Dilly is almost 3 weeks out now from his check ligament injury. I had the swelling knocked out in a week, completely ditched all wrapping about a week and a half into it, and have been cold hosing and poulticing ever since. I've started putting his fly booties back on during the day (since he is a princess and needs protection from those nasty wasty bugs), and poulticing at night without bandages. This seems to have worked well, as the leg has stayed down and tight and cool.
I took him in for an ultrasound yesterday between clients, and nervously watched him jog even though I knew he was sound. And, he was sound, and moving even better than he had been when Dr. H looked at him last time. Dylan has a bit of that Spanish paddle when he moves, but in Dr. H's opinion, he was now bringing that foot back underneath him better and more solidly, whereas before he was landing on it slightly less underneath himself. I can't fault the man's eye, even I didn't see that.
Just hangin' out, gettin' fat
The ultrasound looked great. It was a clearer picture now that all the swelling had gone, and the check ligament looks great. However, there are a couple of small adhesions there which Dr. H thinks probably have been a chronic thing that developed over many years of hard work - not all that uncommon in a 15 year old upper level horse who has been working his entire life. What probably happened given his very shortlived little lameness and swelling was he tore an adhesion loose, had soreness and swelling, and then it resolved and off he goes.
Despite that, I'm going to keep an EXTREMELY close eye on that leg as we ease back into work. Hopefully tomorrow (if it isn't 958530959684302 degrees by the time I am done working) I will get back on and see how he feels with just some walk and trot work. Cross your fingers!
There is this fat pig that has been wandering around our neighborhood for some months now. I keep seeing her here and there, and I was starting to wonder if she was a potbelly pig that got dumped when she got too large. (That "teacup" pig fad where people buy little piglets and assume they're going to stay tiny forever... they don't stay tiny!)
One day, she wandered up my driveway. Much to my surprise too - I was outside doing chores, and all of a sudden there was this pig wandering towards me. I was completely surprised by this - what pig wanders if it is taken care of? There isn't another driveway close to ours, not really. She had to wander a fair way to get up to our driveway. But once here, she made it quite clear that she had no intention of leaving again.
I gave her a little mud hole, some fresh water to drink, and some veggies. Her back was sunburned and the skin cracking, so I put some lotion on her and let her go wallow in her mud for awhile. Apparently, to a pig this means "welcome to the spa, make yourself at home." And she stayed.
I left the gate open, so she could go home. But she did not go home. She stayed. For days.
I finally managed through a series of complicated events to track down her owner. She lives several houses down from me, quite a long ways from where my driveway entrance is. She was just as surprised as anyone when she realized where she was and how far she had wandered. They took her home, and I thought that was that, although I really like pigs and had enjoyed her time with me so much that I considered adopting one of my own. Like I need any more animals...!
And then, last week, she came back.
LET ME IN
She couldn't get in through my no climb, so she sat in my neighbor's yard (we share a fenceline) all day and complained. She finally actually broke through my no climb - no, seriously! - and let herself back onto my property. That's a determined pig!
I texted the owner, and she is out of town right now. The pig was supposed to be home with her husband, but apparently the pig doesn't like the husband, so she ran away from home to come back to our house. And I use the term "ran" pretty loosely... more like, shuffled her morbidly obese self over to our house. The husband had no idea she was even missing, even though she had been gone for a full day.
The owner won't be back for at least another week, so I guess we're pig sitting?
Oh yea... did I mention they're super destructive? We're graveling the carport and she has decided that the carport is her home, and this landscaping fabric was in her way.
Although I don't know why they've even bother to pick her up at this point... she's just going to run away again and come back to our house and break down our fence again!
As other Texas bloggers have recently been writing about, it's hot. Like, really hot. Like really REALLY REALLY HOT in Texas right now. I'm starting to think Dylan torqued his leg just because he wanted a summer break from the heat. Can't really fault that logic.
His leg is looking good and he seems quite sound. The leg isn't as *perfectly* tight as the other one, but it may never be exactly the same. He goes back on Friday for a two-week checkup ultrasound and lameness evaluation. Dr. H was pretty optimistic that he would be back to work within pretty short order, so I am hoping we get some good news. He's been completely out of wraps for about a week - it's SO HOT right now that I felt like wrapping was just keeping excess heat in, and not helping anything. He still gets poulticed and coldhosed, and during the day has been back in his fly leggings (because he is a man baby and bug bites make him chew on his poor widdle leggies). I've been thinking I should get him a pair of Equisleeves, which are less hot and bulky than standard quilts and have the dual purpose of not letting the bugs bother him. Anyone use them and like them? I've never used a pair before.
The temporarily out of commision fatties club
O's kind of getting a belly on her isn't she! Well, it could be just fat... but.... we'll say it's a wee baby bump. Her udders are changing too, which I find super interesting. Her baby is about the size of a kitten right now, so certainly not very big yet. She's completely peaceful and zenned out with her pregnancy hormones - she's such a nice, quiet, sensible mare when she's not in heat! I miss working her, but she gets groomed and doted on every day which she finds quite agreeable.
In the meantime while I wait for Dylan to heal up, and despite the heat, there are a bunch of wee babes and youngsters to be worked!
Lendri's first ponying
Love/hate relationship. Lendri loves P, and P hates her.
P is not sure when she got signed up for resident baby-dragger, but she is pretty certain that she did not authorize that assignment. Luckily, the more she gets ridden the better she is, so even though she tends to gripe about it when we first get going, once she is out on the trail she is all ears forward and marching onward. Her soundness actually feels better now that she is starting to be ridden more often - she may have just needed to grease her joints up and get moving, since she is the one who basically parks herself at the haybag and never EVER leaves. She is that lazy slob that eats twice as much as anyone else, poops twice as much, and walks 5 feet to her pooping spot, 5 feet to the water trough, and 5 feet back to the haybag. She never goes ANYWHERE else. So I don't feel too bad putting her back to light trail work, because she needs to move way more than she does!
She really is a great pony horse. She gets on with anyone, drags them when they don't want to go, doesn't get upset if they do something silly, and just keeps marching along no matter what happens. She also stands parked immobile, which is immeasurably useful, especially when teaching babies about standing still. Pax is probably the least wiggly baby I've ever met, which is nice. She stands still for everything, including standing whenever we stop while out ponying. Pax gets better every time we pony, although I did start putting a rope halter on her to remind her about her manners. She about pulled my arm out of my socket when she tried dragging us all a few pony sessions ago.
And Lendri is now starting to pony too! She went for her first ponying lesson yesterday and did very well. I originally put the Be Nice halter on her, anticipating some trouble, but it actually caused more problems (i.e. her putting on the brakes and refusing to move) that I took it off and just used her regular halter. She surprised me with how well she can keep up with Pmare! She is a FAT little sausage so ponying is really a good thing for her - gets her exercised!
And Sriracha is still the Valedictorian of the mooles. She is so incredibly smart! Not having any prior handling has actually been the biggest benefit of all - she's just this totally open book, waiting to be written in. She's learning at such a high rate of speed that it just floors me every time I work with her. And I don't work with her every day either - every day, she gets a cookie and gets petted a bit and talked to, but certainly not pulled out of the field and worked with. Whenever she does get worked with, if something makes her unsure, she might wiggle and flinch, but as soon as she realizes whatever it is isn't going to hurt her, she is immediately fine. Today she let me pick out her hind feet for the first time, and it was SO worth it to wait for her to come around for that. I tossed a saddle pad on and off her a few times, which she was a bit flinchy about, but then on a whim I decided to show her the harness and see how she reacted.
In about 2 minutes, she was wearing it fully girthed, crupper and breeching included, like she had been doing it her entire life. As is usual with her, she was super squinchy when I pulled up her tail - which I had never touched before - but she was completely fine with it once she realized it was all right. I've been lunging Lendri in harness for months now and I STILL have trouble getting her crupper on, every time. (Admittedly I'm 100% sure Lendri was abused.)
Piece of cake. I honestly think she won't be all that hard to teach to drive. I've had my lingering doubts about whether or not Lendri will ever really be a driving candidate or not, but I have no doubts about Sriracha.
Now we just have to get Dylan well... if I can find him under all the dirt that is....
A lot of bloggers have mares being bred this year (and every year), and there has been a lot of writing about what goes into breeding a mare and how the process is done. What you don't get to see much of (or at least not in the blogs I'm reading) is what happens on the stallion end. As I have an active breeding stallion currently in my care, I thought I'd give a little debriefer about what goes into the process of collection and shipping.
I'm also unfortunately tasked now with trying to word all of this without making it sound weird and creepy and perverted. I think the whole process is really interesting - hell, I have an actual college degree in reproductive work - and I'd love to use all the completely scientific terms, but I'm also aware of the fact that there are lots of nasty people out there Googling animal, uhhh... you know whatsits... and I don't want this blog to be the first thing, um... springing up in their search. So now I get to find lots of ways to avoid using choice words. Am I able to... uhhh... rise to this occasion?
(By the way, if you are squicked out by wieners, you should probably just run for it right now.)
Let me outttt
Today Dylan was being collected for a mare in Michigan. This whole procedure is time-sensitive, as the mare has to have a follicle that is about ready to ovulate, and the stallion must be collected in time for 'the goods' to be delivered in a timely matter. If shipping fresh cooled, the biological material will die if left for too long, so the whole thing needs to be done with some speed and delicate timing.
Every clinic does things a little bit differently. In college, we called our breeding shed The Bullpen. The stallion was put behind a solid wooden tease wall and a mare was brought to him to tease. We had one stallion in particular who was a real savage (and he hurt a number of people), so being back there was not fun for anybody. He was likely to strike you in the head as he loved to rear and come at people on his hind legs, and behind the tease wall there was nowhere to go. I saw him grab and shake somebody once like a ragdoll. He almost killed another stallion when he jumped a 6' fence to get in with him (literally punctured the other stallion's lung and broke his ribs). He was seriously evil. Thank god Dylan is NOT like that at all.
In our vet clinic here, the breeding phantom (which is the dummy the stallions mount when being collected) is situated in a similar large area with rubber mats, but there is no tease wall. Instead, the stallion teases the mare from the other side of the phantom. The mare is brought into the shed and parked on the far side of the phantom, and the stallion is then brought in. The vet or tech cleans his winkywank to make sure dirt and crud doesn't get mixed in with the goods, and then the stallion is allowed to go and tease the mare. Our clinic has just one mare; sometimes a clinic will have several mares that they run through as tease mares, and they'll bring in the ones that are in heat. Most of the time the mare is given some hormones to bring her into heat, but once in awhile you'll get one that perpetually shows heat - this is basically the perfect job for them. But, everyone manages this a little differently. The important thing is to have a mare in standing heat for the stallion to tease, to get him to mount the phantom and breed.
Dylan is a gentleman and talks nicely to the mares. He doesn't act fractious, bite, strike, rear, or get unmanageable. It does takes him a minute before he'll mount the phantom though. Being the manbaby that he is, the AV (that's artificial boogeena, if you didn't know) wasn't tight enough for him the first time around, and he dismounted. Filled with more water, he was then successfully collected. The AV is basically exactly what you'd imagine it to be - basically a leather or plastic casing with a handle and an inner liner. You fill the liner up with hot water, lube it up, and, well, there you are. Your imagination can figure the rest out. On the end of this is a little collection bottle that the goods get poured into on their way out. The AV is hand-held, meaning somebody had to get under there and hold it while the stallion is on the phantom. I've been on the holding end of one many times and it's definitely as difficult as you'd imagine it to be. My favorite vet Dr. G (who I stayed with in Oklahoma) got whacked in the head once with a mounting stallion's hoof, so it's not a bad idea to wear helmets in there.
The vet is under there hanging on for dear life
"Aaaand I'm spent"
Once the stallion has handed over his goods, the vet takes the AV back to the lab. She takes a sample and looks at it under the microscope, checking out the motility of the swimmers. Ideally, you want everything to be moving mostly in a straight line, which is considered "progressive motility." Sometimes you'll get swimmers that are moving but not going anywhere, or are going in little circles. Those are less likely to knock anything up, but they are still considered motile. You'll also get some dead ones. When I bred P to DDM, his swimmers were 95% progressively motile - super semen. When I bred her to LI, his swimmers were barely 15% motile at all. They weren't getting anything knocked up noway nohow.
Once the motility has been established, to make sure the goods are good, the semen is put into a centrifuge and spun down to concentrate it. Dylan today was not very concentrated but the motility was good, so it didn't matter too much. The spun-down semen is then added to a premixed fluid called extender, which is basically sperm protectant that extends the life of the swimmers as well as protects them from pathogens and changes in temperature. These samples are then placed into little baggies and are carefully cooled and put into an Equitainer (which is the shipping carrier that will take them to their destination). Fun fact about me: when I was in college, we did some research to see if we could develop a plant-based extender. Most of the extenders on the market today are milk and egg based, and with all of the concerns with bird flu, we tried to experiment a bit to create something better. No dice, at least not back then, but it was fascinating stuff. I also learned how to freeze semen during that same internship, which was ridiculously science-y and cool.
The Equitainer is shipped off overnight to its final destination, where the receiving vet will then inseminate the mare. Timing is really important here, as after 48 hours everything in the Equitainer will start dying, and it must be there and ready to breed the mare when she is ready to ovulate. Many vets give ovulatory hormones to make sure this gets timed properly. It's all very interesting and full of science and timing.
So there you are, more than you ever wanted to know about semen and stallion winkywanks!
Having several young horses/mules at a time makes for hilarious fun times. I currently have two yearlings (Pax and Uma) and one two year old (Sriracha), and maaaaay be adding a new secret two year old to the herd sometime in the near future... but more on that later!
I'm of course in no way a trainer (like, not at ALL), but I'm pretty decent at putting a good solid foundation on the babies, at least on the ground. They have a checklist of "stuff" they learn in their yearling, two year old, and three year old years and I'm always trying to finesse this to make it the most well-rounded and low-stress experience that I can for them. I've worked with many youngsters over the years but Pax is my first homebred, and as such I've really had the chance to play with this and customize it. I'm currently trying to sort through the list of things I want all of my babies to be doing well in their first years. Pax had a grand head start over the mooles because she is bred from solid-minded stock and I started working with her from the very moment she was born, but it has been a bit trickier with the other two. They are mules so they are just different, plus they had had zero interaction with humans when I first got them. I'm certainly not perfect - in fact I think I may have really missed the boat on working with Pax's ears properly! - so I'm going to keep trying to improve it with every babe I work with.
The one thing the mules have that Pax has much less of is a healthy respect for human space. If the mules are frightened of something they tend to spook away from me, even if they are between the scary thing and myself. Pax's first instinct is to leap into my arms every time something worries her or she gets a bit fractious, which is both annoying and potentially dangerous. She has gotten VASTLY better about this as she mentally matures, but it's something that makes training goals completely different for them all. The mules need to constantly be reminded that my touch is a good thing, and Pax needs to be reminded that sometimes my touch means get the hell out of my space you giant terrible monster.
In general, I expect all of my babies to be able to do these things at these stages of life (if all goes well):
Halter and lead
Be easy to catch in the field
Stand for hoofcare
Being ponied or led out for trail rides/off property
General despooking - tarps, balloons, umbrellas, bags, etc
Not kill anybody during vetwork
Maybe they can go to a local show or two if they are mentally ready for it, but I'm just not in a hurry like that. Why do it? They need to learn how to be solid citizens, but they're just babies. It will come.
Two Year Old Year:
Continue with all the things they learned as yearlings, plus:
Wearing a saddle or harness
Wearing a bridle with bit (especially for in hand showing)
Some in hand shows
More off-property adventures, either in hand or ponying
Tiny Mule Specific: Learning the basics of lunging and roundpenning
I'm not adverse in their two year old year to learn the *very* basics of lunging and roundpenning - i.e. go and whoa - but it is an awful lot of stress on those very fragile joints. Better to do things like go be ponied and get lots of miles in just seeing stuff.
Three Year Old Year:
Continue with all the things they learned as two year olds, plus:
Learning how to lunge/roundpen more in-depth (but still, keeping circling to a minimum)
Long lining/ground driving
Riding Specific: Basic backing (sitting on them, steering, stop and go, don't kill anybody)
Driving Specific: Learning about draft shafts, dragging a tire or small sled, basic hitching
Four Year Old Year:
Continue with all the things they learned as two year olds, plus:
Miles and miles of trails! Lots and lots and lots of walking and exposure to terrain and sights
Walk/trot/canter and basic contact - general green beans riding and driving
Into their five year old year and beyond, they then go into their specific show careers and learn about jumping, more in depth driving, or whatever it is that they are destined for. I think a lot of them are still mentally and physically immature at 5, but at 6 and 7 they start to put their grown up pants on and then they are more capable of getting down to real business and heavy work.
The side eye is strong with this family
Pax comes by her personality honestly
I like this schedule. I like it mostly because I don't have any serious time constraints (as in, I don't have to have horses prepped for X competition at X age). I also like it equally because even if my babies are doing really well mentally, having a schedule like this makes me go, "Okay I know she seems completely ready to do something like learn about lunging, but I have no need to push that until she is this age." It holds me accountable for the babies and their soundness. I think people get a little crazy about some of the things they want young horses to be capable of doing as tiny babies. I'm not a fan of futurities, the FEI young dressage horse tests, or the USEA's young event horse program. (I do like the Future Event Horse program though, and do intend on doing that with Pax). I can't see any reason that a five year old horse should be jumping Training level equivalent type jumps. I also don't see why a six year old needs to be doing collection of any sort. Their skeleton isn't even done fusing at that age. It might be my unique perspective, but seeing as many horses as I do, I can't tell you how many poor broken down critters I come across that would probably still be sound and working today had they not be pushed heavily when they were babies. Why are we all in such a rush to cripple our horses? What's the big hurry here?
Anyway. Rant over.
I like being methodical about putting the building blocks together, and I don't like to leave gaps or holes. I like to lay the foundation carefully and then layer on top of it, piece by piece. But I'm always open to added information or new ideas, if you have any! See anything you would add in there?
She is starting to look so grown up all of a sudden!
Sriracha learning about wearing boots and bells
Learning how to whoa
I swear these mules come with a pre-installed whoa button. I have no idea how they pick it up so fast.
Sriracha did her first ever "lunging" session the other day, and she did quite well. She is the resident two year old, so she is ready to start learning about some lunging, walking around the neighborhood, and despooking. Since she is still learning all of the basic stuff that she missed as a yearling, she's not quite ready for things like bridling and wearing a harness, but she'll get there. She's a smart little devil.
Working with a completely feral, completely unhandled mini moole is kind of my jam right now. I LOVE working with these little guys, and while I'm not saying I'm ANYWHERE near being a specialized moole trainer or anything like that, if three of them in a row count then I'm at least halfway decent at it. I can't say I would be as good with a larger moole, or an abused moole, but as for these ones with basically no human experience at all and nothing to taint them... they're super fun. I think Lendri was mishandled some, and Uma certainly has not ever forgotten the fact that her first interaction with a human was when one forcibly cornered her and picked her up and removed her from her mother, but Sriracha just plain never had been touched before. Her curiosity and sensibility make working with her fairly straightforward - as soon as she realizes that something she is overreacting about is not going to hurt her, she immediately settles down, and then comes forward to check it out.
In this video you'll see four different points of progress, all in 2-8x speed in order to make things less boring. There's a lot of boring stuff that goes on in the start, like standing around and waiting for her to engage, or petting, or just touching her with a long stick. I used a glove attached to the end of a dressage whip in order to get close enough to touch her without scaring her, but as you can see at first she was pretty averse to even just that. I never got it on video, but she flipped over the first time I got anywhere near her legs. From the stick and glove, I moved to just petting her, and then moved to brushing her with a medium bristled brush - enough stiffness to feel good without being too scratchy. Eventually, I was able to get where I could touch the tops of her front legs without her totally losing it, then the lower legs, and then finally the feet. It was worth taking my time for this. She needed her feet done when I first got her, but turning her out onto my abrasive terrain helped to take some of the excess off, and it was SO worth it to wait until she was ready to have the excess nippered off on her own terms rather than force her and frighten her early on. I am now able to touch her back legs, and it shouldn't be long before I can trim them too.
If you have the question of "why is she tied and not loose in a roundpen," the only answer I can really offer is that mules are not horses. Ever see someone roundpenning a donkey? Nope. As far as I can tell, you just throw all of that stuff out the window when you're working with hybrids. I broke her to lead and tie the very first day I had her and I think that's the most important thing you can do with a mule or donkey, teach them to lead. Since she was already broke to tie - you'll see her hit the end of the rope but stop - that is where I chose to work her. She is VERY strong for her size and this way, she had a confine to work within that she understood without ever learning that she could pull away from me. I'm not a mule trainer so I have no idea if this works for other people, but so far it has worked for me. But I would not work a horse this way!
Sriracha leads, ties, trailers, bathes, picks up her front feet, flysprays, and wears a mask. I still need to be slow and methodical with her, but every time that I am, it builds just a little more trust. It is completely worth it to take my time.
Despite the steamy heat we've been having lately, the mooles are all doing extremely well. They all seem to like the heat, even going so far as to lay out and sunbathe in the 100 degree afternoons, when the horses are standing in the shade sweating. Surely it's the donkey in them... it makes them more heat tolerant!
Wee baby Uma is starting to have *more* mature days than immature days. She is the same age as Pax, so she still has lots of tiny moole fits and doesn't have much attention span yet. But, she is starting to mature slowly, and some days it surprises me with how many things she is good with. The rest of the days, she still pitches giant moole fits, but... ah well. She will get there, she is just a yearling after all. You think yearling horses are bad... yearling mooles are like dealing with rancid little tweens. She recently got her very first bath (ever!), and she was surprisngly great with it. She wears boots and bells for fun, and she let me roach her mane with the clippers recently. A few months ago I tried to body clip her and she absolutely FLIPPED out, so this is a big deal. To go from totally freaking out to being quite fine about her mane being clipped in just a single session is pretty good!
Lendri had been doing a lot less these days, mostly because it's a million degrees out and I have been prioritizing for the horses who are in work. I did find a pony size cart recently that I bartered out work for though! I will need to switch out the shafts I think, as it does appear that mini size shafts were put on a pony size body. The best thing about the cart is the fact that it has a GREAT set of steel wheels. If nothing else, the wheels are worth the entire purchase!
Hey look, I found a flymask that fits me!
Grooming with Pax
Lendri meets her doom
Sriracha on top, Uma on the bottom. You can see their size difference, although Uma is catching up!
Sriracha all shed out!
All of the mooles got haircuts. It's traditional turnout for mules and donkeys to be roached for shows, so I decided to give everybody the roach to see how it looks. They look adorable! I love it. The foofy manes and mohawks are equally as adorable though... basically everything about them is adorable. How can I pick just one look!
Fully roached but still hairy eared!
I've had Sriracha now for two months, and she is looking fantastic. She is a lovely mule, intelligent and willing to learn, fast losing her suspicion and more willing to try for me every time I work with her. She is gleaming and shiny. She bathes, clips, leads, ties, trailers, and wears her flymask. She is getting better and better about grooming and flyspray. and she picks up her front feet and even let me nip off the excess. She is letting me touch her hind legs now too, so it won't be long before I can do them as well.
Looking so good!
Looking like a proper show mule! Almost anyway!
Picking up feet
She is coming along so well. I just love her! She really was a lucky find.
Living out in the country in rural Texas has a lot of befits. It's quiet, we don't worry about livestock limitations, and we're not under the jurisdiction of basically anything. Our neighbors are nice and leave us alone. It's a good deal.
Well, except for holidays. During every summer holiday, fireworks stands pop up on the side of the road like evil boils upon the beautiful face of our countryside. Out here, outside of town, fireworks are legal and any Joe Schmoe can load up on as many explosives as they like, and fire them off whenever they wish. For those of us with animals, it's a complete and total nightmare.
Last year, my nextdoor neighbors didn't set off any fireworks, so I didn't have any idea that they would do it this year. The whole weekend of the 4th, there were booms and crackles in all direction, which I expected - but then the nextdoor neighbors started setting them off. They are right at the top of our hill, right on the other side of the trees, so they're pretty close.
This close, in fact:
As you can see, the horses were not very happy about it. That was on the 3rd of July, but I was able to keep them pretty quiet otherwise and everyone made it through the weekend basically all right.
Everything went fine through the week. Dylan rode like a million bucks. I started rifling through the omnibus looking for fall shows. I bragged to someone about what a sound, strong, capable horse he is. He's 15, he's barefoot, he's sound, he requires basically no maintenance at all.
Well, apparently the universe heard me talking, and decided to send me a little dose of humility.
Look he's even on there, "dressage school master"
Hot and sweaty but going like gangbusters
On Sunday (July 10th), in the middle of the night, my neighbors decided again that they were going to set off fireworks. It was a quiet night, with nothing going on. I was sitting in a chair in my pajamas, feeling sleepy and contemplating going to bed, when suddenly I heard what sounded like heavy artillery going off over my house. I went outside, and not surprisingly, the horses were running in every direction blindly in the dark. The neighbors fired off several more rounds of fireworks before I got everyone settled down. In the dark, everyone seemed all right.
In the morning, they were definitely less all right.
Pax is covered in scrapes and cuts. She has a fat leg, but she seems to be quite fine and the swelling has already improved. The puffiness is related to the cuts and scrapes, and she'll be fine. But I could have done without the total heartattack I had when I saw it.
Dylan is less fine. On Monday, he had a hot and fat leg, and had some cuts and scrapes. The scrapes are all down low on his pastern, and are basically little more than a bit of hide taken off, but the area was swollen and mildly warm. What was more concerning was that higher, where all of the major tendons and ligaments run behind the cannon bone, the are was swollen, hot and tender. Alarm bells started going off in my head. I'm pretty well versed in evasive maneuvers when it comes to leg injuries, so right away I started in with cold hosing and icing. The only thing I had on hand to knock out inflammation was DMSO, since I had used the last of my poultice on O the last time she whacked herself. so in between icings he had DMSO and wraps applied. I jogged him in a straight line and on a circle, and he did not appear to be off, so I was optimistic that it hopefully wasn't anything terribly bad.
The next morning (yesterday), I had hoped the swelling would be improved, but it was not. If anything, it was just as big and hot as the day before, and now he was lame. I switched tactics, moved to more aggressive icing and cold hosing, and applied Sore No More poultice (the Ultra Performance kind). Man that stuff is awesome. I've always been an A&Js Ice kind of girl but I also think the Sore No More products are really great, and I'm super pleased with the performance of this one. I knocked about half the swelling out of it by the end of the day, and by this morning about 75% of the swelling was gone. Yesterday I called my vet, and made an appointment for this morning to have a lameness exam and an ultrasound done. I was feeling completely panicked about the swelling - it was so classic suspensory, and he was sore to palpation in that area. All I could do was feel bad about everything, wonder why the horse gods and the universe hate me, and mourn the fact that I finally feel like I am able to ride pain free and get back to the show ring and suddenly my extremely fine and sound horse blows a leg out and we're all just going to die and the world is going to implode. It was a rough and depressing night.
Icing and more icing
This morning, the swelling was down about 75% and he seemed rather more like himself. I was slightly more optimistic as I drove to the vet, but I still had visions of massive suspensory damage dancing through my head.
I know I've mentioned many times that I love my vet, but I'll say it again - I love my vet. We have a great repertoire and he trusts my input. I feel that he knows that I am capable as a caretaker, and that I know a fair bit about both injuries and anatomy. We get on very well, as he is willing to listen to what I have to say and work with those parameters, and I am willing to defer to him as the expert and take his advice as well as do whatever he instructs me to do. Not to mention he's the best leg guy around - he's the one I want for a lameness evaluation. Nobody else will do for me. Because Dylan is both insured and very special, I handed off his lead rope to the tech and told them, "we do whatever we have to do get him sound."
And to my surprise, he was already sound in a straight line. Like, totally fine. Not an off step. We flexed him on both sides, and.... totally sound. Dr. H palpated him, and found that the suspensory was not painful, but the check ligament was. Suddenly I felt much more hopeful. Could it just be a check ligament? We put him in the roundpen and sent him both directions, and he was sound about 95% of the time, with a few random head bobs in there, but they were quite minor. Dylan is a huge man baby - if he were a human he would be that macho jock that gets the man flu and acts like he is going to die from the sniffles, so I was hopeful that it wouldn't be too bad on ultrasound.
And man did I ever get lucky. Everything looked to be in really good order and good size, except for the check ligament. The body of the ligament was not damaged, but there was some swelling and minor damage in the area to the tissue. Dr. H classed it as a check ligament strain, which is about the best case scenario I could have ever asked for aside from there not being any kind of problem at all. It's just a check ligament that did the job it was supposed to do - stabilize the DDFT and help prevent damage to it. Dr. H said he will likely be back to work in as little as just a few weeks - we are rechecking via ultrasound in two weeks to see how he is looking. In the meantime, we are doing the same protocol - coldhosing, icing, poultice, wrapping, rest, bute and Uniprim to knock out the crud and swelling around the cuts. We discussed it and decided to keep him in turnout with O as company, as this is the best chance to keep him quiet, and the injury is minor enough that it shouldn't cause a problem.
And I'll be having a word with my neighbors about the fireworks.
As a person, I'm not superstitious, religious, or driven by the idea that the fates completely govern us, but sometimes I like to think that things happen for a reason. Maybe the universe gives us a little nudge here or there to keep us on a certain directed course. I'm willing to let myself believe in that a little bit.
Pax's pending sale fell through this week. I know the prospective owner is sad about that, because she definitely wanted it to work, but with her lease horses all unexpectedly coming home at the same time she is squeezed for space. Maybe in the future she will be able to try again, but honestly, I'll have put a bigger price tag on her by that time. And by that I mean, she's still not technically for sale but the more time I put into her, the more money she will be worth.
Since P didn't take this year and we stopped trying, I was feeling really lousy about the fact that I had gotten P specifically as a broodie and now was going to have absolutely nothing to show for it. My baby was sold, she was not successfully bred this year, and I didn't really have any other plans to breed her further. It sucked. But then Pax's sale fell through. And I started to wonder.... maybe things all happen a certain way for a reason? Maybe I'm meant to keep Pax, if only just for the time being.
With that in mind, I decided it was time that Pax gets some more worldly experience. If I am really going to keep her, then it is time to start exposing her more to the world at large.
Note to self: find halter that actually fits her china doll face
Yes, that's old Pmare I'm riding! Since she is not pregnant and not doing anything else, I decided it was high time to put her butt back into light duty work as a trail horse and primarily as a pony horse that can drag other horses around for exercise. In the past, P has always been my go-to pony horse, because she's sturdy, bossy, not bothered by anything whatsoever. She just plows on forward no matter what the ponied horse is doing. The last time I ponied Pax, it was a number of months ago, and she was still too young and mentally immature to take it at all seriously - there was a ton of rearing, striking, bucking, and running involved and I wasn't terribly keen to fight off flailing baby hooves while I was riding. I wasn't sure what she was going to do this time, but she is 15 months now and significantly more mentally mature than she was several months ago, so I figured it was a good shot with Pmare as my pony horse.
P had not had a saddle on in about two years and she was not very happy about it. I got a few Very Dirty Looks, but I knew once she got out on the trail she would be more cheerful. I think she must have had a few girths cranked on too hard and fast in her past, because when I got her she used to bite the trailer kind of savagely whenever you'd tighten the girth. A few scoldings and a more carefully applied girth stopped that habit, but she'll always remember it.
The first five minutes of the ride were total chaos. P was a complete cow and reared, spun, and jigged, nearly clotheslining me off a couple of time with her own child's leadrope. I had to actually dismount and lead her off the road for a minute because she was stopping traffic. She did settle down, thankfully, and I was able to get a gauge on her soundness as we went along. She is definitely not sound whatsoever - she is totally fine at the walk, but when she gets into her little shuffley jogging trot, she feels like riding a cripple gaited horse. Part of this is because she's just completely out of shape and has no muscle tone whatsoever. She historically has been at her worst when she gets into that dinky little jog, and has always gone a lot better when trotting forward, but there is no real need for us to be doing that at the moment. She'll be quite fine for easy trail rides, but I'll probably give her some bute before each one to help lessen her soreness as she gets back into shape. For this particular ride, we only went about half a mile, and then came back home.
Pax though? Pax was PERFECT. She was not worried about anything. She was even a bit lazy and didn't want to keep full up with her speedwalking mother for a bit. Waiting a few additional months for her to mature before trying this again was SO helpful. I think she'll be on the slow side to mentally mature, but that's quite all right. A lot of warmbloods are. But I think it's SO important to get young horses out and seeing things. It just makes everything about them that much more able to handle weird stuff when they see it in the future.
So what is this next year going to be like for Pax, since she is staying? All of the same things on the ground. Being ponied out on the trails and traveling to various locations for trail rides off property. I decided not to do any FEH stuff with her this year because a) I felt she was too mentally immature, and b) I thought she was sold!, but next year I will plan to do the two year old in-hand division of the FEH. Who knows? Maybe she'll be my event horse one day. It could happen!
Pax says, I'm a good baby. Just don't stick your fingers in my ears or else.
I know a lot of people ride western all the time and regularly do one-handed reinwork, but I am not one of those people.
Riding one handed is SUPER HARD when all you've ever done your entire life is ride with two hands, unless you were plodding along down the trail.
But when you get to the upper levels of working equitation, you are only allowed to ride one-handed. Not that we're anywhere near that yet, but I figure I better start now if I want to be any good at it in the future. Plus in WE you also need to ride with one hand to handle the garrocha pole, pick up a jug of water, ring a bell, handle a gate, and do a few various other things. So, we practice, and I think I am starting to suck less at it. At least, I'm able to get a few changes in here and there and pick up and replace the pole pretty easily now.
Bonus points - watch near the end of the video, the last attempt to jump the tiny jump. Dylan stepped on BOTH his pull on bell boots and ripped them both off at the same time. You'll see one go FLYING through the air!
So what are you currently working on that you've been slowly getting better at?