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.
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|
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!
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.|
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.|
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.|
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.
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.
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.|
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.
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%.
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.|
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!|
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!|