Thursday, May 21, 2020

Happy 1st Birthday, Maizey

Earlier this month (May 12th to be exact), Maizey and I celebrated her first birthday!

Happy Birthday, Moo <3
Despite the very fresh news of her ringbone diagnosis, I was bound and determined to not let it put a damper on my ownership or excitement of her first birthday. It was really shitty for a while (and it still is), but sitting in a slump does nothing for anyone. Might as well enjoy every little milestone we can, right?

This being said, I'm pretty pleased to write that Maizey hasn't been on Previcox since mid/end April. I tapered her down to a low dose, as per the veterinarian's recommendation, and began the process of weaning her completely off of it to see how she did.

For the most part, her soundness is pretty well intact. She flutters from about 80% to (dare I say) 100% sound, and from the videos I've sent to several friends, it seems to be the general consensus. Of course, soundness at this point does not indicate soundness for the future. So again, I'm guarded and cautiously optimistic.

She is living the hard life, clearly.
That's not to say she isn't without dietary support for her ringbone - I am a believer in achieving comfort through less harsh medicine and chemicals. Of course, there is a time and place for heavy duty drugs, but I also have to consider the fact Maizey is 12 months old and will require a lifetime of support. So, best to set the body up for success while I have a chance to.

Upon her diagnosis, I went to work immediately to source any kind of remedies, tonics, tinctures, cures (ha ha ha), and followed several stories from horse owners who also have youngsters with this terrible disease (and reached out to a few in the process). Armed with the knowledge of familiar stories and my own research, I started her on a Herbs for Horses supplement which has a lot of wonderful ingredients that will do wonders for joint support (especially for her "good" leg). It is packed with hyaluronic acid, chondroitin, collagen, herring oil, glucosamine, MSM and an antioxidant blend. It took her a while to accept the weird smelling powder, but she eats it quite readily now with her very tiny amount of mash.

Always and forever sun-tanning.
I also got suckered into purchasing a set of EQU SteamZ magnetic fetlock bands. I read a few studies they did on the bands and there seems to be positive reviews from hundreds of horse owners. I figured why not, I'll give it a try. So far I haven't found any negative issues with the bands, although the first time I put them on Maizey I just about died laughing as she attempted to figure out what the heck was on her legs!

She is also on holistic and homeopathic remedies, as Nicole's mom is a huge advocate of natural healing. She asked if she could give Maizey some remedies and I found no reason not to, so I'm learning about the other side of the coin. She is on a few different mixtures at the moment, but primarily has been on calc fluor, ruta and a few others I struggle to remember. Regardless, it's been a neat way to look at treating an issue and I'm learning a lot about homeopathic treatment from her mom.

(*Please note, in no way am I replacing veterinarian medical advice with magnets and MSM - there isn't really anything anyone can do until Maizey is older, so trying out a few different options is worthwhile to me. Sitting and "waiting" is something I have never been good at, so these things give me options, and give me hope. In addition, they are recommended by quite a few others I've talked to who also have young horses with ringbone. So we will see what it brings.)

Waking up is tough to do, even when it's your birthday!
All this being said - it's very much a waiting game. I remain cautiously optimistic and continue to enjoy working with Maizey as she learns about the world.

On her birthday, I gave her her very first bath - which she was slightly nervous about but OK enough that I was able to fully bathe her without it taking several hours. I had been practicing with the hose on her leg weeks prior, and she has been exposed to cold-hosing and soaking her hoof in a tub of water... so I'd say all her ailments prepped her quite well for bathing, haha!

All clean... for about 30 minutes.
As a sidenote, I'm loving how she's maturing!
As she dried off, she got to graze a bit and we did some in hand work which she was really good for. Once she was dry enough, we got some cute little photos (without the party hat because she had a meltdown with that on her poll... oops).

We've still been doing The Things like tying, leading, picking up our feet, etc and she's done really well. Last weekend Nicole and I went for a ride and she ponied Maizey while I ponied Spud. Annie got to see Maize for a short period, which was cute, although it took her a second to really remember her.

It seems like time is just flying - she was a teeny little baby not so long ago and now she's ginormous!

That being said, I'm looking forward to playing around with her a bit more this Summer and seeing how she matures. We're firmly into yearling territory, and I'm interested to see her personality continue to develop and how she handles meeting new things. We're going to be keeping it quite light this year, for obvious reasons (mostly bc she's a baby haha) and we'll reassess as the year goes on if I'm going to send her to pasture for a month or two. In speaking with the Vets, they cautioned me against sending her just yet, so she might have to wait until her two year old year to do that.

Either way, I'm happy to have her and whatever is best for her longevity and health.

Here is to many more years with my sweet, sensitive, and kind Moo-cow!



Happy Birthday, Moo <3

Friday, May 15, 2020

An Update - A Semi-Abridged Version

Wow.

It's been a hot minute, blog-land.

In all the years I've been blogging, I think this has been my longest absence from the writing scene. And in a way, I am kind of glad for it. Not because I don't enjoy sharing my stories, or connecting with other like-minded individuals who are rooting for me and my horses no matter what, but mostly because I was (and kind of still am) in a very.... heavy state of mind.

This year has been a colossal fuck-sandwich for many people - COVID19 aside (but hey, why not add a world-wide pandemic to the list?). Lots of just really heavy stuff has been happening and it can be hard to break to the surface when so many things are pushing you down.

One pretty cool not terrible thing that happened is that
I rode Annie sans bridle for 95% of a hack on the last
day of March. So, that's pretty fuckin neat.
She hadn't been out in about... a week and a
half or so at that point and was a total doll.
In truth, I wish I could say that my radio silence gave me the opportunity to become well rested, more level headed and dare I say it... inspired? But no, it in fact decided to do the opposite - see just how much I could possibly bear and then throw a bit more fuel on the fire just to watch me run around in the flames.

I wish I was kidding even a little bit.

That being said, although I am still walking on hot coals, I'm still moving forwards and still pushing just as hard as I was in the beginning. Life doesn't stop and when it hands you giant curveballs, you just have to hit them away as best as you can and deal.

Trying to navigate through life can be a bit tricky
sometimes...
So for the last few months, I've been dealing.

Like most, my job was impacted by COVID19 and ever since the beginning of March, I was working from home. Unlike most impacted by COVID19, this was actually a blessing in disguise. Having the "freedom" (bc that is an oxymoron if I ever did hear one) to do what I needed to do in a day vs a scheduled set of hours in an office gave me the opportunity to get a lot of things done.

I last left off with the news that my horses needed to be relocated. And despite having two months to find a place, it took me several weeks to secure somewhere. And even then, we had to bustle hard to make the area liveable for the horses, as it was previously a vehicle/trailer storage area for the home-owner.

This was taken March 24th - the amount of snow leftover in
spots where the sun didn't yet reach was insane!
I watched nervously as the months of March and first few weeks of April passed by - the snow was melting at a glacial pace and we weren't able to do anything to the new place until mid-April. And just as we started to get things rolling, the home-owners father passed away. Without him home to move his equipment and help move items (since all of it was stuck in snow weeks previous), I spoke to my previous BO and asked for an extension for my horses, given the circumstances. With all the barns closed to non-boarders in the next town, I literally had nowhere to put my horses until we got things ready.

Thankfully, the BO was happy to extend and the following week, we got a jump-start on fencing, footing, and removing a lot of the old garbage back there as well as dead trees, etc. It took about 10 dump runs with the dump trailer, 3 dump-truck loads of gravel (which we need to coat with sand, as the gravel is a bit too rocky for my liking), 30 posts, 80 boards, hundreds of screws, several good friends, and in 3 days time, we had a liveable and safe space for my horses. We did the bulk of it on a Saturday and Sunday and the following 4 days I put up the electric, raked, pulled roots, spread gravel, etc.

A bit too much gravel - we'll be bringing sand in in the coming weeks.
The horses officially moved in just a last weekend (May 9) and they both settled in really well.

Oh wait.

I guess I have to back up.

If you caught onto it, the new place only has Annie and Spud living there for the time being.

Annie, waiting to go for a ride.

So where did Maizey go, might you ask?

On April 1st I got text from Nicole (who owns that cute paint that Spud loves) saying that their old QH gelding was not doing well. I knew he had something going on earlier in the week, but unfortunately, he declined at a rapid rate and that evening he was put to sleep. He lived a very long life - 31 full years! - and their remaining horse, AJ, was very upset about being alone. She asked if I would mind bringing Spud over (as Spud and AJ are good buddies), but the fencing at her parents place is not Spud-approved, so with some quick thinking I walked Maizey the 20 minutes over at 10pm with only my phone light as a guide.

Morning of April 2nd.
They get along quite well and since AJ needs a buddy until they find themselves another horse (which is also delayed because of COVID), Maizey is being "lent out" to provide that duty. I am happy to report that the whole family absolutely adores her and spoils her rotten, which brings me to my next update.

The day after I moved Maizey to Nicole's parents place, Nicole let me know she saw some swelling on Maizey's fetlock but it "felt weird". Upon investigation, I couldn't really determine what was wrong but she was mildly lame at the trot, the bump on her fetlock held a teeny bit of heat and it felt really, really hard. I cold-hosed and poulticed for three days, saw no improvement and called Suzie's old farrier to come take a look (as she is home from the States now due to COVID). We all agreed at that point, x-rays would be best, as no one could really pin-point or narrow down what it was.

I made an appointment with a vet clinic 3 hours away, and after specifying I needed x-rays, Nicole and AJ (for his own appointment and also so Maizey had a buddy) traveled out.

Vet trip #1.

Except.

They didn't have a fucking x-ray machine.

Not a horse one, anyways.

The vet attempted to (poorly) diagnose Maizey based off of 5 strides of trot on an uneven gravel roadway and told me, "Here are some antibiotics, I think it's an abscess that went to the joint. If she isn't sound by the end of it, she's probably never going to be sound."

I immediately started calling vets within a 3 hour radius of where we were because I was ready to just haul an extra 3 hours to see someone with a fucking x-ray machine. Of course tho, with COVID, a lot were reduced in staff and with it being a Saturday at 3pm on Easter weekend, most were closed and/or didn't have the x-ray tech in.

So.

We headed back home, I started her on the antibiotics and pain meds and got to work calling around. I got a lot of "We're currently booked up and can't fit you in until next week, is that ok?" Except... erm... if its a joint infection don't you think I should be seen a bit sooner? I mean, I get it. I understand they are busy, but I am literally trying to plan to haul 6 hours and figure out what the fuck is going on.

Spud, at the new place, stuffing his face.
Which, is precisely what I was doing when I was
trying to get an appointment.
#stresseating
I called around some more, and after literally begging a vet clinic 6 hours away (who was actually closed to all non-essential appointments) to please just take a look at my horse, we had an appointment scheduled two days later.

At 5:30am we loaded back up and off to the vet clinic we went (the same one I took Suzie to when she was diagnosed with navicular and a hygroma/advanced arthritis in her knee). We arrived just after noon and after jogging her out, I handed Maizey off to the tech and they went inside to run their diagnostics while we waited outside the clinic.

With all the vets I had spoken to over the course of the weekend and sending photos/ videos, etc, we all had thought it was a bone bruise or even the weird migratory abscess the first vet diagnosed her with.

Unfortunately, that is not the diagnosis the vet had for us.

Well, that's a big fucking problem.
Maizey was diagnosed with advanced arthritis and high ringbone of the left fetlock. At first, I kind of just nodded along and managed to ask some of the right questions. However, when I asked about rideability the vet looked at me sympathetically and told me the prognosis for a riding life was, "Very poor."

I don't remember a lot of the verbal exchange from there, because my brain kind of shut off. I just kept thinking, "She isn't even one yet." And when the vet brought her out, the waterworks came. Me, Jamie, and Nicole all drove home in silence that day - none really sure what to say or what to do.

Maizey was beyond amazing for the trailer hauls and handled being at the vets all alone like a champ. She was her usual calm, quiet self and the vet had even commented how level-headed and wonderful to handle she was for a baby.

The vet did confirm that ringbone is highly unusual for a baby horse to have, and while it is not unheard of, it is odd. She sent Maizey's file off to a specialist and three days later, that vet called me to tell me that the cause of the ringbone was due to subchondral bone cysts in the fetlock region. Which, is doubly not good. I was advised against breeding her, for fear that the cysts may be genetic in some way.

Bad leg vs Good leg.
The cysts are the two open "holes" you can see near the bottom of the fetlock.
Comparing to the right leg, it does not have cysts.
I spent a good week or two going back and forth with the vets, trying to find out what can be done. We discussed everything and anything and then back again - surgery, pasture life, euthanasia, and new drugs.

Unfortunately, this is a situation where there is no right answer. There is no gaurantee any of it will work, and there is certainly no one size fits all approach here.

The specialist gave me a 60% chance of a light riding life (lessons, schooling shows, trail rides) and 40% chance of a performance career should I opt to do the fusion surgery. Which, in a perfect world I would jump at the chance just for that 60%.

But.

It is a highly invasive surgery and the vets warned me that recovery is long, laborious, and some horses do not handle it well and end up having to be euthanized due to complications (whether that be infection or inability to handle being stalled).

And then there is a financial aspect. I don't have $10,000 sitting for a surgery that may not work and/or may kill her in the end.

We also talked about alcohol injections, but again, she is a bit too young for them and they do not have a high success rate.

The other options are drugs - which are great, but not so great to have a not even one year old baby on long-term. Both the vet we saw and the specialist agreed that long-term use of any "harder" drugs would be detrimental and both suggested I wait until her two year old year before going that route. For now, we have previcox for the bad days.

And the last option is to wait it out. The specialist said that there is a potential that her joint could fuse on it's own and she'd be good to go without any kind of surgery.

I spent a good few weeks feeling inadequate to own horses, feeling immoral for not electing to do the surgery, and for not just euthanizing her immediately. I mulled over rehoming her to a pasture home, but having had worked in the small animal rescue scene I know what sometimes can happen when you rehome your animals.

And I hate to sound so silly, but there is just something about her.



Something that screams "give me a chance".

And whether or not I'm blinded by rose-colored glasses, I've decided that I will do just that.

As the weeks rolled by after her appointment, I started to lower the doseage of Previcox as the Vet instructed to see what the lowest amount is she'd tolerate. I'm happy to report that she is actually no longer on Previcox, and hasn't been for a week and a half now. I reassess her every few days to see how she's feeling, but for the most part her lameness is very, very slight or non-existant (which is stark in comparison as to how she started out in April).

She's on some joint health supplements and I got suckered into purchasing some magnetic fetlock bands. The swelling has drastically reduced in the area and on more days than not, it is cool to the touch.

She is still learning baby horse things - just because she has a limitation does not mean she gets to be a wild child. We still take little hand walks, work on leading basics, tying, grooming, bathing (she had her first bath on her birthday!), and meeting new and "scary" things.

Looking so grown up and sporting her magnetic bands.
Of course, time will tell how things progress and at the end of the day, no one really knows how this all will shake out. We have a plan to recheck the joints next Spring to see which way we're headed and as always, Maizey will be a decider of her own fate. I will not push and cajole her to exist if she is in too much pain or is suffering - I will try as much as I can to make her comfortable, loved, and give her a chance at a normal and happy life, but I will not force it.

In writing this, I actually had to take several breaks because the entire situation still rocks me to my core. How unbelieveably unfair and cruel is life, that it has chosen my sweet filly to burden? I used to hold dear "everything happens for a reason" but after Ella passed, I have a hard time believing there is just reasoning for some things. Some things are just dark and cruel and there is no rhyme or reason why.

Regardless, I try hard to keep positive and remember that I am doing the best I can with what I have available and at the end of the day, Maizey is in a position where she will never not feel loved or cared for. How wonderful that she is in a loving, caring home where she doesn't have to worry about being mistreated, abused, or in crippling pain?

So yeah, that majorly fucking sucked.

But in better news - I've slowly been riding more and have worn my tall boots a total of twice (go me!). Annie has gotten a few schoolings under her belt (specifically, two lol), and despite being very out of shape and unbalanced, she's been a rockstar for it! We don't have any show or lesson plans this year - most of which are cancelled anyways - so the need for serious schooling is out the window and I honestly don't even mind.

The best blurry ears to be behind!
I haven't gotten Spud hooked back up to the cart in a few months, despite having driven him several times at the beginning of the year. His cart is still at our previous barn since I need two or more people to help lift the thing because it's heavier than heck - and I also need to find out where I can store it at the new place. Most of my tack/ hay/ first aid items, etc are all crammed in my little horse trailer. Which, I kind of thought was going to be a pain in the ass and come to find, it's actually super handy. Still tho, the cart won't fit in the trailer because of the center bar, so it'll take some creativity.

There are a few more things that need to be done at the new place, but for now it is a safe and secure spot and that's all that matters. It isn't fancy by any means, but it works and weirdly enough, Annie seems more at home there than at our previous barn - I had thought for sure she would be a pacey, sweaty mess (esp since there are horses right next door) but she is the exact opposite. I mean, not that I should complain!

He got a clip before moving to the new place - what a handsome potate!
So yeah, that's kind of the abridged version of the happenings here - we've been going full tilt at the lot recently and are getting lined up to build this summer so cross your fingers we don't run into any hiccups there.