Why Owning a Horse is the Equivalent to Lighting all the Money You Have On Fire

It has been quite a while since I have posted with any kind of regularity, or at all.  I have been too busy spending all my money on my horse, and not for the fun kind of reasons. I also was just generally frustrated as we weren’t able to take lessons, fox hunt at all, or make any kind of progress due to everything.

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This is what it looks like to own a horse

When I last posted in October, it was a complete bitch fest about the string of crappy things that happened to both Mabou and me that made us unable to ride.  To summarize for those who don’t want to read all that whining- Mabou bruised his ankle on a trailer ramp, and his mystery SI or other problem continued to intensify, where he began bucking every time he cantered left, which culminated in me getting bucked off and breaking my left hand not once but twice (yes the second time was about a week after the first one healed….. I cannot express how fun that was).

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In addition to the riding issue, since he started this problem he always stood very close behind and resting the right hind.  Again, this didn’t really help to diagnose him but it was something that I noticed.

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Help me I am broken

I had gotten to the point where he was having a massage every week, chiropractor every two weeks, and I had two different vets look at him (along with the chiro who is also a vet).  Neither vet could find anything wrong with him.  He flexed perfectly, all his X-rays looked great, and even though I kept saying I thought it was an SI issue, they kept telling me that it appeared to be fine since he wasn’t sensitive to palpation there.

The chiropractor thought the issue was somewhere near the lumbar sacral or sacroiliac joint but his adjustments were not holding.  The only thing that seemed to give him relief was electro acupuncture.

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This does not look enjoyable to me, but pony loved it and basically fell asleep

It got to a point that it was suggested to me that perhaps it was a behavioral issue and he just didn’t want to work, or canter left or something like that.  I know my horse, and that is not like him at all, he actually enjoys working and is not a mean guy, so I was pretty set that something was wrong.  After a week trial of 1 gram of bute twice a day returned him to my perfect pony, it was basically confirmed there was something wrong with him, just that nobody knew what it was.

I decided to bite the bullet and take him to our local veterinary hospital for a bone scan, hoping that it would at least indicate where the problem was and then ultrasound or other diagnostics could be done from there as needed.  He would have to stay for 2 days, to allow for the radioactive isotopes he would get injected with for the scan to get out of his system.

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Hospital Jail

My trainer and I dropped him off on a Thursday morning and then I went to work, with directions from the hospital that they would call me at 5 with his scan results.  That day seriously dragged and I can’t say I was productive at work.  After an eternity, they called and the result- his left SI was very severely inflamed.  The vet told me that normally in a bone scan, or nuclear scintigraphy, when they take the overhead view of the hind end, the SI is blocked by the pelvis and doesn’t show in the scan.  His was so bad that it actually lit up through the pelvis!

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That black blob is his left SI.  It should be white or light gray like the rest of him.
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Cool images for those of you who are interested.

 

I can’t even tell you how relieved I was.  It was exactly as I suspected all along, and no other issues were found anywhere!  So he had both sacroiliac joints injected via ultrasound guided injections on Friday morning and then we picked him up Friday afternoon to go home.  Three days off with turnout and then he can return to his regular work and should feel like a million dollars.

Poor guy was generally really irritable when we got him home Friday, but I really can’t blame him, he had been through a solid day of testing and being poked and prodded and two whole days of no turnout, in isolation, sedated, and twitched.  (He has bruises on his nose from the twitching which breaks my heart but it was for his own good)

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Hopefully now I will have my fun horse back, and I can actually start posting fun horse things again.  I renewed my USEF and USHJA memberships back in December, in the hope that we would be showing again this year, and it looks like that was good luck or something.  For now we will concentrate on growing back the two bald spots on him that the hospital shaved for the injections (they are to the skin bald!!).

If I could go back in time I would have gone for the bone scan immediately rather than wasting months trying to figure it out with vets chiro etc.  It would have actually been cheaper in the long run.

Here’s to a 2016 filled with fun and ribbons.

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Update post: Isn’t lameness fun 

After anxiously waiting all summer for fall to come and hunt season to begin again, two weekends ago our first outing finally arrived. We were invited to go with a friend and her green horse as “babysitters” to ride slowly in the back of the field with her and give her horse a good experience. 

We were only hound walking, which is essentially a trail ride with the pack of hounds, and helps to get the hounds fit for hunting. 

  
The morning comes, I wake up and arrive at the barn nice and early, groom and tack up (the horses are shipped to hunt outings with saddles on so you just put bridle on and go once you arrive at the fixture). 

For the past few years, Mabou has been traveling to everything in my trainer’s big rig, which has 8 foot ceilings. When he went to walk on to friends two horse trailer he hit his head, and I could tell that was going to be it for him. 

  
In one of his running to escape going into what he thought was too small for him episodes he stepped/fell off the side of the loading ramp to the right, but seemed fine otherwise. He wouldn’t go on, and I didn’t want to make an issue and give him a bad experience, so everyone went off that day and we stayed behind. 

Once I got on and went to ride I realized he was pretty damn lame. Never a dull moment. After thoroughly having a pity party for myself at missing out AND having a now lame horse, I thoroughly checked his legs and found no cuts, heat, etc. (he had been wearing open front boots and bell boots when he was being loaded)

  
After he was still lame the next day, we called the vet out to make sure there wasn’t a soft tissue injury. Thankfully, it’s just a heel bruise! We also took x Rays, because my chiro wanted me to so that farrier can confirm his break over point. 

  

So thankfully now we just wait for the heel bruise to heal. Good timing actually (as if there ever was a good time for an injury) because the end of this week husband and I are going to Ireland and then Germany for Oktoberfest. So pony gets to be spoiled by my mom and stuffed with carrots and heal while we are gone, then I can start him back up again. 

   

Chiro report: Getting there

When I last checked in re:Mabou’s bodywork, he was sore all over (poor guy). Since that first visit he had a follow-up a week later after having a week off (where he looked great). We had his one month follow-up yesterday. 

  
The Chiro noticed that his neck and chest have absolutely filled out since she got him unlocked and he has been better able to carry himself properly in our flat work. 

The good- 

His hips and back still looked great, and he allowed her to get pretty deep into his glutes and hips to massage and adjust.

The bad- 

I was disappointed to find out that his armpit, pectoral and inside of his front legs were now really sore.  Because he is so delicate, he wouldn’t let her do any work until she treated the area with acupuncture, with a bunch of needles stuck into his heels.

He has always had low heels, which combined with his propensity to pull shoes despite living in bell boots 24/7, makes him more difficult to shoe.

  
The Chiro suggested that his feet may be imbalanced, and that I should have an X-ray done of his front feet so the farrier can go off of that to determine his proper break over point. She also wants the farrier to roll his toes and pointed out that he has flares.

My knowledge of shoeing is admittedly limited, so I have been trying to educate myself via magical google. 

  
Anyone have experience with shoeing possibly making your horse sore and/or tweaking the balance point?

Hazy hot and humid- check, check and check 

This summer has flown by! I have had nonstop work, riding, and social obligations that I haven’t had much time to sit down and write a blog post.

Mabou has been going better than ever after all his bodywork that I had done back in July. He is a happy horse and always game for what I ask him to do. Which, the past week has been- NOTHING. 

  
The summer heat here has been giving us temperatures in the 90s, with high 80% humidity. It basically saps every ounce of energy out of you. 

Needless to say, my riding the past week has been super unmotivated, and Mabou has had a lot of spa/beauty days. 

  

The barn is going to a show this Wednesday, which I bowed out of.  Showing in this heat wouldn’t be too enjoyable or fair to Mabou. Plus I would rather save the personal day to do a Wednesday fixture once cubbing starts (cubbing is basically fox hunting pre-season).

I hope to do a full post on each of our shows…. Eventually…. And do some reviews of new tack! 

Happy Wednesday guys! 

  

Boring Update Post

Haven’t posted lately because there’s not really much going on!

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Although it is definitely feeling better day by day, my ankle is still not ok for riding.  I can put weight on it now, but it still is a little swollen at the impact site, which was basically right to the bone, since there’s not much of anything but skin and then bone right at your ankle bone and above that.  My doctor thinks it might be a bad bone bruise, and recommends that I give it a few more weeks so that it can heal completely.

So much for the end of July/early August show plans.  Have no fear though, Mabou has found another way to quickly deplete my bank account.  Enter: the chiropractor.

just going to eat grass for a few weeks k thanks
just going to eat grass for a few weeks k thanks

For some quick background, ever since I got Mabou, I have wanted to have him treated by a chiropractor.  From my research, it is not unusual for horses off the track to need adjustments and have areas of muscle soreness, as racing is pretty strenuous.  The chiro we used in the past went MIA, so when the Hampton Classic prize list came out this year and we saw a holistic veterinary practice in there, we figured it was worth a shot.  (it also so happens that Margie Goldstein Engle’s husband is part of this practice, so thats kind of cool)

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We scheduled an appointment for several horses and the chiro came out last Thursday.  From the outset, I really really liked her.  She was honest, thorough, and didn’t rush at all.  She watched Mabou walk to evaluate his gaits and look for any asymmetry, and then tested his entire body for soreness (including his hooves and teeth!)  She immediately noticed that his one hip was higher than the other, and that his hips seemed locked, and did not swing as he moved the way that they should.  She also immediately noticed that he had muscle atrophy on his face (who knew horses had face muscles), and that he was super sensitive when she touched the area, thus showing that he had very bad TMJ. Upon testing him for soreness, she found that the poor boy was sore basically everywhere in varying degrees.  Worst was his lower neck, shoulder, lower back, hips, inside of his stifle, and he was also sore in his poll, withers and his entire back.

Let’s just say when we discovered this I FELT HORRIBLE FOR HIM.  We had thought since we got the custom saddle that his back was doing better, as he doesn’t react if I probe it with my hands.  However, the vet was able to test along the different muscles of his back and truly determine that he was hurting.

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help me

She did some range of motion work on his poll to help with the TMJ and also did a lot of work to open up his shoulder joints, which were pretty locked.  When it came to his hips, he was totally not feeling any efforts she did to get them unlocked (probably because it was uncomfortable!) so she did some acupuncture on him and laser therapy along his back and hips.  He LOVED the laser, he gave us big yawn right after big yawn.

She decided that she would leave it at that for the day, so that we didn’t do too much to him in one session, and recommended a follow up appointment within 2 weeks to continue fixing his back and to get those hips unlocked.  From now until then, no riding.  Which I guess if I have to give him off, now would be the time since I am also sidelined.

I feel bad for him, he raced until he was 10 or so, so he had a very long career and could have been living with this pain for quite some time.  This show season will be sidelined as we work out these body issues, as those are definitely priority.  The vet did say that after we get the initial scar tissue worked out and restore his range of motion, then we can maintain it with just a few sessions a year and various exercises that she will show me to do.  He has always been such a good boy, I am really looking forward to how wonderful he feels to ride when he is not hurting!

Horse show recap & unrelated ouchies

First, I must say that Mabou was excellent at the show. Since we were staying in jumpers we let him stick with his happy mouth snaffle, and he was cool as a cucumber from the moment he stepped off the trailer to the moment he stepped back on. 

  
We did two shows this week, and he has figured out what this showing thing is all about. He thinks it’s fun and actually likes to stand by the rings just watching, no grazing, just chilling and watching the goings-on.

He strolled into the jumper ring at a relaxed walk for each trip, and even after getting fired up, relaxed back down and walked out of the ring as quiet as he walked in. 

We stepped up to the 2’6″, and ended up reserve champion again, with a fifth (I always hold him back too much on the first round until I start to feel brave), second, and a first. Our jump off time in the last round was actually the fastest time of the day, so I was pretty proud of myself for that!

My trainer gave me some advice which I found hilariously true- go into the ring looking like you want to win not live. Unfortunately sometimes I am the latter!

Photos to come when I buy them from the show photographer (my mom took videos of the grass accidentally)

Next: this lovely injury occurred after we got home from the show. (Note: my ankle is normally not this big!)

 Long story short, after we got back to the barn my trainer asked me to bring in a horse for her. As I was holding his lead and reaching to open the gate the other horse he is turned out with basically mauled him. Poor victim horsie could only escape by running me over (I forgive him). This was the aftermath. 

  
So I got to spend Sunday evening in the hospital  ER *hooray*. Verdict: bad contusions with mild sprain. They gave me a soft cast and crutches, neither of which I am using at work today because I am stubborn. Hope I can ride later this week! 

Horse Show Recap: Charity Show

Once a year in July, there is a big charity horse show here.  It’s always on a Wednesday, which requires a day off work, and luckily I was able to pull it off this year.  The charity show benefits a local animal shelter, and always has a huge turnout and the best prizes!  Coolers for champion and reserve, and usually tote bags or hats for each first place ribbon.  Nothing is more motivation than things!

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The original plan for the show ended up being totally different than what we did, but spoiler, we ended up with a cooler so all was good!

Pretty Curvon Cooler!!!
Pretty Curvon Cooler!!!

The original plan was to show in the Adult Eq, medal, maclay, etc., as that is what we have focusing toward in all of our lessons.  However, after we got there and he was high as a kite (since, to be fair, this is only his second show), and we had a very dismal schooling wherein I basically wanted to call it a day, my trainer suggested that we enter into the 2 foot baby jumpers just to get him in the ring and go around.

Pretty pony
Pretty pony

I agreed because I knew that she was right, and it was important for us to get in the ring and have a good experience.  So we untacked him, let him chill by the rings for an hour, then retacked and away we went to the 2′ schooling.

Just chillin
Just chillin

He was a different horse in the jumper ring, I really think he is trying to say loud and clear that its his thing.  For some reason all my photos came out really blurry when they are zoomed in, but these and videos of my rounds are all I have  (well I still have to get the videos from my mom aka show photographer)  He was totally in his element when I let him go at his preferred speed of fast.

Pony says 2' is insulting
Pony says 2′ is insulting

Needless to say he was wonderful in the jumper classes.  He almost seems proud of himself when we come out of the ring, and he doesn’t get hot going in or out of the ring and is content to stand and hang out on a loose rein in-between rounds.  Inside turns are also a piece of cake with this boy.

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Luckily I had brought a square saddle pad and had been wearing a sun shirt and his Eskadrons for schooling, so we easily looked the part.  I think that we will stick with the jumper ring for now, he is so cat-like and quick that making him an eq horse always seemed a little like putting a square peg in a round hole.

The satin and cute tote bag
The satin and cute tote bag!

We ended up reserve champion, winning ourselves a tote bag embossed with the show logo and a Curvon cooler embroidered with the show logo!  I was so proud of him.

Tired proud pony
Tired proud pony

Next show is Sunday so he gets a few days of rest and then back at it!  Going to step up to the 2’6″, as the 2′ is almost a joke for him.