Friday, April 29, 2016

My Next Ride

First order of business: A huge congratulations to L over at Viva Carlos for reaching 1, 500 posts! What an accomplishment. I haven't been blogging for very long and only have a measly 326 posts, but I've always loved seeing the fabulous quotes, photos, and clinic recaps L has put forth! Cheers to you and your baby Dinosaur!


When you're caught horse shopping when you
shouldn't be.
I'm sure many horse-people can attest to the fact that we are always window shopping. In truth, I've looked through the classifieds during down time at work, or a quiet rainy evening at home, but never really bitten the bullet past "tagging" a friend in the ad to "oooh" and "ahhh" over the pretty pony. But since Suzie's diagnosis and the inevitable end to her riding career, I've found myself looking much, much deeper and actually... *gasp* sending the seller questions and request for videos.

I've come across several nice horses, some of which I've pursued further (three). I've already decided what I want in a future horse and I feel as though my "checklist" is pretty fair and quite a few horses could easily fall into the category.

So many ponies.

And I'm sure you all are curious as to what I'm casually browsing for. As of right now, I technically shouldn't be "looking" or even wasting any energy in horse shopping since I had already decided I would look next Spring.

But forget the mind-game I am currently playing in my head and let's look at the checklist of needs/wants:

  • Breed?
    • Quarter Horse is my first preference with Appendix being a close second. However, if a TB, Standie, or Appy fits the requirements, I can't necessarily ignore that!
    • Registration is preferred but not necessary.
  • Gender?
    • I have no preference to gender. I actually rode geldings almost exclusively for my entire riding career save for Suzie and one other mare.
  • Age?
    • 5-9 years of age. However, if the "right" horse is a bit younger or older, I may pursue it.
  • Color?
    • Not hugely important to me but my first preferences would be chestnut, dun/palomino/buckskin, gray, black, bay (in that order). Not overly attracted to paint horses unless they are white/palomino. But like they say - a good horse is never a bad color!
  • Training?
    • I have a lot of requirements in this section and if it is too much word vomit for you, just know I want something that can be the "Jack of all trades, Master of none" with high emphasis on an English riding career.
    • Something that has been broke - I don't mind green horses but would prefer a "easy going" green horse rather than one that needs miles and miles of work. Something unflappable, brave, and safe are my main priorities.
    • Affinity for the English ring - movement-wise and have the athleticism to compete in say, a 2nd Level test or jump 3' with no issues.
    • Ability to be interchangeable - think gymkhanas, reining, etc. (This is why I am not looking for a Warmblood).
  • Other?
    • Besides everything I have written, safe and SOUND are my main priorities. 
    • The option to do a 2 week trial, or lease before owning is HUGELY important to me.
    • Ability to pass a vet check.
  • Budget?
    • This is going to throw everyone off, but horses in my neck of the woods are not priced comparable to other areas. However, I am giving myself room to look for that "perfect" horse and have thus set a budget of $3500. Should that "perfect horse" be $4000, I wouldn't mind footing the extra, but it would have to be the right horse.

Realistically, it is a tall order, but I am going to be exponentially picky just because I can. I know that horse is out there, and I may have to bend a little in certain areas, but not by much. It may seem really picky and I'm sure a lot of people are going to say "Pffft, good luck" before they turn on their heel and strut away. But there is something to remember - I am not a horse flipper and when I purchase a horse I intend for that animal to be a permanent resident in my life. So when looking for a partner, much like a spouse, you have to be sure it feels right. And that is certainly something I am not willing to bend on.

I'll show you!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

All Things New: Goals, Shoes, Plans...

Since the self-moping has ceased and I've started to really enjoy my barn time again (especially getting little Spudlet going again), I've began to do some reflecting on the previous goals  I had set back in January.

It's going to be hard knowing
we can't do stuff like this anymore...
 It's ironic how much things have changed in the span of four months and with this newly formed diagnosis with Suzie, I've had to do some soul-searching and digging. It's almost hilarious how I strongly pointed out how 365 days is a very long time and it's important to remain flexible in things that are always changing (ie: horses).

The caudal heel pain diagnosis may stop Suzie from achieving another year of being competitive and worked, but it has given me some down time to think of what I want to achieve with a new partner. At first, I felt really awkward using the term "new horse" and I tried to use other colorful adjectives to avoid making it sound as if I'm abandoning Suzie. In reality, Suzie could still be a comfortable trail horse with her magical shoes (which were put on today!) and when I do find that "perfect" second horse (see what I did there?), she could easily be a mount for my nephew or friend who wants to go for a quick trail ride.

Professional toddler pony is professional.
And so mismatched.
 Right now my goals are fluctuating with more emphasis being put onto Spud's driving career. While I do not plan on doing any kind of rated or serious shows (because realistically, these *fancy* shows are 6+ hours away), I'd like to really focus on him this year. And with a second horse possibly coming into the picture, I'd like to squirrel away some money to go towards the purchase price of said horse and additional oddities (ie. new girth, blankets, etc).

So without further ado, here are my "goals" for the month of May. I thought it was too repetitive to be making monthly goals like I had been last year, but you all saw how the Horse God's made a fool out of me this year!

At least we can still do this (graze), minus
the saddle.


The Queen of Sass.
Suzie; Rehab and Recovery

  • Experiment with the shoes and see how it improves her comfort level. These particular shoes are going to be hand made by my Farrier so they aren't *exactly* going to be the Natural Balance Shoe that you can purchase online - they are similar and my Farrier is excellent and isn't charging me more due to the added work.
  • If things are looking good soundness and comfort-wise, take her out for sporadic rides within her limitations.
  • Continue to treat her like the Queen she is.
Spud; Stepping Up

  • Start practicing Halter stances and set-up.
  • Get his fitness level up - start hacking out and utilizing all three gaits where possible.
  • Work on his backing in harness.
  • Put deposit down for June driving clinic.

 Sidenote: I asked the Boyfriend if he would be keen on doing a little welding project in the future. 

He asked what for.

It's too bad Spud doesn't wear shoes, could you
imagine how cute his little flower would be?

With her last set of "riding shoes" I'd like to make something like in the picture above. Of course, I'll have to use additional shoes, which I have stowed away somewhere in the barn. I know it's typically something people do when their horses pass away, but it is completely cathartic for me. I know it'll be a cute little ornament outside my future barn regardless.

Also, I may or may not have asked a lady with a cute 14.3 Quarter Horse for video... d'oh.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Lifting the Fog

First things first, I wanted to thank everyone who took the time to personally message me on Facebook or write a comment here. I so appreciate all of the well wishes, thoughts, and personal stories. Horse people have to stick together, right?

The last few days have gone by in a self-induced blur - I allowed this thick haze to follow me around like a sticky, wet cloud. Mostly because, I am the kind of person who can't just be sad about something or let myself feel grief... I have to feel guilty or responsible about it. So, while I have been battling my anxiety and depression in the latest development for my beloved red mare, I've also been trying to keep my head above water.

I'll admit that I didn't tell any of my horsey-friends (except one) about Suzie until the day after... and have just admitted the consensus to the remaining few yesterday evening and this evening. My parents were a little taken aback I hadn't called them immediately, but I think they understood I needed to be alone in my thoughts to formulate a plan that was constructive for both Suzie and myself.

The more I talk about it, the better I have started to feel. At first, I was reserved and didn't want anyone to know - didn't want to admit that my mare was truly broken and the last glimpse of her riding career was over. It is an unfortunate reality of owning any animal, and I didn't want to come to terms with it just yet.

As for Suzie? She is still as sassy as ever, and hasn't even missed being ridden I don't think. She managed to sneak out of the barn this evening when I went to feed and when I went to corral her back in, she trotted away and tossed her head at me. So much sass. I've been hugging her, loving her, and fussing over her the last few days and the first smile I gave after the news was when she neighed at me the next morning over the fenceline. She makes my heart smile - I hope I can do the same for her.

But in truth?

I feel a bit relieved.

Relieved to know a real, concrete diagnosis instead of trying to guess and drive myself crazy with all of these little tests and feelings of frustration and hope mixed altogether in one confusing bundle.

Relieved that I can now finally make a plan for Suzie instead of second-guessing if what I am doing is beneficial in any way.

Yes, it is sad that her riding career is over and it will take some time to get over it and truly accept it, but I think I'm well on my way.

Things like planning for a "new" show prospect and riding partner will be in the future for sure, but for now I am going to be taking my time to absorb the pain, get Suzie on the right track, and finally, save up some cash for a new partner.

My two babies <3
Like I have said before, Suzie isn't going anywhere. She is a permanent part of my life and I'm not willing to part with her, even if that means the inability to purchase a "new" horse.

For those who have commented on the previous blog and since I have had multiple questions/comments on the particular subjects, Suzie is on Previcox. She has been on it since just after I purchased her for her arthritis. So yes, she is on a anti-inflammatory for her arthritis pain. Thank you to all who gave me names of new drugs and such associated with heel pain - I will pass them along to my vet.

 And for the debate of joint injections - I realize that it may also provide relief and comfort for Suzie, but I prefer to avoid injections if I can. Suzie is sound at the walk in the pasture and trots/canters freely on her own, at her own free will (which isn't very often... she was never one to gallivant around much anyhow). The Vet did not feel she would need injections to be comfortable in the pasture, as Suzie is quite in tune with her body and it's limitations. Also, IF these shoes do not provide relief and comfort for her, we will look into alternative drugs for pain management.

I also understand that injections may be cheaper where certain people are, but this is the amount quoted to me by my Vet - it may sound unreasonable, but prices around here are very different mostly because we do not have access to a regular veterinarian like most of my readers do. For example, a "regular" float for a horse with no dental issues can easily be $360-420 and I have known it to be much cheaper in other regions. 
The best mare.

Suzie will always be priority number one and her chapter with navicular is just beginning - I am learning all I can and will soak up whatever I can get my hands on to make the best possible choices for her. So thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my blog, see us progress and our relationship blossom. I truly appreciate each and every one of you.

This blog is far from over, this is just a new chapter.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


This week both horses had appointments with the Traveling Vets who come through town twice a year. Since the appointments need to be made nearly three weeks in advance, I had tacked on a lameness exam in conjunction with the normal Spring teeth floating and vaccines.

And when the Vet showed up this morning for our exam and asked if I still required a lameness exam, I stopped and thought for a minute and decided it wouldn't hurt to get a professional and formulated opinion. We would be limited to what we could do, since this was a "farm" call and not all equipment is mobile. (The Vets travel 5 hours to get to our little equine community)

I rode her Tuesday evening - just a short walk ride around
the street.
The appointment began with me showing the Vet the span of several hundred (I wish I was kidding) videos from the last month, a detailed recap of her chiropractic appointments and the stretches and such I have been completing daily with Suzie. I felt quite confident in the prognosis we had achieved through the body work, but I certainly was not expecting the finality of the diagnosis the Vet gave.

Let me preface by saying that the appointment did not go the way I intended.

To begin the work-up on Suzie, the Vet utilized a hoof tester and found that she had incredibly sensitive heels despite her well-balanced hoof structure (the vet actually commented how nice her hooves looked). With an unfortunate confirmation of soreness in her hooves, the Vet watched her walk off and mumbled something that sounded a lot like "navicular". The hairs on the back of my neck stood up, and the Vet quickly addressed the concern that had now etched my face.

Based off of the videos, the unsteadiness in her left front leg and the failed hoof tests in both heels, the Vet diagnosed Suzie with "Heel Pain". I asked why she had initially spouted navicular and she had said that "it isn't called navicular anymore" and that Navicular is not as easily diagnosed as it was before. Apparently, the reality is that a lot of things and none of them cause navicular. However, the diagnosis of "heel pain" is supposedly a real and correct "disease name".

From, the following excerpt was found ( brings peer reviewed articles from actual Veterinarians as opposed to COTH forums and HGS forums where personal owners discuss their own thoughts). Educated and formulated opinions with scientific data? Sign me up.

"the commonly asked question, "Does my horse have navicular?" is not as simple as it might seem at first glance."

"Not all of the imaging modalities need to be used on every case to come up with an appropriate working diagnosis and treatment plan. Also, some cases can develop heel pain and have no detectable changes using any of these imaging modalities, even if all of them were available and were employed. Used appropriately, however, they can provide important information on selected cases, particularly those that might not have responded as expected to treatment."
 I asked the Vet immediately if this was a Farrier issue, or something else. And unfortunately for Suzie, it is more or less conformation... She has heavily Halter (Coosa and Impressive) bred on top and has those teeny tiny dancers feet most Halter QH's have.

So, in a nutshell. She has Navicular - but it is not commonly referred to as Navicular anymore based off of new information in Veterinary medicine. The age old "cure" for Navicular way back when in the early 2000s was simply to perform a neurectom, which basically meant a vet would remove  a section from the nerves that serve the heel region of the foot, thereby at least temporarily removing the sensation of pain from this region. More and more this practice is being phased out and no longer looked upon as a satisfactory "solution".

At first, I thought "no, that can't be right", but reviewing even more articles, specifically this one by the Practical Horseman. How interesting that a lot of the key points are things that Suzie has been doing - specifically the resting with one hind toe hitched and one front leg splayed forwards. The whole "gets better/gets worse" thing strikes a cord with me, too.

Managing a horse with heel pain is difficult, but a lot of the times it can be helped through corrective shoeing. Mostly, farriers will come and use what is called a "natural balance shoe" which basically creates a false, but supporting break-over so it reduces the stress on the horse.

A natural balance shoe being placed to achieve
an appropriate breakover.
In addition to the heel pain diagnosis, the Vet performed flexion tests. She flexed both fetlocks and knees and Suzie failed all of them. She was uncomfortable, and moreso lame after the flexions on the left side and moderately so on the right side. It was noted that she had absolutely awful range of motion in her left knee and didn't have much ability to bend it fully during the flexion test.

The overall diagnosis after the flexions was something I wasn't necessarily surprised ot hear, but the conversation that followed certainly was.... The Vet confirmed arthritis in her fetlocks and knees - remember that bump that mysteriously showed up on her knee in January? That is called a hygroma and is formed due to high stress in the area - the Vet figures it was caused due to her poor range of motion and that Suzie had to "crunch" down on her knee and had given herself the hygroma that way.

The conversation that followed the findings in Suzie was.... disheartening and dismal.

Basically - the Vet does not feel she will be an "arena horse" anymore. She said that Suzie will not hold up to the demands of an arena horse, especially bend to the right and tracking right on a circle. The Vet agreed that the body work has helped, but the ultimate diagnosis is the heel pain and arthritis which is a bit of a double edged sword... Mostly because horses who are arthritic should be kept moving... but horses with heel pain do not make good trail horses.

In fact, the Vet said to me, "She just can't do it anymore. She physically cannot put up with the riding you want to do with her. If you want to do that riding [showing, etc], you will have to buy another horse."

So that's it.

It's the end of Suzie's career as an arena horse and until we test out these natural balance shoes, it is highly undetermined as to whether or not she can be a trail horse with the occasional easy jogging and loping.

For now, my heart is heavier than the weight of lead and my head is spinning with so many thoughts.

We had discussed the possibility of injections and this new drug called Tildren, but as much as I'd loe to explore injections and new medicenes, reality is a hard truth. The Vet and I mulled over the tentative cost for injections (I would have to haul to the clinic to have a sanitary environment and Suzie would have to stay for a few days to ensure the sites do not get dirty... Injections themselves cost about $350/leg and prior to injecting, the Vet said she would need to perform a scan to see where she would inject to get the most "bang for my buck".) and at a staggering $1000-1200 for injections that may or may not work, I had to opt out. The drug Tildren also runs about $1000 for a month's supply, and it is not conclusive if it helps much with the heel pain or not.

The vet was quite sympathetic and basically told me that I am not a shitty owner for being realistic, and it's not life or death to get injections or otherwise. My priority is Suzie's wellness and like I had said to the boyfriend, if she required injections to be sound in the pasture, I would do them. To have her endure injections just so I can ride? That's selfish.

So for now... I am tentatively hanging up my riding bridle and going to cry over the unfortunateness of my mare growing old. I am going to think about all the wonderful things we achieved last year and I am going to thank my lucky stars that my mare is still living and breathing and that I am still able to love her every single day. She deserves so much peace and love - she has done her fair share of carrying riders around and has had her fair share of wet saddle blankets. My own need to ride may only become a little 20min hack around the neighborhood once in a blue moon, but I think I will be okay. It's going to hurt for a while, and I'm going to ache with longing.... but Suzie deserves love.

She will be with me until the day she crosses over. I had made that promise to her when I brought her home, and I am not one to make bad on my promises.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

TRM BlogHop - The Honest Ad

Since I don't have much new media or any interesting blog-things to discuss, I thought I would throw another blog-hop out there. This blog-hop, or perhaps a hop of it's kind, probably has already surfaced through the blogosphere, but mine is going to be a little bit different.

To play along, it's relatively simple.

Post an ad of your horse(s), but it must be downright HONEST. Like, hilariously honest.

While I realize that some of the horse's in blogland may be for sale in the future, it still might be funny to blog about their quirks or "oopsies" during their training time.

So here we go!


For your consideration: AQHA mare, "Suzie" lives up to her registered name "Quick Little Coosa". Well... mostly the two first words. She is a 1993 model - think old style Ford F-250 powerstroke with occasional rough start-ups after a long Winter.

Suzie is a sensitive ride, so putting your Boyfriend on her to go for a little jog around the ring isn't probably the best idea (ask me how I know). But if you know how to ride, she is a pleasure to ride - and just a fair warning, don't ride her like an English horse. She'll dump you on your ass.

Costume? Optional.
Fast? Always
This mare has an affinity for the fast paces, especially at shows. But to be fair, she is an older mare and has flash-backs to her previous days as a Drill Team and Barrel Racing horse. Events wherein there is a multitude of "energy abuzzing", Suzie can get a bit uppity but it is quite manageable under these circumstances.

She has shown in pretty much anything and everything - and despite her barrel racing background she pinned rather well in the Hunter ring.

The best at jumping.
Despite her love for the fast paces, Suzie has had extensive work done to her front left shoulder due to old injuries. If you'd like to bring a 4-H or Pony Club Horsemanship/Stable Management class over to feel the lumps and bumps on her legs and have a guessing game as to how they got there, feel free. She is a fabulous poster child for, "this is what a _____" looks like. But no worries, her legs have always been tight and cool (even after long trailer rides).

She doesn't really *like* her pasture-mates, unless you remove them. Then she's super sad pony x1000.

She also halts at X.... eventually.
Other than that, she's a pretty little thing to admire in the pasture and her blaze is kinda neat. Sometimes you can lead children on her - and sometimes she'll spook pretty hard, but it's kinda a learning curve for kids to have a proper seat.

So yah... if you want an old fiery chestnut mare with a running complex and a banged up shoulder, look no further!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Moments of Clarity - A Suzie Update

I had been avoiding blogging about Suzie for the past while, as not much had changed and I was pretty uncertain where I wanted to go from there. Truth be told, yes there was improvement from the 1st Chiro and MT that we had visited, but I felt like there was more missing. The 1st Chiro didn't do much adjustment, if any, to her shoulder and I felt that while her hips may have been a primary issue, the shoulder just HAD to be secondary.

After hemming and hawing about what I needed to do, a friend of mine let me know an Equine Therapist was coming to town (she comes up once a month) and to give her a try. It's not that I was skeptical - I just didn't know this lady from Adam and as most horse owners know, it's hard to give someone a good honest try when you are trying to get to the bottom of something as serious as lameness.

I did, however, message Janeen and we talked back and forth before I made an appointment for this past Monday. She had done two years of university studies in Equine Therapy, and had been practicing throughout the Northwest on a variety of horses with great results (I also spoke to a few people who had used her for their horses).

Prior to Janeen meeting Suzie, I flooded her inbox with videos and the longest recount of Suzie's history ever (sorry, Janeen!). I wanted her to be up to date on anything and everything Suzie related, especially in relation to this particular incident and lameness issue.

Monday afternoon I met with Janeen and drove in to the barn together. Suzie was standing over in the corner and I haltered her up and brought her out so Janeen could evaluate her.

I'll let the chart speak for what she found.

See all the red? Red = bad.

In the neck, she was out in her Cervical Vertebrae; C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4, and C-5. Once Janeen started to work on the C-1 and C-2, the rest of the vertebrae more or less "slid" back into place, which was good. As you can see, each of the red circles on her vertebrae have the letter "L" on it. This means that she was "out" on her left side, which is hugely interesting to me.

Next was her shoulder - the left scapula (like I had thought) was quite out. The interesting thing that Janeen said was that the muscles that span across the lower portion of the scapula were atrophied into her flesh - the other muscles that run across the top of the scapula were being overworked and thus, that is where the big bulge comes from (she is overworking the wrong muscles in her shoulder). Janeen commented that Suzie is quite "careful" about stepping onto her left leg during the "walk out" we did before the real adjustments began.

And interestingly enough - BOTH sides of her hips were out. Now, you'll have to forgive me, but I don't remember which side of her hip was more "up" and which was more "down", but they were still quite out from what Janeen said. Ignore the red X's for now - they don't mean anything bad.

Lastly, Suzie's right fetlock joint was quite "crunchy" (as per Janeen) and she (Janeen) thinks this is due to Suzie compensating with that fetlock. Interesting nonetheless.

So after all the adjustments we talked quite a bit about Suzie's future - Janeen said she sees a pretty positive diagnosis for a full recovery and that it will take time to heal and fix, especially with so many problems.

For right now, my homework is in stretches; rump raises (the X's on the photo depict where my hands need to be in each set of the raises), fetlock stretches, muscle releases on the lower portion of her scapula, and circling tightly to the right to cross her left leg over her right leg. In addition to this, no riding for a week and I can start hand-walking at any time and once a week is up, start with walking rides and work up to trotting. I asked what if Suzie is still lame/sore and Janeen gave a reply that made me think of my Mom, "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

I feel as though a lot of my questions were answered in this session and I had a lot of positive feedback to begin healing my mare. I was speaking to a friend of mine, in how it is interesting how some Chiros (this applies to Vets, Farriers, Trainers, etc!) work for some people, but they don't work for others. I have no ill feelings towards the previous Chiro or MT, as I believe they do know what they are doing and they were truly trying to help. I just think that perhaps their methods are a bit outdated and they may have missed the entire picture based off of Suzie's multitude of injuries.

So while we are not out of the woods yet, I feel pretty hopeful and that's so much better than the helpless feeling I've had the last few weeks. As of now, Suzie has been lame for nearly 4 weeks and slowly but surely, we've been chipping away the issues and making some progress. I'll keep on chipping away, making Suzie's comfort my first priority and continuing to better myself as a horsewoman.

I don't expect to have much of another Suzie update until next week when I start to ride and *maybe* lunge to see "what I have", but I'm trying to not obsess over it so much. This entire ordeal is going to take more than just a few days to fix, and just NOW I feel like we've reached a turning point.

So now?

Let the healing begin.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Spud Does Gymkhana

In order to take my mind off my current broken pony and the feelings of guilt, anger, and frustration, I asked the ladies out at the Totem Saddle Club (in the next town) if I could join their Fun Gymkhana this past weekend. There was only one catch; I wanted to bring Spud and his cart.

After the TSC Executive committee looked over their Gymkhana rules (this was a "Fun" Gymkhana, but usually they are competitive and riders earn "points" for the year end banquet), they allowed me to attend this particular event since it wasn't for points. It was nice they allowed it, considering driving horses are not really the best competitors for your average Gymkhana.

My goal for this outing wasn't to be the fastest or even really "compete" because let's be realistic... this is an odd event to attend with a driving horse.

No, my goals were simple:

  1. Successful outing alone without Suzie, with Suzie being somewhat calm/ok with us leaving. (it happens every Spring.. both of them are so attached to one another from being together all Winter that I have to disrupt their herd-boundness by separating them).
  2. Work on Spud's standing and waiting. At the last clinic we did last Summer, the clinician said to work on having him stand and wait since he was quite impatient.
  3. Go in and out of the ring without any hiccups.
  4. Complete the events.
It wasn't very difficult to achieve all of them, and the only one I was truly interested in was standing and waiting. If Spud is going to become a competitive driving horse, he better get used to the hurry up and wait lifestyle.

I was running behind by the time we had left town and after frantically contacting someone at the event to let them know I was running late, I came to the realization that the category the had put me in was last - perfect!

 Spud hauled great and once we got to the grounds, he settled quietly while I unloaded the cart and started to rig up his harness. He was a bit antsy when I went to put the cart to him, but after a reminder on what "whoa" meant, he was just fine. I drove him over to the herd of horses and spooked a few of them (I am kind of mean because I laugh when they spook at him).

We had about a 15 minute wait before the first event, which was the flag race. He did really well, despite being a bit of an asshole and deciding he wanted to turn left back to the out-gate and when I firmly insisted we move over to the right, towards the barrel to put the flag back in, he reared. It was quite a small, hissy fit rear and I continued to work through it as the hoards of people watching cooed "Awww". I guess miniature horses look cute when they rear...

Right after the rear.
The rear itself wasn't very malicious, just more of a "I don't wanna". Once I left the out-gate, I had a gentlemen tell me that, "Oh it's okay he reared, it's not like you ride him." I kept my mouth shut and parked near the in-gate, slightly steaming over the fact Spud acted like a total ass.

I was hopeful to redeem myself, and throughout the wait until the next class, Spud stood like a rockstar as several kids and people came over to pet him, chat, and a few friends sat in the cart with me. He was quite the "accent" piece and pretty much everyone who passed him, stopped to chat or pet him. Lucky boy enjoyed the lovings.

Next event was poles and he did really well, considering we had to do some pretty tight turning and I pepped him up to the trot. And again after the event, we sat and waited.... and unfortunately could not compete in the next event since it was scurries... So I popped out of the cart and stood beside him (I realize at a driving show, this would not be allowed, but my ass was serious hurting). Spud was pretty good, he did shift back and forth a few times just because he was starting to get bored and after I exited the cart and stood with him, he started nibbling my pants and such... Poor guy was bored out of his skull!

The last two events were figure eight and barrels, which were good. I was a bit frustrated because there were some pretty deep ruts from the horses in the ground by the time it came around to our turn (they were raking, but since I was the "last one" they didn't want to rake again) and it was a bit difficult to trot through... I felt kind of bad asking the committee to rake the ground during our barrel run, but once they did, our run went way smoother.

All in all, it was a successful outing and Spud acted like a total rock-star. Suzie was quite annoyed all afternoon and apparently kept neighing, but otherwise was well behaved. I'm pretty pleased with Spud's attitude and his overall work ethic during that outing. I don't intend to compete in any more gymkhanas, but it was a good way to get him out, used to standing around, and try something new!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Suzie's Chiropractic/Massage Revisit

At the time of Suzie's first appointment, both practitioners wanted to make a secondary appointment right away. This was namely due to the fact that the Massage Therapist (MT) and Chiro figured she'd need another work-over and adjustment. We set the date for the following Sunday, which was a few days ago.

After her first adjustment I was instructed to ride her to see how she did and if she worked well or not. I wasn't able to ride on Tuesday, so I rode on Wednesday. Unfortunately, Suzie was not sound past the walk and she did not work out of it. Despite still being off, she was quite chipper and literally sweated her ass off with excitement. I was joking with a friend that it looked like I had worked the crud out of her instead of a few laps of trot and a few steps of canter.

She literally sweat from the excitement of being out again.
To say that I felt down and upset would be an understatement - like I said in my previous post, I have a difficult time waiting for results and I am a huge second-guesser if I do not see any kind of changes immediately. Truth be told, Suzie has shown results and I need to realize that although they are small, it's progress in the right direction.

I called the Chiro the next morning and explained my worries and I cut to the chase in asking him if he thinks Suzie should see a Vet or not. His reply, in basic terms was, "Well, Suzie had some significant adjustments made and she was pretty fucked up." (Spoiler: He didn't actually say fucked up).

Since Suz was still lame, my friend and I let the
bronies play.
Truth be told, the severity of Suzie's adjustments wasn't necessarily discussed, although it was implied. Still it was oddly comforting to hear that Suzie was quite mangled and that my expectation for her to be 100% sound was a bit outlandish. I didn't feel so.... crazy. At the end of the phone call, it was decided to leave Suzie be until the next appointment and take it from there.

On Sunday morning I hitched up and trailered Suz and a friend's horse out to the Fairgrounds in the next town. I lunged Suz quickly for the MT to assess and Suz was certainly a lot better than previous days and we noticed she had some right shoulder tightness. Suz was worked over by the MT for about 45 minutes, wherein she released quite a bit and really enjoyed having her right shoulder worked over. The MT found that Suz was quite tight in her scapulas, although it was much better considering this spot had been previously worked on.

Getting a massage.
Once the massage was finished, the Chiro showed up and I walked and trotted Suzie out for him to assess. Right away, Chiro saw that her hip was back out a bit - it wasn't as bad as it had been previously, but it was still out. He re-adjusted her SI joint, double checked her spine and neck (neither spots needed adjustments). There wasn't much to adjust, which made me quite hopeful.

After the appointments, we had to drop my friend's gelding off at his new boarding arrangements before hauling back home. I've had a glimmer of the silver lining we are trying to reach, as when I turned Suzie out with Spud, she trotted several steps and was 100% sound. I wanted to give her the ability to let the massage and chiro work sink in, so I didn't do anything with her on Monday and as of right now, we have a rainfall warning (50mm+) so riding is a no go.

Hopefully I'll be able to ride sometime this week once the rain finishes...

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Spud's Second Ride

In the midst of worrying about Suzie and her hind-end lameness, I forgot to blog about Spud's second ride. I figured I'd post about it first and get it out of the way before talking about the other developments in Suzie-land.

There was an event going on at the Fairgrounds last Saturday (March 26th) - a friend of mine is putting together a "kids horse club" type thing and asked me if I'd bring my two horses in case there were extra kids. There wasn't many kids at this particular outing, although there were about 15 horses and 20 people. For the few kids that showed, there was mostly grooming and in-hand type things going on, which was great considering Suzie was still "off" and wouldn't be really rideable.

Since my horses didn't need to be used and the young girl who put the first ride on him was participating with her own horse, I asked her mother if S would be interested in putting another ride on him again. Mom and S agreed, so I saddled Spud up and realized I had left his bridle at home... No matter - he doesn't really need a bridle for the stuff we are doing, so I fandangled his lead-rope and off we went. A quick lunge was had in both directions before S finally climbed up.

We continued to work on the same things as before, but this time we continued to pursue the objective of having Spud walking with the direction of only his rider. It was particularly successful, as Spud was quite keen on walking on his own with the direction of S.

I instructed S and we practiced turning, using leg cues, patting him over his rump/neck, and shifting around in the saddle. In addition to this, there were other horses in the arena so that was another "new" thing for Spud.

Finally, S asked to be clipped to the lunge for the trotting (the ring is quite large and probably was a bit intimidating to her). It went really well - we even got a few steps of canter in each direction and S was perfect about not touching her reins and pulling back when Spud puttered forwards in a trot. I thanked her for her sensitive riding and for being so awesome with him. How many badass 10 year olds do you know?

The next ride that's put in will have some cantering, hopefully. I know S is quite antsy about it, so I don't want to push her into doing something that scares her. Spud seems pretty content with the walking and trotting and I'm not worried about 'ruining' him, as I know some people say that horses "should" be cantered by their second ride. I understand making the canter a big deal leads to bigger problems, but we have to remember that Spud isn't going to be a regular riding horse.

Still, it's exciting and I can't wait to see how he progresses.