Tuesday, 29 July 2014

New Digs

Thanks everyone for your kind words about Walker.

Our big news is that we're moving, which probably doesn't come as much of a surprise to anyone really.

The vet suggested that Walker might benefit from a 7 day turnout on grass pastures with the chance to come in at night to rest.  She felt that the current 5 day turnout schedule he was on was bad for his feet, and the rock and sand pastures were not helping much either.

So I have found him the perfect place.  Like literally perfect.  It is a dream.

My new barn owner just bought this property like 2 weeks ago.  She currently has a 27 year old and a 30 year old horse, and she's looking for a third to keep them company because, as I'm sure we can all agree, three is simply the magic number.  She calls it the geriatric pony club, and that's just fine by me!

Here are the details:

She feeds whatever I want and will go get it for me.  She only works part time (at Greenhawk, no less!) so she's home most of the time to watch them.  They get fed three times a day.  She bought hay just for us, since the old boys are on hay cubes.  He gets a stall bigger than the one he has, and it has windows.

Feed buckets are for throwing across aisles
There are three grass pastures, each of which are bigger than the current big pasture he is sharing with up to eight horses.  They mow the pastures and keep them clean.  They rotate if need be so that the horses don't rip them up and cause dangerous holes.

She will put on blankets, fly masks, fly sheets, fly spray, whatever I want or need for no extra cost.

There is a trail system.  It has grass trails and is also mowed.  And it runs down to the waterfront, which she owns.

She said that if Walker gets to a point where I can ride him, I can work him in one of the pastures, but she's putting in a sand dressage ring this fall.  And she has donated one of her fields to the therapeutic riding school.  Get this.  By next fall, she is building a new six stall barn with an indoor arena.

And all for $150/month cheaper than what I currently have.

Caught in the act going for his halter to throw
So I pretty much get to move my horse to the perfect care situation, with the perfect pasture, and the chance that in the future there will be arenas and a perfect facility in case Walker gets better... or, you know, I buy a second horse...

So if nothing else has come out of this horrible lameness situation, Walker is moving to a pretty great new home which I have no doubt he will love.

Friday, 25 July 2014

One Decision Made

I have made a decision about Walker.

I am not going to be riding him or working him again for the foreseeable future, which I suspect may be forever but will for sure be at least 3 months or possibly a year (the reason for that discrepancy will be described in later posts).

He is not comfortable.  He is not improving.

I talked it over with both the farrier and the vet, and they agree with my decision.

Furthermore, the vet gave me a smidgen of hope today that I could still improve on his lameness so I'm going to work towards that goal.

The vet told me that Walker has non-septic pedal osteitis (which, for those of you who are curious, is a symptom of other issues, not a syndrome in and of itself), and while the demineralization of the bone is pretty bad, the coffin bone actually possesses the ability to fill itself back in again to a certain degree (however slight that may be).

So that means there is still a chance that I can improve on some of the lesser demineralization that has occurred in the bone, and armed with that knowledge (however misunderstood it may turn out to be), I intend do whatever I can to make that happen and to simply make him comfortable.

And I think the best chance of that is 0 work and 5 star conditions.

He got his feet done today and got his new pads put on.  I'll be curious to see if they will make any improvement in his comfort level, but I am hopeful.  He's usually pretty sore in his stall and hobbles like an old man to the door, but even though he just had his feet done today, he was much perkier when I came out to give him lovin' and an apple.

I'm also looking into a couple more changes for him which, while I'm hoping they will be good for his feet as well, will at least be good for his mental health.  I believe that just like humans, happiness is a healer in its own way.

So stay tuned because  more is on its way!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

VCBH: Chock Full of Advice

An L. Williams blog hop, folks:

What is the best advice you've ever received from a Trainer or another rider?  What is the worst advice you've received from a Trainer or another rider?

Best Advice

The best advice I have ever received from a trainer was to actually look where I was going.

It is astounding how much you see when you actually look up.


There is a whole world going on out there that has nothing to do with my hands or the top of Walker's neck.

Worst Advice

The worst advice I have received was see-sawing on the reins to promote collection.

Seriously thought this was the be-all end-all until years later when I was taught better.  Oh the bad advice we have to undo.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Thrush attack

Walker has serious issues with thrush.  I mean, I pick that horse's feet every day.  His pasture is crazy dry, as in, there is no grass and it is all sand.  He goes out 5 days a week and spends the majority of the day out there.

Yet I am picking thrush out of his feet like it's going out of style.  The little microbes of death are claiming squatter rights in the depths of his frog and no matter how much thrush busting liquid I use, they will not vacate.  They are simply multiplying.

I left Walker for the weekend, he didn't get turned out, but I did ask someone to pick his feet for me at least once.  She did, and when I picked his feet today, it was gross in there.  So I doused his foot with that horrible blue stuff once more because when in doubt, continue to do the same things that aren't working.

Other than that, his toes are too long.  The farrier didn't come last week as I had hoped so I'm debating keeping him in.  Between the lameness and the thrush and the long toes, we're looking at a trifecta that just screams, "More vet bills, please!"

But the farrier will be out this week.  How do I know that?  Because I assume that he will get tired of my twice daily phone calls.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Still doing nothing


I kept delaying writing this post because it was time to write a new one, but I seriously have nothing to say.

Sunday I lunged my pony.

Monday I did not.

Tuesday I did not.

Wednesday I lunged my pony.  He was semi-well behaved.  He still looks sore on his right front which makes me nervous.  I am not comfortable working him or riding him until he looks more balanced.  Call me crazy, but I'd rather him be equally lame than unbalanced lame.

Today, I did not lunge my pony.

That is the roundup of the week.

I also started back to work this week after my vacation, and it has been a little hectic, as can be expected.  I'm hoping that I can get back into the groove of things and get my routine on lockdown.  Not that I have a horse to ride or anything.

For now, my Walker plans are fairly simple:

- Wait until the farrier comes and puts his new pads on.
- Track down an extra rubber stall mat for his stall (not easy to come by, apparently).
- Wait to see if there is any more improvement with all the changes put together.
- Continue to gently lunge pony every couple of days to keep the blood flowing.

Then reassess.

Rivoting stuff.  I know.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Lame Horse Dilemmas

I don't know about other people, but my number one lame horse dilemma (other than the fact that my horse is lame) is helping him recover while still keeping his attitude in check.

I decided today that I should lunge him because I felt like he needed a quick attitude adjustment.  Nothing severe.  He hasn't done anything to merit it, but I felt like a quick 15 minute lunge might get him moving a little bit while reaffirming respect.

It went about as well as expected.  Meaning, of course, that he bucked, bolted and freaked out on the lunge line when I dared suggest that he should pay attention to me.  The look he gave me was incredibly haughty, a "How dare you whip that thing in the air nowhere near my body!  Do you not who I am!"

My entire goal was to walk, trot, walk, lope for ten seconds and walk some more, but instead we had to have a mini-conversation that required a bit more cantering than I would have liked given the fact that he's supposed to be off work.

If it were a normal day, one where he wasn't lame, I wouldn't even be worried about his reaction.  It lasted for about two seconds, and in his defence, there was a pony in the arena (he has an unrational distrust/hatred of ponies - long story).

But this is the constant dilemma I face with him: give the attitude adjustment and risk going too far with his lameness, or let him get away with it.

I almost always choose the former because although Walker pushes me regularly, that's pretty much as bad as it is: he's just pushing to see what he can get away with.  He is by no means a disrespectful beast or blithering idiot.  He's just a disgruntled employee.

But still, it is a dilemma nonetheless, and one which makes it incredibly difficult to keep a chronically lame horse sound.

I always knew attitude would be our downfall.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Doing Nothing

What do I do without Walker?  Apparently nothing.  All day.  Every day.

At first I was productive.  I thought that maybe this was an unacceptable state for my car:

I mean, you know things are bad when you can't even offer a horse person a ride.

So I cleaned and I organized and there are bins and bins inside of other bins and life is good again for my car.  (And there is no picture proof so you're just going to have to take my word for it.)

And then I started going for drives.  I drove and I drove and I looked at all the pretty ponies and farms everywhere within a one hour radius of me.  But soon that got expensive (and I am always mildly concerned that my car is going to break down on some back road since it is careening towards death status as it is).

And then I started watching movies.  Like the entire Anne of Green Gables set.  Because I was going to go to PEI this week but life got in the way.  And so what do you do when you can't go to PEI?  You watch Anne of Green Gables and swoon over Gilbert Blythe.

And then when my 614 minute long movie was over, I played a lot of 2048.

And I drank a lot.  Until this happened:

No, seriously.  I drink rum.  And it is gone.
Somewhere during this time, I even went to visit Walker.  But no work appears to be bad for Walker.  He was all "OMG! Watch me run on the spot!" and "Get the flies off me.  I am going to dance and leap sideways every three seconds until the flies get off me!".  Even though he is lame.

His ability to gracefully trot and leap about while unable to walk is astounding.

And with that, my vacation is just about done.  It's back to work on Monday and back to a world where people supposedly get by without horses every day.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014


On Sunday, I was a little down about Walker and had been avoiding the barn.  I decided to go for a drive, as I often do when it's sunny and I have nothing better to do with my time.  I had to stop for gas, and when I was in the gas station, I saw a stack of apples.  I thought to myself, none of this is Walker's fault so I should get him a little pick me up.

After giving my slobbery pony an apple, I decided that now would be a good time to clean my saddle.  It has been a while since I cleaned my saddle, but I was excited to get to try the Higher Standards soap.  Yes, I know.  You have all been on that train for a long time, but I finally got my first container only a week or so ago.

Needless to say, it is amazing.  There is no point in writing a review to simply reiterate everything everyone already knows.

Unfortunately, when Beka and Hillary arranged with Higher Standards to create a soap for Carlos, I literally had ordered this container one day before.  One day before.  Seriously.  And I never got the chance to contact Higher Standards to change my order.

But that's ok.  You know what they say about being fashionably late to a party.

After using my Fox Vanilla Lavender scented soap and thinking about how this little baby was going to last me a lifetime, I decided "what the hell" and went online to buy the Viva Carlos scent too.

And the balm.

And some soap for my friend, who I'm just convinced is going to love it as much as me.

Mission accomplished.

VCBH: Unpopular

This current blog hop of L's is a potentially dangerous one. I like it.

What is one unpopular horsey opinion you have?

I have to say that I was very excited to read the responses to this one.  I really thought this was going to go downhill fast when in fact, so far I have found most of the responses fairly level headed and sane.  Come on, people.  Be wild.

So what is my unpopular horsey opinion, you ask?  Here it is: 

I don't actually care if you wear a helmet.

I know that in this day and age of rider safety, it is all the rage to be pro-helmet.  I am not anti-helmet.  Far from it.  I'm pro-choice, you could say.

I think I get this perspective from my Western background which, needless to say, does not lend itself well to the helmet craze.  I personally wear a helmet every time I ride, but in my barn, for instance, I am one of only three adults who does.  And I've also not worn a helmet.  

And I will do it again.

If tomorrow I entered a Western pleasure competition on a horse I relatively trusted, I'm breaking out the cowboy hat.  No doubt in my mind.  

Yeah.  That's right.  That ain't no helmet.
Don't get me wrong.  I have my limits.  I think that children should wear helmets.  I think that green riders should wear helmets.  I think that good riders on unpredictable horses should wear helmets.  Heck, I would even wear a helmet riding Walker in a Western competition if he so much as looked at me with a hairy eyeball before the class.  In fact I did that in a show once - changed to a helmet at the last minute all because I felt so much as the wind change in an unfavourable direction.

I actually got into an argument with a friend about a month ago who barrel races.  She bought a new horse and was insulted - scratch that, she was livid - that I suggested to her that her "totally bombproof four year old" might not be so totally bombproof.

And as a Western rider, I feel the need to add the plug that there are many Western riders out there who wear helmets, just as there are also many English riders who do not.  

But at the end of the day, I'm not your mother.  Riding is a dangerous sport.  Riding vests can also be life-saving but we don't all wear them either.  I am not the helmet police.  And I'm also not a hypocrite.  I have no place scolding.

I agree wholeheartedly with this Mind Your Melon campaign.  If we can encourage more people to wear helmets, then this is a good thing.  Safety should not be unpopular. 

If you ask me if you should wear a helmet, I will probably say yes every time.  

But if you don't wear a helmet, I'm probably not going to shame you into it either unless I recognize an overtly dangerous situation.  What makes one ride more dangerous than another, you ask?  Well, that's what makes it an unpopular horsey opinion, doesn't it.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

A borrowed freedom when we rode

Whenever I am sad, I like to watch the Horseware Rugs for Life commercial.

It is by far one of my favourite commercials of all time, and it also sums up how I feel about Walker.  Every word.

The vet came on Friday and the results are in with regards to Walker's lameness.

I have written this post a hundred times already.  Sometimes it is sad.  Sometimes it is uplifting.  Today, I have decided to go with simply the facts:

Walker is never going to be 100% again.

According to the vet, we are in "management mode" now.

His feet are bad.  It's all in his front feet.  It just seems to be a myriad of things that combined have just crept up on us and grown out of control.  He has low heels, long toes, thick soles, minor navicular changes, feet that are toed in and which he prefers to keep too close together, and feet that he likes to point like a ballerina into the sand.

There is significant deterioration in his right front coffin bone which is present just since his last x-ray 6 months ago, and since we have ruled out infection, she can only assume that it is from "repetitive and chronic stress".  I like to think that one person cannot singlehandedly do so much damage to a horse in such a short stretch of time, but if there has been repeated stress on that foot, then I can only blame myself.

On Friday, before her report on the x-rays, I took the news really well, probably since I already suspected it.  With time, I have gone through waves of emotion since then and pretty much broke down completely after I got her x-ray report today.

I never thought we were superstars, but I thought we might accomplish more.  Sometimes I still think we will.  Sometimes I'm doubtful.

The vet and I have discussed our options.  We are putting him on Previcox as an alternative to constant bute, and he is off work until he is feeling better.  He can still be turned out, but there are some serious changes that need to be made.  He needs double the stall mats, extra thick bedding as support, and he will wear pads with his shoes from now on or else he's going to need to wear something like SoftRide Boots any time he is turned out or ridden.  I will be getting the pads and buying the boots regardless.  He will need another set of x-rays in about 3 months time.

As for riding, the vet says that he can still work.  Once he is better, she wants us to decrease our riding to about 4-5 times a week.  I have pressed her on the meaning of this, and I frankly think that she is dancing around giving me worse news - which is that he probably won't be able to tolerate even that.  I asked her "how lame is too lame" to work, and she pretty much described Walker 90% of the time.  Unless these pills truly do make him more comfortable, that's that.

I have not decided if I'm going to ride him at all or what we are going to do.

All I know is that I intend to create a life for him which he can enjoy.  He has been a constant friend to me these last few years, and I expect him to continue being a constant friend to me for years yet.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Putting vegetables to good use

I've been trying to eat healthy lately, and for anyone who knows my eating habits, this is a feat in and of itself.  Let's just say I do not have a loving relationship with vegetables unless they are potatoes and mashed, baked or deep fried.

But it seems that I have found a use for frozen vegetables:

By alternating them between my two bruised and swollen feet.

As it turns out, both Walker and I are severely lame this week.

Walker is lame for god knows why, but I was very upset to discover that he was turned out.  I mean, he has been turned out lame before, but those times were just minor lameness.  Given that he comes out of his stall stiff and sore consistently, the other times he was turned out, I could understand.  I mean, it was unacceptable, of course, but if you didn't know him well, then maybe you might fail to see it.  Or at least this is what I told myself.

This time, he was lame like a cripple.  When I clipped the lead line on him in the paddock, I knew something was wrong.  Homeboy refused to move, and when I finally forced him to walk forward by giving him a good old fashioned swat with the line, he almost fell over.  That's how lame he was.  

I almost cried as I just tried to get him back to his stall.  He was lurching forward with every step and almost falling over.  HOW IS THAT NOT NOTICEABLE?

There has been another lady doing chores this week, who also happens to be the same woman who has turned Walker out lame every other time and is not the normal barn manager.  I told the barn manager immediately, and she apologized.

I gave him bute and by pure chance, the vet arrived to look at another horse.  She came right over to see us since we were walking back to his stall at that time (and looked horrible, I imagine).  I made an appointment for her to come back, and we are going to do a full lameness exam and x-rays.  I had already been debating doing this before this episode, but now it has become imperative.  Which is kind of upsetting because I was hoping to do a lameness exam when he wasn't lame, if that makes any sense.  I wanted to be able to find the problems that make him lame so frequently, not just focus on his current lameness.  But oh well.

The reason I am lame, you ask?  Oh.  Well I got knocked clear off my feet by a spooking horse and stepped on.  He spun quickly, his hindquarters slammed into my chest, and I literally whipped through the air arse over kettles and then while still moving, he stepped on both my feet.

The poor girl who owns the horse was beside herself.  She has only had this horse for a week, so I tried to calm her down by telling her I was fine.  It was a complete fluke and is absolutely not her fault or the horse's.  Just bad luck.  But now I am a cripple who can't walk and have been rolling myself around the apartment in my pseudo-wheelchair.  Luckily for me, Walker can't be ridden anyway so there's not much that needs to be done.

My chariot

After careful consideration (and without actually seeing a medical professional, as I'm not much of a hospital-lover), I do not think either one of them are broken.  Maybe the vet will check me out too.  A two for one deal, perhaps?

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

VCBH: Interested Parties

L's new blog hop is all about what made us buy our horses to begin with.

What made you interested in your current horse that lead you to buying them in the first place?

When I bought Walker, it was kind of a different situation.

Walker was my first horse, I was just getting back into riding, and I relied 100% on my barn owner at the time, who is all but a horse trader herself.  The woman brings in about 3 horses every couple of months from the States and sells them to interested parties.

There were a lot of downsides to this and I wouldn't do it again.  To be honest, I didn't get a lot of say in the horse I wanted, and I definitely didn't get a chance to try him before.  She brings them in.  You try them out.  You have ample time to decide if you want him, but if you say no, you wait until her next batch.  I would not do it this way again, but it ended up working out for Walker and me.

But, one thing she did for me was get the seller to make a video.

What sold me on Walker, before he even came, was how freakin' calm he was.  In the video, they did everything with him.  The sellers are horse traders and they knew that I wanted to jump.  So they rode him Western.  They rode him English.  They jumped him.  They trail rode him.  They walked him onto the trailer.

And they rode him into a raging river.  No word of lie.

That really impressed me about him because it was really important to me that my first horse be a safe one.

When Walker arrived, his puppy dog personality probably motivated me to keep him.  He had already proved he was safe, and my barn owner and trainer loved the way he moved.  So I kept him.

Oh but that heat

After the Winter we had, I will not be the fool to complain about the heat.

But I'm just going to say that the weather has been crazy warm here for the last week - all kinds of sticky and uncomfortable.  And I have the excruciating sunburn to prove it.

Because of the warm weather, Walker has gotten a few days off.

On Sunday, the weather reached the kind of temperatures that I felt were simply too dangerous to ride in the afternoon.  Walker sweats a lot, even when the temperatures are nice, and when I went to check on him, he was dying - even just in his stall.  I just couldn't do that to him.

I rode him in the evening, and although we just had a quick 30 minute hack, he was drenched.  I felt really bad for him.

I ended up giving him Monday and Tuesday off - Tuesday mainly because my sunburn hurts so much that I can't imagine doing anything else but applying aloe vera and laying on the couch in my underwear.

Luckily, by Wednesday or Thursday, there are going to be some thunder showers that will probably break the heat.

And that will be the end of summer in the Maritimes probably.  I wish that were a joke, but it probably isn't.