Monday, October 29, 2012

Home Sweet Home

After being boarded at the barn for six days on stall rest as a result of having knees injections, I brought Bob home today.

It was a real treat to board Bob at the barn.  The accommodations at Back Forte, where I've ridden or boarded for so many years are wonderful.  Above is a picture of Champ, who we boarded at the barn for many years.  He's the one who motivated me learn to ride 'correctly' and start my 50+ Blog years ago. 

But as much as I enjoyed having Bob at the barn and hanging with my old pals, I soon realized that I missed having my horse with me at home.  I found I didn't like having to drive up to the barn each day vs wanting to haul up or drop by to visit.  This is quite a revelation because I had always planned on boarding in the future.  Now I'm thinking differently.

As for Bob, he was fed up with stall life and becoming a real pain.  When I got him home he was out of sorts, calling out to the friends he left behind.

Yet, as I knew would happen, he settled down after a few hours and as I write this he's dozing in the sun.  Bob will wear bell boots to prevent overstepping and pulling off his front shoes/pads until I'm advised otherwise. 

The paddock will be his home for the next four days. 

After that Bob's free to return to the pastures where he can stand on his hill watching the buffalo and cattle below.

Home Sweet Home.  It's good to have my horse home!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Note to Those on the East Coast

Sending my prayers and thoughts to you on the East Coast and hoping you, your families and animals are safe from the upcoming storm.  Please check in when you can.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Day 3 With Bob

I want to start this Post by thanking those of you who have joined me on this journey with Bob.  You have no idea how much your responses mean to me as we head down this trail.  Knowing you are there supporting me makes the journey much easier, so thank you!

It's Day 3 after Bob's injections and things are quieting down.  I've been up to the barn to hand walk him twice today, each time for 15 minutes as the Vet has prescribed. 

Being stuck in a stall all day, I find Bob wanting to step out ahead of me on our little walks (and I can't blame him).  But I also can't allow him to get away with that because I need to be the one in charge.  So a sudden stop, a little backing up and a stern look in his eye resolves the issue.

It's then a peaceful time for the two of us as we take our little walks and I've found myself wondering why I haven't done this more often in the past as well as committing to doing more walks together in the future.

I've decided to go with a different Shoer for Bob and called my "old" Shoer today to tell him my decision.  The people who help us with our horses become family and I feel badly about moving on.  But this is something I must do on the journey to bring Bob back.

My replacement Shoer is someone I've known for many years and who I always stop to say "Hi" to when I run into him at the barn.  I've used him in the past - along the many years of various horses we've owned, boarding at different barns, etc.  My Vet recommended him because they have worked other 'projects' together.  I'm comfortable and confident about the decision. 

I feel like I've started a sports franchise.  My family, our Vet and Shoer have formed a team.  We are all committed to seeing this through and winning the season, no matter how long it takes.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bob's Big Day

I arrived at the barn early yesterday morning for Bob's big day.  On this day Bob would be getting injections in his knees amongst other things.  I snapped this picture before the Vet arrived. 

Regarding Bob's unstable knees.  I downloaded the Call Sheet in my email from last week to try to explain what's going on with them.  It says he has "effusion in both intercarpal joints.  He is 1/5 LF 1/5 RF flexions positive to carpal flexion L/R.  Radiographs reveal mild joint space" (and other stuff but I can't read the handwriting).  The Vet had told me that the injections should resolve the unstable knees.

As a result of the radiographs, the Vet had told me that Bob's toes were too long and needed to be cut severely back.  I had my Shoer out the day after the Vet visited.  I showed him the x-rays and the copy of the email the Vet had sent to me for him saying, " Bob needs his breakover to be reduced significantly by shortening the toe length and have a 2-3 degree wedge to correct his coffin/pastern bone axis".

I had been surprised when my Shoer told me he would not bring the toes back as far as the Vet had requested.  I asked him if it was because it was too much hoof to cut off at one time and he said that wasn't the case.  He told me the toes don't need to be that short and that this is "just how Bob is built".  End of conversation.

When the Vet arrived yesterday the first thing she wanted to see was Bob's feet.  I explained what happened when I shared her information with my Shoer.  The Vet looked at Bob's fronts and told me that his toes were still way too long.  She pointed out Bob's backs and observed that they look like they hadn't even been trimmed.  And she's right, they do look like they haven't been trimmed and are noticeably longer than his front toes.

She was disappointed that the Shoer didn't acknowledge her notes and team with her on resolving Bob's issues.  A conversation about future shoeing and who to use followed.

We moved Bob to the wash rack and he was sedated.  He received injections in both of his knees, a different issue than his stumbling from long feet.

When we moved a groggy Bob back to his stall so that he could have his teeth floated it became obvious how long his toes were.  He drug all four feet behind him with each step.  Yes, he was sedated but dragging those toes behind him as he did truly reflected how long they still are and how much effort he makes to pick up his feet when he isn't sedated.  Seeing him drag those toes really hit me hard and I felt horrible.

Bob proceeded to have his teeth floated and some beans removed.  He got his first injection of Adequan with the Vet showing me how to give his future shot.  (I'm sure by the time I finish all seven vials of Adequan that I'll be a pro.)  And with that we left him to sleep off his sedation. 

I will hand walk Bob the next five days.  On Sunday Bob will come home and I can let him out in the paddock for a week before turning him back out in the pastures.  I'm addressing the Shoer issue because Bob still needs his feet trimmed back further as soon as possible.

On November 19th the Vet returns and we will see if all of our efforts helped.  In the meantime I will keep you posted.  Thank you all for your support and kind responses to my Posts.  And Dancing Donkey...thank you so much for your observation because what you wrote is exactly what my Vet told me!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Prep for the Big Day with Bob

I write this in a hurry.  It's late and I need to be up early tomorrow so I can be at the barn to meet the Vet.  Today I hooked the trailer up and hauled Bob up to the barn where I've boarded in the past.  I call it "The Spa".  Bob will be spending the next six days at The Spa.

Have you ever visited a Doctor's office and after leaving found that you'd received so much information that you felt you couldn't quite grasp all of it?  That's how I felt last week when the Vet came out to pursue what's going on with Bob's legs.  There was so much information coming at me that I (still) feel overwhelmed and frankly I'm not sure if I was to write about all of it that I'd be correct in what I said.

So please forgive me if I don't recount all of what the Vet told me last week because even today it's still either garble or settling in.  I will try to get more clarification tomorrow.

What I can tell you is that the x-rays reflected wear on Bob's knees but the surprising find was that Bob's toes were way too long and his coffin bones were growing straight out instead of pointing downward at an angle.  The Vet wanted his toes trimmed and pads put on Bob's front feet because he is back at the heal (she called it Broken Backed).

The Shoer came out the following day and adjusted Bob's feet.  I love my Shoer, have had him for years so I had to gulp when he told me he was not willing to reduce the toe as much as the Vet had recommended.  I decided to not argue since I'd be seeing the Vet tomorrow and she could give me feedback as to whether the reduction was adequate or not.

Bob was clumsy on his new front feet but adjusted in a few days.  However, on Friday night I found Bob missing his front left shoe/and pad.  I called the Shoer Saturday morning but he couldn't get out until today (Tuesday) to put a new shoe/pad on.  He told me that Bob will need Bell Boots so he doesn't pull the shoes off (he forgot to tell me about that).

I've stepped into it now and my antennas run high.  I'm concerned that Bob's been limping around without that shoe/pad for five days and what impact that will have on his left coffin bone.  Will the right now be different?  Will find out tomorrow if that's an issue.

Tomorrow Bob is having "goop" injected into his knees.  I call it "goop" because as I write above, I'm not exactly sure what is being injected.  Its hand written on my med sheet from last week but it's all in medical jargon and hard to read the hand writing.  But I'm sure it's good "goop" cuz it sure costs enough!  :)

Bob will stay at the barn until Sunday on stall rest.  He will come home on Sunday to be turned out in his old friend, the paddock where he spent his spring when the grass was too hot in the pastures.  A week later he will be turned back out into the pastures and the Vet will be back out for a re-check on how things are going.

That re-check will decide where we go from there.  The Vet assures me that Bob will be able to be ridden, but I'm going to hold my excitement until I see how this all goes.  I've been down this road before (and we fell).

Here's Bob in his new blanket, ready to go to the Spa.  Once again, I'm thinking he looks sad...but maybe he was picking up on my vibes.  Because tonight my pastures are empty and they are meant to have horses on them.  Tonight I miss Bob.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

On The + Side of 50

Tomorrow the sun comes back around marking another year in my life.

I've always felt age was a fact of life and something to be celebrated.  After all, what's the alternative - death? 

I've looked the years straight in the face and spit in their eye, reminding those around me that you're only as old as you think you are.

So what drives me?  My mantra in life is horses.

Horses define me.  I walk, talk and dream them.  Although irritating to some, I can't go more than fifteen minutes without bringing some part of them into my conversation. 

Horses are my motivator in life.  They get me out of bed each morning and keep me physically and mentally active.  While some would call caring for horses "work", I've always considered it "fun". 

When I'm actively riding I take better care of myself.  I'm conscious of what I eat.  I know from experience that when I don't eat healthy I don't ride well not to mention how I feel when I climb up in that saddle.

Riding has always been and still is my ultimate high in life.  The interaction and bond when I'm on a horse is the ultimate thrill.  When I finish a ride and get off I don't walk - I float.  And when I have a really successful ride I get off and jump up and down in joy, doing a little jig - before I float.

But my mantra in life has had a crack in it since summer. 

When Bob's knees gave out and we fell in early June I tried to resolve the issue.  I had the Vet out and I added supplements to his feed,  I had changes made to Bob's shoes.  After some time off Bob seemed fine.  He was back to flying around the pastures and bucking like a baby.  We thought all was well but after two rides Bob's knees were once again unstable.

I snapped this picture just before I unsaddled Bob for the last time.  I had decided to retire Bob and I was heartbroken.  In this picture Bob seemed to feel the same.

I moved to a Lesson Horse for two rides before the owner took him back for her own use.  Without the resources to purchase another horse, I searched to ride another horse without luck.  I spent my summer sitting out in the pasture with Bob while he grazed.  I'd stand by him in silence while we looked out across the fields.  It was hard to watch Bob once again galloping and bucking around the fields and know I couldn't ride him.

Although our relationship became deeper and we achieved that special level where we can now communicate in silence, the crack in my mantra got wider.  I've always looked at the glass of life as being half full.  I was surprised (and disgusted) to find myself now viewing it as half empty.  And another birthday totally depressed me.  I was having a real pity party feeling sorry for myself.

Last weekend I spent time with my Cowgirl Pals who were riding in a schooling show nearby.  Something about being around my old friends gave me a good shake.  Driving home I asked myself how come Bob can fly around the fields on stable knees but not with me on him? 

It doesn't make sense.

And I knew what I must do.  I had never proceeded to go down the costly road of diagnostics (x-rays, ultrasounds, etc.) on Bob's knees.  I had told myself that it wouldn't matter because his knees were shaking and unsteady. 

But on that drive home I decided I must pursue these tests.  What if they allowed me to resolve the problem when I've been sitting around feeling sorry for myself?  I would commit the fiscal resources to having the Vet out and take it as far as I could.  One way or the other I would come to closure on Bob. 

The decision ignited the little flicker left in me, bringing back my spark in life.  Here's Bob last week, waiting for the Vet to arrive.  Even Bob looks happier.

The Vet came out last week and we proceeded with x-rays.  The news?  Not all good - but NOT all bad!  The Vet returns this week to continue treatment on Bob and I'll keep you posted on how it's going. 

Making that call and bringing closure to this issue has repaired that crack in my mantra of life.  If it goes well I get Bob back.  If it doesn't go well at least I will know I've done everything I could and can move on in peace knowing I have a great pasture pet. 

So bring that sun around tomorrow and let me spit in the eyes of age once again.  Because never forget, you are only as old as you think you are!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Summer's End

It's been a long (dry) summer.  The days have been gorgeous but after 4 months without rain we're ready for a change.  Even though we've had some frosty days I've continued to water my summer plants.  I found this little guy in the flower pot on the table outside our barn.  He's been hanging out there for about a month now.  I named him Alvin.
My hanging basket has continued to bloom although the hummingbirds no longer visit.
The daisies have started to come up (for a second time).
For the past four days every weather report in our area has predicted rain tonight.  Sure enough today there are clouds we haven't seen for months forming on the horizon.   I've taken advantage of the countdown of stormy weather.

I've started stock piling shavings. Always good to have on hand through the winter since many of the feed stores run short around February.

Bob doesn't care for stall life.  He will spend his winter sitting out all but the most dangerous storms in our large and spacious loafing sheds off our pastures.  Bob also doesn't like getting wet so I've put down some shavings, giving him a dry place to lie down.  As you can see Bob does like to throw his hay around.  :)

Gravel is like gold.  We've spread thick gravel next to the loafing sheds so that Bob (and hopefully another horse in our near future) have a place to stand off the (soon to be) muddy pastures.

Today I spread gravel around the gates, where it also gets muddy and can be slippery.

Due to the dry weather Bob has spent his nights in our middle pasture, using the loafing shed pictured above.  At only an acre in size I knew if I needed to get to him in the middle of the night due to an emergency (as in wild fire), I could reach him quickly.

But during daylight hours I've opened the gate and let him wander out into our 3 acre summer pasture.

Around December we'll be closing the summer pasture and let it rest until next year.  Bob (and hopefully a new buddy) will move over to the winter pasture which has sat unused since last April.

Our place is known for high winds.  With 'gusty' winds and heavy rains predicted this weekend it's time to get ready for the change of seasons.  I will sure miss sitting outside the barn while I wait for the water trough fill up each evening.

The furniture is put away, the flower pots are now on their own and will soon be emptied (Alvin is going to need to relocate).  The hanging basket which could launch into a window during high winds has been removed. 

Today is Summer's End.  In the next 24 hours as the rains pound and the wind roars I will encounter that winter feeling of having everything tucked in and knowing we, our place and Bob are safe and sound.  And that's a good feeling.