Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Monday night we worked on ground poles, for the second day in a row. I really, really want to be able to jump this horse. Maybe not a full course of six jumps, and definitely not anything over 2 feet (at least without lessons and an ok from a vet), but cross poles at least. Maybe be able to enter a hunter hack class at a schooling show someday.
Previously, he has shown little to no interest (or so I thought) in picking up those feet of his over ground poles-it didn't matter if it was one or five in a row. Clunk Clunk Roll Stumble...not pretty, in other words. The one time I walked him over a cross rail that was about 10" off the ground, he knocked down a pole. Yeah....
Of course, all this was before I switched farriers. Now, 2 trims with the "new" guy (and my new favorite equine professional), he is moving SO much better, and finally picking his feet up. Miles has been barefoot since I pulled his shoes 2 weeks after I adopted him, but I no longer have to ride him everyday in his Cavallo Simple Boots (though I still love them for riding outside of the arena). He doesn't stumble. He is balanced. It only took me just over a year to get to the root of the issue. I know, I know.
Having said all this, with the colder weather coming on, it is taking Miles a bit longer to warm up before our rides. Still, he's looking much, much better than this time last year, when on his worst days he would limp slightly on his right front (arthritis, which I knew about when I adopted him). I love the pure glucosamine supplement he's on now, in addition to MSM; he's on high levels of the former and normal levels (10,000 mgs) of the latter and it's all he's needed, so far and knock on lotsa wood. Again, I can't overstate how beneficial his new farrier has been either.
So, in the next week or 2, my goal is to get Miles and I jumping...I am sOoooooO geeked!! Now, of course, I am talking tiny tiny fences, but still...I MISS jumping so much. I didn't realize how much until I cantered him over a ground pole the other day. The measuring of strides, feeling the horse gather himself, the (ever so slight) elevation...ahhhhh. This week, Miles has told me he's getting ready, too-Monday had him trotting straight down a line of five ground poles, forward, ears pricked and feet up.
It was pretty cool.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
I grabbed my crop and did some tap tap taps on his knee while saying "foot"...and he lifted his foot.
The right side was less successful:) Still, I hope that means no one has taught him this before...I want to take all the credit when he finally gets that Spanish Walk!
Today? His TB light bulb totally went off, and he picked up each foot when I asked him to. Once he got it, he GOT IT, and each foot came up every time. My brilliant boy. From everything I've read, we need to stay at this stage for awhile, and then instead of rewarding him for just lifting the leg (though I already have him lifting and holding it up, he he), eventually he only gets rewarded when he lifts higher and higher. Then I start asking him to take a step forward with his leg in the air. We both had a blast doing something new, and he gets so cocky and adorable when he gets to do new things and he knows he's doing well.
I used to be obsessed with Spanish horses, really all Iberians, and I still think they're beautiful and amazing animals. I may not have my dream Andalusian, but I don't really care anymore. I have my dream horse. And we can do any damn thing we put our minds to;)
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Right now, as Thanksgiving approaches, I'm feeling especially grateful and humbled by my life...and I'm trying my damnedest to appreciate it and soak it in as things can change like that-in fact, that kind of change is quite inevitable.
My family and I are relatively healthy. My husband and I continue to be each other's best friend, and no one makes me laugh more when I need it than he does. Today he walked the dogs twice for me and cleaned the entire house-most days he is everything I need in a partner. All of our animals are healthy and happy, and we've finally solved Mojo's mystery illness. Her arthritis continues to progress, but other than that she is a very robust and sturdy 14 year old dog.
Miles, of course, continues to be my comfort and joy. We had the briefest of rides today, as the temperature dropped about 30 degrees in 24 hours. The most fun I had was feeding him his beet pulp and hay cubes, and tucking him into his blanket before turning him out. He totally loves to be pampered and fussed over, and I'm always happy to oblige. After he was done eating he stood in the aisle while I cleaned the last of the mud off him, dressed his hooves and gave him his MTG treatment. His eyelids grew heavy and he was sooooo sleepy and adorable. I can't even describe how much his health and happiness directly affect my own outlook...when I'm at the barn, it's everything to me. On those couple of days a week I don't see him I miss him more and more. Hmmm, maybe it's time to really look at moving to the country. I can't imagine waking up everyday and being able to walk down to the barn and see my boy. It doesn't get much better than that.
These last couple of weeks have been so difficult for some of the people I know and love. Two people I know (either in person or in bloggy land) have or are having to put their much loved horses down-these are "heart" horses, and it's devastating to their owners no matter what the circumstances. Others I know have had to accept that their horse must be retired or semi-retired for the foreseeable future. Some people are struggling with their horse's chronic lameness, unable to ride much or ride at all. Finally, a friend lost her dog to a heart condition last night-totally unexpectedly. My heart breaks for all those suffering...it's so damn unfair and the pain and sorrow can feel overwhelming. Often it leads to depression, where every aspect of life seems impossible. It doesn't get much worse than that.
No one knows why bad things happen to some people and good things happen to others-although I tend to think we all take our turns on the merry-go-round of the highs and lows of life. Many people believe God has a plan for all of us, and even in the midst of great pain there is always a reason for suffering, even if we can't know it. I honestly wish I could believe that...it's much more comforting than believing everything in life is random, and there is no rhyme or reason to bad or good things happening to people. Having said that, I'm not sure there isn't something in the universe-karma, whatever-that ultimately "balances" things out. Who knows.
I suppose this is the ultimate rambling post. Things are going well in my tiny corner of the world, and I recognize how fleeting it may be and am so, so happy and filled with gratitude that things are how they are for me and mine right now. My heart goes out to those who are struggling, hurting, sad, desperate, lonely and angry. I can only hope (and I really believe) things do eventually get better-hours turn into days into weeks into months. The sharp pain turns into a dull ache. Eventually it can disappear altogether, and you will also be feeling gratitude for yourself and your loved ones, for your life, once again.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Because I am deliriously, over the moon ecstatic that my dogs have frigging mange!!
That's right, it's definitive. Mojo for sure has it, and the goldens most likely. All three got a dose of Ivermectin, a dose of topical, some prednisone, and are snoring happily.
The #1 lessons learned-listen to your animals. Trust your gut. Don't be intimidated by men (or women) in white coats. Finally, the Internet kicks major ass.
The particular type that Mojo has does not bother people or cats, so we're OK. There's no way to say where she picked it up.
Mojo is old, and something will get the girl eventually. For now, though, she's weathered yet another storm and is on her way to being healthy. I love my tough old broad. Together, we totally Pwnd scabies!
I hope Wayne is running around somewhere with four perfect, sound legs and having a blast. RIP sweet boy.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Holy Moly. The symptoms for sarcoptic mange (or scabies) match Mojo's symptoms PERFECTLY. The first site I looked at even said it is often missed in skin scrapings. The mites burrow under the skin and are microscopic so we wouldn't see any kind of bug. They cannot live on humans and generally don't bother people.
If you're interested, here are the few sites I've read so far. I plan to do a lot more research.
My favorite, because it lays things out very simply and describes my poor girl to a T. Her lymph nodes are even swollen.
Check this out, from the last link:
"Sarcoptic mange is a somewhat common infection and many cases have often been misdiagnosed as severe atopy (inhalant allergy). Any time we see a dog who does not have a prior history of allergies and develops severe itching, or if the itching is not seasonal but year-round, we have to suspect canine scabies."
I'm also absolutely fuming that the vet never mentioned this. According to the last link, only 20% of sarcoptic mange cases are diagnosed with a skin scraping. WHY wasn't this considered?? She has been to the vet many, many times in the last 2 months....
Look, I'm not saying I know for sure this is what Mojo has. I'm sure vets get annoyed when people think they know more than they do because the Internet tells them so and so.
Still...it's probably a good thing Kyle will be taking her in to the vet tomorrow instead of me (I have to go out of town for work). My poor dog has been suffering for so long, possibly totally needlessly, and I don't know how tactful I could be towards them right now. I've been worrying about her and thinking she's got some horrible deadly inflammation for months now.
Regardless, even though I'm pissed, I'm also so so so SO relieved. I'm trying not to get my hopes up, in case this isn't what she has, but it's hard not to. IF this is what she has, it's easily taken care of with injections or dips. Please keep your fingers crossed for us and my old girl tomorrow.
Very best case scenario-Mojo has mange and has passed it off to the goldens, although (so far) they have it to a lesser degree. Dogs all get a few injections or dips, and everyone is right as rain. Kyle will have earned some MAJOR Cool Points.
Oh, and we find a new vet. Definitely.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
It started with Mojo and the infamous "Neck Thing" in July/August. Along with the weird swelling she suddenly was itching herself and losing hair on her back legs. Weird right? Steroids and antibiotics helped, and the neck swelling went away. She's still on the steroids, because the hair loss keeps progressing, although she seems comfortable now. This is a dog that has NEVER had skin issues in the 12 years I've had her. Mind boggling. The vet is no help, quite honestly.
The 2 goldens (particularly Lebowski) have had intermittent skin issues from time to time, but it's gotten much worse the last month or so. I woke up today to find a giant hot spot had erupted on Lebowski's backside. Samuel has a sore on his elbow. What the hell is happening to my dogs?
They have been treated for fleas (and I can't find any on them with a flea comb anyway-I literally check for them thoroughly every day.). We have hardwood floors with rugs that I vacuum every other day. We've cleaned all the furniture and bedding. Neither myself or Kyle is getting bit. The cats are fine.
Sorry, I'm just venting-it's so, so, SO frustrating to see my babies uncomfortable and not be able to help them as much as I want to. The vets will just throw all of them on steroids, which is not what I want. Symptoms have been controlled in the goldens with Benadryl-of course we ran out yesterday and that's when Lebowski's spot decided to bloom. We go through a tube of hydro-cortisone cream a week, if not less. I have started the dogs on Fish Oil, but they've only been on it for 2 or 3 weeks. I'm hopeful it will start helping soon.
Tonight I brought home Miles' MTG-hell, it works for EVERY weird skin issue my horse has, why not? I read some testimonials on-line and lots of people claimed it worked well for their dogs, and also I'm kinda desperate at this point.
OK, my dogs aren't miserable, but even their mild to moderate discomfort just kills me. I wish I could take it away from them and shoulder it myself. Mostly, I just wish I KNEW what the FRACK is causing it-I have racked my brain, and considered everything from food to bedding to water to detergents to bedbugs and nothing adds up. My best guess is it's something outside, something environmental. Hopefully lots of frost and snow will help. It is SOOOOO frustrating not being able to help them, or help them only a little.
So, that's what's stressing me out these days. Rode Miles tonight in the indoor, in the dark, with the rain pelting the roof, and it was better than a valium. Just what I needed to get in a better head space, forget all my worries for a few hours, and gain some perspective on the problem.
If the MTG doesn't help, or it gets worse, we will make yet another trip to the vet, and maybe demand some allergy testing or something-I'm sure it will only cost a paycheck or so *passes out*.
In the meantime, think calm, soothing thoughts for my boys and girl. They are such good dawgs.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
After I shut the gate and let him off the lead, he pawed the sand and rolled. He got up, and rolled on his other side. Lather and repeat about 10 times, I'm not even kidding-I've never seen him roll so much. In between, he walked and trotted around a bit, and we actually played together...it was so much fun. When he got to the far end of the ring, I would call him and he would come galloping back. I love playing with my pony, and I'm a blockhead for not doing this more often. THIS beats a quick lunge any day of the week. He loved it as he tossed his head and pranced away...little show off. After we were done I took him back to the barn and he would not leave me alone-he kept whoofing in my pockets and messing with my hair. I think we're in love:)
I took some very poor videos, but Blogger is being a shit and they aren't uploading properly. WhatEVER, Blogger; good thing you're free!
I also want to plug a great organization and tell you how you can get the CUTEST gifts for yourself and your horsey friends this year. Seriously, I LOVE these:
Their website doesn't seem to be up, but they are on Facebook; just do a search for Emerald City TB Project. If you still can't find them, drop me an email and I'll send you the artist's contact info. Help out a great cause and get a pony that doesn't poop-win win! Also, I get to buy a toy without feeling like a weirdo;)
Monday, November 8, 2010
Miles was a superstar on Sunday...really, another one of those "top 10" rides ever. What made it even better was I had witnesses. Normally I hate hate hate riding in front of people (not the same as riding with other people, which I normally love in the right amounts), but it was a gorgeous day and I wasn't about to retreat to the indoor ring just because a few ladies were chatting rail-side at the outdoor-it's my own insecurity, really. So ride I did.
Best view ever. Wish I had a pair of forward ears, but I'll also take the floppy, listening kind.
There's those forward ears! Also, this is me turning sideways to take a picture, with my arms up. Not me wearing a hood with gigantic boobs. Kyle assured me no one would think that but apparently I'm worried enough about it that I need to add a disclaimer. Plus he's a liar, proven fact:) I say this with love.
After our ride I snapped one more picture, just because he's so dashing under tack.
The cherry on top of my Miles adoration sundae came Monday night, after literally dragging myself to the barn (time changes are always hard on me, whether it's spring forward or fall back). Miles and LaShore were at the far end of their pasture, and for once didn't see me pull in or walk up to the gate since they were up the hill and behind their shelter. As soon as I called "Miles!" I heard the loudest neigh and a thunder of hoof beats as the boys appeared, cantering happily down to great me. It made me laugh hysterically...and then start waving the lead rope like a lunatic as they got close and weren't stopping, yipe!
Stop they did, though, in a cloud of dust and tossing heads...it was so, so adorable (I have got to get a video of it one of these days). If I could bottle that feeling I had...well, in the equine world, there's just nothing like it. When your horse greats you like he's the Black and you're Alec Ramsey, like something out of a novel, it just doesn't get any better. I love the bond we have, and after over a year together I'm still discovering new and awesome things about him. Miles is an amazing gift...sometimes I think he's the whole the reason I was a horse-crazy kid. Maybe I've been waiting for him all along.
End smooshyness! Thanks to everyone for reading, and for letting my inner goober run amok for awhile. Just try to imagine what Miles deals with;)
Sunday, November 7, 2010
OK, not really, but my heart did absolutely stop at the end of her amazing race in the Breeder's Cup Classic yesterday. If you are living under a rock (or have not been maybe obsessively following her career since she won her 17th race in a row), Zenyatta lost her 20th race by a little more than a nose. It was an amazing effort, and she absolutely gave it her all, as per usual for this girl.
She started the race last (again, as per usual), but the difference this time is the caliber of horses she was running against, and the sheer number of horses she had to weave her way through to get to the lead. In a game of inches, she came up just a few short.
Still, the important thing is she came out of the race happy and healthy and sound-at least one horse (Rough Sail) wasn't so lucky yesterday. She finishes her career 19-1-0; that's something alright.
Great job Z! Thanks for the memories. Now go have fun making million dollar babies:)
Thursday, November 4, 2010
"What might help?", I thought. Not another boring blah blah training post.
The only thing stopping me from buying something like a Pretty Pony every time I go in is the reminder to myself that I am, in fact, an adult, and adults do not buy toys FOR THEMSELVES. It's weird. Besides, when I get my "My Favorite Horse" action polo pony with matching rider box set home, what the hell am I going to do with it? Play? I don't even know how to do that anymore.
I can still pine for these toys, though, and stare longingly at them while petting the soft plush of the oversize stuffed paint horse. I could be shopping for children! Underprivilaged children even! That is, after all, the only acceptable time for adults to buy toys. Even horse toys.
And I can't resist-Kristen, I instantly thought of Laz when I saw this plastic beauty:
I could go on and on....I started seeing horses from all over my barn in each of the cute but slightly deformed figures. Horses from my past are in there too. It's a very diverse herd.
So there it is. The 10 year old girl in me had her day after all. After their photo show, I put the horses back in their toob and put them on my dresser, where they will remain for the foreseeable future.
I mean, I'm pretty sure. It's not like I'm going to take them out and arrange them in various entertaining (to me) poses, and create scenarios for them to act out. It's not as if I would make them talk to each other or anything. Talk about strange.
Plasti-Miles says end the post now, Sarah. There's no graceful way to save this one.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
I know this is a total bummer of a post. If you don't want to be further bummed, move along; it's OK. I'm rarely in the mood to read this kind of thing either.
I don't have children. I hope to, maybe one day...but maybe not. The point is, my animals have always been my children. People with actual offspring may find this statement offensive, and I apologize for that. I can only say I have suffered and grieved for every. single. animal I've ever owned in my life, past the age of maybe 8-before that I cried, but I don't know how much a young child can actually grieve. Anyway, it's a lot of loss, is what I'm saying.
The shortest life I've mourned was my ferret Franklin, who lived 5 years and died about 6 years ago. I adored that little guy-he was like a kitten on PCP all the time. Unfortunately, he was bred at some factory farm, and from ages 3 to 5 I was fighting an uphill battle against skin cancers, adrenal disease, enlarged spleens, you name it. He was SO full of life though-I handed over my hard earned dollars, and he inevitably bounced back from each procedure. Until one day he didn't. My point in telling his story is, it doesn't matter what the species is, or how long they are in our lives-if we have loved them, they stay with us. I wish I had a picture of him...ugh, I'd have to scan it. Anyway, he was white with red eyes anyway-not the most beautiful of animals,but it didn't matter. He was my boy.
Aside from Franklin, I've loved many dogs, cats, rodents and horses that have since left this Earth. It sucks, it's horrible, and it's an inevitable part of owning animals that we must accept if we are to love them fully and reap the wonderful rewards of sharing our life with them.
The person that keeps an "outside" dog or cat that passes away? Or any animal owner that keeps their pet at a distance-the person may be sad, but they will not feel the grief that those of us that let our animals fully into our lives know. They also will never know the complete joy and partnership of such a relationship. It's a heartbreaking bargain we make-the beautiful with the horrible.
I'm writing this now because my old dog Mojo, while still happy and plucky, is battling some kind of shitty, persistent inflammation that may get her in the end, if the drugs to combat it don't first.
I'm writing this now because one of my great barn friends is faced with making the most horrible and compassionate decision that we as horse owners will all have to make eventually, if we are in the horse "business" long enough. We're all still holding out hope...she is the best "horse mom" I know and will always do what's right. I feel for her.
I'm writing this now to work through the issues I still have around putting my mare down a little over a year ago, and adopting my heart horse a month later. Sometimes I feel like Karma has a target on my back, especially because Miles has been relatively drama free, other than the weight issue. I love and still miss Eb, so much. If something happened to Miles...no. I can't write anymore about that.
I'm writing this now because other people may be facing the same thing with the animal(s) in their life. It's so, so hard.
I truly find comfort in the fact that so many people have lost their own beloveds, and lived to tell about it-that may sound dramatic, but grief at it's worst feels...impossible. Going through the experience is something beautiful we all share. I, for one, can never regret the relationships I've shared with my animals, no matter how much I hurt when they are gone. It's a small price to pay for the years we've shared.
I'm writing this post to remember this, and to appreciate each and every day I share with the loves of my life, both human and non-human. It's a cliche. It's also true.
I have to go now. Mojo wants an extra slice of chicken, and I'm going to give it to her.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Here's my confession-I don't allow him and I to practice this gait under saddle nearly enough. It's my own neurosis, I 100% admit this. While cantering, it's much easier for horses to bolt, buck, spook...take your pick. At the trot, a horse only has 2 feet on the ground at any given time. At the canter, there are 3, hence the increased chance for silliness.
Despite this, I have vowed, starting this week, that I'm going to trust my boy and work more at his favorite gait. Previous to now, I really did have a legitimate excuse for not doing so much canter work; cantering well takes balance, and balance takes strength. Strength takes time to build. Now, thanks to lots of lunge work, he has plenty of strength to maintain a nice canter under saddle, and the only way to get MORE of that strength, of course, is to canter!
Blah blah blah, obvious, I know. Today though, after doing several transitions, I finally kept us at the canter for a couple laps around the ring. I know this isn't a huge thing to lots of people, but work with me here.
By the end of the 2nd lap, he felt...amazing. You know how horses just "give" you that place to sit, and it feels effortless? Yeah. It was a combination of his balance, straightness, collection and MY relaxation. He was using himself and not pulling himself along on his forehand. I sat up, but let my seat just GO with my horse, instead of having my constant "heels down hands still back straight elbows bent etc" mantra that runs waaay too often in my head. For those 10 strides or so, we were perfect together. It doesn't get better than that feeling:) It's the feeling I used to dream about (literally) when I stopped riding for a few years. It's a hell of an incentive to continue working on the canter, that's for sure!
Now, onto pictures! Behold, Miles one year ago.
I'll never get tired of that face.
Miles did not enjoy posing for this side. I threatened him with real work, like his pal LaShore was doing behind him, if he didn't stand still. He called my bluff:)
This is his only marking of white, besides a small random white spot on his hindquarter. What would you call this? It looks like a Rorschach blot. I know it's technically a star. I shall dub it Miles Exploding Star:) If I squint I also see a dog walking on his hind legs. Make of that what you will.
He also has two uneven swirls, which I understand may signal a hot horse with an uneven temperament. Hahahaha:)