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

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday Photos: Cats Gone Wild!

We had ordered a new dish set from CB2. They do a fantastic job wrapping fragile items: layers of tissue, bubble wrap, and this weird corrugated, springy brown paper with holes. 

The kitties ripped into the wrapping material before I was done opening the package! Astarte especially, who loves boxes and paper. 

She's 13 years old, by the way...hahaha...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Today's Run: First Signs of Fall!

I have not been keeping up with the "Today's Run" photos, but we have continued to run. We ran the week after WV, took a 2-week break while Mom was visiting (no time for it, what with rehabbing Lily, giving my mom the tour and just spending time with her, and working), and we've been back at it since last week. We've been averaging about 2.5 miles running, but we've been doing it one-way on the trails then walking back, which often means we're covering at least 4 miles total.

I've continued to take photos of each run, just hadn't posted them.

These are from last week:

At Great Falls

First red leaves
All of the trees of this species are starting to change color.

This is currently my favorite place in MD. Seriously.

We explored this lake twice:

There are several trails around it

We're hoping to rent one of the pedal boats before they close down for the fall...

Running up the Hill of Death. Gah!
Loving the Prana shirts, Liz! :D
Creek that flowed by the trail. The trail reached a dead end, and we ended up crossing the creek trying to find a trail on the other side so we could head back. No such luck, but still a lot of fun!

This part of the trail reminded me of the Tradewinds Park trails that we used to ride on, back in FL.

These were taken today in our neighborhood:

I swear all of these trees were solid green last week.

This is the parking lot behind the grocery store that we walk to all the time.
Saw this and was like, "Wait, what? When did that happen?"

It had been in the mid 70's during the day for the past 2 weeks. This week it's back to being a more seasonal (according to long-term residents) 90's with high humidity. So no, the weather is NOT matching those colors you see in the photos!


Sooo I've been a bad blogger. I apologize for not commenting on other people's blogs, as we've just had a lot of stuff going on lately.

You'd think I'd be excited to be close to the end of this damn rehab. The closer it gets, the more anxious I get about just getting it over with.

I want this shirt

Lily is in heat. She started last week after her boyfriend got moved into the stall across the way from her, since he is an anxious, weaving OTTB who hates being in a stall, and is now on stall rest due to a hind limb tendon injury. He now has company, since Lily AND her neighbor are both on stall rest, too. The OTTB has settled in a lot better and quicker than any of us expected, just having friends close by.

Hello Crazy Overly Sensitive MareFace. I don't even want to ride her anymore when she gets into this mindframe, because it takes every ounce of mental strength and patience in me to refrain from overreacting to her ridiculousness. All training and desensitizing goes out the window when she is in heat. She even ceases to remember who I am and the fact that I have never abused her in the 2 years I've owned her. She'll roll her eyes at me the entire time I'm working with her, no matter how slowly and carefully I move around her. For an entire week. Once a month.

When she's like this, I can totally understand how she got into trouble with the cowboy trainer.

We had 3 rides last week. We went on the trails twice. The first time, we did our 3 trot sets in the 30 minute time frame; the second ride we spent mostly walking because it was cool and despite being medicated, she was overly looky and skittish. She actually spooked at a clump of grass...in a meadow...then gave a head-up buck where all 4 feet left the ground. Fun. So the day after that we rode in the arena, adding the fourth trot set as scheduled by my vet. She was cranky and uncooperative, and she spooked at a rake that had been propped on the corner of the arena for the last two weeks. That she has seen and been completely nonchalant about, for the past two weeks.

In terms of rehab, for these next two weeks I had two options: either add the 4th trot set, or do 3 trot sets and start cantering lines + turnout. If I added the 4th trot set, I'd be adding cantering lines two weeks later, and THEN starting turnout.

Over the weekend, we did the same rehab routine on the lunge, and I chose to not use ace because I was running low and was waiting for the next bottle to arrive. Plus I hate medicating her all the time to do active stuff with her outside of her stall.

Of course, since she is in heat she was spooking at people walking by the outside gate of the indoor arena. She tried to break into a gallop and get away several times for no reason whatsoever, as the horses had already been fed and turned out. If I ignored her antics she'd settle. Somewhat.

On Sunday, however, ignoring her was not working, and after her 3rd attempt at getting away from me and trying to run away backwards when I asked her to stop, I MADE her back up until she reached the corner of the arena. She settled down after that.

*Must work with her on this backing-up-away-from-me-in-fear BS. I am SO DONE WITH THIS BEHAVIOR!* When she can be treated like a normal horse again. *sigh*

It is another thing that she only does when she is in heat.

On Monday, I touched up her feet and we just hand walked. Afterwards I was trying to clip her right hind fetlock and the back of her cannon bone. She has a minor fungal infection going on there that I've been treating for the last 5 days, but the leg continues to stock up and I wanted to remove the hair that's in the way so the medications can reach the infection and we can get it cleared up once and for all. This is not the first time I do something of this sort. It is not the first time I clip her legs. She has had full body clips before; I've clipped her legs a million times for scenarios like this (she often gets fungal infections on her hinds, no matter how clean her environment is), and just when I wanted to clean up her appearance. She was clipped by Dr. R for her ultrasounds without major problems or requiring sedation.

It was quiet in the barn. It had been a couple of hours since the horses had been fed and turned out for the night, and the OTTB and Lily's neighbor, who both adore her, were quietly munching on their hay in their stalls. Charles was with me, and he was just hanging out at the moment while I finished up my chores.

I go to clip her right hind, reaching around her left hind so I could access the inside of the right hind with more ease (another thing I have done a million times before), and almost got nailed in the face by her left hind. She has NEVER offered to kick me before and it is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE. She got smacked hard in the butt for that. I tried 3 more times from different angles: once from the right side, once with Charles neck twitching her, and once with him holding the left hind up. Not working. So she received 4 mls of ace. Waited half an hour for it to take effect, and once she was falling asleep on the cross ties, tried again. Still kicking. Once I added a nose twitch, held by Jackie, I was able to gently clip the affected leg without threats of bodily injury. Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. Afterwards I treated the leg without major complaints from her.

Jackie often picks Lily's stall at late-night check. She has been doing this for the past 4 months. Lily knows her and loves her, to the point where I sometimes get a little jealous. :) This doesn't keep my mare from going into a full panic when Jackie enters her stall to pick her stall at night while Lily is in heat. She did this last month, and did it again this weekend. She only does this when she is in heat. Another thing? Last month, during the time that Lily was in heat, Dr. R was at the barn to finish summer shots. She always takes the horses' temperatures when she's vaccinating. She went to take Lily's temperature (something that both myself and her have done several times before, without the slightest problem), and Lily tried to kick her.

It is good to know that others see and recognize my mare's extreme behaviors at this time of the month. Most people don't see it, as she is fine when you approach her, and will nuzzle you and be as sweet as ever when she is in her stall and you're on the other side of the door. This changes when you go to actually do stuff with her. Like groom her. Or lunge her. Or ride her. I've had people who have only interacted with her on a petting basis tell me that they don't see what I'm talking about. I really do wish I was imagining it, that it was something minor. I have a high tolerance for inappropriate behaviors in horses, as long as I can correct them and the horse learns. I have no control over hormonal behaviors. I can correct some of her reactions (like the backing up issue that needs to be addressed; it is escalating and it is a dangerous bad habit, even if it only happens once a month), but it's all just going to happen again in 3 weeks when she goes into heat again. It's like effing Groundhog Day, for an entire week, once a month. I'm starting to get concerned because her extreme behaviors while in heat are starting to worsen. She used to barely show signs of being in heat when I first got her, and it was something that you could ride through easily. I would never have purchased her if I'd known she'd get this bad. The skittishness in her stall is a new and unprovoked behavior that has happened exclusively during the last 3 heat cycles. The rest of the time she has been fine with both Jackie, the vet, and me working with her in her stall.

She's getting this week off. I refuse to ride her in this frame of mind. Since we could have started turnout anyway, and she needs to be reintroduced to grass regardless, we're going to start turning her out for two hours at a time max in the grassy square pen. Medicated, of course.

I had the repro talk with my vet. I actually asked about spaying Lily.  This sounds extreme and sudden, but it was something that I had been reading about and considering for the last year, given Lily's slowly worsening PMS. If it was something that had more advantages than drawbacks, we would find a way to eventually do it. However, I wanted to hear my vet's thoughts on the matter: I respect her opinion, plus she is young and worked at her university's large animal hospital and at a busy equine specialty hospital prior to moving to MD.

She did not have good views on spaying. She said of course it should be done for medical problems, like granulosa-theca tumors, but overall she had not seen the best results when spaying healthy, bitchy mares. She knew of one sporthorse mare that had been spayed due to her horrendous attitude. The spay changed nothing. The other drawback is that some spayed mares will actually cycle continuously. As you may or may not know (I knew this part), when you "spay" a mare, you only remove her ovaries, unlike small animal spays where you remove both the ovaries and uterus. The possible perk of removing the ovaries is that you remove the source of the signal that tells the body to go into heat. The drawback is that you also remove the source of the signal that tells the body when to stop going into heat. And since the spayed mare still has a uterus, she can just start a literally never-ending heat cycle.

Spayed mares are actually popular in big breeding programs to stimulate stallions, because they are always in heat but are unable to get pregnant.

Umm, yeah, ditch any possible consideration of that plan!

So we discussed the other two big methods: the marble and Regumate. My vet said that the marble rarely works; if I wanted to try it, of course we could, but the success rate was very low. She explained the procedure, saying that nowadays you do a Caslick to keep the marble in, as one of the drawbacks of the technique is that the mare will often lose her marble. (Lol!)

Caslicks are popular in racing TB mares due to windsucking (I personally don't understand this, and think the entire concept behind this procedure is a little barbaric and bordering on the edge of superstition. I don't understand why this is still such a common procedure), but are not common in other breeds.

Lily is a TB cross, with no tattoo, but she has a Caslick. She came with it, and my assumption was always that (hopefully) it had been performed for a reason, Ex: poor anatomy, recurrent infections (both of which I highly doubt, but whatever.) I told Dr. R about it. This made us wonder about the possibility of someone already having tried placing a marble in her...and it obviously not working.

So that left us with Regumate.

The first drawback of Regumate is that it is expensive. $271 on Smartpak for a bottle of the stuff, and they have the best price on it + free shipping. BUT, that's almost a 4-month supply. That's actually not much more than what I'm spending on Lily's ExStress calming supplement when you split that into a per month cost. (I've tried raspberry leaf. I've tried whopping doses of it. It made no difference whatsoever.)

The second drawback is that it is hormones. I had concerns about the side effects of having her on the stuff continuously for the rest of her life, but Dr. R said that one advantage of living here in the north is that you can give them a break during the winter, since mares don't cycle during the cold months. Plus most people that use the drug for behavior modification do use it forever because it is so effective.

I talked to a couple of people who have had their mares on Regumate long-term. Two of them had mares that were dangerous to ride when they were in heat. One would get so body sore that you couldn't even touch her. Both mares have completely mellowed out and are much more consistent in their temperament. The others to whom I've talked to also only have good things to say about Regumate.

In conclusion: I think we'll be trying it. I was going to wait until next spring, but I think I may start her on it sooner. I'm done with the monthly crazies. It's exhausting to deal with. We use hormonal contraceptives ourselves and continue with our lives, often with less issues as a result. After the talk with my vet, I have no qualms about doing the same with Lily.

On Tuesday, I gave Lily her ace, groomed and tacked up Ramsey, and once the ace had kicked in, put Lily out in the round (square) pen that we use as a small hospital paddock when a horse has to be on restricted movement.

She was out there for a little over an hour while I rode and afterwards bathed Ramsey. I checked on her often as I was untacking and hosing him off. She was walking around in the round pen, covered in dust from rolling, but she had not torn up the ground, which meant she had not been running around acting like a lunatic (I aced her to prevent this).

I brought her in once Ramsey was put away. She was sweaty and itchy, and the flies were driving her crazy despite a prior liberal application of fly spray. I gave her a long shampoo bath. Despite it being hot out, the water from the hose was cold, and she relaxed under the stream, taking a nap while being bathed. The fungal infection was so much better thanks to having clipped the leg prior to treating it the day before.

On weeks like this, I wish I had just waited and gotten a gelding.

Dressage Apocalypse

On Horse Nation today:

"Oh Crap" Moment of the Day: Dressage Apocalypse

Excerpt from the post:

"This Russian rider’s freestyle begins pleasantly enough–you can actually hear some birds tweeting in the background. Then the ominous music kicks in, the wind picks up, the sky darkens, and it begins to thunder. Then rain, then monsoon, then… dun-dun-duuuuun.
Nonetheless, the show must go on!"

It is dangerous to continue a show, never mind the test, in a situation like this. The show should have been stopped with weather conditions like that. Shame on the show staff for continuing. But who knows what kind of show this was. It's an upper level test. What if they were trying to qualify for the Olympics? What if they had been training for years and years to get to this specific show? I'm just glad nothing happened to either horse or rider.

Gotta say it: that is one bombproof horse. He keeps going with ears pricked like nothing is happening. Total trust in his rider. I hope they won that show by default, seriously. And it was good to see the well-deserved pat that the rider gives her horse at the end.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tour of the DMV

Have a million photos from my mom's visit.
For those that are not local to this area, "DMV" = DC, Maryland and Virginia.

Astarte says, "I want some of whatever she's planning to cook!"
My mom is an amazing cook, and it's her favorite thing to do. We've said for years that she should own her own catering business. She seriously should have been a professional chef. Charles gained 6 lbs during her 2-week visit. I don't want to know how much I gained, but my clothes are tighter! We started running again this week, after a 2-week hiatus.
At Harpers Ferry :)

So...if you live in this area, you should TOTALLY check out this store! They have modern samples of historic candies that are, of course, edible.

My favorite candy was the Turkish Delight. It is from the 1800s and I had read about it in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. It was Edmund's favorite candy! It is the ancestor of marshmallow and taffy.
And yes, I totally stuffed my face with it, Edmund-style. It is my new favorite candy!
At this store they sold it by the bag, cut up into little squares and dusted with confectioner's sugar. OMG sooo good!
Did you know that Chiclets was the last gum that was made from a natural tree gum? I didn't. Dubble Bubble was the first completely synthetic gum.

Pretty jars on the store window.

Charles and Mom checking out the Native American gum.

One of the ice cream shops and the tavern next door.

Charles and Mom looking at the scenery.

The place where we ate lunch.

Swallowtail butterflies

Love these mountains.

Aengus has a shoe fetish

Downtown Frederick, MD

Love this.

I had never realized that these came in so many different colors!

We snuck into the art school to check out the student exhibits.

This store was all unique, and sometimes rather crazy-looking, eyeglasses. 

See the man with wings in the window?

Even the window is painted! The window above it is real. The window next to the man's, as seen in the previous photo, is also painted on the wall.

Mom's first ride on the Metro. On our way to the art museums in DC.

At the Hirshorn

I thought this was awesome!

This was the wall window of the store between the East and West  Wings of the National Gallery

Pictures didn't do this justice.
We took a ton of photos of the exhibits we saw at both museums, but I'm not posting them; afraid of some copyright mess.

Wall outside of the National Gallery.

Union Station
At the Korean BBQ. Yuuuummmm!!!

Georgetown, DC

Dean and Deluca.
If you've watched The Devil Wears Prada, you might recognize the name. The main store is in New York City. I was tickled pink when I discovered the Georgetown one. Of course we had to take Mom there.

Despite the store being ridiculously expensive, the coffee was about the same price as Starbucks's...and a million times better!

View from Dean and Deluca

Mom :)

Andre The Giant, by Banksy. Have you seen Exit Through the Gift Shop? If you haven't, and you're into art, you totally should! You will understand why Charles and I were SO excited to discover this little stamp on a Georgetown wall! 
Georgetown Cupcakes and the neverending line to get in. All thanks to a reality TV show about the place. The cupcakes are good, too.
Bowl of water for dogs, outside of CB2. The DMV is a very dog friendly area - this is also a common sight in Alexandria, Frederick and in our current hometown.

Georgetown is so stinking beautiful. The rent here is totally proportionate to the beauty, however...

Acorn trees at Great Falls

Wild oats!

Charles shaved for the first time in 5 years!

We'd never seen the water level of the Potomac this low - usually there is a small current flowing through this area, but it was so low that the water was still. Never mind that it had been raining all week!
While cautiously climbing over the rocks by the river, I discovered this handsome dude taking a nap.
Thank you Liz, for posting all of those snake photos taken while rock climbing! I don't think I would have thought to be as careful as I was otherwise.
Pretty sure this was a Northern Water Snake, which is not venomous, but I let him continue his nap. Better safe than sorry!

I <3 blue herons

Do you see the butterfly?

Old Great Falls tavern, now turned into a museum

Aengus says, "This CB2 tissue is AWESOME!"
Kiss! I love how well these two get along. Aengus, our MD kitten that we adopted just a month after moving to this area, just turned a year old on July 25th.

Handing out treats.
Mom says good-bye to Astarte.
For those of you who are newer to this blog: Astarte is a Puertorrican kitty. She was adopted at the Humane Society of Puerto Rico when she was 9 months old. She used to belong to my brother, but he couldn't take her with him when he moved to Ohio. She lived with my mom for the next 3 years or so, until I was able to have her brought to me in FL. She is probably the most-travelled of our current pets: in Puerto Rico, she moved from my family's old house to the new one, then from PR to FL; in FL she moved from Davie to Coconut Creek, and then, 4 years later, she came with us across 5 states on a 17-hour road trip to get to VA; finally, 3 months later she moved with us again to our current destination: MD. We find it a small miracle that she still gets excited about boxes and suitcases...she is a very unusual cat! Lol

With Mom at the airport

She loved it here as much as we do. My mom has visited at least once a year since I moved in with Charles, and like I mentioned before, she used to live in the US when her and my dad were still married - we lived all over TX and LA, as my dad was an Army colonel and we were always being relocated. But she had never been to this area before. Charles said he'd never seen her look so much like a kid in a candy store. We had a blast giving her the grand tour of the areas we know so far. The two weeks went by so fast!