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.

ya'll come back now, ya hear?