direct consequence of being a civil engineer's granddaughter!), but I have no idea what the names are for a lot of hardware, this thing included.

I found a giant one (about 2" long!) in Mark's tool and hardware collection, and I ghetto-rigged Lily's curb chain with it. Now it won't come off if she tosses her head, but it also gives her more room between her chin and the chain - a whole extra finger's worth of room. I think this has helped. *knock on wood!*

We did a few shoulder-ins at the trot, then straight lines with changes of direction across the diagonal and little 10 meter circles at C and A. I tried to repeat the haunches-in at the canter from yesterday, but even at the canter she was too forward to be able to organize her enough for this movement. She did give me canter shoulder-ins when asked, however, but then, on the right lead as we came around the corner of the arena by Bali's turnout, she hollowed her back, elevated her head, and I felt her back legs churn for a second-this is what she used to do when she was thinking about bolting. So I lowered my hands, she lowered her head, and I asked her to trot. We didn't canter again.

We zoomed around in her medium trot, and then I sat her trot to regroup for more lateral work. Her trot shoulder-ins were wonderful, as she wanted to GO, so even when crossing her legs she wasn't slowing down into a toe-dragging jog. I wish someone could've gotten video to see what it looked like! We also did some baby leg yields at the trot, which were a little wonky-she'd lead first with her front end, then over-correct when I tried to push her butt over, so she'd end up leading with her hind legs! One day we will get those trot leg yields...I'm still stunned by how much damage was done during those lessons where Judy insisted we do trot leg yields...without perfecting them at a walk first...and only in one direction. We did learn some cool exercises in those lessons, which I have posted about here extensively, but those leg yields almost ruined Lily for all lateral movements for awhile. I had to re-teach her.

After that, she wanted to extend, as she always does after collected/lateral work, so I let her. She gave me a ground-eating trot, with long snappy strides while staying light in the bridle. For awhile there she had been getting heavy on the bit when doing medium trot, but definetely not today-she arched her neck and powered forward, ears relaxed and happy. She never tried to get quick and choppy, she simply maintained, and I posted along to her beat, staying quiet so nothing in her carriage or rhythm would change. After that, we walked out on a loose rein-no more work; that was a grand finale for me. This was some of the best trot she's given me in a long time, if not ever.

She received a bath afterwards, and I pulled out the medicine boot. I had ordered one of these from Smartpak and it finally arrived. I dumped some epsom salts and warm water in the boot, and strapped it onto her foot. She was so confused by it, because she couldn't step out of it like she'd been doing with the rubber tub! I caught her looking back at her foot and the boot a couple of times. But it worked! I left her soaking for 30 minutes while Diana and I fed the horses and finished setting up our feed, and then applied the topical cream and cotton to the crevice in her frog and ichthammoled her abscess. She was completely and 100% tolerant of the whole procedure.

Can't wait to be able to turn her out and let her have access to her walkout and paddock as usual!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Canter Haunches-In!

Floaty trot from the other day at liberty! This was a tiny cell pic-I had to uber-crop it to get this image. But there you go! All 4 feet off the ground: she has SUSPENSION! :)

Here are the photos of Lily's feet that I had been meaning to post. These were taken a few days after my more aggressive trim and about 3 weeks after her trim with the farrier (in the first trim I did, which I mentioned in a previous post, about 2 weeks after her trim with the farrier, I had just rounded off the edges of her feet a little bit; you could barely tell I'd done anything). With this trim I did a little more:

Right front. Those toes grow so fast! A week later and they're already longer than this!

Right hind (yep, she was still resting the left hind here-these were taken last week). I put that mustang roll on there, though-I was really happy with that.

Left front

Left front. You can see the little crack I was talking about in my previous post-a result of the flare she gets on the medial portion of this foot. I had completely removed the flare prior to taking this photo.

Left hind.

Left front. Note the lateral heel (on the right of the photo) is more worn down than the medial heel. She's also trying to self-trim, as you can see by the big chip on the lateral wall of this hoof (right side of photo; almost even with my shoe.)

Left hind. Cotton was packed into the crevice; this was prior to treating. You can see why I had missed this problem before-I had just brushed the hell out of this hoof, and you still can't see the crack; it would get this packed in with dirt. Note also the stretched white line-the farrier should have corrected that with his trim, but it was never done. She also has a flare on her lateral quarters on this foot (right side of photo).

Right front. Again, medial heel (right side of photo) more worn than lateral. One thing I will give my farriers: they never over-trimmed her frog in the year that she had front shoes. Her foot will widen more in the back now that she is barefoot, but I was always happy that her heels never became contracted during her time with shoes.

Right hind. I like this foot-look at that huge frog! This is why I wouldn't DREAM of putting back shoes on her! But again there is some white line separation, and the heels here are also uneven.

I could still have done way, way more for her, but I'm afraid. I want to see a professional do it first before I do more.

Today, we lunged some more. Lily moved beautifully today, and I decided I'm just going to keep working her normally-she is completely tolerant of me cleaning her foot now, and her abscess is almost completely healed. We did a nice long slow warmup with walking, trotting, and some work over the trot fan pole (she remembered she's only supposed to trot over it!) to stretch her back.

Tracking UP! Working that engine!

Taking a break and looking pretty. You can kind of see her dapples in this one.

I also set up a cross rail and then a vertical using 2 of the blue water barrels as jump standards, and lunged her over. Here are a few so you can see. She has a nice little bascule but doesn't quite know yet what to do with her legs. We only jumped each one (the crossrail and then the vertical) 3 times in each direction so as not to overstress her tendons.

Dangling her legs over the little crossrail

She really used her back over this one, taking a shorter spot while lifting over the top of her body and really pushing with her hind legs. This is why we do these exercises.

A very nice, relaxed and easy jump over the vertical, about 2'6" high.
Leaping over the little vertical diagonally-I kept setting her up funny in this direction, but she tried her heart out anyway.

Afterwards, I actually stood up the barrels, set up a higher crossrail, which we also did 3 times in each direction, then I made a vertical, with one pole across the top of the barrels. This jump was a good 3', if not higher.

I had Lily jump it twice in each direction. Going to the left, she leaped into the air, but took down the pole, first with her front legs, then with her back legs on the second try. Like I said-she just needs to figure out what to do with her legs! But her jump was very good. At this point Diana arrived, and for once I had a witness!

With Diana in the arena with me, watching, I switched directions and had her circle to the right to approach the jump. She refused 3 times in a row because she was coming in flat, without impulsion. I knew she was also tired-she's not used to jumping, which is why we were only doing a few reps each way, but it's great cross-training for her-dressage tends to make horses tight across their backs, while jumping and work over cavaletti and ground poles helps to stretch and release their back.

On the 4th attempt, she bounded into the air, completely clearing the jump without touching it. I had her do it a second time, just so we'd be even with the 2 jumps in each direction, and this time she clipped the pole again. I had her trot over the poles on the ground between the barrels so she'd finish knowing the poles wouldn't hurt her, and we left it there. She was blowing afterwards, but not exhausted, so I let her walk out for a good 10 minutes while chatting with Diana.

I then took her into the barn, hosed off her legs, front end and hindquarters, and turned the Farmtek fan on her, and she cooled down completely while I tacked her up for a ride. Diana and I were going to go out to the park, but the weather was being temperamental (as you can see by the photos-I saw several rain bands sweep by us) and didn't really want to get drenched again while on the trails. Plus the memory of the fall the other day was still a little too vivid. My elbow is healing up well, and thanks to lots of arnica salve over the last 2 days, my hip is sore only when I get stiff (after sitting down or when I first wake up)-I didn't even bruise! And my neck, which yesterday hurt more than my hip from the whiplash, is actually 90% better today, also thanks to generous applications of arnica.

Diana was relieved that I wanted to stay in the arena, because she didn't really feel like riding after all. So I rode while she did her chores.

Lily and I did one of our usual walk warmups-loose rein, then moving onto more collected work. We practiced the same lateral stuff from as of late for about 15 minutes, then I chose to just ask for a canter-she felt great: relaxed, loose and bendy. We cantered around twice in each direction, then tried lateral work at the trot. We hadn't really done this in awhile with her foot, so she kept breaking the trot to finish the moves at a walk. So on another gut feeling, I had her pick up the canter again. On the left lead, I let her trot into the canter, and then she was there. Right in front of my leg, up and collected. I gathered her up more coming into the corner and instead of letting her fold herself around the corner, I just stayed in the same position, asking for the same bend with Lily's body while allowing her to face the same direction we were going, and Lily tried. She had it for a second, broke into the trot, and I asked her for the canter again. Asked for the bend again, and she responded: BAM! Haunches-in, at the canter! It was only a slight haunches-in (kind of like what a shoulder-fore is to a shoulder-in), not a dramatic one like you would see in upper level dressage competition, but the bend in her body was there. We did a couple of strides of this, then I released her into a walk on a long rein. Circle and change direction, then I gathered her up again. She picked up the right-lead canter from a walk. Canter around the corner, and same thing again-maintain that bend, and she totally and absolutely nailed it, effortlessly. Lots of pats, and I gave her a long walk around the arena in both directions on a loose rein.

After that, we did some shoulder-in at the trot, then I let her zoom around the arena in what I call her medium trot. It's frustrating sometimes not having mirrors in the arena to check ourselves, but from what I saw of our shadow on the wall, we looked good!

Diana stopped by again to check on us and asked how Lily was doing, and I told her fantastically! I was trying to describe the canter haunches-in to her, and she asked if we would be able to repeat it so she could see. I told her we'd try, and explained it was only slight-I could see it and feel it but wasn't sure if it was marked enough to be visible from the side on the ground.

I asked Lily to pick up a right-lead canter (since this direction had been easier), and went straight down the short side, then maintained the bend going down the long side. I was able to push her hind end even more to the inside this time-Diana exclaimed when she saw it. Very, very cool.

After that, we did some more medium trot work for a couple of minutes to let her stretch out, then called it a day. It was an awesome day, indeed!

So this is kinda what we looked like. Courtesy of lonecastle, on YouTube

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Step & Twirl

Dianne took Lily's wraps off in the morning, and texted me to let me know that her legs looked great. Even by this afternoon Lily's legs were still nice and tight and she showed absolutely no signs of being sore anywhere, foot, legs, body or otherwise. I took her out to the arena for some groundwork. I warmed her up on the lunge, and she was still tired enough from the day before that for once she just wanted to trot. She was tracking up at the trot, and overtracking by a good 6 inches at the walk, back swinging. Nice!

I set her free and let her work at liberty for a few minutes so she could stretch out as she pleased, and she trotted around the perimeter of the arena, obeying when I requested changes of direction. I then let her walk herself out to cool down and eventually convinced her to come to me. I clipped the lunge line back on and was re-rolling it up so I could bring her into the barn, when she started acting up over my motions of rolling up the lunge. This was new-I do this ALL the time in front of her-at least once every time I lunge her, because I'm a klutz with the lunge line and am constantly getting it all tangled up or tied up in knots.

So I asked her to stand until she held still while I re-rolled the line, then we worked on side passes and shoulder-in in both directions from the ground. Then I asked for a full turn on the forehand in each direction, then a turn on the haunches. I had never asked for a turn on the haunches from the ground, and initially she was confused and tried to sidepass away from me. I played around with where I was standing for the request, based on the little Parelli I know, and figured out that she would turn away from me if I stood next to her neck, facing her rear, and turned her nose slightly away from me with the lunge line. For once we figured this out together calmly, with no outbursts from her.

For the sidepass, I stand facing her, even with her barrel, and for shoulder-in, I stand by her shoulder, facing forwards (same direction as her) and turn her head a little towards me as we move diagonally opposite Lily's bend. It's cool-I cross my legs and she crosses her legs. I guess this would be more of a leg yield than a shoulder-in if I were riding her during this movement.

We did all of these a couple of times, then practiced a lot of backing up to work her butt, and then I had her do the step and twirl with the lunge (this is what I'm going to call this move from now on. Someday I will get Charles to video it and I will have a computer that doesn't lag on YouTube for 2 hours so I can actually post the video afterwards!) Initially she wanted to be hypersensitive and tried to step away from me when I'd move to pass the lunge line under her neck, flinching at my touch. I asked her gently to be still by placing a hand on her mane at her withers to keep her from sidling away, but this did not work, so I stepped back and asked her to stand by giving the lunge line a light, firm jerk, just enough to get her attention. This worked well-she stood and looked at me, licking and chewing. Back to the step and twirl, and this time it was like someone had flipped a switch in her head-she was calm and steady, and allowed me to pass the lunge line under her neck so I could hold it on the opposite side of her body before sending her forward into the twirl.

She received a lot of "Good girl!"s and after that we went into the barn, where I soaked her foot for a good 30 minutes while I cleaned her stall and set up her feed. She is completely non-reactive now to the iodine spray on her frog and the cotton in the crevice; only her abscess is still a little sore.

I have continued reading everything I can find on barefoot trimming, and can see more in Lily's feet than ever. I knew she had flares in her fronts from being slightly toed-in: she wears the lateral portion of her toes faster than the medial sides, especially on her left front, which has now created a small stress crack on the toe. However, she wears her medial heels faster than her laterals. I guess if she were a person, she'd be an overpronator in the front. In her hinds, she also has flares and some white line separation from also having her toes left too long (I am itching to do a white line strategy trim on her hinds, but I'm waiting for the trimmer first...plus I'm afraid of doing something wrong!) On her hind feet she wears her lateral heels faster than her medials from standing around, especially these past couple of weeks with her wounded frog, just like it says in the "Hind Feet" section in that same link. Looking at her feet, it suddenly feels like when I first started using glasses-the more I read, the more I can SEE.

Diana told me about the barefoot trimmer a friend of hers uses. The trimmer's name is Marianne Allen. You can read one of her stories here. She is also a contributor of The Horse's Hoof magazine. I initially e-mailed her, telling her Lily's story and about my problems with farriers, then the next day decided to just pick up the phone and call her. My first conversation with her was fascinating and exciting-she does a full evaluation of the horse when she comes to trim: conformation, way of standing, way of moving, and then looks at the feet. It takes her a minimum of an hour to get everything done, but it is because she takes all of these things into account. She confirmed what I've been reading: a horse should never be sore after a proper, correct trim. I told her that I was interested in learning, and she was very excited about this, as she loves to teach, especially when I told her I'm a vet tech and she realized I already know my equine anatomy. We continued talking, and she realized that I have, indeed, been reading, and was thrilled when I told her about Lily's exercise and turnout schedule (riding a minimum of 4 days/week, and turnout 12 hours a night-more than a lot of horses get down here in South FL).

Marianne is supposed to come out to trim Lily next Sunday September 23rd. I can't wait!

Friday, September 14, 2012

8 Seconds

Today was an interesting day...

I did my chores at the barn, then tacked up Lily to go for a ride on the trails. It had rained all night and most of the morning and the arena had turned to muck, so I applied Vetrap to her foot and covered it with duct tape to protect it from the water with the intention of just riding her around on the park road. I used the mullen mouth eggbutt again, since Lily had been so good the day before. My plan was to just go for a long WALK, just like the vet said we should do.

Left hind after a good scrubbing. The crevice appears wider due to keeping it open with the cotton, but it's not as deep, and it's definetely not as painful. She wiggles the leg when I'm messing with the foot anticipating it to hurt, but when I'm actually treating the crack, she doesn't even flinch anymore. You can see the abscess, all nice and clean, on the back of her upper heel in the photo. This is still sore when touched directly, but seems to be healing well, as you can see in the photo-no signs of swelling/redness/bruising.  

Duct tape & Vetrap bootie. And yes, she was stocked up after almost 24 hours cooped up in her stall.:(
Secured around the back of her heels to cover the abscess

 Well. I rode her to the park and she was looking around more than usual, but was calm otherwise. Going down the powerlines, there was a cluster of logs by the brush on the side of the trail that she had looked at the day before. I decided to have her take a closer look, but she was not having it. She avoided getting closer and actually started to get worked up about it, so I decided to let it go and ride on. She walked a couple of steps, then suddenly spun and tried to bolt. I have no idea what spooked her-if it was the logs or something else. I brought her to a halt, but she didn't like that and proceeded to buck. And buck and buck and buck. Remember from my Isaac post how much air she can get when she bucks? I lost a stirrup, and she continued to crowhop, all 4 feet leaving the ground at once, and I couldn't bring her head up with the stupid snaffle. I came off.

And slammed into the ground left side first, in the middle of the powerlines. My head bounced off the ground, and once again I thanked God for riding helmets. They have saved my life more than once. Lily galloped away; I leaped to my feet (thankful that I could still actually do it) and went after her. Instead of heading home, she had turned into the park, and veered off into the brush halfway down the powerlines.

I found her in a clearing in the bushes by the fence running down the perimeter of the powerlines. She considered trying to run away, but the reins were stuck on one of her front legs and the bushes were too overgrown to allow her to go through anyway.

I called to her and was able to catch her. I unsnapped one end of her reins to get them off from her leg, and she tried to take off again-she was terrified I was going to beath her: she was stuck in a flashback of the cowboy. I sighed and yanked on the rein to reel her in, but the buckle on the end of the rein slipped off her bit and set her free. (Go figure-I thought it had broken, but it was still in one piece!). She galloped away, this time heading home, and I saw her disappear by the entrance to the park. Great. Wonderful.

I alternately walked and jogged up the powerlines for what seemed like forever. My left hip (my already bad one, caused by a nasty fall from my jumper mare when I was 20, then compounded by a rearing horse falling ON me 5 years later) was definetely bruised and I was certain that it would be near impossible to walk by tomorrow, so might as well move as much as possible now. Even so, right now it felt like the head of my left femur was jabbing into the hip socket with every stride. I ignored it and moved on.

By the time I got to the gate Lily was nowhere to be seen, but her galloping tracks were fresh in the sand leading onto the asphalt. After that there was no clue as to what direction she had taken-logic said she would have headed back to the barn, but looking at her tracks, she might just have well headed straight into the bushes and tall grass that ran behind the barns on our street.

I made my way back to the barn on foot, reins still in my hand and helmet off. Turning onto our street there were still no signs of her. I tried calling Judy in the hopes that she might have her phone on her, wanting to find out if Lily was back at the barn, but there was no answer-Judy had been riding in the arena when I left. I hoped she had headed back. If not, it might be a small mission to find her. What if someone stole her? Or my saddle? I have a bridle tag on her with my name and phone number for precisely this reason, in case we ever got separated (I have one on every halter, even the rope one, and both bridles), but what if they decided not to call? I kept my phone in my hand as every possible dreadful scenario played through my head.

I plodded on, and halfway down the street, I found the duct tape bootie that I'd made for her left hind. I breathed a sigh of relief-she had definetely headed home. At that moment, a Gator pulled out of Saphire Stables, a nice hunter/jumper barn on our street, with a lady I didn't recognize driving, a groom that I did know riding in the back (he was the cousin of the stablehand from my previous barn-both really nice guys), and Jess, a girl that had boarded at our barn back when I had my neurological gelding, in the passenger seat. They stopped to ask if I was okay, and I said yes; I asked if they had seen my horse. They said she had galloped up the street and had disappeared into our driveway. They had seen her running by and had come to look for me. The lady was nice enough to offer to give me a ride back to my barn-this is one of the wonderful advantages of boarding on a street with only a handful of barns: everyone knows everyone, even if only by sight. I thanked the little trio profusely and hopped onto the bed of the gator as my phone rang-Judy. Lily had made it back to the barn okay.

As we pulled into the barn, Ines had just tried to hop on Lily to come look for me, but Lily had refused to leave the parking lot. Good for Ines, as she had not been wearing a helmet when she did so-Lily appears safe and calm to ride and is the sweetest horse on the ground, but she does NOT trust other people on her back other than me, and I was glad we had arrived at that point, or Ines might have gotten hurt if she had insisted.

I thanked everyone for their help, and then decided what to do about Lily. She had had her reward of getting away and coming home, so the damage was done. I had to get back on and do our walk workout, but I was terrified to get back on her. I put her rope halter on over the bridle, clipped the lunge line on, and led her, still fully tacked up, to the arena. Some of the water had drained out in the last hour (the barn really is high and dry for the most part) so I took Lily to the far corner where it was just damp sand and no puddles. I sent her out on the lunge, and Lily chose to gallop. And gallop and gallop. Change of direction. More galloping. I removed myself from my fear and anger, and just watched her. Her gallop was beautiful-very uphill again, like the day before-no soreness there. I gave her some line, and with the additional length she ended up lined up right in front of one of the water barrels. Normally she would have dodged the water barrel to the inside, which is what I expected, but instead she came to a complete stop, then jumped over it. An upright water barrel. That's at least 3 feet high. She leaped over it with a foot to spare. "Holy shit!" I exclaimed, but no one had been standing around to watch. Again my mare's talents go unwitnessed. I brought her to a stop, set 2 barrels down next to each other on the floor, and lunged her over them in both directions at canter and then trot, in the hopes that this would tire her out faster-up until now she had been going-going-going. When she had finally settled down to where she didn't want to gallop around like a madwoman anymore, I took her back into our corner and let her trot out in both directions in a beautiful lengthened trot. She was moving great today, I'll give her that.

Back in February, when I had decided to sell Lily, we had had an incident similar to this that had set everything in motion, but while still at home-we never got to leave the property before Lily had her little crow-hopping outburst. At that time, when I lunged her immediately after the incident, Lily was absolutely terrified of me and did everything in her power to try to get away from me, not listening, mentally stuck in a flashback. This time, while still wanting to run, she still listened to me when asking for changes of direction; I didn't even bother with requesting down transitions because I knew that despite everything, she was so worked up she wasn't going to obey. I really didn't want to argue with her, and risk losing all the ground we've gained this year. So I let her do what she chose, trusting that she would do what was best for herself.

She listened now when I asked her to walk, however, since she wasn't doing it of her own accord, then I led her to the arena fence, where I removed her bridle and tied her by the rope halter to the fence. I ran into the barn, quickly switched her bit back to the pelham (it is very likely I'll never use the mullen mouth again! Definetely not for trail riding!), with double reins this time, and in the process discovered I had a considerable scrape on my left elbow. All that adrenaline had kept me from feeling it all this time. I washed it quickly and almost yelped when it burned like crazy from the water, then ran back out to the arena. Lily was blowing hard and I didn't want her sitting around like that. I put the bridle back on, closed the arena gate that led to the outside, and hopped back on.

She was blowing HARD. So hard that I couldn't feel my own trembling; all I could feel was her breathing. I gave her a second, then gathered the reins and asked her to walk. She did.

We did some of the best lateral work Lily has ever given me, all at the walk, but we even half-passed at the walk in both directions, did perfect walk pirouttes (holy shit indeed!) and our renverses were gorgeous. She was cooperative and listening, immediately bending into the positions I asked her to and moving laterally with barely a weight shift. It was beautiful work. I asked her to trot a half circle, then canter a half circle, just to remind myself that I wasn't going to die on upward transitions, then brought her back to a walk. I was still really shaken up about this fall-it was always my worst nightmare to fall in the park and have my horse gallop back to the barn. What if she'd been hit by a car? What if we'd been on the trails, me knocked unconscious, and an ambulance couldn't find me? What if I'd bled out? What if Lily had been killed? What if, what if...? All of these played in my head as we worked across the arena. We did walk work for an entire hour, and she was still huffing and puffing by the end of it, despite the sun having already set and the temperature dropped. I had her do one more turn on the haunches in each direction before hopping off, and led her into the barn. My poor mare was exhausted-I don't think I've ever seen her this tired. :(

I untacked her quickly, hosed her off, scrubbed her foot thoroughly, put her ice boots on and prepared her epsom salt soak for her left hind.

She had almost completely dried off, but she was still panting somewhat, despite the ice boots. Normally, these drop her temperature within a few minutes.

I switched her to the wash rack by Rose's stall, hosed her off again and turned Rose's Farmtek fan directly on her. Within 5 minutes her breathing had finally slowed to a normal rate and effort, and she had perked up, all of her fears forgotten, ears pricked in my direction and watching my every move as I finished setting up her feed and picking her stall. My mare was back. Thankfully, her left hind was fine: she was putting weight on it and alternately resting left and right like a normal horse.

I applied Sore No More to all 4 legs, wrapped her with standing wraps, and treated her foot as usual post 2nd vet visit (only iodine spray and cotton w/topical antibiotic). Her paddock and walkout were both still very wet, so she'd have to stay in her stall tonight again, and I was afraid her legs would balloon standing still after all that activity and body heat. Dianne will be at the barn in the morning, and she said she'd take Lily's bandages off then and let her walk around her little grass paddock if it was dry. I definetely want to do some groundwork with her tomorrow, weather permitting, which will also allow her to walk around.

On the upside, I was joking with Diana that maybe I should take up professional bronc riding: I stayed on for 8 seconds!

My prize for my 8 second crow-hop ride: one lovely scraped elbow!

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Eating her beet pulp snack in her grassy paddock prior to our workout. She eventually decided the grass was tastier...But see the sun? This will come into play later.

"What are you DOING, Mom? I want to ride!"
I was FINALLY able to ride yesterday. It had stayed dry overnight, so I put Lily on the lunge to let her play before tacking up. Ummm...yeah. Good thing I did. I warmed her up at a walk, then let her choose what gaits she wanted to work at because of her foot-she would know best what hurt and what didn't.

She, of course, decided to gallop madly in a tight circle around me, performing acrobatics in the air-bicycles, bucks, kicks, a total display of her very own version of airs above ground. I swear she threw in a capriole or two... I asked her to change directions by doing a half-bow and changing hands on the lunge line, and she immediately obliged. This is the first time she's changed direction at a full gallop, and she did it by twirling on one foot, leaping into the air in a buck/kick combo to land facing the opposite direction and the correct lead. WOW! And took off running again.

She was so full of herself that I decided to just let her blow off steam at liberty. The Roundup is still in the ground of course, but I remembered that as long as we're both in a working frame of mind, she will not nibble grass while working without the lunge line. I had her whoa and calmly walked her over to close the arena gate, then set her free. She thoroughly enjoyed galloping around. She had the most uphill canter she has ever performed at liberty so far (not super-dressagey, but a tremendous improvement from her previous stilted canter), and she made me grin like an idiot by performing her wonderful floaty trot. Yup, this mare does not hurt anymore-she had been unable to do that when this whole issue started.

I let her decide when she wanted to stop. She cantered around in both directions for a few minutes, then trotted in both directions (I asked her for the changes from the center of the arena), and when she chose to walk again, I stopped moving and she came to me. Good girl! :)

We worked a little on turns on the forehand, shoulder-in, backing up, and that Parelli rollback thing with the lunge (I have no idea what that exercise is called) that used to frighten her so. I've said it before, but I'll say it again-this is the #1 gauge for finding out where Lily's head is at, and it works so well to calm her down!! She was a little hypersensitive initially, but after a couple of times in each direction, she stepped quietly away from me and turned to face me. It always feels like a dance when we do this right-when executed smoothly, it is very much like sending your partner into a twirl on the dance floor!

I then took her back into the barn to tack up. I used the new mullen mouth snaffle on her, because I was planning on just walking and doing more lateral work, since she had already gotten all her cardio in and then some. However, Judy had arrived and was riding, and seemed to be in a funky mood again, so I ended up ditching all my plans and just heading out to the park instead.

This is the first time I've ridden her out in the mullen mouth, and any other time after not riding for 4 consecutive days I probably would've switched it out for her pelham, but the decision to hit the trails had been spontaneous, and I chose to just go with my gut-my gut said Lily would be fine in the mullen mouth.

There were some clouds rolling in, but I didn't think it would affect us-I had been keeping an eye on the direction of the wind and a rain band had already swept by without touching us. We hit the skinny trails, which were damp but not muddy. We were probably 100 feet in, when we came face to face with 2 raccoons. Yes, raccoons are small. But they are also fearless, and they are the #1 rabies carriers in South FL. These two were headed in our direction on the path. Lily stopped to look at them, but remained calm. I quietly turned her around and we headed back out to the powerlines.

No sooner were we on the powerlines, than the wind picked up and the skies opened up-it poured!! Lily tossed her head, but I made her walk all the way up the powerlines and turned left at the end, facing the hills and the shelters. We stopped under a particularly densely leafed tree to wait out the worst of the rain, and of course it stopped as suddenly as it had started. I had Lily walk over to the shelter anyway-she used to go through these without a problem last summer. This shelter was crammed with picnic tables, and she took a good look at them, but I had her walk between the rows, ducking my head under the low ceiling as we went from one end of the shelter to the other, just to make sure she could still do this. We then walked onto the road, and at this point I could see the angry clouds in the sky-another rain band was coming. We turned around and trotted on the grass by the road, trying to make it to the powerlines before it started to rain again.

We didn't make it. It started raining again as we were coming even with the entrance to the main trails, so I had Lily go into the cover of the trees instead. These trails were quite wet-no puddles, but fairly muddy, which made me cringe-I had not duct-taped her foot because I had foreseen NONE of this! The rain started coming down really hard as we reached the opening in the trails that leads to the powerlines-the trees became useless as cover, and we were both drenched. I had Lily wait here regardless, which made her dance with impatience at seeing the path home but being forced to stand still. I had to turn her a couple of times, but she eventually gave up and stood, waiting. At this point I was actually glad I had ridden her in the mullen mouth snaffle-she would've been tossing her head like crazy with the pelham when asked to be still.

The rain eventually slowed to a drizzle and we left the cover of the trees to power walk back home. I wanted SOOOO bad to just send her into a gallop back to the barn, but this would've been a huge mistake for two reasons:
1. I had no interest in teaching her to gallop every time it rains-she had already tried to pick up a trot when it started to drizzle, as the rain annoyed her.
2. Galloping home is always a bad idea unless you're fleeing from danger-it would've been months before I could get her to just walk home again.

So we walked. I could see the rain moving away ahead of us against the light of the setting sun (pretty cool) but knew we had another band approaching fast behind us. We had to turn right at the end of the powerlines to take the white trail/asphalt bike path back to the main road, and here we were caught by the rain again. I let Lily trot here, as we have done it before without her trying to accelerate. For whatever reason she chose to trot on the asphalt instead-wet asphalt is cleaner than the white clay, for sure, and probably less slippery, now that I think about it, and it was a good exercise for strengthening tendons. We only did this for about 10 yards before we were on the street, and there we just slowed to a walk for the rest of the way home.

OF COURSE the minute we stepped onto the barn driveway, the rain stopped. I hopped off Lily and led her over to my truck, where I had a dry shirt (yesss!). I was soaked and cold and at this point didn't care-I sat in the truck with the door open and stripped to my sports bra and switched shirts, Lily's reins looped on my boot. She's such a good girl-she tried to sneak a bite of grass, but I gave her a firm "No!" and she immediately popped her head back up and waited.

She had been WONDERFUL on this ride, and she received Stud Muffins, had her foot disinfected with antimicrobial shampoo, had a long anti-fungal bath with a deep scrubbing (she stretched her neck out and made goofy faces while I scrubbed!) and then had her foot soaked for 30 minutes. She kept taking it out of the tub, but she was back to normal in terms of resting it-she was alternating feet or even standing square. *Relief!!* I dried it, sprayed her frog with iodine, stuffed the crack with cotton and antibiotic ointment, then applied ichthamol to her abscess (which is also healing fantastically-it has stopped draining), and put her away in a nice, clean fluffy stall for the night with her haynet. She was definetely a happy horse. :)