Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rock The Road Trip...!!

Uggggggggggggghhhhh - Too much to do and I am still writing damn blog posts!!
Have a great couple days everyone...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rolex...And What I Am Feeling...

I sort of feel like a kid on Christmas Eve.
I'm excited. I'm nervous. I'm anxious. I feel a little queasy.

Somehow, I have a feeling that the next 4 days are going to be a lot of controlled chaos...which, if any of you know me, would say that fits me perfectly.

I still haven't packed, I have about a million things to do tomorrow, still have to make sure everyone is on the same page with Chester for the time I am gone - including, shots and farrier appointments - still have to get Bertuzzi looked after - get gas, get snacks....efffff.

You would THINK I would have done a LOT of this today. Nope. Instead, I spent an inexcusable amount of time waiting at Crappy Tire for the Winters to be exchanged for the Summers.  Total Pain in My Ass!
Okay - enough ranting...

Make sure you keep up to date with everything I am doing for the next 4 days...I will try and link all my posts and uh, situations I get into on the EcoGold blog to Facebook and my personal blog. 

Make sure you keep up to date with EVERYTHING Ecogold is doing...they truly are incredible...and I truly am lucky to be a part of this experience.

BRING ON THE is blue...right?

Oh - I am sure you are wondering: Who is Bertuzzi...well, here he is in all his Grander!


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dealing With It...

All things considering, yes, it could be worse.  Not what I want to hear right now though - Thankyouverymuch.  In the grand scheme of things, there are people out there right now who are facing much more adversary then I am and who I consider to be much much stronger then I ever will be as a person. 

Deep down, there are a lot of emotions that I am feeling.  As I lay awake last night staring at my ceiling, I determined that the emotion that is rearing its ugly head the most is Frustration.  Thinking about it more, I know that Frustration is a common emotional response to opposition...which you can relate to both anger and disappointment.  Over the past 6 months, I am pretty sure those are the three emotions I have felt most: Frustration. Anger. Disappointment.

If I can pinpoint where this all began, it would have to be back in November, when I was the result of the HR Function at my job being outsourced.  Definitely felt the anger there.  It really was, a smack to the face.  At the time, if you would have asked, me, I was absolutely 100 million% positive that I was going to find a job - closer to home and in a different environment - by January and I would have banked 3 months of pay!  Awesome!  I was extremely motivated to find something. I was getting interviews, I was doing well with them and was getting to be one of the final 2 or 3 candidates. When I would lose out on getting the offer, it was always the same thing: "You're a very strong candidate, but the person we extended the offer to has direct industry experience."  Unfortunately for me, the only industry experience I have, has been within Professional Services.  And, having experience on BOTH sides of the table and knowing the tightness of the Market, I believe them...and have been believing it for the pas 6 months. Six. Months.  I can not believe it has been that long since I have worked.  The longer it takes for me to find a job, the harder it is going to be to get one.  You want frustration?  Try getting to the final interview stages for 6 months, being SURE you are the candidate for the job and then getting passed over...and over...and over...and over.  I have not received a call for an interview in the past 3 weeks. Confidence, is approaching an all time low.

Then, there is the smack to the face that your income...becomes pretty much non existent.  As a professional who busts her ass during the day to ensure I can keep my amateur by night job...I work(ed) hard.  VERY hard. And was compensated accordingly.  It is because of my work ethic, that I was able to afford to buy Chester in the first place.  Yes, I worked long hours and was gone from the house from 6:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. Monday - Friday - but, Chester, was my motivation in doing so.  When you go from being compensated at a certain rate and living within those means to having to live off of Employment Insurance (EI), it is another smack to the face.  As comparison, I am now earning less then 1/4 of a month of what I was earning while I was still working.  It is not enough to pay my bills.  Again - at this point in time, I consider myself to be still luckier then others out there...I have a good support system.  I have had to make several BIG changes in the way I live my life just to be able to make sure Chester is taken care of (and I can actually eat more then KD and wieners).  And, yes, I put his needs before mine. 

December 30, 2010...before he spooked...

All this brings me to Chester.  Sigh, Chester.  My heart simply breaks every time I look at him.  I think back to December 30, dad was visiting. The ONLY reason we went to the barn, was so he could see Chester and take some pictures of us while we were riding.  30 minutes into our school, he pulled a typical Chester spook - typical meaning, spooking at NOTHING - jumped 10 feet to the left and came up head bobbing dead lame.  The following 4 months up to this point was a smorgasbord of emotions if I ever saw one:
Fear - that Chester was really badly hurt
Frustration - that Chester wasn't getting better
Hope - when Chester showed signs of finally improving in mid-March
Determination - that Chester was going to be better 'tomorrow'
Anger - that Chester is a total jackass and had no business spooking at a jump standard in the corner that he had seen every day for the past 6 months
Disappointment - The goals I set for us a year and a half ago...remain unaccomplished
Devastation - in knowing that Chester is out for the season
I could go on. 

I want to stamp my foot like a 3 year old about to have a temper tantrum. This isn't fair!!!  I have all the time in the World right now to put into Chester, to go out, event and move up the levels.  The Bromont 3-Day event is fast approaching...and while I should be filling out my entry and stabling form for that event, I am instead filling out paperwork for veterinary appointment purposes.  This whole 'horse thing' as my SO refers to it as, is a means for me to relax, do something I enjoy, set and accomplish goals and have fun.  See, Chester is a very sensitive red headed TB...which forces me as his pilot, to remain cool, calm, collected when I ride.  He was my stress relief.  He was the one who forced me to leave it all at the office.  When it was Chester time, it was Chester time.  If I was anywhere mentally except for with him.  His response to me was simple: "Up yours lady."  And you know what?  It worked.

So, when I lost my job, I was really looking forward to being able to spend some extra time with Chester, taking lessons from The Boss during daylight hours(!!!) and really really focusing on fine tuning everything.  November and December...were the best 2 months of riding that I have ever had. Chester, had NEVER been going better. Ever.  In my head, I KNEW we were going to go come out in the Spring and simply ROCK IT.  He was getting more and more confident, more and more sure of himself, each and every time we would ride.  What a feeling.  It felt like I was riding on a cloud. Light, responsive, willing and most importantly...happy.  So, what am I supposed to do, when the thing that is supposed to help me relax, relieve tension and stress, is now, more so then ever, playing a HUGE determining factor in my level of frustration? 

There was a point where I thought I was borderline becoming depressed: I am on my own (SO travels for his job - I haven't seen him in a month), I am having trouble sleeping, my horse is hurt, I can't land a job, I have no means to pay for said hurt horse etc.  Pretty grim.  I cry a lot...simply because it is hard for me to be strong.  Simply because I am so so so frustrated, I don't quite know what else to do.  Simply because yes we have a plan in place for Chester (which is what is keeping me going), but there is no guarantee that it will work.  Simply because it blows goats when you know you are doing everything you can to help yourself...and still don't get anywhere.      

This isn't a 'feel bad for Carrie' story.  I am attempting to put it all into perspective.  Over the past 18 months or so that I have been writing this blog, I have found that putting it all on paper helps me deal with it.  I'm putting it out there and because of that...I'm not holding on to it anymore. (Okay, I am not holding on to it as much as I would have been before I put it down on paper.)  It helps.  Truly.  Reading what people - who I have never ever met before in my life - write as responses to what I an incredible motivator for me to keep going.  To get through it....because I want to be able to write for them about all the successes Chester and I are going to have.

It has not been an easy road for me since Chester has become mine.  We have yet to have a solid 5 months in a row without him getting hurt.  Now, it has been 4 months - and we are looking at at least another 3 - 4 - before I can ride him again.

Life is full of highs and lows...Making sure you try and deal with the lows in the way that works best for you, is what helps make you a stronger person.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I Had to Walk Back...

Can you guess from where?
The plan was, yesterday, to go on a nice quiet hack for 20 minutes, straight down the tractor path and let the prisoner stretch his legs. 

His version of 'nice quiet hack' and 'stretch his legs' have 2 very very different meanings depending on if you ask him, or if you are asking me.  What I got, was a: bucking, prancing, snorting, head shaking, spinning, bucking, half-rearing, head in my face, assh*ole of a horse.  To the point where - because by this time, he had planted his feet and spun around on me three times - I got off and WALKED THE DAMN HORSE BACK - because in my mind, the last thing I wanted was for him to hurt himself even further. I was pissed Beyond Belief.  It didn't help matters, that I could barley keep him from bolting every 3 steps and he was happier circling around me in a trot, then walking back calmly beside me...
That was me, yesterday.

He has NEVER acted like that with me before. Ever. I was pissed. Beyond Belief and had a moment where the option of sending him to the glue factory was looking like a good one.  Rather then let him win - I got on him in the indoor and made him walk (although he would have preferred to jigg/prance) for 20 minutes.  I was pissed Beyond Belief and could be heard muttering under my breath 'torn ligaments my ass.'

DVME mentioned to me, after my really annoyed message to her: 'Some horses just can't be walked under saddle. He might be one of them.'  Sigh, she might be right. 

At this point in time, I am leaning towards not riding him for the next 3 months...simply because, I do not want anything WORSE to happen to him, should we be riding and he decides to pull whatever crap he was up to yesterday again.  Not worth it.  Maybe it was just the typhoon force winds? Maybe it was because I shouldn't hack a TB the first time he has been 'ridden' in a week.  Who knows.  There are a ton of other horses for me to ride.  Kelly has even said that she would let me event one of her horses this summer...but, I am not sure how I feel about that...just wouldn't be the same.  I do know, I can't not ride for the next 3 months. I do know it is going to suck.  I do know it isn't fair.  I do know that we have a Plan to get Chester better. 

The rest, is up to him.
(And, he is going to be grounded for the rest of his life.)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What Are You Going To Do...? Sit In The Corner And Eat Worms...?

That was my father's response when he called me yesterday evening looking to get an update with Chester and after listening to me sob uncontrollably for a good 5 15 minutes.  After being able to digest what I learned yesterday - and speaking to the Boss and my dad, I have had a tough 24 hours and made some pretty tough decisions.  BUT, we have a plan. 
The hardest thing now - is telling everyone - over and over and over and over again - what is wrong with Chester. Saying it out loud, effing blows beyond belief.  And, for the record, while I appreciate being told "Everything happens for a reason", "I'm so sorry", "It could be worse", "He will be Okay" and "Showing isn't everything",  IT IS NOT WHAT I WANT TO BE HEARING RIGHT NOW!! Okay, Braff, deep breath and continue. 
Someone who I have never met before in my life, mentioned to me yesterday, "When it comes to horses, it is a good idea not to have a plan that goes beyond 3 months".  Makes sense right? Especially considering how quickly things can change when it comes to our four legged friends.  Although my plan does go for longer then that length of time, I am going to focus on the next 90 odd days and attempt to keep myself together in doing so.
When I got home yesterday, I was not in the best frame of mind - as you could imagine - DVME bbm's me and says 'What are you doing for dinner? Fancy burritos?" Considering I was planning on having diner with my friends Jack and Jim, I thought it might have been a better idea to have dinner with her and her long as the Chester talk was non existent.
When it comes to the next 90 days, a lot is going to happen and we are going to follow protocol as follows:
Another set of x-rays will be taken, just to completely rule out any problems with the bones in his foot. While DVME is certain it is soft tissue damage - most likely along his coffin bone - the only way we can rule OUT any bone problems are with x-rays.  At a cost of $285...more then likely for 'nothing'.  However, by doing the x-rays, we confirm 100% that it is soft tissue damage. This will happen in the next week or so - either right before ROLEX!!! (YAY, the ONE thing I am looking forward too) or immediately after I am back.
Solitary Confinement
If you recall, DVME said, 'well, it starts with 3 months of stall rest...' and I promptly cut her off.  Sorry, but that is NOT the best thing for Chester, especially given what happened in February and March and especially because of his UFP. Ain't. Happening. So, my project for tomorrow, will be to build him a small outdoor cell.  Small enough that he can't run around like a frigging moron, big enough so he can a - be outside b - walk around a little and c - be able to see his friends...who are clearly all bad influences on his moronic behaviour...maybe something like 30 x 30?  I am not sure.  There are a bunch of gates hanging around the barn which BO says I can use.  We will see how I make out.
Trail Horse
Chester, will be the nicest trail horse in Ontario no wait, Canada no wait, North America for the next 3 months.  We are allowed to walk under saddle only.  That said, if we wanted to walk for 2 hours every day, that is allowed.  The ONE thing I have going for me in this case is that summer is coming and the farm land we have to hack on is the best in the area. Hands down.
Shock Wave Therapy
This is where is gets interesting.  At this point in time, we are 99.9% sure that his new rads will come back clean thereby confirming soft tissue damage in his front left.  This sort of injury, takes nothing but time to heal... AND, some very newish forms of therapy to assist in the strengthening of torn ligaments/tendons.  Sound interesting? When DVME and I were talking about the 'what now' one of the first things she said to me was 'you should consider doing ShockWave Treatments, do you know what those are?"  Immediately, I thought of an article I had read recently. The article was written by Samantha Clark (whom I have never met, but who I want to be like), which was posted on her blog via Eventing Nation. -->
In a nutshell, Shock Wave Therapy (SWT) is basically is a non-invasive treatment that can speed the healing of many types of orthopedic and soft tissue injuries and conditions. 
Shockwave is a pressure wave – any action that displaces its surrounding medium is a shockwave. The ripple created when a stone is thrown into a pond is a shockwave. The shockwaves used in equine medicine are generated in a fluid medium inside a transducer head and are then transmitted readily through skin, fat, and muscle. The high energy waves are focused within the transducer head so that the shockwave can be directed to the precise area of the injury. When shockwaves hit an area of higher acoustic impedance, such as bone, the waves slow dramatically and a large amount of energy is released into the surrounding tissue. (Basically by strengthening the area where the original injury occurred .) Is this painful? Well, yes, it is. (Check out the video in the above link.)  Chester will be sedated during the procedure.  He will get 3 treatments, 3 weeks apart at $300/shot.  Sigh - does this horse think I am made of money?  Sigh. Good-bye fancy EcoGold Saddle pad I was going to buy at Rolex. However, nothing but GOOD can come as a result of these treatments, the end result being an even stronger ligament/tendon then before the injury.
Yes, I feel like we are moving backwards..
What Actually Happened?
Remember how he was getting better...after about 2.5 months?  And then I started riding him and then he got worse? I immediately thought - OMFG - I pushed him too much and it was my fault.  That was quickly put to rest by DVME. "Absolutely NOT. He relapsed because he was out in the field running around like a moron and acting like a 2 year old. The twisting/turning/bucking/rearing, was what caused the relapse, NOT you." Well thank god my horse is hurt because he is a moron and not because of something I did. Yea, makes me feel better. (Not.) The damn horse will be lucky if I EVER let him into a field again.  If I have anything to say about it, he will be grounded for the rest of his life.
Long Term
We might be able to trot by July or August. Our season, will be non existent. I do not expect to jump anything until October or November...If at all.  There is a risk that Chester will not heal properly - regardless of following protocol. It might just happen that way. I don't want to have to think about that, but I will keep it in the back of my mind.  He is beautiful and will make a beauty of a dressage horse for a lady who doesn't want to jump should it come down to that.
He has good feet. He has a good mind. He is in good shape. He is pretty fit all things considering. And he is in an environment where he gets nothing but attention and praise and treats and pats constantly.  I am going to do everything I can to ensure this horse has EVERY opportunity he needs to heal - and heal properly.  I love that horse like nothing else on this planet - he knows it - I know he loves me back.  And, while I can think of other things I would rather be doing for the next 3 months; I still have Chester, Chester has me and we will get through it together.  Geeze - don't we make quite the pair?  The unemployed HR Manager and the Gimp of an Event Horse.   
Remember the x-rays? And how I think it is kind of stupid to spend that money on something we are pretty sure will come back clean?  Well, what's $285 if I am spending $900 on Shock Wave Treatment?  And, what IF (that's a Big, What IF, there actually IS something wrong with the bone?  It'd save me $900.)
You know the WORST about this whole thing?? One of the very FIRST things I wrote on this blog when I first started it about a year and bit ago was our short-term goal: Bromont 3 Day, Training Level, June, 2011. Guess we fell a bit short on that one.
So - Am I going to sit in the corner and eat worms? NO - I am going to stick to the above plan, worry about building a damn solitary confinement paddock tomorrow and then the following 88 days after that...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

This Program Is Not Suitable For Children...Or Kittens...

Well, DVME, won.
There is a lot of information I have to process. So for now, because it is all I can handle, this is what I know for sure:
Chester has soft tissue damage in his front left.
We're looking at at least 3 months of stall rest (which I abruptly put a kibosh on given what happened last time and BO and I are building him a small turnout tomorrow and Thursday.)
Then turn out in a small paddock
Then we can maybe start to trot around August or maybe July if we are lucky
He may or may not fully recover.
I have a lot to sort out, a lot to process, a lot of decisions to make.  But one thing I know for certain, is Chester, will not be eventing this summer...with the slight slight slight possibility of never again on the side.  DVME wanted me to be prepared for that.
Insert tears here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Just The Facts...And How I Am Having A Hard Time With Them...

It has been 3 1/2 months.
I'm frustrated. I'm annoyed.  I feel like we have are about to hit another huge road block which will prevent Chester from being able to show AGAIN this summer.  Don't jump all over me and call me pessimistic and I am thinking the worst etc etc.  I am attempting to be rational and I don't think I am being unrealistic at all given the Facts. Hear me out.
I'm not going to lie. I am a little apprehensive about what we are about to do tomorrow with Chester.  It is REALLY hard to attempt to make the right decision, when the people who you need to help you make those right decisions are all telling you completely different things.
I have one person - DVME - who is sure that the problem is in his foot.  "Carrie, do you know how much can go wrong in there?"
I have another person - The Boss - who isn't convinced it is in his foot at all. "Why would it be in his FL foot if he is having difficulty around corners and in a small circle to the right, doesn't want to cross over his hind legs?"
I have another person - Farrier - who was convinced there was never anything wrong in his foot to begin with...especially after his clean rads.
I have another person - Dr. Cove - who cleared his entire body - shoulders included and has adjusted him twice.  His adjustments have held.
I have another person - yours truly - who really doesn't know WHAT to think anymore.  I know Chester doesn't feel right, I know he shuffles in front and I know that he sort of stabs the ground with his FL. His hind end is moving evenly with no resistance...the only place I see something out of whack, is in his FL, but, Boss isn't convinced, but DVME IS...ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh.
- December 30 - Chester spooks - to the left - 20 minutes into our ride and comes up head bobbing dead lame.  I give him a couple days, don't feel any heat/swelling and he is then on again/off again lame.
- DVME comes out as a favour for me, we watch him move - he of course moves perfectly when she is there - and she chalks it up to him being really stiff because of his stifles, it is winter, they don't move around as much, we know this horse does better with more movement...makes sense, but I am not 100% convinced.
- January 25 - I go get him from the field in the morning...and he walks back to the barn on 3 legs.
- January 26 - DVME comes out, hoof testers in hand. We trot him, lunge him, flex him...he comes up dead lame in his front left...after flexing his ankle. DVME says Abscess. Horse stays inside.
- The first 2 weeks of February - we poultice, wrap, horse stays inside and gets more and more depressed. Abscess bursts - I think - the first week of February.
- February 16 - x-rays...because he was still off and DVME said 'This has gone on long enough. His Rads are 100% clean.  DVME says - to be sure, poultice (using a new mix of bran, dmso and Listerine) for 10 days. Reassess at that time.
- February 25 - Farrier comes out with his abscess drill and hoof testers, tells me "Carrie, this horse does not have an abscess" Shoes go back on.
- February 28 - Boss and Kelly show up - I am lunging Chester, Boss says - get ON that horse, that is the only way you will know if he is better. Get on horse, it was a disaster. Shoes come back off.
- First couple days of March - Dr Cove comes out and gives Chester some adjusting...there was a lot wrong with him :-(
- March 6 - I listen to my gut - horse has to go back outside..he was NOT happy about being in his stall, it was doing NOTHING for him and he had turned hopelessly depressed. It broke my heart.
- March 7 - First day Chester has spent the entire day outside in 6 weeks.
- March 9 - Shoes went back on
- March 14 - I ride Chester for the first time again...while he feels stiff, he wasn't head bobbing dead lame.  Just stiff...
- March 15 - April 11 - I ride Chester with the hope that he will become stronger...exactly like what we went through with his UFP a year ago...and while he doesn't get worse, he doesn't necessarily work out of his stiffness as much as I would have hoped.
- April 7 - 11 - Chester pulls in FR shoe, twice in 5 days.
- April 11 - Takes a turn for the worse and he is head bobbing on the lunge
- April 12 - Present - Many conversations have happened about what the Eff is going on with this horse. I want to scratch my eyeballs out. 
Which brings us to today.  I haven't been out to the barn yet, but I am pretty sure I know what I will find when I get there.  A happy horse, with no heat, no swelling anywhere, but who, when on the lunge, will bob, and who, under saddle, will feel like his front legs are made of 2x4s. Sigh.  This is probably one of the most frustrating things I have EVER gone through. 
It has been 3 1/2 months.  And the people I trust most, are all telling me different things.  I am hoping that when we block his foot, he will come up fine...because at least that way we will know (hopefully) where the source of the problem is coming from. 
We will know soon enough, but, something tells me, I'm not going to be that lucky.
There is nothing I can do now, but wait until tomorrow and hopefully have a better idea of what the hell is going on inside my horse.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Chester & The Little Dude...

As I pulled into the parking lot at the barn this afternoon, it was packed. 
My first thought was: Okay, jerks, what was I not invited to?
My second thought was: Great, it is packed and I just wanted some quiet time with my horse.
It was day two of the typhoon which brought snow flakes the size of baseballs (I am not exaggerating), more wind and completely dismal weather at best.  As I walked into the barn, it was quiet, but I saw a gift bag peeking around the corner.  Great, birthday party. Which = a bunch of kids all running around.  NOT what I wanted to be dealing with given everything else that I have been trying to deal with. I have not been in the best of head space lately and the last thing I wanted on a Sunday afternoon (especially after spending time with some of my girlfriends last night and our friend Gibson), was have the barn be hectic.
As I brought Chester into the barn, he was immediately swarmed by little people ranging in age from 2 - 5 years old. "What is your horse's name?" "OOOOOOOO, he is Biiigggg." "Can I brush him?" "Can I pet him?" "Can I give him a treat?"  "How old is he?" "He is brown. I like brown horses."
It was impossible for me not to smile at them...all so eager and wanting to pet the pretty pony and learn about him. They asked me questions non stop.  They all thought Chester was the cat's ass.  He didn't bat an eyelash the entire time there was a bunch of little munchkins all around him.  And the damn horse just ate it up.  I had never seen him with brighter eyes.
All the kiddies were giggling as he would 'kiss' them with him lips as they fed him Mini-Wheats.  He was so gentle, it was beautiful.
What got me the most...was the littlest dude there.  His mom told me he was 2 1/2.  He was looking at Chester with these big brown eyes.
"Hi little dude, I think Chester would like it if you gave him a treat.  Would you like to do that?"
He looks at me with those big brown eyes and nods his head solemnly. 
"Okay, this is what you do," as I put a Mini-Wheat into the palm of his hand. "Hold your hand out flat and Chester will just take it right from you.  Are you ready?"  Another solemn nod.  The Mini-Wheat was pretty much the size of the little dude's hand.
He lifts his hand up, Chester looks down at him...and barley brushes the little dudes hand and snuffs up the Mini-Wheat.  Little dude breaks into the biggest smile I have ever seen and giggles the cutest little kid giggle ever.  And then, little dude reaches up to pat Chester's nose, but couldn't reach.  So, Chester lowers his head so the little dude can reach his nose...and then blows hot air all over him...much to the little dude's delight.
If I didn't know any better, I swear the horse did it on purpose.
It was the cutest thing I have ever seen and another reason why I love my horse so much...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hair Pulling...

There are several things in life that I will never, ever understand.  Men and horses being on the top of that list.  While my SO might argue with me that men were put on this planet to annoy the hell out us women - okay, that makes perfect sense eh? - I can not and probably will not ever understand for life of me, horses.
At present time - there is a typhoon going on outside.  You know - when the rain decides to hammer you seemingly from all directions and appears to be more horizontal then vertical?  The horses, were not happy about it.  Neither was I.  As I was walking out to get poor Chester, he and his 2 other pasture mates were standing with their butts into the cyclone force winds, noses lowered to the ground.  The only difference with Chester, was that he was shaking, visibly.  He was freezing.  He only had on a rain sheet - because it had been really nice out up until today - and it was obviously not enough given the rain, wind and what I am sure was a minus something or rather with the windchill.  :-( Poor dude. I felt bad for him.
That was, until I led him inside where on the walk in, he pranced the whole way, snorting and arching his neck. Ummm really?  Once inside, he stood trembling because he was so cold (at this point I really did feel bad for him again), so I threw his cooler on and we went for a little bit of a walk in the indoor....that lasted for about 5 minutes because as you can imagine - the wind and rain pounding on the roof made for some interesting noises....not to mention that there were several new xc jumps in there which he thought were hiding places for horse eating monsters...Note to Chester - YOU ARE AN EVENT I stood there watching him balk at a palisade. 
Off the lead rope, he prance/buck/farted around the indoor and I swear to god, the ONLY reason you could tell that he had anything wrong with him, was because I know there is something wrong for him.  I might try to hop on him tomorrow if he trots out the same way.  It will be interesting to see what happens. And, DVME comes out on Tuesday (because she just told me she is at her big breeding farm client all day Monday) to block, so I would like to be able to tell her exactly what I felt the day or two before.
In the meantime, I will try not to pull my hair out trying to figure out just what exactly IS wrong with him.  I think it is better to try to NOT try and sort it all out....especially because at this point, my horse appears to be our friend Charlie Sheen.
PS - as a word of caution, I would recommend NOT entering 'hair pulling' into Google Image Search.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Let's Pretend For a Moment, I Can Be Rational...

Note to self - DO NOT let me write posts at 1:00 a.m. when I have had an unusually shitty day and am 1/2 a bottle of Red in.  Noted.
After speaking with DVME today, I feel somewhat better - and I use the word somewhat very hesitantly - about what our next step is with Chester.  In a nutshell, we are going to hold off on the imagery for now - partly to save my wallet and having to refinance our house - and partly to try and isolate the problem area.  She keeps going back to his hoof, I keep giving her slack about it.
ME: DVME, you're telling me he can spook and have his hoof be the cause of his lameness?
DVME: I've had a couple handfuls of cases where horses have spooked and pulled tendons and torn ligaments in their hoof.  Carrie, do you know how many different things can go wrong in there?
ME: Yes, DVME, there are about a quadrillion things that can go wrong in there. (sighs audibly)
On Monday, she is going to come on out and we are going to nerve block his hoof. 
What are nerve and joint blocks?
Nerve and joint blocks involve the injection of a local anaesthetic (Lidocane anyone?!!) either close to a nerve or directly into a joint or into another synovial cavity, such as the navicular bursa or a tendon sheath. The local anaesthetic temporarily disrupts the function of any nerves or nerve endings it contacts. This results in areas of desensitisation (numbing). The desensitised area depends on which nerves or nerve endings are affected. Thus, if the local anaesthetic is placed around a nerve, such as the palmar digital nerve that runs down on both sides of the back of the pastern before entering the foot, the areas supplied by that nerve will become desensitised. If the horse has pain in this area, the nerve block will temporarily numb it and the lameness may disappear. These blocks are used as one part of an examination of the lame horse. Usually, the horse is trotted up (either in a straight line on a hard, level surface and/or on the lunge in both directions), and the degree of lameness is noted. The block is then applied and the horse trotted up again to see whether there has been any improvement in the degree of lameness. If the lameness has improved, it is likely that the site of pain causing it is situated in the area of the foot that has been desensitised by the block. 
Dinner anyone? My treat!
Hopefully, he blocks as she suspects he will at the hoof, because it will a- FINALLY pinpoint that there IS in fact something going on in there and b- at $55/shot, I can't afford much more then one. (Guess it is back to eating KD and wieners for the next 3 weeks).  At least by blocking, we will know (hopefully) exactly what area it is we need to focus our efforts on...and by efforts, I mean me trying not to bawl my eyes out every time I look at Chester to approach the situation rationally.  And by efforts I also mean, giving Chester all the help he can get.  Depending on what happens - and I am going to talk to the Boss first - we could potentially x-ray again...although after his last crystal clear x-rays which basically told us he had awesome feet....I might save that $285 and put it towards an MRI...because yep - that's the ONLY damn way you can see the tendons and ligaments inside the hoof.  Enter audible sigh here.   I swear to God, if this horse has to get an MRI, I am going to have to resort to means of income which I would rather not discuss openly. 
If there is something torn inside his foot - which is sounding more and more like it could be the case - the only thing we can do is give him some drugs and time to rest. Don't ask me how long, because I have no idea...AND, it isn't even like we know that is for sure what is going on anyway.
SO, once calmed down and rational, I feel a teensy tiny little bit better then I did 24 hours ago. 
I still believe in him. And you can bet your ass I'm not going to quit.

Don't Quit...

I am having a hard time shutting my brain off. I think it is for a lot of different reasons: lack of success in finding a job, being on my own and knowing I more then likely won’t see my SO until June…and, Chester.

I really am very, very worried about him. I don’t know what made me think of it, but I remembered a poem someone told me about…almost a year ago to the day – when we were going through ‘Operation: Pickle Rehabilitation’. I am not one for all that holistic mumbo jumbo, think positive and at will happen bs – don’t get me wrong, if that is your thing, all the power to you – but this one just sort of stuck with me:

Don’t Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow--
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor's cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out--
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit--
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

                                            – Author Unknown

There is a lot in there that really speaks to me: When the funds are low and the debts are high; You want to smile, but you have to sigh; You may succeed with another blow; the silver tint of the clouds of doubt; So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—it’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

I have spent a lot of time over the past several months trying to sort out, what I could have possibly done to piss someone off enough, for ALL this to be going on. All. At. Once. They say Karma is a powerful thing. Do I believe in Karma? I’m not sure. I would like to be a believer, but when it comes to what is happening right now, currently in my life…it makes it difficult for me.  When it comes to what is going on in MY life, I can deal with that…okay, sometimes not in the best way, but, I am after all human.

What I have a really, really, REALLY hard time with, is seeing Chester going through this. That, is NOT fair. He has done absolutely nothing to deserve what is going on with him.  He has done absolutely nothing but try his guts out for me since the day I met him.  He has done absolutely nothing but trust me with everything…even when he wasn’t sure about it himself.  He has done nothing but love me, unconditionally. He is the smartest, quirkiest, most loveable horse I know…and it breaks my heart to see him not be 100%.

He was the baby no one wanted.  He was ‘too gangly legged and narrow chested to ever amount to anything’.  He has, proved to everyone that he has amounted to something.  Forget that, he has amounted to my everything.  Last summer, when he finished his first event, it was our biggest accomplishment and one of the happiest days of my life – even though I was in tears as we came through the flags.  I believe in him. Since the day I met him, I have believed in him.  I always have and I always will.  It isn’t about winning, ribbons or qualifying for provincials.  It is about him deserving to continue doing what he loves doing.  And, there is absolutely nothing I want more right now, then for him to be okay.
I'm not giving up on you yet horse...
Embarcadero is defined as: to set out on a journey that is sometimes trying or difficult.  Someone joked to me a year ago that “you should have named him Easy Street”… Huh, wouldn’t that have made my life easier.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Boss...

Just a quick update until we know more about what is actually going on with Chester...because I know my post yesterday seemed pretty glum/grim...which is was, and it was/is a reflection of how I am feeling.
I had a coffee this morning with The Boss and Graham...and speaking with them both, always ALWAYS automatically makes me feel better. Especially because we have a plan now and we know what has to be done...well, sort of.
We are going to take Chester up to the clinic where he will get some diagnostic imaging...this is the ONLY way we will know for sure what is going on with him.  Depending on what the outcome of that is, will determine what happens next.  As soon as I know when we are going, I will break the news.
For now, I am going to tip-toe around trying NOT to think about the ever dreaded 'what-if's' to preparing myself for the Worst Case Scenario...which ranges from Chester having to be a $400/month barefoot pet for 6 - 12 months in a field to having to sell him because - physically - he can't do what I need him to do.  So, once again, I ask that everyone sends the good vibes our would mean a lot to us.
Sigh - you can see just why I don't even want to try to think about it.  In any event, he would make the nicest trail horse you have ever seen for someone...but, let's not go there.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Reality Sucks...

The reality is, Chester, is not any better then he was a month ago when I started to ride him again.  Any hope that I had that he was on his way to getting better was crushed this afternoon when I got the following txt from BO: Hello. Was Chester normal today? He seems worse to us when he came in for dinner.
WHAT?! What do you mean worse?! Today, I did some trotting up and down our tractor path, but he didn't feel any worse then he did yesterday.  In the past month, he has gotten a little better each day...but he still isn't 100%, he still shuffles in front and going around corners feels considerably worse then when we are going straight.  There is no head bobbing when we ride, simply shuffling in front. 
Of course - I go over to the barn...and he is eating away in his stall.  As I pull him out, I do a quick once over: standing on all four feet, no heat, no swelling, no sensitivity to his back/withers...and I stare at him.  We stick him on the lunge line and he is moving considerably worse then I have seen him in the past month...shuffling in front.  We flex him...and he doesn't come up head bobbing lame, but he does shuffle.  Which in any normal case would seem odd, but this has been Chester for the past...well, since the winter.  We turn him in a small circle to the left and he crosses his back legs fine.  When we turn him to the right, he doesn't want to cross his hind right over his left and he bobs.  Fan Friggin Tastic.
I don't know what to do anymore.  There is something still wrong with him and I have no idea what that could be.  Could his stifle be the reason he is shuffling in front? That doesn't make any sense to me.  This whole situation honestly makes me want to cry.   know he isn't right and I know there is something - probably pretty serious - that is going on inside him somewhere.  If he was okay, then after almost a month of riding, he would have been well on his way to being okay.  THAT is realistic.  My gut is yelling at me that something is wrong.
There isn't much I can do about it today other then worry myself sick, so I am going to try to not do that.  (hahahahaha - I'm borderline in tears writing this) In the morning, I am going to call DVME and bring her up to speed on what is going on.  I am going to have her boss come out and do diagnostic imaging...because then we will know for sure what the problem is.  Can I afford it? Nope, not at all.  Can I afford NOT to do it? Nope, not at all.
What makes me most upset about just how upset I am!  I feel selfish for feeling this way. Why? Because I still have him...and there are people out there, who probably right now, are going through much much worse then I am with the partners they hold so dear to them. 
I think it is hard for me because I feel deep down in my gut that this is something that isn't going to go away over night. I think it is hard for me because right now, Chester is the only thing I have that makes me want to get up and get through another day.  If it wasn't for him - I don't know what I would be doing with myself.  I wish wish wish I could go back in time and have decided NOT to ride on December 30th.  Because maybe then, I wouldn't be sitting here thinking how much reality needs to suck it.  I wish that I would have spoken up when his x-rays were clean.  I wish I would have asked more questions when it wasn't making sense....there are so many things I would have done differently. 
I HATE sounding so pessimistic, please believe me...but I know this is going to be a battle.  More then likely a tough one.  I can feel it.  What I hate MOST I think, is that Chester deserves more then any other horse I know, to be great. To be a champion.  He tries so hard for me and he is so deserving of being good at what he does.  The thought of him not being able to do what he is good at, what he loves, breaks my heart more then anything else.
Let's hope for the best of a bad situation.    

Monday, April 11, 2011

I mean, REALLY...???

After what was a super weekend and a somewhat stressful Monday morning, I was really looking forward to getting to the barn this afternoon to see Chester and ride.
See, I might have popped him over a little x-rail on Saturday and he might have acted like it was not a big deal and that he hadn't NOT jumped since the middle of December.  While still not 100%, he is absolutely at 90% and with the extra pushing he will get from now on, it will either determine IF he is good to go, if he has to spend a year in a field doing nothing but getting over whatever it is that is making him plateau at 90%.  as I was leading him into the barn, one of the other boarders was there and she goes.: 'ummmmm, his shoe is half off,' WHAT??!! Sure enough, the same shoe he pulled while schooling the other day, was a good 2 inches off his foot. FML. I mean, come ON CHESTER...REALLY?!  I stared at him in disbelief. This horse, never and I mean NEVER pulls shoes.  After sighing openly and loudly, I stuck him in his stall and went to get the pinchers to get the shoe off.  Muttering under my breath about how thankful he should be that I don't make him go barefoot all together and how thank GOD DVME taught me how to pull a shoe way back when.
Thankfully, farrier was able to come out and put it back on...his greeting to me was "Your horse used to be on the top of my list of horses I like to work with...he ain't no more."  Thanks farrier...I apologized profusely and promised to buy him a 60 of Jack to make up for it.
The fields are muddy, the boys are feeling frisky and there is a lot of playing going on.  The mud, is a good 6 - 8 inches deep in places.  Farrier says "well, think about it, if its muddy and they are running, that one extra mili-second it takes for him to move his foot, is enough for him to catch it with his hind."
So, he will go out in bell boots for the next couple of weeks until all the mud dries up.
Needless to day, there was no riding today.  I mean really, if it isn't one thing with this horse, it is something else.
We will try again tomorrow.
And hopefully ALL his shoes will be on when I get there.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bubble. Wrap...

Ever since I have been given the go-ahead to start using the tractor path, SOMETHING has been giving me grief about it.  Be it the torrential monsoon like weather we have had for the past couple days, be it the hurricane force winds we have been having...whatever.
So since Mother Nature - who is NOT my favourite person at the moment - again decided to have some fun at my expense yesterday, I ended up in the arena...sigh...poor Chester.  I did set up a little grid of poles though for us to go through. 
BO was working on the new barn and she decided to observe us while we were working about 10 minutes into our ride.  At this point we were trotting around the arena in a nice forward trot, doing some BIG circles and going over the grid.  I stop and we chat about what BO is seeing. "He looks short on his front right." I stare at her blankly. "His front right?! That doesn't make any sense.'  He feels okay to me...the best yet actually. So, we continue talking, it has been 3 weeks since we started riding again and determined it is now time for him to take it up a notch. Meaning, more collection, circles, cantering...If he is having difficulty with this now, then there is something else still going on at which point I would have to put my x-ray vision goggles on to determine what. 
We cantered - both directions and once I remembered 'FORWARD' (okay, that is a lie, BO had to tell me to go forward FOR me), he felt pretty the right, he was not as good as to the left...weird weird weird.  After the canter, we determined he was in fact able to bring it up a notch.  AND - more importantly, mentally in MY head, I needed to hear that.  I sound like a broken record, but pushing him forward and ON, is just as much in my head as it is in his...he is after all protecting himself - AND I would be too given how I know he had been feeling.  We finished doing some long and low and trot and walk and called it at that.  I was really excited at the end of the ride to put the dreaded dressage saddle on tomorrow (today) and really start to ask him to work again.
As we were coming out of the arena and onto the cement walkway, he  I stop him and take a look.  The horse, HAS PULLED HIS FRONT RIGHT SHOE OFF.  No wonder he was 'coming up short on his front right'.  I stared at him open mouthed.  I, of course, didn't put his bell boots on because we were stuck inside the arena and not going out on the trails.  I sighed openly and then yelled at BO who was in the other isle to tell her what happened.  Then I feel bad because I didn't notice when it happened...but I honestly didn't feel anything happen!!! Booo Carrie.  BO chalks that up to the footing - it is pretty cushy in there.  The farrier is going to come today at 4 to put his shoe back on.  Sigh - thank god he is good to me.  At night check last night, he hadn't stocked up or anything, which is some small miracle knowing that horse.  Bell Boots it is, pretty much for the rest of Chester's life...sigh.
I have no idea who this is - except for the fact
he should be Chester's new idol.
Technically, I should be surprised that he pulled a shoe, but really, I'm not.  I wouldn't expect anything less from my gangly-legged-accident-prone-redhead.  He belongs in bubble wrap. (Except that when he moved and the bubble wrap popped, he would scare himself, causing him to do something worse then pull a shoe...sigh...)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Annnnd So It Begins...

And Lots
And Lots
AND LOTS of trotting.
We have been given the all clear to use the tractor path - literally that is what it is - so we can start our trot sets again.  Which is actually a blessing in disguise because, there - in my none professional opinion - is nothing that can be better for the Pickle at this point in time then trotting in a long straight line for endless minutes on end....well, there is always the 'Hill', but we haven't been given clearance for that yet.  When BO and I were talking about it I said to her: "Look, I think you know out of all of us here, that I value our grass fields more then anyone else!"  Because that is where our xc jumps are...d'uh! Anyways, I have the all clear to use the tractor path and it really literally is a looong straaaiiiggght path.  It takes about 3 or 4 minutes to trot the whole thing one way...actually, I should wear my watch tomorrow and see exactly how long it is.  That is a good project for me.
Anyways - we have done it twice now...including tonight, in a rain/mist/wind storm...remind me to NEVER do that again...there is a video floating around of Sarah Cousins from Morven Park - I think?! - this past weekend, she was going along the Intermediate XC IN A FLIPPIN HAIL STORM - so I guess I don't have anything to complain about.  BUT - Chester knows ALL too well what this path is all about.  Right now, we go up and back 3 times round is about 15 minutes of trot and 5 or 6 minutes of walk. I'll do this a couple more times and then build it up to 4 round trips, then 5 and then 6.  Someone commented to me just tonight that his muscle tone/development is already building again...YAY!!  If I do nothing but this for the next 2 weeks, I think it will make all the difference.  I'm going to ride in the arena only once a week and do some pole work.  HOPEFULLY, by the third week of April, he will be strong enough to be able to go back into the sandbox and start schooling 20 meter circles (gag) and then the last week of April we will pop him over a few jumps and see how he makes out.  This is of course only Plan A...annnnnnnd as I have come to learn, especially with this horse, Plan B, C, D and E are usually pretty good ideas to have.
Hummm - I wonder what I should pack for ROLEX?!