Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Updates - the Trial

The trial of 3 days of riding in a row with one day of bute weren't the best. Each day he still tripped, still wasn't putting his hind legs under him, and he still wasn't extending his front legs. The toes in the front were still dragging, and he did have the stifle lock each day, but at different points in the ride.

Day 1 was just bad. He didn't want to move out, he didn't want to back up, he was having trouble on incline/decline, and he was a shuffling, tripping mess. He kicked out while being tacked up and was just an irritated mess.

Day 2 was better, he didn't trip coming out of the paddock, but he did kick out after moving away from me while tacking up. He had a stifle lock issue as soon as I got on at the walk, and he had two significant trips in the front. His front toes were still dragging, but he was WAY more willing to move out and back up. Incline/decline was better than the first day, too. He was moving into the bit on his own free will and listening to leg. Backing up was decent, too.

Day 3 was different in that it was hot and that it was feeding time. I wish I got consistent weather (and times) for the test, but you can't help that. He tripped coming out of the field, but he didn't kick out when being tacked up. He didn't have a stifle lock until I tried to canter because he had a good attitude. He was dragging his toes in the front more than the day before, but there were no significant trips while moving. He was willing to back up, too.

So which day was bute day? Well obviously day 2 or 3. I guessed day 3 only because he seemed to have a better attitude about being tacked up. So did the bute help? Was it just a lucky day? We have behavior issues mixed with something else? ...but what is the something else? I called the vet to update her, but I forgot to let her know that he has a clicking shoulder (oh great, add that to the list). I'm looking forward to a call back to see what I'm supposed to do next. Why can't they just talk and tell us what's wrong? *Lost and upset*

Friday, May 23, 2014

Vet Update

The vet came out yesterday! Spyder is healthy and fit, but his confirmation has given him some of the issues he's been experiencing. The only back pain that he has is from his hind end weakness. He is not uncomfortable with the saddle, mounting, or being ridden w/t/c on my end (or the tack's end). The vet checked out his back and that led her to his hind legs. I've known something has been going on there because of the stifle lock, but his shuffle and evading trot has been a clear sign of pain to me (along with the tripping, kicking out, ears back, dancing on the cross ties, etc.). I tacked up, and the vet watched his every move from then until mounting up. He didn't flinch when I got on him.

I did some w/t around the vet in both directions. Before he really got going, he has his ankle roll/buckle. WHOO! I mean it's not a great thing, but I'm glad it happened for the vet. It's the locking stifle that I thought it was. We'd talked about it before the hunter pace. As he continues work, he should get better, and we need to work in a frame more as his hind end is extending too far. He's strung out in the back and heavy on his front end so we need to lift and push that hind end forward. He wasn't as trippy as he's been for the vet, either. He did throw his attitude and kicked out once. He also showed signs of not wanting to move forward. Of course it wasn't as bad as it's been because someone was there to evaluate him, but it was apparent. He had a really nice canter transition in both directions, too!

So now what? Well, he's fit and healthy otherwise. I need to continue the frame and engaging the hind end. I have bute to do a trial of anti inflammatory relief on him. If that work in the short run when I ride (which I was told to test for 3 days straight), then we know that is the solution. If something more is needed, injections may be the answer. His ligaments in the back are not very tight and he twists his legs in all sorts of odd directions when standing and moving. Spyder, why isn't your hind end working? All of this obviously makes me upset because I got him as a baby, but it's nothing that is uncommon with the breed. The vet said if it were any other breed, she'd have questions as to his gaits, but the standardbreds have all kinds of movement going on.

It's nothing that is not manageable, and it's a matter of finding the proper treatment. The next step will be to take a look at any potential secondary issues that are found while on bute (if that helps). I think it's 1/2 attitude and 1/2 pain, but taking part of that equation out is going to do a lot of good. The vet said I'm a tough one for putting up with him as he's a tough horse and that makes me feel good about the effort this far. If we can get through this and find a solution, I think that we can get so much further. Time will tell, and I hope to get in my 3 days of riding Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday to provide the results. It's always something, right?

Oh, and I forgot to add that I got the farm early to get Spyder cleaned up. I put a flake of hay in his stall to keep him busy while I brushed him and he GAGGED... yes, gagged on hay. I've had horses my entire life and I have never seen a horse gag on hay. Now I know they say they can't throw up, but they can certainly gag/cough up hay. I thought I was going to watch him pass out in front of me, and all that I could think as, "thank goodness the vet is on her way!" He coughed up some chewed up hay, and then he was back to normal. Anyone ever give the himelick to a horse? HA!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Something's Up

Spyder is getting increasingly worse in areas that I can't figure out the root of the problem. I'm not sure if he did something in his field or if it's from his trip/fall after the hunter pace, but regardless, something's up. He is himself - Mr. Personality as always - so it doesn't seem to be something he could be "sick" with. His hip area is still bothering him, but it's progressed to tripping in the front. On the lead, he's perfectly good for trotting. In the round pen when asked to move out, he's sore in the circle and doesn't want to trot. He turns to canter (and squealing/kicking out towards me... awesome).

Saturday, he was OK for a quick ride, but I got off and checked him out after 15 minutes of fighting with him - no inflammation or hot spots, but he was irritated when I kept poking him. When you run your hands over his back, he gets uncomfortable by his spine where the saddle doesn't sit... by his hips. He's very twitchy and starts to move on the cross ties to get away from your hands. He's uncomfortable and it makes me so upset. I'm getting stressed, and the vet is backed up for 8 - 10 days. How much time do I give him off? What muscles do I need to build? Is it something more than just soreness? Is it temporary? Is he able to be ridden? Will he always have a bad taste in his mouth when I come out thinking he'll get poked and prodded? I know horses always cycle and it's nothing we can't figure out (I think?), but it's still stressful.

He doesn't want to move forward when there is pressure on his back, and he makes it very clear he's hurting. He's going to have off for as long as he needs to get better, but I need to know what things to work on while he's recovering from this "thing." In the meantime, how do I keep my muscles up? Do I take lessons at the farm? Do I work on cantering since I never really get to do that? ...jumping? I feel like I have no plan - no objectives. What the heck am I doing? I have no idea. *feeling lost* Waiting on vet callbacks and hoping it's from him tumble at the pace.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tuesday Ride

Before the 4-H meeting, I decided to ride. I fed Spyder a little bit of grain before we headed out, and the ride started OK... He was peppy. The air was cooler than it has been, and it was breezy. As I said, it started off OK, and then, he wouldn't move. I pushed him a bit which got him irritated, and he wouldn't listen. I finally got him moving out on the track and he kept tripping in the front (even with his feet done that day). We worked on transitions and listening since it's been an option lately.

I decided to take it easy as I was worried about him tripping and just trotted up and down the long side of the track. He took off with head down towards barn after he pulled the reins out of my hands. He did a bucky/reary thing yet again, and I kept on him until he calmed down. Once we walked towards barn, listening was over so we headed back to the track. I worked on his turn on haunches... that went bad AGAIN. He was kicking out and doing the opposite of what I asked him to do. I got him to give in and then I got off to end on that "good note." Are we going to have any overall good rides in the near future? It's getting old.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


And so Spyder went back to the grump on Sunday. Stubborn and annoyed as ever, it was a frustrating ride which involved not listening towards the end, doing the opposite of what was asked, and kicking out like he was trying to murder something. COOL! We went out to the big ring and worked on the canter transitions after turning on the haunches. It went OK, but he was mad... the whole ride was a bit ehh until we headed towards the barn. Spyder was Mr. Pep again (near feeding time) and didn't want to stop or back. On the track, we did a ton of backing up and moving off leg which made things WORSE. He kept pushing into my leg and wouldn't give up. I pushed and pushed until he kicked out and then he finally gave in. What a jerk horse sometimes, blah! I fed him and left him in for the feeder to turn out. He's lucky I left the carrots in his bucket.

Let's hope that this week and coming weekend change his mind/attitude if I even get to ride. I plan on switching it up to see if that helps, but time will tell. Anyways, spring is here along with the pollen! The heat is kicking up and the pool time is so close. I can't wait to get in more rides and jump in the pool after a crap ride to relax. It'll help my nerves, for sure! The sun has been doing a lot for that, and I'm hoping it brings motivation to ride.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Monday, I worked on the track with Spyder. We did a ton of transitions, backing up to work on the hind end, and lots of leg yields with some turning on the haunches. I decided to try to canter straight, and it was AMAZING going towards the barn. It was a little harder away from the barn, but we got it! :) There was one small bucky/reary issue (which I believe was excitement), but I rode through it like a champ. It was a GREAT ride, but I feel like I get more out of a ride with a challenge (yet I complain about them... ha!). It was such an easy ride, I was so happy. It instantly turned my Monday around.

Tuesday, I had a lesson with the BO. All of the horses were calling because they saw me and thought they were getting fed. Spyder was so far out in the field grazing by himself, and he looked up because they were making so much noise. He took off towards me with he most beautiful and graceful canter/gallop-ish gait all the way to the gate. How nice of him to warm up for me! I did give him some grain while I groomed and tacked up so he wasn't disappointed. We worked in the ring since we hadn't in a while, and we did a lot of keeping round, bending, and turning on the haunches with transitions. The 180 degree turn on the haunches then pushing into the canter was the best thing I think we've ever done as far as the transition goes. The difference in how he takes off is AMAZING, and I can't wait to try it on my own. I wonder if I can get some of that in with us being straight on the track.

There was (again) ONE instance of him throwing a fit in which he kicked out because he didn't like what I was asking. He'll go off the left leg all day long, but with the right, he was fighting me. He kept backing up instead of moving over even though he KNOWS what it means. I kept kicking and kicking until I got a little bit of a rear and then more backing up. I kicked and kicked and he kicked back! He kicked out, but I kept on him and we finally got it. The right is obviously so much worse, but we'll work on it. I felt like we got somewhere and there was a huge hurdle to overcome. I stayed with him, and we got there. Let's hope there are more days like this!

So far, I've ridden more than half the days in May! I can't wait for what this season will bring. I know it won't be as much riding because my next course started yesterday, but if we stay focused and work on things, we'll get far this year.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Hunter Pace x2

The second one I've done has come and gone! Friday I went out to make sure that Spyder was groomed and worked on him for a while to help with the shedding. Since it would be 60-70 for the pace, I wanted to make sure that he would be comfortable. I got on to ride on the track, and he was a dream. He did have one weak hind end moment, but we worked on a lot of trotting and backing up to help with that. We did lots of leg yields, and there was no arguing. I had a great feeling about Saturday!

Saturday, I was being picked up by the BO so I got there early to get the grooming/shedding help going. When I got to the ride, I wanted to be able to tack up, warm up, and go. There were 3 trailers from the farm, and that was 9 horses in total. The vet and her assistant came to ride, as well. I let her know that I was worried about Spyder's hind end and she let me know she'd keep an eye out for his movement. She never said anything to me about it, but did give me some things to help with his hind end strength and assured me that her standardbreds are just the same in how they are built which creates the common problem.

We warmed up and had one tripping/locking issue with one fit prior to heading out. Spyder is always looking at folding chairs like they will kill him, but I have no idea what his fit was for. It was by the check-in table so maybe he saw something he didn't like as he was fine with the chair while warming up. We headed out and had a great ride with a few fits on the trails. He gets upset when horses pull ahead and I hold him back yet he hates being in the front. In the back, he's hurry, hurry, hurry, and in the front, he's, "ahh, this is going to kill me" as he looks at everything. Running water gave him a spook, but he did go through all of the water that was left from the rain we had during the week.

At the end of the ride, we had a grand finale of a fall/trip/laying down moment. Spyder was down on all four and I hopped off with a nice, calm dismount. He didn't want to get up at first, but I made sure I checked him out and walked him to see if anything was up. He was perfectly sound, and happy as ever. He hardly had a sweat the whole ride, and I think it was just a fluke. I was happy the vet was there as I mentioned it to her once she finished her ride, but she didn't say much about it and didn't seem worried at all. He didn't drink when I offered him water which made me nervous, but he went right to grazing when I took him to grass. We went back to the water and he drank a decent amount so I sponged him to cool him down and got him on the trailer with hay (which he didn't eat at first - another weird thing). He was back to his happy self stuffing his face after eating carrots and apples that the ride supplied.

I found out today that we won for the regular pace (we skipped the obstacle/game breaks) to enjoy the ride, and I did forget to mention we took a jump over a nice size log. Spyder jumped HUGE and he didn't throw a fit after it (surprise, surprise). Good horse. All in all, it was a really fun day, and we get our ribbons/prize basket from the pony club when they are at the farm tomorrow. I have no idea what's in it, but I do remember seeing treats which Spyder is so well deserving of. I'm off to ride later tonight and hope we can work on strength in the hind end since he got a nice day off yesterday. My finger is STILL hurting from when I broke it (and I still have no intentions on giving up riding for it to heal). Class starts again tomorrow. Meh.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Weekend of Sun

Just what we needed. Sunshine and happiness! Friday night last week was all paper writing, Saturday morning, I worked on my paper then rode. I forced myself to do more of my paper after so that Sunday I could worry less and try to ride again. Don't worry, I got an A! :) I rode both days, too!

Saturday I decided to start on the lunge line. Umm, why? I figured if I was going to ever do a CTR, I should see how the circle on the line goes vs. the circle in the round pen. Both circles are quite the same... WHIP!? RUN, HOP, SKIP, JUMP, SQUEAL, TRIP, SKID OUT... "Look what I can do!" It was just awful. I kept my cool and he didn't pull on the line much, but it was obviously not working out. We do need to work on it, but I think we'll keep going with trotting in hand because it's been so nice (and controlled).

We did have one issue where Spyder's back leg appeared to give out. In research and watching videos, it "may" be a locking stifle. It's common and not something to get worked up about, but of course, I want him to be comfortable. For now, I'm going to monitor it (as it happens only at the canter, in a tighter circle, and very infrequently) and see if we can strengthen his hind end to make it better. I got on, and Spyder was an angel. I did bring the crop with me because I had a feeling he would be a bit testy, but he did great. We worked in circles and did a lot of stop go and cantering. There was no tripping or losing the hind end, and we worked in a frame often.

Sunday I just remember getting there later in the day (more paper writing) and him listening without the crop. No kicking or grunting - great! We did do a lot of leg yields and practiced neck reining (ha, what a joke). The hunter pace is TOMORROW, and I'm excited. My cold sore and pimple infested face is ready for some stress relief. Class starts again Tuesday, and I am looking forward to spending this weekend at the barn for as long as I can to calm my nerves with everything going on in my hectic life. Que the sunny and relaxing weekend. I do plan on getting out to the barn to get on Spyder tonight so tomorrow will be less of a hassle.

March was 68 miles, and April only 18.5... meh.