Friday, January 28, 2011

How Do You Spell Frustrated...?

I feel sorry for my Horse...rather, I DID feel sorry for him...I will explain.
This morning I was out super early because our wonderful farrier made quick trip out (after begging, pleading and the promise of a Double-Double) and along with one trim and replacing a shoe that had come off, he was able to pull Chester's shoe.
Once the shoe was pulled, he scraped his sole and broke out the hoof testers...and, found nothing. FML. After I let out a several words which should not be repeated, he told me the same thing that DVME had told me: If is actually is an abscess, then it can move around. Keep your eye on how he is standing in the crossties. If it IS an abscess, then he will be standing with his front left leg forward.
Why do I not feel sorry for my horse?! --> Before our farrier got there, I checked out his legs and pulled the poultice pad/boot. He was still stocked up, but not nearly as bad as yesterday. There was some heat in his hoof, but that was more then likely from the poultice pad and boot. As I pulled the boot off and looked at the pad I kept repeating : Please let me see black stuff, please let me see black stuff, please let me....No dice. Ugh...
I put him into the arena for a second to let him *walk* around and stretch his legs...ha - he had none of this 'walking' business and had ideas of his own....rather, he turned into a raging lunatic, bucked, galloped and trot/pranced around...and it took me a couple minutes to get near enough to catch him...the jackass. He didn't take a frigging lame step.
So, the plan now, is to keep up with the poultice pad/boot, epsom salt soak (which was a whole OTHER fiasco yesterday) until Sunday. At which point I will flex him and see how he reacts. Updated DVME and she said, sounds like everything is progressing as it should, keep on it. What I am STILL having a very hard time understanding, is how he can be lame one day, off the next. But, he is clear through his shoulder and leg (as confirmed by Dr. Cove). I am thinking that not every hoof abscess is treatable and may sometimes just need to run its course. From what I can gather, this usually involves off and on lame symptoms ranging from a couple of weeks to a few months; Until the foreign material "blows" it's way out of the hoof wall near the coronet band.
This is completely unnerving to me and probably one of the most frustrating things EVER.
I can tell you this much - he feels good enough to be able to make
snow angels when we are walking...

He was a little stiff yesterday morning, but by the time we were back from our walk, he was fine and as I explained today - he didn't take a lame step. As for the epsom salt soak, let's hope this afternoon it goes much better then it did yesterday when I ended up getting soaked and had to refill the bucket 3 times....

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

No Foot, No Horse...

Again - I find myself learning something new about how much I do not know about horses and how they work.
DVME was kind enough to make a special stop this evening on her way home to a dinner party, because of how simply OFF Chester was this morning. I told her: Look, I am NOT crazy, this horse is dead lame. Considering on Saturday, he didn't take a lame step, she was quite apprehensive, but decided to come to my rescue anyway. Love her.
When I got there, I put him in his stall and immediately feel his hooves for heat as DVME had asked me to do...annnnd, sure enough, the hoof wall and above the coronet band, was hot...more on the left then the right...and then all 4 (DVME chalked that up to him running around like a lunatic.)
As I am waiting for her to arrive, I am watching a couple of the younger girls having a lesson. One of them, who I love dearly, goes to me: "Your horse is a maniac!" I look at her: "Oh really?! How so?" And she proceeds to tell me that he was acting like a moron, flat out galloping, rearing, playing with the other horses, but when he stopped, he could barley walk. I. Wanted. To. Kill. Him.
DVME shows up, hoof testers in hand. She feels his legs, can't find anything out of the ordinary. I want to stress that there is absolutely no heat, swelling or puffiness ANYWHERE in EITHER of his front legs. There was however, a little bit of sensitivity in his left foot, but it was hard for her to really tell, because of his snow pad and shoe. We take him into the arena so she can watch him move. I walk/trot up and down in a straight line and he is off - I am not looking at him, but I can feel it. Then, she asks me to turn him in a tight, small circle to the left and to the right. He visibly was having a hard time doing that. So, she flexes his front left leg - we take off at a trot, he takes 3 steps and she immediately tells me to stop because he is crippled.
There is an old saying that goes‘no foot – no horse’. This emphazises the fact that the vast majority of lameness cases relate to the horse’s foot. In fact a foot abscess is the most common cause of lameness. ( I didn't know that.) They can result in severe pain but are readily treatable if detected at an early stage. Other common foot problems include laminitis, arthritis of the joints within the foot, ‘navicular disease’, fractures and tendon or ligament strains.
My reading into this tells me that: It cannot be over emphazised that most sudden onset lamenesses in horses are caused by foot abscesses.
So - why do a flexion test and come up with the diagnosis of an abscess...aren't flexion tests used to test joints? Good question and one that is answered like this: It is common knowledge that, when bending the toe joints at a certain place, the blood supply to the hoof is interrupted, so no blood flows into the hoof. If there is a painful inflammation in the hoof, the lack of circulation is comfortable, because it disables sensitivity to pain. Above the "tourniquet" location, in the region of the navicular bone and the head of the pastern, congestion develops. When the limb is released and takes up its normal angle, the blood rushes into the inflamed region with increased force (congestion wave), which is even more painful for the horse than normal circulation. Thus the flexion test gives information if there is inflammation in the hoof area.
Okay - Great I does THAT diagnosis answer The Million Dollar question?! Well, with an abscess, they are constantly moving around and sometimes they can end up in a more painful spot then others (check - answers the mystery of him being on one day, off the next). Meaning that when we were schooling and he spooked, the abscess could have been underlying for a while and that spook was enough to cause it to finally come to a head - for lack of better term (check as to why he was immediately lame after the spook). Meaning that if this is ACTUALLY what is causing him to be off (because we won't be 100% sure until we see progress or block his foot - more on that in a second), his Jacks Joint, stiffness and back ouchiness are all secondary issues to the primary one...Eff. Chester - just tell me what is wrong with you already.
How did he get the abscess...?! Good question - my guess - snow and ice build up, maybe there was a rock/sharp piece of ice in there (remember I was gone for 5 days over Christmas), his feet didn't get picked out during that time, the snow and ice stayed built up even with the snow pads on and it caused the abscess..? Maybe? Who knows?
What happens now? Because he is an absolute crazed lunatic out in the field, he is confined to his stall until at least Sunday. (Good - serves him right - I can't BELIEVE he was running around like a lunatic!!) We are to hand walk a couple times a day, soak both feet in epsom salts, and his left foot gets an Intex Poultice pad, vet wrap and duct tape boot until Saturday (to be changed daily). If on Sunday, there is no change, then I am going to call our farrier, have him stop in to pull his shoes and then repeat. If a week from now there is still no change (heaven forbid - because it would break my heart), then we will have to block his foot and go from there. The one good thing about this situation - at least I don't have a day job at the moment and can be there to make sure I do everything I can to get Chester better.
I REALLY hope this is what it is and over the next week we see a big improvement. So, let's send Chester some good vibes and some good Karma.

I am NOT Giving Up...Yet...

This morning - he was head bobbing dead lame....from the second I went to get him from the field.
Updated DVME - her response "Head bobbing is usually associated with something in the front end, usually in the lower limbs, NOT a result of being stiff". Hummm - when he spooked on December 30 and went from super sound to super dead lame, my first reaction was it was something through his shoulder. I swore I had told her that, but anyways, that is neither here nor there at this point in time. What is WORSE then that -is when she was out on Saturday to check him out - he didn't take a damn lame step!!! When I think back to it now, I almost WISH he HAD taken a lame step so she could have seen it. This whole situation is overly frustrating.
She is going to try and come out this afternoon, she is booked solid, but she knows how important this is and is going to do her best. She is so amazing - I am lucky to have her as my vet and more importantly as my friend.
Fingers crossed - I am not giving up yet.
(Although sometimes, I feel like that would be the much easier option.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Saddles, Supplements & Needles...Oh My...!

Spoke with the Boss and my eventing partner today...they have some ideas about WTF is going on with Pickle.
The hardest thing to answer right now is: How does he go from being in a full program (in which he has never looked better...Boss' words, not mine) to spooking and then becoming lame?! Well - isn't THAT the million dollar question?! When someone figures that out, I would like to be the first one to know. Doesn't make a lot of sense does it...especially after when DVME confirmed that his tendons and ligaments are FINE...which is leading us more and more down the Joint problem path - as DVME expressed the other day. (Great - how am I supposed to take him around a prelim - or pre-training for that matter - xc course when he has joint problems?!)
The joint supplement he is on now is called Joint Armour....which I think we are going to take him off of because I don't think the glucosamine is doing him any good. I have researched a little and came across something called 'Mobility', which is produced in Guelph at the DVM college/research facility at the University of Guelph.
Mobility - is the only clinically proven, patent approved herbal arthritis formula for horses. Reduces pain, inflammation and increases movement in horses with arthritis, laminitis or competition horses whose daily activities cause stress on the joints.
Hummmm - that sounds like it is worth a shot - AND the testimonials about it are fab.
As for the Acupuncture - the original DVM that DVME had in mind, won't make the trek unless there is a group of 4 horses (DAMNIT)...So I found one other DVM (which I have called already to talk to and find out about a little more) and The Boss knows of one, I will wait to hear back from both of them and then have DVME make the call. I don't want just anyone sticking my super sensitive TB with needles.
The Boss today asked me to check his saddles (again), as she has always thought they have been a little tight. I have noticed (again) his pure displeasure of being girthed....sigh, she could be on to something. Perhaps the saddle is pinching (again) which is leading to a pinched nerve (again) which is causing his back to be as sensitive as it is. When I am out tomorrow - I will check out his saddles and see (because I am so well trained in that aspect...not) if I can tell if his saddles are tight...I have owned this horse for a year and 4 months and have gone through 2 jumping and 2 dressage saddles in the time I have owned him. He has changed sooo much in his body since I have owned him that I hope this isn't the case again.
Lastly - Boss goes to me: "You need to keep riding him and RIDING him like you were right before Christmas. If he feels sore, back off a little, then make him do it again. This is as much in your head as it is in his." I think the Boss and DVME talk about me behind my back.
Eff. Technically, horses are not supposed to cause us any stress right? Realistically, that is the farthest thing from the truth.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bringing the Far East to Cobourg...

It is amazing what you can learn in the course of an afternoon...especially when you WANT to listen, learn and absorb the information that is being presented to you. DVM Extraordinaire (DVME) was out yesterday afternoon to give Chester the once over...and, it was pretty cool to watch her work on him and go through the process of pinpointing the area that is causing him issues. For those who don't want to read the rest of this post (because it is a little long - sorry), in a nutshell: His original injury to his stifle + lack of mobility, is causing him to become more stiff then usual. This is causing a little bit of a fluid build up within his hocks (more specifically something called a 'jacks joint'), which is causing some mobility/movement problems through that area, which might lead to arthritis down the road, which causes his back to be ouchie when I ask him to really engage and step up under himself. It is a little more apparent to the right then it is to the left, which makes sense because the UFP was far worse through his right stifle. Clear as mud!
NOTE - The 'Jacks Joint' is the laymen term. The true or actual jack is called the Cunean Tendon, but the vets tend to use the Jacks Joint term more broadly. To be even MORE scientific: the medial branch of the insertion of the tibialis cranialis muscle in the hind limb of the horse.
Ever heard of Cunean Bursitis? Me either - until yesterday...This is inflammation of the bursa that sits between the cunean tendon and the hock, located along the lower and inside aspect of the joint. If the foot is held just slightly off the floor, weight shifted to the opposite leg so that the side being examined is unloaded with the hoof only in toe-touch position, you will be able to identify the crossing tendon easier and can check for a feeling of fullness under the skin above and below the course of the tendon. Inflammation may be a primary problem or in association with strain or bone spavin/arthritis. (
She basically gave him the once over - checked the points on his back and really paid a lot of attention to his pelvis, hips, stifles, hocks. He reacted as he should have which was a good sign (all his vertebrae are fine and not causing him discomfort). She also wanted us to do some flexion tests...which we did. His left, he was fine and didn't take a lame step...and proceeded to act like a crazed lunatic down by 'A' and the big arena door where the horse-eating-monsters were hiding...and came back practically skipping at the end of the lead rope. With the right - she said he took 2 or 3 reallllly off steps, but then was fine. On to the lunge. We went to the right first. When she was watching, her comment was: He is stepping a little shorter with his hind right (makes sense) but there is nothing visible to me that he is in any sort of pain or discomfort. Go to the left.
So - we go to the left and he was stepping out fine. She confirmed for me that it is more mechanical then pain related. Phew. I should ride him as much as possible - 6 days a week - and even if I walk for the first 25 minutes to really let him work out of the stiffness, then that would be best. Do some cavaletti (my best friends), lateral work, get him to stretch up under himself and MAKE him do it. She also said if it feels super horrible (at the trot), to come back to walk for a couple minutes, then try again. This horse needs to be pushed. Going forward, she feels as though this is potentially going to be a continual maintenance issue during the winter because we loose our trot sets...awesome...but it is something that is obviously NOT that big of a deal if we can mange it properly and be proactive in dealing with it.
Okay - how do we deal with it?
As above - cavaletti, stretching, lateral work and - ACUPUNCTURE!!!! When I told her that I would get Dr Cove out to work on his back, she said - I think we should try something else. That something else, is acupuncture...she said to me: would you ever go to the chiro - my response - never. And she raised her eyebrows at me...point taken. I have a hard time with bones etc being manipulated and foreced to move.
Acupuncture is a practice in which needles are inserted into various traditionally determined points of the body - acupuncture points - and then manipulated, or the theory under which the practice is done. Its practitioners variously claim that it relieves pain, treats infertility, treats disease, prevents disease, promotes general health, or can be used for therapeutic purposes. The way I read that is - a technique for treating certain painful conditions. The history of equine acupuncture dates back to the years 2000-3000 BC during the Shang and Chow dynasties in China. Interestingly, one of the first veterinary textbooks, "Bai-le's Canon of Veterinary Medicine," written around 650 B.C., was based primarily on acupuncture and its derivatives. It has been practiced in the Far East for centuries but has received little attention by Western equine veterinary practitioners until the last decade in the 20th century. (
DMVE said her clinic was working with a vet who has been trained and certified in Equine Acupuncture and thinks that Chester would benefit much more from that treatment then constantly getting adjusted. I looked at her like a light bulb had just gone off and said: when I hurt my knee - I was going through physio and did acupuncture as part of the treatments - and it worked fabulously! (Oh - AND even better - there is a 3 for 2 deal going on right now - AND - it is a little cheaper then having the chiro come out!) When it comes to this horse of mine, she feels as though the acupuncture will target the muscles/tendons/ligaments much more acutely and the ROI will be much greater. So, we are going to give it a shot! I am excited to see if it works!!!
It is amazing how much horses and humans are the same eh? From what I can gather, the hock is a complex joint of the rear legs situated between the stifle and the ankle that consists of six bones and four joints. Similar to the human ankle - but elevated and bending backward - the hock works in concert with the stifle, flexing and extending together with the stifle to achieve rear end propulsion. As the pivotal hind limb joint, the hock receives considerable forces. Knowing that - it is no surprise to me that he is building up some fluid in his Jacks Joint located within his hock.
Let's hope this doesn't turn out to be a total Pain in the Hock....ha - get it?! (Okay, that was pretty bad...)
More soon.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


It's Freezing!
If I have to read one more blog about 'people arriving safe in Ocala/Aiken' I am going to slit my wrists.
DVM Extraordinaire comes today at 1:00 p.m. Sit tight - full update later today/tomorrow.
Fingers Crossed.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Remember how mad I was yesterday when I was looking out my window to the needle like snow that was coming down last night....because I knew...once again...I wouldn't be able to ride outside? Because it would have freezed instantly and caused a layer of ice...
I. Was. WRONG!!!!
I woke up to a winter wonderland of about 6cms of fluffly, white powdery snow. It was bright and sunny and COLD! FREEZING!! But - there was no wind! Needless to say, this is what I did for an hour today:

Our Apple Orchard in January....

.....Looks a LOT different then in does in August!

Cool eh?! I always find it amazing that I live in a country where there is so much variance in our weather. Like the pictures above display. It is a weird feeling swimming in the lake at the cottage...and then skating on it 6 months later. It was awesome!!! It was FREEZING - but there was absolutely NO wind. Chester, LOVED it!! He was snorting to himself the entire time,snuffing the ground and half-rearing when I wanted to stop and take a picture as if to say "Hurry UP Mom...why are we STOPPED?!" He absolutely loved it!!! It's supposed to be -30C+ with the wind tomorrow and Sunday - so there might not be much riding, aside from me walking him for 25 minutes so he gets some movement in.

So glad to have gotten our hack in today. It was great and much needed on both our parts.

Stay Warm!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Wrong Kind of Snow...

We did cavaletti work today...and he didn't take a lame step.
Although still ouchie - thinking like 99% sure now he needs Dr. Cove - he was moving MUCH better and more freely then he has for the past 2 weeks. Much more rhythmical like he felt in the summer...
What did I say the other day? Movement is key for this horse. That seems to be working.
As I sit here looking out my window at the snow that is falling - you would think I would be getting excited about that. We are supposed to get about 4cms and then some more on Sunday/Monday...(I mean really, what better feeling is there then cantering your horse through a field of fresh, clean fluffy white snow...Well, maybe going clear on your first prelim xc...but that is a whole other story...)
WRONG!!! It is that small itty bitty pellet like stuff that feels like needles when it hits your face. Sigh - this means that there will be no outside hacking, no outside anything and poor Chester will continue to walk around outside like he is peg-legged because the pellet-needle snow will harden and turn to ice because it is so dang cold.
I think we need to do something FUN the barn...maybe an indoor eventing competition?! Or a Combined Test...or something.
Winter sucks.
More soon.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Define Baffled...

If you were to look up 'Baffled' in the dictionary, you would see my picture.
Here is the actual definition:
verb (used with object)
1. to confuse, bewilder, or perplex: He was baffled by the technical language of the instructions.
2. to frustrate or confound; thwart by creating confusion or bewilderment.
3. to check or deflect the movement of (sound, light, fluids, etc.).
4. to equip with a baffle or baffles.
5. Obsolete to cheat; trick.
My Partner in Crime has left me feeling completely baffled as to the reason for his apparent lameness. I can't seem to figure it out. That said, everyone seems to be leaning in the same direction. Lack of mobility = stiffness = mechanical issues through his stifles. Considering we are in the great white North - I am going to go with that conclusion. I think I need to keep him moving as much as possible. Considering my lack of work situation at the moment, we were thinking about riding him twice a day. Considering it is -15C, I doubt that is going to happen.
Today - he was a gem of a horse. Not a lame step to be had...There were moments when it felt like he was going to give me some problems, but I talked him out of it and pushed him on... Then, the weirdest thing happened.
As I turned him out into the arena to have a roll, he stopped - and you know when horses use their hind leg to scratch at their ear or something...? Well - he stretched his hind right to do that, turned his neck and head back to meet his foot and then I heard 2 or 3 little 'pops'. I looked at the barn owner and go 'Did you just hear that?' She said yep...and Chester continued to snort around and roll.
I put him back in the crossties, run my hands down his back along his muscles, get to the part where he has been ouchie and he doesn't even flinch...not a bit.
Maybe he just needed to crack his back?!
It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What Your Horse Can Teach You....

I think it is safe to say that horses teach you a lot about yourself. From dedication and determination to patience and perseverance to triumph and heartbreak and everything else in between.
My Lesson about myself today: I am easily Frustrated. (I will come back to that.) Chester, continues to baffle me and makes me look at him like he has 4 heads. He continues to be a little ouchie right at the end of his back right before his hips - but no more or no less then any other days this week...the amazing Dr. Cove is coming next week and I can almost bet Chester will need an adjustment. I did notice however, that he is kicking out a little more when he is standing in the crossties...a sure sign that he is super stiff through his that was one of the things that set me off a year ago when he first got hurt.
We did our stretches and I put my jumping saddle on him, my thinking being I will stay up off his back as much as possible and ride with a very light seat. To start off, he was pretty stiff in behind and I let him walk for a good 20 - 25 minutes before I even thought about asking him to trot. When did - to the left - he was the right - going straight wasn't an issue, but through the corners, he limped...considerably. So - I said - forget trotting, let's just walk/stretch/do some lateral movements. I would have LOVED to get his ass going over some cavaletti (which was a KEY to our rehab a year ago) but decided to wait until next time. When I jumped off him, his mouth was frothy, the pickle was out and just stood there as relaxed as could be while I stood mouth open, staring at him, FRUSTRATED BEYOND WORDS. Well to the point where I wanted to scream...The last thing he looked like - was that he was in any sort of discomfort at all. I took his tack off and he proceeded - again - to roll ALL the way over, get up, grunt and shake like a wet dog, like he normally does. SERIOUSLY HORSE...WTF??!
Is this a mental thing with Chester?! Horses REMEMBER, this horse is SMART, this horse is SENSITIVE...maybe he isn't feeling 100% and he remembers what happened and he is scared? Maybe I am the one who is scared to push him because it doesn't FEEL RIGHT...and that is the hard part of this situation.
So - because I am now wondering what the hell is going on - I update my very patient DVM Extraordinaire with the latest from this afternoon. This is what she says: "I can't really be sure if it is pain lameness at this point, definitely sounds like his muscles are sore, but that shouldn't make him asymmetrically lame. An adjustment from Dr. Cove couldn't hurt, but likely won't correct the primary issue completely. A lot of what you have been describing can be perfectly NORMAL given his injury, time of year and lack of mobility, but other things, not so much. If we are still at a loss, it wouldn't hurt to pull some blood to look at his kidney and muscle values either. Do NOT worry. We will get him sorted." She will be out in the next day or so. Until then - we continue stretching and walking/stretching under saddle.
I sound like broken record - and I am sorry for that - but I am unbelievably frustrated beyond belief when it comes to this situation - let alone EVERYTHING else that is going on in my life. The LAST thing I need to be worrying about right now is Chester. You know what is worse then that...? EVERYTHING seems worse then it actually is because of my situation.... considering I am an emotional person to begin with - I think (know) I am more then likely blowing this WAY out of just seems to be one of those "Sure, why not add it to the list" of things I might as well be frustrated about.
When I was speaking to my DVM Extraordinaire (about Chester and everything else going on) I said "Sometimes I feel like I want to throw my hands up in the air and say 'FUDGE IT'. Her response "Fair enough. BUT, you have enough to deal with, so Chester is just taking you over that edge. Let me worry about him."
EcoGold the other day posted a Keys to Success article - and one of those things - I am paraphrasing - was to ensure you surround yourself with the right people that can help you achieve your goals...I am 1 million% grateful for my friend/DVM who will do anything for me...and more importantly, anything to ensure Chester is as happy/healthy as he can be.
If there is one thing I am not, it is patient...but, Chester has taught (forced) me to be patient and take things like this one day at a time, one step at a time...and for that I am eternally grateful. In the meantime - think positive thoughts for Chester...
More soon.


...To my other red-headed Partner In Crime: AARON!!!!
Today is his birthday!!!
Off to see the Pickle shortly...I think it will be a coin toss to determine whether he decides to be off or is hoping it is the latter of the two!
Have a good day everyone!!
More soon.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Driving Me BONKERS...

If it is Chester's goal to make me go "WTF?!" on a regular basis, then he succeeds with flying colours.
Given the -22C it is right now, there was no chance that I was going to ride...But, because I love my horse more then just about anything else in this World, I put on my snow pants, put my finger and toe warmers on and headed to the barn so I could do Chester's stretches like the good owner that I am.
He loves to stretch. And, is good at it. I can feel him give his legs over to me and if I didn't know any better, would think that he is sighing when we get a good stretch in. He was a little flinchy along his spine through his tendons as I was getting back to his rump...and I couldn't tell if it was him being ouchie or being the sensitive soul that he is... The next time the amazing Dr. Cove is out, I will have him take a quick look to see if he needs any adjusting.
By the time we were done stretching, the Pickle was out in full force. With his cooler on, we headed into the indoor so he could roll...which was the absolute last thing on his mind. He...for the better part of 20 minutes... lunged himself around me, trotting, cantering and throwing in the odd buck here and there. He finally calmed the eff down long enough to have a good roll.
He didn't take a lame step.
I swear this horse is going to drive me to drink. He makes me absolutely bonkers.
We will attempt to ride tomorrow. And by ride I mean long and low and stretching...fingers crossed.
Stay Warm!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Eventually, I will be Admitted...

When I actually decide that it is time to be won't be because of my fiance, my frustration with my job search or the freezing cold great white North...CHESTER will be the reason I am admitted to the psych ward of the Whitby Mental Health Institute a short jaunt down the 401.
Riddle me this: How does my horse who goes completely dead lame on me yesterday, proceed not to take a lame step this afternoon, but rather: spook at EVERYTHING in the arena (please see the Winter Artificial Training Aid post from the other day), buck under saddle (which he NEVER does), roll completely over twice when we were finished 'schooling', get up, bolt to the far end of the arena blowing hot air out his nostrils, then proceed to prance/trot around with his tail, neck and head straight up in the air like a friggin Stallion....
When I happened to mention this to the barn owner after my ride, her response was: "Bute?!"
When I happened to BBM this latest development to my DVM Extraordinaire, I asked for an explanation...her response: "I find it best not to try and figure them out."
Thanks Doc.
Frigging Horses...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Tough Love Pickle...Deal With It...

About 10 months ago, Chester suffered a pretty serious injury. In a nutshell, he was reared up onto in the pasture, which caused his hips and pelvis to become out of whack, which needed adjusting 3 times, which lead to him not being ridden for a month, which lead to the tendons over his stifles becoming loose, which lead to intermittent Upward Fixation of the Patella, which lead to him having to go through me administering external blistering and 6 months of long, slow rehabilitation. There was a point when I didn't think Chester would ever jump anything again...let alone EVER event. If you look back at this a nutshell, March - July was the longest/worst 5/6 months of my life. However, through sheer determination, stubbornness on my part, tears and most importantly patience, Chester pulled through and he was able to complete (very successfully I might add) his first 2 ever events ever at the end of summer, 2010.
He has re-aggravated that same injury....movement and mobility is key for this horse's success as the more immobile he is, the more stiff he becomes and his stifles will begin to catch more and more and more...yesterday, we were schooling, stopped to talk to someone for 5 minutes, started up again and he was dead lame....upon closer examination, he was over compensating in his front end to make up for the lack of movement through his stifles...sigh. So of course, I have a mini freak out, get really upset and think in my head - oh no, here we go again.
I speak with my vet - who happens to be a good girlfriend of mine...we were friends before she was my vet - and she tells me this: (Keeping in mind she knows the kind of person I am and how much of a princess Chester is). "His stifles may be catching, but they shouldn't suddenly become a noticeable pain issue. It is more mechanical then painful. Check his feet too. Bute for a few days and then evaluate him. Walk under saddle, do lateral and stretching exercises, turn on the forehand, make him cross his legs. He is a BIG horse and will always need this maintenance. HE IS FINE. Be tough with him, he has a cushy life. Happy Birthday Chester - NOT." (yes, I forgot to mention yesterday was Chester's birthday... he turned 10, going on 4.)
So, here is the plan: Bute, stretching, lineaments, walking under saddle/stretching, stretching... for the next couple of weeks...In a couple days if he feels like we can trot - then we trot and see how it goes. The hard part about being in the great white North, is that I lose out on my 30 minute trot sets that I do almost daily in the spring/summer/fall...sigh...and THAT is what keeps his tendons and muscles taught and tight over his stifles.
The trials and tribulations of owning an event horse with stifle maintenance issues...Good thing I would do anything for him...the little bugger.
The hard part now, is making him do it...and telling myself to give him some tough love. That is the one thing my DVM Extraordinaire always has to remind me about - BE TOUGH WITH HIM, HE CAN HANDLE IT...I remember in July, when we jumped him for the first time in about 4 months after his injury - I was terrified...Was he ready to jump? What if we have a set back? etc etc. But, what did he do...he just popped right over the teeny tiny xrail.

This was that first jump back in July:

That is my favourite video of Chester and I...simply because it was the first true milestone we had reached together. Every time something doesn't go according to plan, or I get frustrated with something, or our lesson was a disaster, I watch THAT video and remind myself that through patience, dedication and TOUGH LOVE, Chester, will be a champion. (I should warn you that we get pretty excited after Pickle jumps - so be forewarned there is some high-pitched cheering/screaming afterwards...)

More soon!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Winter Artificial Training Aids...

For the Country that is supposed to be the 'Great White North'...let me tell you, we ain't. Right now, it is about -12C and with the wind, about -22C or so. We have maybe 4 cms of snow on the ground. I think it is safe to say that Aiken has more snow then we do at the moment. Personally, light fluffy snow is better then freezing cold wind, ice and that kind of snow that hurts when it hits your face because it is so windy. I have been helping to build the inside of our new barn (more on that later), but today it was called off simply because it is too dang cold.
The other day on EN, someone posted the following comment responding to a post that basically said there is snow in 49 of the 50 an aside, there was even snow on the top of a volcano in Hawaii, so Florida was the only State is the comment: "I actually don't have snow--just wind and bitter freezing cold. At least it makes my horse all spooky so we can practice 'freely forward' in the indoor, right?" BRILLIANT!!! That comment made me laugh out loud!
First of all, I am going to say 'freely forward' as much as possible, I LOVE that! Now, I don't know the poster, but it got me to thinking: What are the most common Winter Artificial Training Aids that can help with Freely Forward?
This is what I have come up with:
1. Wind & Bitter Freezing Cold - Obviously as the poster said. There always seems to be 'something in the air' when you try to school your horse in the indoor with the wind whipping around outside.
2. The Big Arena Door - which is normally wide open during the spring, summer and fall, is now shut tight. Or is it? First of all, having the door closed in general is usually enough of a change to make the horses all go bonkers. "Whoa whoa, WHAT? You want ME to go NEAR that spot where I ALWAYS not pay attention because I can look outside?! Where did it go?! And now I KNOW there are Horse-Eating-Monsters hiding behind there waiting to eat me. Fat chance lady." Secondly - have you heard the noise a massive arena door makes when the above listed freezing cold wind gets in between the door and the frame and bangs it intermittently throughout your ride?! Correction: bangs it only when you happen to be up at 'A' going past the door?
3. Snow in the Indoor - that's right, because the wind that opens the arena door, also happens to whip snow into the arena, by the big arena door where the Horse-Eating-Monsters are hiding. This snow, then turns into little mounds which, obviously are boobey-traps that the Horse-Eating-Monsters have set to trap your horse. Normally after 5 or 10 minutes, I can get Chester to walk (sidepass) by the mounds without too much of an issue.
4. Snow Falling from the Roof of the Indoor - Does this really need any sort of explanation? If so, stand beside the train tracks when a train is going by and I am sure that is comparable to what Chester hears when it happens.
5. Quarter Sheets - I can say that this hasn't happened to me...yet. Always, always, ALWAYS remember to make sure your tail guard is UNDER your horse's tail. It should remain secure against his flanks, NOT flapping around one side of him like a cape.
6. The Sound Your Whip Makes when you Hit a Quarter Sheet - Depending on your quarter sheet of course...mine happens to be the water proof type, so the top layer is comparable to well, vinyl almost. That makes an interesting sound when you use your whip. Try it. See what happens.
7. Blankets/Coolers etc. - You know that sound your horse makes when he blows air through his nostrils because he is 'scared' of something? Well, considering my big brave event horse will jump over ditches, into water and over liver pools, try putting his blanket down in the isle in front or to the side of him and he practices 'freely forward' in the isle. This is also true, when you are done warming up, take your horse's cooler off and place it either over a standard, on the bench in the corner or on the ground. Once I can actually get him near the blasted thing - he then 'freely forwards' away from it for 10 minutes.
8. Static - I don't know about anyone else, but poor Chester gets a shock at LEAST once per school. The other day, I was taking his cooler off (while mounted, which I assume is horsemanship no-no 101), I heard the static, and he jumped sideways 5 feet...thankfully, Chester is not a bucker and I was able prevent myself from falling face first into the dirt, but it was a close one...
Basically - during the winter months, when it is dark, bleak, bitterly cold and you lack motivation to ride - at least you know your partners in crime will be enjoying ALL the schooling they need practicing 'freely forward'.
What did I miss?!

Monday, January 10, 2011


I am usually not one for all that hocus pocus, holistic, religious, 'think positive thoughts and it will happen' BS. A couple months back, a horse physic was coming to the barn and I was asked if Chester would like to answer, you guessed it: NO. Considering one of the cutest little quarter horses in our barn turned out to be a 'gay Mexican' (NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT), I don't even want to know what she would have thought of my narrow-chested-gangly-legged-uber-sensitive talented partner in crime. Now, don't get me wrong, if that is your cup of tea, great - I just prefer alcoholic beverages.
If you ask anyone who knows me, I think they would all describe me in the same way: she is very passionate about the things that she enjoys doing, she over thinks EVERYTHING ALL the time (ask my coach how much she loves that part of me...ha!!), she will do anything for anyone and she is always positive. That passionate part of me has gotten me into trouble before...especially in the office...and I have learned that the hard way. And, last week for the first time in a looooong time, I was just sick and tired of being positive. I couldn't take it anymore. It really feels sometimes like the whole World is against you and to be honest, trying to remain positive ALL the time when you are going through a super sh!tty situation is frigging EXHAUSTING. Not to mention somewhat demoralizing AND confidence shattering when you feel like you have 3 kick-ass interviews and you end up getting passed up for other I said - I was just plain effing tried of putting on a brave face. And to be honest - faking it - EFFING SUCKS! However, I have had my freak out and I am again putting on my brave face and taking that step forward...
Now, let's talk about Karma... From what I gather, Karma goes something like this: 'You get what you give'. In other words; whatever you do intentionally to others, a similar thing will happen to yourself in the future. A blog I follow regularly, as in daily, several times a day, is known as Eventing Nation ( ...and, unless you have been hiding in a cave in the middle of the Saudi desert for the past I would say year or year and a half you know what EN is all about. Last Friday, I was given an EN Karma Shout Out. This morning, when I checked my email, I had a response from a job posting I applied to the week before Christmas. I have a phone interview tomorrow at 5:00 p.m...with a Global Organization that has great resources, a forward thinking culture, is close to home and - from my initial research about them - has everything I could ever want in an organization.
Maybe I am becoming a little bit of a believer.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Kindness of Strangers...

Never underestimate the kindness of strangers...that is an old saying is is not?! The horse community is filled with strangers, but in some odd, weird, cryptic way, we are all friends and we will all do anything we can to help some stranger out...even when we know nothing about them.
I am a BIG fan of EcoGold (, their products, their mission and most importantly, their VP of Marketing - Patricia Da Silva. Patricia and I have never met. Ever. I MIGHT be able to pick her out of a crowd simply because of the high profile she holds within the horse community and I have seen (stalked) her pictures on Facebook numerous times.
When I woke up this morning imagine my surprise when the first thing I saw when I opened Facebook was an EcoGold post, with a link to my blog with a message reading: "This blog post is exactly the reason we are working on our 'Secrets of Success' article. Sometimes everything seems to go wrong and you are at your wits end. Carrie - it will get better!!! The crappy parts of life are there to appreciate the good bits." I just about died when I saw that.
To make things even better - I received several posts back and several emails to my hotmail & facebook accounts all with the same positive message: IT WILL GET BETTER.
My coach - is probably the most positive person I know and ALWAYS has my back no matter what ALWAYS tells me: Chin-up and Kick-on...which is what I plan on doing.
So - to ALL you strangers out there, who took the 3 minutes to email me or post or whatever: YOU HAVE ALL MADE MY DAY and I am thankful for the kindness of strangers.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Horse Version of a Hug...

For my first post of 2011 - I wanted it to be positive...unfortunately for me, that is not going to be the case, so I am going to keep it short until I am in a better frame of mind.
When things go bad, EVERYTHING goes bad and gets worse quickly. While I try to remain positive about my situation - it is getting worse and the whole situation remains very bleak. Perhaps it is a down day? Perhaps I am overly upset because I lost out on 2 jobs that I had great interviews on? (Which I HATE because I KNOW I could have done the job(s)..and done them well.) Perhaps I am not good at what I do and am paying for it now? Perhaps it is going to get worse before it gets better. Which I know it will as my S.O. is also out of work.
If anything - the one thing that remains constant is Chester. It is odd, but he knows something is up. I went to get him out in the field this morning...gave him a little hug and just started to cry. He lowered his head to mine and just stood there for a couple minutes. I think it was his version of trying to give me a hug.
2011 - what will you bring....? Let's hope it is better then what you have given me in your first 5 days.