Friday, June 29, 2012

If Wishes Were Horses

Bob's Vet came out a few days ago.  I specifically wanted her to make this call.  She conducted Bob's Pre-Purchase exam and also came out in December to float Bob's teeth.  She also came out three days later to put Poco down. 

I feel like we've known each other forever.

Amongst blood, flex and neurological tests it appears the issue is in Bob's knees.  They shake as he stands and I can see him making an effort to keep them locked in place as he grazes. 

The Vet noted a change in Bob's ability to stand comfortably from when she'd last seen him in December.  In the past I'd noticed that sometimes his knees shook but never thought of it as an issue and I agree, the shaking has increased and is probably why he has fallen. 

Initial blood test has returned negative.  Awaiting the EPM results before we go any further.

As I write this I can see Bob's knees shaking as he grazes outside my office.  They slide out of their locked position and he has to adjust himself to put them back in place so he doesn't topple over.

I've added shavings to the paddock so that it's more comfortable for Bob to lie down.  My husband and I both note that Bob lays down much more often since we've added them.  It comforts me to know he's comfortable.

It's already driving me nuts to not be able to ride Bob.  It makes me sad to recall the two great riding horses I had last year.  I could always hop on Bob or Poco.  Spins my head to see what a change a year makes.

I've worked so hard to become the rider I always wanted to be while overcoming confidence challenges.  I've struggled so hard for Bob and I to be one team.  I already miss hauling him and seeing his nose sticking out of the trailer in my mirror.

I'll continue taking lessons on a Lesson Horse.  I'm grateful to have a Lesson Horse to ride but it's not the same.  When the lesson is over I have to put him away, I can't linger and ride longer.

Sigh.  If wishes were horses, I'd be riding Bob...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Removing Bob's Wedges

"My" shoer, Rich Nelson, the most knowledgeable, professional and kindest guy in the world came out on Friday afternoon to remove Bob's wedges.

I told him about Bob's increased tripping; falling while I was on him and then falling while drinking water.

As Rich worked I told him I hoped the wedges had been the cause of Bob's falling and that maybe removing them would fix whatever was wrong. 

Rich has my number. He knew what I was thinking - which was that I'd ride Bob when the wedges were off to see if it made a difference.

But while Rich was removing the wedges we could see Bob's knees shaking. As I stood on Bob's side, Rich looked up and gave me that serious-in-your-eyes-look.  In a gentle voice he said, "You need to call the Vet.  The level of these wedges aren't enough to cause Bob to drop to his knees.  Under no circumstances should you ride this horse until you figure out what's wrong."  

He's right. 

Since Friday I've agonized over what might be wrong.  The Vet's office opens tomorrow morning and I'll be calling to schedule an appointment.

Today we put the trailer away.  The action speaks for itself.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Trip

I've owned Bob for a little over a year now.

We've sure had our challenges, I even had him up for sale for about twelve hours before I realized that everything I had written in the add was exactly what I wanted in a horse.  I asked myself what in the heck I was doing and pulled the add down. 

It scared me that I would sell what I've always wanted.  I stepped up to the plate and committed to work through our issues.  Since then Bob and I've been riding often.  I've been hauling him up to the barn where I used to board.  We meet up with my best riding Pal and her horse and the four of us have lots of fun.

But ever since I've owned Bob he has had a habit of tripping.  It initially wasn't a big deal - a little trip here and there.  I mentioned it at the pre-purchase exam and although I didn't get x-rays, the vet thought everything seemed fine with the flex test, etc.

Recently Bob has been tripping more often.  A few weeks ago I shared my observation with my shoer when he was here.  He suggested we place wedges on Bob's front feet.  He termed Bob as a "broken backed horse" which from what I understand is related to his confirmation and how his front feet are tipped back too far.

We placed the wedges on Bob's feet and my shoer told me to call him if there were any issues.

An odd thing happened during that shoeing.  Bob's front feet suddenly collapsed.  Tools and the shoer went flying.  I was off to the side lightly holding the lead rope and I could tell by the look on Bob's face that he hadn't anticipated going down.

My shoer commented that Bob, who is always the quiet/perfect guy when being shod, must have fallen to sleep.  We continued with the shoeing with no further issues.

This week during our weekly lesson Bob had passed the trip stage and we had stumbled pretty hard.  My trainer and I had commented on the stumble and agreed the wedges weren't making any difference.  I mentioned I'd be calling my shoer as he had advised.

A little later, while Bob and I were trotting, Bob had suddenly dropped to his knees.  I didn't even think about my reaction until we were going down and the reins were stripped from my hands, I had stuck my legs out straight in front of me and leaned as far back as I possibly could.  I stayed in the saddle and Bob immediately got back up.

My trainer commented on the "stumble" and told me to keep riding.  In retrospect I should have stopped right then and there but I knew if I did that I'd carry the baggage of the experience with me, think about it later and that it would hurt my confidence.  So I slowed to a walk and stayed on.

As I led Bob to the trailer after our lesson, we stopped at a little puddle so he could have a drink of water.  It was a little shallow puddle, compliments of all the rain we've had, off the beaten path of cars and the road.  While Bob drank I lightly held the lead rope.

Suddenly Bob's front legs collapsed again and he fell head first into the puddle.  It again surprised both of us.  He got back up and I could see he'd cut his leg on a rock.  We slowly walked to the trailer and I drove the short distance home as if I had soft shelled eggs in my trailer - so worried Bob might fall.

At home I nursed Bob's cut and called my shoer to come out and remove the wedges.  My thought is that the higher angle of the wedges are causing Bob's knees to go out.  In the meantime Bob is walking fine here at home.

Before I call the vet out I want to see if removing the wedges alleviates the issue.  Maybe that's a copout.  But I'm just too terrified to hear what the vet might tell me - we've had so much heartache this last year with our horses.

So for the next few days I just want to live with what I hope is.  And not with what might be.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Message to the Trees

Dear Trees,

You've escorted us when we've left home.

And you've welcomed us back.

The chriping of birds who perch on your limbs have woke us up on summer mornings.

Your shade has kept us cool on summer evenings.

You've stood by us through all of the seasons.

Last winter's ice storm was cruel.

It robbed you of your beauty and dignity.

You were changed.

They came to tell us that you would be leaving.

They say you are damaged.

They call you ugly.

They no longer see your beauty as we do.

Yesterday evening I went out after dinner to see you for the last time.

To have one last moment with you.

To listen one last time to your leaves as they rustled in the wind.

And to say goodbye.

You will be missed...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Dash and Ride

So much happening at home.

Grad party coming up for daughter.  Trying to get the house in shape for the event.  The cat has shredded some of our "ugly" wallpaper.  It is hanging in shreds on the wall.  I've been saying I was going to take it down for seven years so now that the cat has been "helping" it can no longer be avoided.  :)

Bob and I have had challenges. 

I took two short vacations and put him at the barn where I used to board and where I still haul in and take lessons.  The stalls are huge, designed specifically for warmbloods.  The care is excellent.

Bob didn't take well to the stall/pampering environment.  He became a very agitated, even more sensitive.

Things got so far out of hand that my Frainer (friend and trainer), who helped me decide to purchase Bob a year ago, has told me that she feels we made a mistake and that I should sell him and find a different horse - one who isn't so spooky/sensitive.

I received her advice and ran it around in my head for a week.  Took a lesson the following week where Bob was almost uncontrollable and agreed to sell him.

Balled my head off trying to write the add, but after 24 hours of agony, put it up on the internet. 

Twelve hours later I pulled it down.

My Frainer is not pleased.

But I believe that Bob's issues, which have expedited after being the only horse here at home, are partly because he is here by himself.  Last year we had four horses and Bob, although still a sensitive horse, didn't behave this way. 

I plan to purchase another horse in the fall.  Until then, I'm not sure how I will proceed.  I only want two horses in the future.  I may keep someone's horse here with Bob, not sure.

In addition to the above, I haven't been as active in riding as I was last year.  I passed on the summer with my Cowgirl Pals because I was going to spend time at the cabin.  But that has fallen through and to date I haven't caught up with my Pals.

I've stepped up to the plate and am hauling Bob up to the barn more often.  His sensitivity currently is too high for me to feel comfortable riding here at home alone.

I'm hoping to get through this.  My family and I don't take buying and bonding to our horses lightly.  We view them as life-long partners.  So before I proceed I must know that I've tried all I can.

I believe things are getting better, but gotta run. 

Heading out to haul Bob up to the barn for another ride.  :)