17 December 2009

Better Living Through Chemistry

I've shared a bit on this blog about my anxiety disorder and depression. Everyone handles things differently, but I've found medication to be of great assistance in keeping my life on an even keel. When I first began talking about having a baby both my obgyn and my psychiatrist told me I would need to quit taking my medication. This was very upsetting for me and I began doing research. I decided that, for me, the risk of stopping my meds was greater than the risk to the baby of continuing them. After all, you can't have a baby if you've committed suicide. Thus, I began shopping for new doctors. And I've found them. I have a very supportive team of midwives, and, more importantly, a new psychiatrist who specializes in pre and post natal care. About six weeks ago, my anxiety got much worse. It was so bad that I spent most of the day sitting very still and trying not to have hysterics. We upped my current medication but I was still having problems sleeping and with anxiety. We then added a second medication which was supposed to help me sleep at night and help with the anxiety during the day. And it has helped with the anxiety. However, I'm still only sleeping two or three hours at a time. If I can get a solid hour stretch I'm in heaven (this from someone who usually needs eight or ten hours just to feel human!). I'm going to try a higher dose of the new medication for the next few weeks and then we'll talk about adding something else for sleep. In the meantime, at least my anxiety is SO much better. I'm alert and interested in the world again which is fantastic. I'm getting some work done around the house, and I'm excited about having a baby again. I lost that for awhlie when I was anxious and depressed. And at least I know that we have a plan to get me some sleep, even if it's not for another few weeks. On the bright side, one of my biggest worries about having a newborn was dealing with the lack of sleep and I've proven to myself that I can handle it. It may not be particularly graceful or pretty, but I CAN do it.

I'm certainly not advocating medication during pregnancy for everyone; but I hope that if you have symptoms which are interfering with your life, then you'll find a good doctor and get help.

09 October 2009

Thinking and Wishing and Hoping and Praying

Lately, I've been missing horses. A lot. I'm not riding currently and I miss it. I'm also not volunteering at Little Bit Therapuetic Riding Center in classes right now so I don't even get to groom! My friends who have horses either live farther than I really want to drive, or they keep them at the old barn where I am persona non grata. I never really made the kind of friends at the new barn that you can call and say, "hey, I really miss horses, can I come and lean on yours for awhile?"

This has led me to spending a great deal of time on the internet, looking at sales ads and thinking about what I'm looking for in my next equine partner. Not that I'll be getting one for quite some time. Sadly, we're at LEAST a year out from that idea. My husband has agreed that I can start riding lessons again as soon as I'm feeling physically fit but he worries about me meeting time committments with both the horse and the baby at first. Which is a fair concern but not one I like to admit to. I will confess to you, Internet, that this is concern of mine as well. I want to be responsible horse owner and I can't afford to have someone work my horse multiple days a week so I need to be in a position to do so. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. In the meantime, I've been thinking and imagining my "perfect" horse.

No, not perfect in the sense of never misbehaves; but perfect in the sense of ideally suited to me. This becomes a far more interesting problem when I realize I'm not even sure what my life will be like in a year. I have no idea what kind of free time I'll have or be able to create for myself. I do know that I will want horses in my life.

I've had so many well-meaning people tell me to just give it up, that I won't be able to ride while my child is young, or even get back to riding at all! It seems like everyone knows someone who had a baby and disappeared forever from the equine world. I don't see that happening in my case. If my love of horses and my desire to ride has survived discovering boys and going to college and getting married and having a job; then I simply don't see this aspect of my life disappearing. I may make a decision to only ride once or twice a week in lessons for awhile for everyone's sanity but I do think I'll own a horse again. My non-horsey friends don't understand the appeal and just nod and say "oh, but wait until the baby comes, then you'll feel differently." My horsey friends also just nod and say "oh, but wait until the baby comes, then you'll feel differently." This happens until I want to scream!

But then I take a deep breath and go to my happy place-a cosy stall on a crisp fall afternoon with a happy horse eating hay-and I remember that I get to choose how to spend my free time. Which only leads me back again to considering my next horse.

Next time I would like a horse who is not as spooky. I don't like spooking in general, but legitimately scary things (not, for example, a shadow) happen in the world and I accept that. I would like a horse who just needs to look at something for a moment and then can continue on. I want a horse who is physically up to the work of lower-level dressage. I would like a horse that has a higher level of training than I do (given that I was just about up to first level work this doesn't seem unobtainable on my budget). Oh, and I'd like a horse that I can afford to keep. Something with good, strong feet who stands politely for the farrier. A horse that is great for the vet and enjoys the grooming process. I'd like smooth gaits that are easy for me to sit. I want a horse that enjoys his/her job. And I want a horse that likes spending time with me.

Oh yes, and I want it all within my budget!

But, in the meantime, I'll settle for books and magazines and the internet. And, next spring, an understanding trainer with solid school horses.

23 September 2009

I'm Becoming a Mouth-Breather

And I blame the baby for this. Evidently pregnancy causes your sinuses to swell. No one told me about this. Which is good because I might have changed my mind if I had known I would have a sinus headache everyday for six months! Ugh. Afrin and I are becoming quite good friends. As it wears off however, my nasal passages close and I find myself breathing through my mouth on a regular basis.

Yes Internet, I am become a mouth-breather. Oh, Huzzah!

Yesterday was our eighth anniversary and to celebrate we went to dinner at The Melting Pot, which is a fondue restaurant. With my allergies we have to skip the cheese and chocolate but we had good salads and an awesome main course. And while we were there a family sat down across the aisle from us with a baby who couldn't have been more than a week old. I melted and Jon pointed out THAT was the goal here. Sometimes I get so bogged down in not feeling well that I forget we're having a baby! An actual baby! Which is frightening and amazing and awe-inspiring!

But I still hate the mouth-breathing!

21 September 2009

Winning the Fight

The baby continues in its efforts to make me throw up. Just about every evening at 8:30 the battle begins!

Now, I'm very proud that I have not yet given in to this physical demand. I would rather wear wet underwear AND wet socks than throw up. And since we began the second trimester, I have been feeling better most of the day. However, every evening (well, 6 out of 7), the gagging begins. Internet, I cannot express to you how difficult this makes falling asleep!

In addition to this challenge, my abdomen aches nearly all the time. I know this is normal, as my uterus expands and my ligaments loosen; but, oy, it aches! I can't get comfortable and if I do finally manage it, then I wake up gagging or I have to get out of bed to use the bathroom! I'm so over these symptoms already and we have many more months to go (March!).

On the plus side, last night I sneezed and the baby rolled around for about 35 seconds! I've felt it move before but it's been like trying to catch minnows with your hand-a quick flash or wriggle and then it's gone. But last night, I could feel it very clearly. And then I gagged and had to get out of bed to pee....

30 August 2009

Ugh...My First Cold

I have my first pregnancy cold. And I'm miserable. To make matters worse, my brother is visiting from Chicago and I feel so awful. And can I take any real drugs? Of course not! So, I'm muddling along with my Afrin and my Tylenol. Ugh...I went to the doctor yesterday in the hope of getting an anti-viral but the doctor (not my usual dr.) said I'd have to wait it out.

In the meantime, my nausea is slowly getting much better and I'm starting to have an appetite again. I'm pretty much always hungry, much to my husband's amusement and my brother's amazement. I eat every hour and a half to two hours; although I'm not eating as much at a time as I usually do. I keep forgetting this fact however and ending up with a ton of food left on my plate. I'm managing much better with my bosom at night and it only tries to strangle me every other night or so. I'm showing already. I'm only 12 weeks pregnant (on this coming Tuesday)! I'm a bit nervous about how large I'm going to end up.

I packed up all of my horse stuff and stored it away in the garage. I found some mold on my good saddle which was frustrating. I've cleaned and conditioned it and will check it periodically. I plan to bring it into the house when the winter rainy season really kicks in to try and avoid and further mold damage. I've also had my last day as an official Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center class volunteer for awhile. All of this has combined to leave me a bit down. My husband keeps reminding me that we will, eventually, buy another horse and that I will ride again. I hope so because I miss it.

12 August 2009

Thanks and Pregnancy Woes

Thanks for all of the support you guys. I really appreciate it.

My pregnancy continues...my magnificent bosom continues to try to strangle me with unsettling frequency...I'm nauseous all the time as my GI tract has slowed down so much it hardly seems to be functioning at all...And my throat often feels like it is three sizes too small. But hey, I'm growing a person which is pretty cool. Although the hormone swings I could do without. I struggle with anxiety disorder and depression in my daily life so having this extra amount of oomph to deal with is difficult. I'm having to work almost twice as hard as usual to keep myself centered, and even then I'm less successful than I'd like to be. I'm planning to call and make an appointment with my psychiatrist to see if there is some room to adjust my meds for awhile to help me through this. But for now I'm coping. Unfortunately for my friends, this means that I'm spending more time alone, meditating and resting. I've struggled for years with guilt over this but most of my friends are used to it. I do try to give them a heads up when I feel it coming on and I make an effort to at least try to text or email-even when communicating is a heck of an effort.

07 August 2009

Ashamed of Myself

Oh Internet, I am eating crow right this very minute and I have to say it does not taste good.

I talked to Wanda's Current Owner and the longer we talked the more I realized that I allowed Previous Owner to get me worked up and flip things all out of proportion. On the bright side I'm feeling really good again about the home I sold her into and it's wonderful to stand by that decision.

But I'm so ashamed of msyelf for listening to Previous Owner's version of events and making decisions and even blog posts without talking to Current Owner. I was so ready to believe the bad things that P.O. was saying even though I know that P.O. tends to see everything in the worst possible light. I can only say that I'm an idiot and apologize publicly to C.O. for being willing to believe the things I heard.

The horse industry is so full of gossip and usually I'm the first one to take everything I hear with a grain of salt, or even a shaker full. And yet one phone call from P.O. and I threw all of my common sense out the window and did not wait to learn the whole story. C.O. is a wonderful owner for Wanda and is providing her the best home she can. Which is a pretty damn good one. I'm not going to beat myself up forever about this debacle but I am feeling very small today.

I did have a long talk with C.O. this morning and it sounds like if she decides to sell Wanda she'll keep me in mind as a possibility which is lovely. In the meantime I can rest easy in the certain knowledge that, although there are as many sides to a story as there are people in it, we all want what is best for the horse (even if we disagree sometimes about what that might be)!

Orrrr Not

Her current owner would like to keep her for awhile longer and I think that'll be okay. I asked her to keep me in mind in the future if she decided to sell the mare.

She forwarded me the messages from Wanda's previous owner and all I can say is "ouch". I knew it ended not well but evidently it started not well either in her world.


I've got to go clean some bile off of me now.

06 August 2009

Another Suitcase, Another Hall

When I woke up this morning there was a text on my cell phone saying my offer on Wanda had been accepted after all and when did I want to come and get her.

So after I made a few calls: first to my husband to see if he was still serious about us doing this, second to my friend to see if I really was crazy, and third to see if the offer of a place to put her still held; I called back and said OK.

And thus the day of WTF was born.

What am I doing? Exactly how crazy do I have to be? I mean, I'm paying twice as much as I got for her to bring her back into my care where she won't be ridden. I'm spending perfectly good money for a broodmare I can't afford to breed.

But folks, I couldn't leave her there. Not when I could do otherwise. So, as of Saturday evening, I will be Wanda's official owner again. My husband suggested I look at it as though we'd just boarded her somewhere else for ninety days. Yes, good point Jon. We sent her to the anti-trainer where they taught her to rear and flip over and get into fights! It's all the rage this year, aren't you doing it? I'm not sure what I'll be brining home. From the sound of things she could very well be in tremendous pain. And it sounds like any ground manners she ever had have gone out the window.

So, you know how much I like planning and the current one looks like this:
Saturday evening-go get Wanda and bring her home to the farm where she was born. The folks there kindly offered to take her in and I've accepted. She can live outside with some other mares for a month or two while I evaluate her and figure out what I'm going to do. The nice folks also volunteered to help me find her a home.

Next week-get a vet out to look at her. Her previous owners want her checked over by their vet and I'd like someone to take a look at what's going on now-especially palpating her back. I asked her current owner to gather back up her vet records (which I gave her when I sold her) and any new records for me and I'll look over them with my vet. I'm not planning to do any more diagnostic work at this time. There's nothing that can be done ulitmately for the arthritis so we'll have to evaluate her pain level and see where that takes us.

Then I imagine we'll need some rehab. At the very least I plan to work on ground manners and perhaps do some longeing to work on obedience and respect.

Before the winter rains come I need to find her somewhere I can leave her out with a run-in. I've bought a couple of months of breathing room but the farm doesn't have turnout in the winter so we need to be moving along. I have a friend in Illinois who breeds paints and I think I may find out if she could board one in retirement long-term. I could probably afford the board there more easily and if she wanted to breed her or use her for a nursemaid she could.

In the meantime, I've bought a couple of months of breathing room to try and get things figured out. I'm so grateful to her previous owners for allowing me someplace to bring her home to. And I wouldn't feel comfortable taking her anywhere else at this point. I don't know what she's like or how she's likely to react and until I figure that out I cannot in all good conscience board her anywhere else. Only the fact that they've known her all of her life lets me feel good about imposing upon them, even for a little while.

Looks like I'm back in the horse business doesn't it?

05 August 2009

The Heartache and The Joy

First of all The Joy: We had our first ultrasound yesterday at eight weeks. It was early for a first one, but I've had a miscarriage before and I experienced some bleeding last week, so we wanted to be sure that everything was OK. And it turns out, I'm growing a person. With a spine, and a heartbeat, and a tiny little umbilical cord! YAY! So that was exciting and I'm feeling a bit better about the baby thing. Of course, I still get incredibly nauseous several times a day where I feel like my throat is suddenly three sizes too small and a small hairy hand is trying to crawl up it. Yes, it's as uncomfortable as it sounds. I've found a few things that help but I think it's just sort of my life at the moment. Also, the constipation continues. Oy, does it continue. Enough said. My heartbeat is different too which has been weird to adjust to. And my new bosom? That beautiful new bosom that I've been looking forward to my whole life? It tries to strangle me at least once a night. I'm a stomach-sleeper and at least once per night I wake up with my new bosom crushing my jugular veins. Apparently people with generous bosoms are either not stomach-sleepers or they know something I don't.

Now, The Heartache:

I was reading craigslist and came across an ad for Wanda. Yup, her new owner has her up for sale. And I'm disappointed of course because I really thought I'd found her a longer term home than this. But I'm mostly pissed as hell at the way they're selling her. She's NOT being marketed as a broodmare only. She and her daughter have been riding her-only a few times so far but it makes me concerned. She's advertised as being not spooky and good on roads. Internet, it took me two months to be able to ride her down the driveway at the new barn. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad she's not spooking for them or throwing this little girl off, but "good on roads" says a very different thing than I think her seller realizes. Also, they listed the price I originally bought her for which is no one's business but mine. AND they say she'll require chiropractic care to keep sound. Internet, she's not going to get any better. We can manage the pain of arthritis but we cannot heal it at this time. The seller also listed the prices of her two previous foals. I have no idea where she got those numbers. I do remember telling her the listed price at the time of one of her foals, which I thought was fine since anyone doing basic research could find that info; but I didn't have these numbers to give her. Oh yeah, and they had her age wrong.

Wanda's original breeder contacted me to see if I knew this was going on. I'd seen the ad this weekend and was trying to think of how to word an email regarding the misinformation in the ad. My first reaction upon reading the ad was to find someone with a trailer and go get my baby. But I knew that wasn't the best option for me. However, after I talked to Wanda's breeder I called the owner right away. The breeder told me and her owner confirmed that since they have owned her she's broken several halters pulling back (yes, the owner admits that even though I TOLD them explicitly "THIS MARE PULLS BACK WHEN TIED AND NEEDS SUPERVISION, ESPECIALLY WHEN NOT IN CROSS TIES", they've been tying her in a single tie to trees and trailers and stuff), she's flipped over backwards TWICE as they tried to load her in trailers (now, she doesn't particularly like trailers but if you put a chain on her halter and let her look it over she loads-I've never had her go over backwards doing this), she's colicked (which to be fair isn't their fault-a neighbor threw cut grass over the fence), and she's been in a fight and required stitches. While I was talking to the owner she told me that when they're taking her for turn-out she's good one day and the next she rears and the following day she's fine again. Her breeder told me the new owner was saying that the mare's ground manners are terrible. They've never been great, but it sounds like they've gotten worse. When I was talking to her current owner she shared that they sent the mare to be live bred pretty much as soon as the bought her and she wouldn't stand still for it. Well, she'd just finished heat about a week before they bought her (which I told them) so I have to wonder if she was in heat when they were trying to breed her. She's always very regularly and very obviously come into heat so I'm not sure why they're having problems. They tried artificial insemination twice and it didn't take so the woman is frustrated. Also, even though the daugher is riding her the woman doesn't feel she's safe on the ground with Wanda and they don't have the time to work with her. Sounds to me like someone who's ready to sell a horse back, yes?

No. She's so sweet and she's the first to come when called and she's just so lovely under saddle. Yes, I'm sure she is right now-she's out of shape and not in terrible pain yet.

I called and said that I was sorry it wasn't working out and I'd be happy to take her back at her original sale price. Her new owner declined saying she needs to recoup the money she's invested in vet bills and breeding fees. Now, I totally understand this idea but I don't think it's reasonable and I'm undertandably concerned about what the hell is happening to this mare. I did reiterate that her back problem is arthritis in the withers and will never be "healed". I also re-clarified that the vets said with a year off she might be sound for some light riding. She said she hadn't realized this. I did my best to explain this at the time of sale and I really thought I'd done a good job. I told them all about her quirks and her medical status. Sigh. Sadly, I cannot afford to buy her back at the new price. I told her that if she changed her mind to let me know. And that if anyone had any questions about her medical treatments to call me.

Internet, I feel so badly for my mare and I'm so afraid she's going to be sold without them telling anyone about her back. And the worst of it is that I can't fix it. I can't change what they tell or don't tell people. It's hard. I really thought I'd found her this tremendous home and I feel really let down.

16 July 2009

A Horse Hiatus

Well Internet, it has become official-I am taking a horse hiatus. I was shopping for a new horse when I discovered I'm pregnant. And I debated very seriously buying another one anyway. In fact, we were trying for a baby while I was shopping. However, people always tell you it will take months to get pregnant, so I figured I'd get pregnant in three months or so and then be able to ride for at least the first trimester-giving me six solid months of bonding with the new foosie. (a side note: a friend of mine at the barn reports that her young children referred to horses as foosies. Jon and I found this adorable and use it almost exclusively instead of "horse" now-you have no idea how hard it has been to write this blog without resorting to foosie) But, turns out I'm five weeks along already. And so, with great sadness, I decided to put horse shopping on hold until after the baby is born.

I'm saddened and frustrated by this decision because I know I would be back in the saddle faster if I had my own horse. Also, my instructor doesn't currently have a horse to teach me on so I'm not riding right now either. (although I'm looking at taking some instruction elsewhere so I can keep in riding trim as long as possible) I'm very lucky in that my husband understands how hard this decision has been for me. And how important riding is to my mental health. He promises to kick me out of the house on a regular basis for riding time once I'm healed after birth and to buy me another horse when I feel ready for one. Still, it's hard to give up the dream.

In the meantime I'll post about lessons as long as I have them. And I'm undoubtedly throw in some baby and family news as well.

So welcome to my new blog: Adventures of a Girl and Her Horse and The Baby!

21 June 2009

Questioning Pella

Well, I officially started half-leasing Pella on June 1st and the experience has been fun so far. Mostly....
She's a really fun mare to ride. I finally understand the halt aids and therefore the half-halt aids and it has been a truly wonderful experience to ride a horse that knows more than I do. (Oh, so *that's* the big deal about a broke horse!) I hadn't realized how truly defensive my riding had become until I got on a horse that stops every time you clamp your thighs down. And those stiff arms? Her head pops right up in the air to tell me she doesn't approve. I've only been able to ride her in one lesson but I'm seeing a huge improvement in my riding just from what she's been teaching me during our rides. I'm more relaxed and, it turns out, a better rider than I thought I was!
That being said she has some soundness issues that I'm not sure I want to take on. They might be manageable but so far I've had quite a few days I haven't ridden just because she wasn't completely sound. And, those of you who have been with me on this journey will understand why this makes me nervous.
But more importantly, I'm not sure she's a good match for me. If you've ever been on a date and spent the entire time thinking about someone else then you're close to how I feel about Pella. She's a nice mare, very honest when she's working, and I like her. But I don't wake up on my ride days excited to go and see HER. And that seems wrong to me. I've talked to my trainer about it and we're going to look at some other horses too. I'm not saying no to this one, but I'm not sold on her either. In the meantime, I'm having a wonderful time riding and learning and I'm grateful to her for sharing her time and expertise.

22 May 2009

Acapella is a great way to sing, how about to ride?

I'm back from vacation and the head instructor and program director over at Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center are back from Nationals so it's time to begin thinking about my half-lease of a Little Bit horse. Her name is Pella, short for Acapella. She's a seventeen year-old Danish Warmblood/Thoroughbred cross. She's 16.2 hh and is trained through second level. She was owned by an adult amateur before coming to LB and I'm told that the reason her owner sold her was so she could buy a fourth level horse to show third and fourth levels on. The gossip on our end is that she didn't want to teach her changes and so she bought a new horse. So she has no changes but from what I've seen I don't think she'd be that difficult to teach them to. I've watched staff ride her a couple of times now and I've worked with her in a few classes. She's long but fairly well balanced. The one thing I've noticed that causes me some real concern is that when she canters she doesn't get that first hind under herself. As soon as you go back to trotting she puts it right back under herself again. But when she canters she wants to pull herself forward with her front and leave her hind end, well, behind. I'll be very interested to see if I can activate that hind leg and help her rock back and use her hind end to push off, or if it's that she physically cannot do so. Having had one horse already with back problems I'm really trying to avoid obtaining a second. Seventeen is a little older than my ideal but what I need is a calm campaigner who can show me the ropes and she is that. She's been at LB since November and is quite unhappy with so many volunteers handling her. She's a sweetheart one on one but having 20-30 people in her personal space in a week is too much for her. So LB is looking to place her in a home - hence my half-lease for a month to try her out. If I do like her and she passes my vet inspection and my trainer likes her then I would need to make a decision before the end of June and she'd move to my barn in July. LB has their two annual horse shows at the end of June and I would leave her there until those events are over. IF we get along and I decide to buy her. At $5000 she's at the VERY top of my budget. I'd really like to spend about half of that. I don't know. I might be able to bargain a bit with them, especially since the market is way down right now. I hope so. Even a smidge would help. Last year I would have had no problem spending 5000 for a second level schoolmaster but this year that seems pretty high. But I'll half-lease her for a month and we'll see what happens. I like her a lot but I have to be willing to walk away. The price is awfully steep for my pocketbook....

I've heard from Wanda's new owner and she loves her. Yay! She sent her off to be live-bred to a Friesian stallion. Oh-kay. Frankly I'm not thrilled with the idea of live breeding a mare with back problems and the fact that it's Wanda is really hard. I have to remind myself frequently that she's not my horse anymore and I don't get to make the decisions. But, really, a Friesian??? I get that her new owner is trying to keep me informed but it's a difficult thing for me to have this information. I really wish I didn't. But I don't want to be rude so I just keep sending back a generic "good luck with everything" message. What about you, Internet, would you want to know?

05 May 2009

Farewell My Friend

I sold Wanda today. I'm really pleased by the home I found for her. I think I've made the best decision for her but it was ever so difficult to sign the bill of sale and load her into a trailer. She has been my companion for this journey and I am grateful for all that I learned from her. In spite of everything, or perhaps because of it, Wanda was a great first horse for me. She was so patient with me as I fumbled my way through learning to give paste wormer. She was always ready to scrap everything we'd worked on the day before and try it a new way when I'd read a new book. She was my friend, my teacher, and my student. I will miss her. And still, I am excited about the next phase. For I have also learned from her what kind of horse best suits me. I have given up a lot of my pride and admitted that I need a horse more suited to a beginner's confidence level. I am looking forward to finding my next friend and continuing my adventures and I wish Wanda and her new owner well as they begin their own. Farewell Wanda, my horse-friend.

Stay tuned for the continuing Adventures of a Girl and Her (new) Horse.

08 April 2009

I Wrote My Sale Ad Yesterday

I finally bit the bullet and wrote my sales ad yesterday. Wanda is now officially for sale on dreamhorse and craigslist. This has been a difficult decision but I am unable to get her sound for riding so I'm selling her on as a broodmare. My thanks to all of you for your support and your kind words over the last several months! If you know of anyone who would like to own this fabulous mare please direct them to me.

02 April 2009

Do We Even Get That Channel?

Wanda went to the veterinary hospital today to have her abscessed tooth removed. Once we arrived, and of course, AFTER they'd sent the transport truck home (I arrived late-following a large detour due to my affinity for all roads that lead to not where I'm going; i.e. I got lost), the doctor called me back to talk to me. He announces that he took another x-ray on a hunch and her tooth is looking really good. In fact, it seems to be healing itself and doesn't need to come out today after all.

I'm standing there, staring at him, and all I can think is, "Do I even get the horse good news channel?" It's been such a long time since anything went right for my horse that I literally could not comprehend it for several moments.

In the meantime Wanda was standing there, drugged to the gills, snoring, lower lip practically touching the floor, and still trying the entire time to listen to my voice. Her ears were trying to focus the sound and she was fighting to keep her eyes open. Every now and then I realize that crazy, wonderful animal is sorta fond of me too!

Since the transport was gone, she had to stay overnight at the hospital. The doctor informed me there's a chance it could flare up again and to keep a weather eye out for that, but, for now, she's good to go. We're going to do another two weeks of antibiotics to hopefully wrap this up and she'll need another x-ray at the end of that to be sure the infection is totally gone. But for now, she's keeping the tooth! I am still so stunned and so grateful!

27 March 2009

Into the Abyss

On Monday Wanda and I went to the veterinary hospital and had a gastroscopy done. By which I mean that I stood and watched while Wanda (who behaved like a model citizen-at least she behaves in public!) had a scope shoved up her nose and down her throat. We all peered at her stomach lining. Did you know the stomach actually changes color when the tissue that produces acid begins? It does. It's all very pale pink and then WHAM!, bright scarlet tissue begins. Now of all the tests we've had done, this was the one I was doing merely as a formality. So that when I went to sell her I could say with authority that we had done everything possible. You can therefore imagine my surprise when the vet pointed to several small spots and said, "Well, she's got ulcers."! Really?! I was glad I was leaning on the wall because I might have fallen over otherwise. She scored a 2 out of 4. The vet said she couldn't tell how much this might be affecting her back but that we would know in 2-3 weeks of treatment. We're now on day 3 of treatment and I'm more than a little curious to know if this has the been the problem. I doubt it but stranger things have happened.

We ran some blood work last week and she does not have myositis or lyme disease for those of you keeping score. The rest of her blood panel was normal as well.

And there you are Internet-ulcers. Who knew? If this does in fact clear up her back pain you may have to call the paramedics to pick me up from where I've fallen down in disbelief. We have another appointment with the vet clinic to go and get her abscessed tooth pulled next week. If all goes well she can come home that evening-if not, then she'll have to stay overnight and have surgery the following day.

On the bright side, my insurance has just sent us our first reimbursement check for the nuclear scan! So we're feeling a bit more positively about money. And, all this hauling back and forth to the vet clinic is really helping Wanda become accustomed to trailers and travelling. She may not stand still reliably at home but at the vet's office she's been a peach!

10 March 2009

More Tests

Well, my vet had a chance to confer with other vets and we have a few ideas for more tests. One vet suggested Lyme disesase as a possible culprit. It's fairly uncommon out here (but very, VERY common where I'm from) which is why it hadn't occurred to her to test for it. We're also going to test for myositis in her muscles. Another vet suggested it might be ulcers radiating pain upward. So now I have to contact my insurance adjuster and see if we can have her scoped or if we need to treat and see what happens. I figure it's worth a shot. I've decided to try and postpone the dental surgery. I have to call the dentist this afternoon to discuss this with him but if it's at all possible I'd like to postpone it for a bit while we're running these tests. I'll have to see if he wants to continue the antibiotics in the meantime or what. But at least there was a ray of hope in my day. Also, all the vets have said they don't see any reason she couldn't be a broodmare so that opens up her options considerably again. I'll keep you posted.

06 March 2009

Pondering the Imponderables

I've been doing lots and lots of thinking this week about what is the best thing for Wanda.

I'm still waiting for my vet, the orthopedic specialist, to go over the results with me so please understand I'm still debating options at this point without all the information...

Points factoring into my upcoming decision are:

How much pain is Wanda in? Can we manage that pain effectively? What would that management entail? Can I trust someone else to know when that pain is too much? If she is in pain now, what kind of pain will she have in two years? five? ten? Can I find someone to give her a good home for the rest of her life (remember she's eight)? Is it fair to put her in a position where someone may try to ride her at some point? Can I find a good situation for her in this market? How do you weigh her quality of life vs. quantity of life? Is it fair to have her live the rest of her life in pain just so that I feel better? Would it be fair to breed her? Can she be someone's broodmare? What am I willing to do for her? How much time am I willing to invest in a horse I cannot ride, long-term? Ultimately, what is the best possible decision I can make for Wanda and for myself that I can live with?

02 March 2009

Finding a New Home

Well, we got x-rays today and, unless my vet has some drastically different interpretation of them, it looks as though I'll be rehoming Wanda. It will depend a great deal upon what my vet has to say. She *may* still be able to be used as a broodmare which will increase her options but she will most likely never be truly sound for riding.

One of the major factors in my decision will be determining how much pain she is in. If she is going to be in a great deal of pain everyday then I don't believe in putting her through that. But, if she is in a manageable amount of pain, and right now that appears to be the case, then I'll try to find her a good home.

I know some of you will disagree with my decision not to keep her and that's ok. I've discovered over the last few weeks that I don't particularly enjoy having a horse I cannot ride. If I retained ownership of her I would feel terribly guilty about not seeing her as often as I "should". And that is not a good situation for me. So, I'm going to do my best to find her a responsible home where someone else can lavish love and attention on her. That having been said, does anyone know of anyone looking for a really sweet broodmare or pasture pet? If so please contact me.

25 February 2009

I Can't Think of Anything Clever, Sorry

My brain is totally fried at the moment. We had the vet out to check her back again today and while she has made some improvement on the left side, the right side is still horribly painful. And the vet doesn't know why. She says most horses present with a specific area that is painful but with Wanda it's the entire back. So we left her on the muscle relaxants, added some bute, and we're now back to longeing with a halter and chain since her back is so sore. We go to the clinic on Monday to have x-rays taken of her spine. I'm trying to stay optimistic but it's getting more and more difficult. With every thing we rule out it simply makes it that much more likely that this is something really bad. Possibly I've had my last ride on my horse and that really kills me. She got her antibiotics today for the tooth and there's still a slim chance that they might get rid of the infection and then we wouldn't have to pull the tooth which would, obviously, be awesome. Please keep Wanda in your thoughts and/or prayers.

18 February 2009

Work, the Anti-Crazy

The past week and a half or so I've been attempting to manage Wanda's energy level by longeing her in a halter and chain. I've cantered her vigorously for 35 minutes with ten minutes of warm-up/cool down on either end and still had a horse who left the stall each day with her eyes trying to escape from her head! On Monday I spoke to the vet about it and she agreed we could start longeing her in a longe cavesson, surcingle, and side reins. Tuesday afternoon I had my friend show me how to adjust the cavesson properly, tacked her up, and took her out to the arena.

From the moment I connected the side reins Wanda was in "work" mode. Her eye got very soft and she was really focusing. Even better, she actually stretched into the contact and rounded her back. The bottom of her neck was relaxed and her eye stayed quiet. It was such a welcome change. One of my concerns with longeing her in a halter was that she was going around braced in the neck and back which wasn't stretching those back muscles at all. The other advantage to longeing her in side reins is that she gets tired much more quickly since she hasn't been using those muscles lately! Today I tried the suggested route of giving her ACE just before beginning work (she longes for 30 mintes and then is turned out for an hour per the vet). This resulted in a horse who couldn't hold her lower lip up after the first 18 minutes of longeing so tomorrow we're going to work first, have our ACE while we untack, and THEN get turned out. I may also use a little less tranq since she's worked well the past couple of days in a row.

I cannot tell you all how pleasant it was to see my horse "working" again. She's clearly happy to have important work. After all, everyone needs important work!

17 February 2009

More Injections

The vet came again yesterday and we did more injecting. We injected all along her dorsal spines and in her S/I joints. Wanda was a champ about it, although judging from her reaction even through her heavily-sedated state it must have burned like anything.

Now she's on muscle relaxants for the next ten days and then we'll recheck her. I did talk to the vet and this week we're going to longe her in a cavesson, surcingle, and side reins. I'm to mildly sedate her right before we start working, work for 30 minutes, and then she can be turned out for an hour. We may have to play with the sedative dosage but hopefully this way she can go out for at a bit of fresh air and move around some. Unfortunately I've already missed my turn-out window today by oversleeping but we do what we can. I'll longe her a little extra and maybe take her for a hand-walk around the property depending upon whether or not her eyes are bugging out of her head!

On the bright side the vet seems very confident that she will be fit for riding again. I'm still waiting to hear back from the dentist about her tooth. And when my trainer gets back home next week I'm going to ask if I can't take a lesson once a week on one of the school horses since I miss riding. At least we have a plan.

13 February 2009

I Want Money, Lots and Lots of Money

Oh yeah, that's the theme song to my mare's life at the moment. Sadly, riding is not going to happen anytime very soon. My apologies if this note is rather incoherent as I'm exhausted mentally but I wanted to let you all know how it went. The results are mixed. The orthopedic vet came this morning and looked at my mare but I arrived at the barn just after she left as I was running late. I called and talked to her and she said the mare is still very sore and she wants to do more injections. Actually her exact words were "I'd like to inject everything.". So on Monday we're injecting "everything". And then we'll see what we've got. I'm still not sure how much pain Wanda is in. She's so stoic so it's really hard for me to tell. And she still doesn't enjoy being touched on lots of her body. When I palpate her she's not as reactive so I cannot tell how much is that she's putting up with pain for me and how much is her being a drama queen for other people. I know she DOES have pain, I'm just having a hard time figuring out how much. The dentist also came today and got a couple of really good x-rays of her upper teeth and the lump on her face. He noted that today her blood vessels were much more pronounced on the affected (right) side of her face which is different from a week and a half ago. He's going to get a couple of consults but he thinks the tooth will probably have to come out. He was quite surprised she hasn't been symptomatic and is still eating given the level of inflammation and infection. I explained that she thinks she's Mike Tyson when it comes to pain! The great news is that I finally have something concrete that we can DO something about. Something that will significantly improve her pain level. The horrible news is that it's not even March yet and by the end of the month or beginning of next month I will have spent more on vet bills than I spent buying the horse. I continue to be so grateful to my husband who gave up his vacation last year so that we could buy a saddle and is giving vacation up again this year to pay for vet treatments. Internet, may you all have spouses as generous.

12 February 2009

Internet, Cross Your Fingers

We have vet appointments tomorrow. In the morning the orthopedist is coming to recheck her back. And in the afternoon the dentist is coming back with his digital x-ray to look at the lump on her face. Of course the appointments are spread out over the day so I get to spend the whole day at the barn. I'm being optimistic though and taking my tack back (which had come home for a deep cleaning and conditioning) and bringing my breeches just in case the results are favorable. So, internet, please cross your fingers for us!

07 February 2009

Guarded Optimism

Well, I'm starting to feel cautiously optimistic. Wanda seemed to feel much better yesterday and today (she FINALLY got her feet done, which I'm sure helped). I palpated her back yesterday and it did seem less sore. It's still tender but I think we may have started moving in the right direction. Best of all, some other folks were riding while we were longeing and she expressed to me her desire for us to start doing that again! Coming from my mare, that was a lot of something so I'm really happy. A friend recently pointed out to me that everyone processes out inflammation at different rates, especially older inflammation, and that it could take more time for her than for another horse. I'm hoping this is the case and that perhaps the inflammation is starting to go down. I don't want to get my hopes up too high but I'm feeling much more optimistic than I was at this same time last week, which is a pretty good place to be.

05 February 2009

Form VS Function

Yesterday I learned that Wanda has ATR. (For those of you who don't know -and I didn't until yesterday- this just means she has horizontally grooved teeth) Basically, her teeth don't slide backward and forward easily at all, kinda like human teeth. So, when she goes to set her head in that "classical" dressage position her jaw won't slide forward like it's supposed to.

This got me to thinking about form vs. function. The point of that head set is that the horse is reaching for the bit and rounding its back. When it reaches the max stretch, the jaw should move fairly freely. At least, this is my understanding of how it's supposed to work. But Wanda's jaw won't ever move freely-hers will always be "stuck". This goes a long way toward explaining why she has ALWAYS felt so stiff in her poll to me when my trainer tells me she's where she's supposed to be. For her, it's not the way her body works. Add to this the fact that her L5/6 joint has pretty bad arthritis and you have a horse that will never look classically perfect. Her pelvis will never flex the way another horse's would because it physically can't.

The good news is, now that I know this, I can adapt our training methods to work WITH her body, instead of against it. She will always, for example, need a lot of stretching in her back to warm up. She will also probably always need more help than other horses to tuck her pelvis under her and "sit". I don't think it's impossible for her to do, but she will need more help than some. And , as long as she is stretching as much as she can toward the bit and is using her back correctly while her jaw stays loose, I'm not going to worry about what her nose looks like. She'll never be truly comfortable with her head in the classic "on the bit" position so we'll have to work together to figure out what her head looks like when her jaw is relaxed and she's working well. My trainer and I are going to need to work together to develop a new picture of what dressage for Wanda looks like. I'm a little nervous about talking to my trainer about this idea of varying our expectations for her but I definitely want to do what is best for my horse. And the point of dressage is to help our horses move the very best they can, with whatever body they have.

01 February 2009

Stall Rest is No Fun

Wanda spoke to this evening while we were taking our obligatory 35 minute walk this evening, and she wishes to tell the internet that stall rest is no fun -in fact, it is may be the least fun in the history of fun! So there you are internet, straight from the horse's mouth.

29 January 2009

Oh the Joy of Handwalking

Tonight was our first 30 minute handwalk. She was too funny! Totally willing to walk along next to me-although we did have to review that if you keep walking at the same tempo I do then it doesn't feel like I'm pulling your head along. But she was so upset that another horse was being ridden in the arena! I'm not sure if she doesn't like this particular horse or if it was that another horse was moving faster than her but it was so funny. Every time he would come around the rail by us she would pinch her nose and put her ears back and think really hard about how much she'd like to kick him. You could literally watch her brain following this line of thought. She cracks me up!

28 January 2009

Injection Junction, What's Your Function?

We saw the vet this morning. She looked at her withers and her lumbo-sacral region with ultrasoud. Wanda has some bad arthritis in her L5/6 joint. And on her right side by the base of the dorsal spines. We injected her withers with a lot of cortico-steriods. Hopefully that will reduce a lot of inflammation and pain. The vet wants to take it slowly and in stages so we can tell what's helping and how much. So she's on rest for a week-thankfully she can be turned out or hand-walked as long as she's quiet. I have quite a stock of tranqs on hand just in case-rest not being Wanda's favorite thing! The vet thinks this is a result of some severe trauma-nothing that I did which is a relief. It's still to early to tell if she'll really be suitable for work though. She'll probably always struggle with tucking her pelvis due to her L5/6 issue but as long as she's comfortable and happy I can deal with that. I don't need her to be the world's best dressage horse-just my best dressage horse! After this week off she can begin longeing in her halter for another week. At the end of THAT week, if she's not sensitive to palpation then we can try putting a saddle on her and see how that goes.

26 January 2009

Houston, We Have a Plan

Well, I just got off the phone with my wonderful vet and we have a plan! Tomorrow or Wednesday we're going to ultrasound her SI joint and her right withers. They both lit up on the nuclear scan. And my husband finally got me to understand that I tend to say nucular instead of nuclear so now everyone is happy. We're definitely going to inject her withers and probably her SI depending upon what the ultrasound shows. Her tooth is getting looked at by the dentist next week. And I'm hoping the saddle fitter can work us in sometime soon as well. Hopefully I'll have a horse I can ride again in the next three weeks.

21 January 2009

The Mare is Back in Town

Well, I picked up my mare from the vet clinic today. I got a copy of the report and some really neat images of her body. I haven't talked to my vet yet to get it interpreted but what I see so far is that she does seem to have something going on in her back and she has a tooth that probably needs to come out. So, after I talk to the vet tomorrow I'll hopefully have more information and then I get to call the dentist. And I'm now looking for a part-time job to help afford these tests.

Tomorrow I Hope to Get News

Wanda was dropped off at the vet clinic on Monday to prep for her scan on Tuesday. I get to pick her up and take her home tomorrow. I'm planning to longe the stuffing out of her when we get back to the barn. 3 days of no exercise + all the hay she can eat = high horse. I get a copy of the results tomorrow and a copy is being faxed to my vet so we should know if we got any worthwhile results from this test soon. I'm nervous. I'm hoping so badly that there's something that is easy to manage. I'm also terribly afraid I'm going to end up with a horse I can't ride. And I'm really hoping the insurance will cover the cost of this test because it's freaking expensive.

15 January 2009

Nuclear Scans and Other Fun

Well, the vet came on Monday. I thought I'd gotten my girl good and tired with longeing over the weekend but clearly not since she was high as a kite. She dumped me during the under-saddle portion of the exam. Nothing to make you feel competent like falling off in front of a relative stranger in yet another brand new, worn only three times before, helmet. Awesome. I had a mild concussion but nothing was sprained or anything so that's good. And I still have the paperwork so I can get a replacement for a reduced cost, so that's better. The vet is an orthopedic specialist who said that she thinks her interference behind is coming from the pain in her back. She thinks it is probably physiological and not just saddle fit. I've cancelled the saddle fitter for now until we get some more information. She is definitely in a lot of pain through her back. The vet told me about a number of possibilities, many of which are treatable. I'm feeling a little more optimistic but really, really scared. She's going to a local clinic on Monday for a nuclear scan on Tuesday, and then she'll be home again on Wednesday. Hopefully it'll be something we can treat and I'll have a happy horse sometime soon.

11 January 2009

My Mare is Smart

or at least a smart-ass-that counts too, right? Since I haven't been riding her this weekend I've been longeing and working on ground manners. She'll stand pretty well with her feet in one place (we've been working on it for a long time now) when the barn is quiet. I can even go in and out of the tack room which is a huge accomplishment! When there is action going on she usually inches forward so she can see what's happening. Always wanting to know everyone else's business-that's my girl! My husband came out with me this weekend and he hasn't seen her in a couple of months. He was impressed with the way her manners are coming along. It's always so nice to hear that since this is one area where I usually only see what still needs to happen and I forget to celebrate the little progresses. I'm normally quite good at that but not with manners. I've really worked on getting her to stretch over her topline and tonight she finally did release some of the tension in her back and swing it a bit. When I felt her back later it was more relaxed and the muscle wasn't locked in a spasm like it was on Wednesday. She's definitely avoiding bending her hind legs and curling her pelvis under herself. I'm almost wondering if she doesn't need another round of hock injections. Guess I'll find out tomorrow. I checked her range of motion with the "carrot stretches" and she's got really good flexibility-her back just hurts. Poor thing, I'm hoping we can get this resolved soon.

07 January 2009

Banging My Head Against the Wall

I remember so distinctly thinking it would be fun to own a horse. And it has been. But it has also been one of the most frustrating experiences of my entire life. Wanda is in pain, again. She began getting more and more girthy before the snow three weeks ago and I was going to ask my trainer at my next lesson if she thought we needed to get the saddler out. Well, the answer would have been yes. She's so sore now that just laying a hand flat on her back practically sends her through the roof. I quit halfway through my lesson today because I just didn't feel that it was fair to her to keep working. My trainer has also suggested that I call the orthopedic vet to see if anything can be done about her interference behind. I have an appt. on Monday and I'll post what she says. Now I'm feeling bad because it never even occurred to me to worry about the interference beyond getting protective boots on her. I didn't know doing something about it was even an option. But frankly it's the back that has me banging my head against the wall. Even when we got the new saddle this fall and it fit better and she was much more willing to swing through her back it was always tender. I'm not certain she has ever NOT been in pain and that is really frustrating for me. I'm in tears over it and I just don't know what to do beyond what I'm doing. I have a call in to the saddler so we can hopefully adjust the saddle fit again. Poor mare.

ya'll come back now, ya hear?