Thursday, August 28, 2014

Round Pen Blah's

He's still bored, still calling when I get there, and still running away from the fly spray like it's going to kill him. OK, not running, but walking quickly. I don't even have to put a lead on him to walk him as he just follows me around the pen which is cute. If I wasn't going on my lunch breaks, I almost wish I could just hop on bareback with a lead. Hand walking is similar, right? haha.

His swelling is a lot better and it's not as hot as it's been which is a plus. The hair that was shaved for the ultrasound is starting to come back in nicely, but I'm sure it'll get shaved again come October.  Sitting on a horse is going to cause all kinds of aches and pains the next time that happens. Here's to waiting and hoping for the best.

Oh, and I got my grade back for my last grad course before I can transfer into the full program. I got an A soooooo NO GMAT FOR ME!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Past, Present, and Future

We've gotten to the 15 minute hand walking period which resumes until the end of the month before going up to 20 whole minutes. It'll be a month the first of June, wow. Where did summer go? Did it even come? I am reflecting on riding, and I regret not making arrangements to be back in the saddle sooner. I wasted summer.

I have yet to schedule the next appointment, and it's because I've been coping with this whole situation in the worst way. Getting to the barn, I get excited that Spyder is happy to see me. It's just because he's bored out of his mind and looks forward to his daily treats and little bit of doing something. He wants a job, and I want him to have a job. What if he can't get a "real" job back? The thoughts of what might happen leaves me unsure, upset, and teary eyed. I've cried about it enough prior to the diagnosis, and I thought that would end once I got an answer. Now that I have a "probably" on the diagnosis, I'm still not sure what to think and it upsets me every day. It makes it really hard to stay positive, but I realize it is also not the only thing keeping me down lately. It's one piece to this puzzle of this emotions I've been mixed up in.

Did you ever look back or in the present and think to yourself ... What the heck am I doing? What have I become? Who are my friends? What could I have done to prevent this or that from happening? What can I change? What do I even like to do any more? I'm usually not much of a thinker or a worrier. I don't stress often, but something has been provoking these thoughts, and I think it's this bad attitude that I've been displaying in every aspect of my life. I don't like how I've been acting one bit. Obviously, living in the present and taking each day as it comes is the most important thing to do, but I have to stop and think about those questions. From there, I need to reevaluate where I am and what I'm thinking and turn that into something good. I'm insanely lucky and have worked hard to get where I am, and I can't let these first world hassles in life bring me down. Chin up, move forward.

I have a short break in grad school (if my transfer goes through) so I am hoping to get in more me time to relax and bring back some old goals that I've put aside and set new ones. Not having that release from doing what I love most, riding, has put such a hurt on my attitude. I need to make new and different attempts at finding something else that will keep me focused and remember to have fun. I need to expect less of people, lighten up, and go back to caring less. Is this what happens when you turn 27?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Catching Up

So this is the little arab I rode. Little means a normal sized horse when it comes to owning one like Spyder. We did 7.5 miles the weekend before last - 5 miles on the trail and a few laps around the ring to feel out the horse and get used to the awesome endurance saddle I rode in. Yes, endurance saddle. Talk about learning how much an english saddle puts you forward and a dressage saddle puts you upright - this thing did a whole different angle. It made sure I post UP instead of forward (bad habit) or I'd feel the pain from not cooperating. I figured it out quickly to spare the skin on my legs and stomach. The horse I rode has been all over the trails in endurance rides, and it's quite an ironic story how I ended up riding the horse. I met a guy at the ride I volunteered for in the spring (the endurance ride I trained for and had trailer issues then crappy weather and a mess of other crap - yea, I'm on the life is crap kick). We later "friended" (is that a word?) each other on Facebook and I realized he had the same last name as someone that was in the equestrian club with my at college. I asked some questions, and yes, he's his dad... and the kid I went to college with... well, it was his horse! He no longer lives at home so the horse is for sale and he is SO much fun to ride. ...if only I could afford two.

Back to Spyder... he's busy being bored. The round pen has a jolly ball which he doesn't fool with, and it is down to sand again (because he ate all of the grass in and around the outside of the pen). His paddock of friends went back into their normal field which has amazing grass right now. He still gets to watch them, but I feel so guilty he can't socialize with them. I feel bad that he's not getting out on grass like he did and a lot less grain since he's not working. I'm going to be keeping an eye on his weight, and he's sure getting one big fat hay belly. He looks so different since he stopped working, and I just hope I can bring him back in work. I am really worried about him healing, and the thought of it not makes me so upset. I plan on calling to make our early-mid October appointment next week, and hope to find a way there for the date that gets picked since it's a trip. I did follow up to find out it's a 30% tear, but only in the location of the injury which is far from the entire ligament. Is that good or bad? I have no idea. I hear of a lot of great recovery stories then you get one thrown in there that led to retirement, sigh.

Dead after the bike run.
Fishing it out because it's awful at swimming.
As for the pup, he's been keeping us busy. I am not at the farm after work because I go at lunch to keep Spyder company so I get to spend a lot more time with him. We taught him how to run next to the bikes on the leash and he's been doing great off the leash back in the woods. This time of year is tough for anything involving the woods or grass because of chiggers - the worst little creatures of all time. The dog keeps an eye out for our resident swimming ground hog, and I hope I don't find it in the pool AGAIN. It's gone for a swim twice now and eaten my garden so it might be relocated if it happens again. Our 55 lb dog hound mix? is loving tracking the ground hog's path down, and I can't even believe the little sucker still comes in the yard. Kaiden is no puppy any more, and I submitted a DNA swab to see if we can get back anything other than "mixed breed" for his history.

In riding news, I still haven't heard about lessons. I might be riding the arab again, and I have a friend that has a 1/2 arab I might be able to ride. We've made a list of the fall rides, and hopefully we can meet up for at least one to take both of her horses out for a spin together. She's so far up north, and there is permitted riding in the middle of us so we're still sorting out how to make it work. It might end up being a meeting at a ride and just going for it without practice. Hey, that could be fun, right?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Recovery - Less than 2 Weeks

Back at the barn, stall rest lasted 2.5 days. Yes, you read it right two and one half days! Spyder was just plain miserable being confined to a stall even with other horses on reverse turnout in with him. He was pacing, ramming into his gate, using the walls to try to rub off his leg wraps, chewing wood, licking metal, and rearing when people would go by to say, "hey, get me out of here!" Day 2, I saw that his door was closed instead of the gate allowing him to reach out, and those are the reasons why. Oh, and he would go down/lay down/roll after rearing to get attention. So now what? This jail sentence was going to causes Spyder to get more hurt, colic, and potentially go crazy (more than he already was).

The first day of hand walking went just fine, but he could not stand still on the cross ties to get wrapped. He couldn't stand in his stall to get wrapped, even with hay. He decided not to eat hay and instead, just pace in his stall until someone did something making a mess of his hay. He was becoming a danger to himself and others that have to deal with him. Day 2 of hand walking, he decided to rear in the barn while on the lead. Well, that was a first! I decided to pretend like it didn't happen after punishment with the chain (yes, I resorted to the chain) so I wouldn't get myself worked up or scared that he'd do it again. It was day 2.5 (my lunch break) that I decided this was it. He wouldn't stop acting up, and it was time to put him out.

He hates me. Haha
He went out to the round pen, and don't you know, there were ponies in for weekly board while the owner was on vacation. They were all worked up and galloping in the field which got Spyder going. Rearing, squealing, trotting, tail up, fire breathing, STOP! He was going to hurt himself even more, but I thought maybe he just needed to get that out of his system. Since then, things have been a lot better. There haven't been stories of "your horse did this bad thing... or that..." I'm glad I haven't been hearing anything because I couldn't watch him let loose in the round pen or drive himself up a wall, literally. Sure, stall rest and hand walking are important, but his sanity, health, and safety of others is more important. I'll sacrifice a few extra months of board payments while not riding if he will keep his cool.

Back to the vet thing. The local vet seems to think something is missed. What if his shoulder is really hurt? What if I didn't ask enough questions or have them look into things more? Could it just be the check ligament?  What if he doesn't heal? What happens if I can't ride him? I'm trying to take things day by day, and the next ultrasound can't come soon enough. I want to see progress because I don't want to think about the worst. I feel awful, terrible. I haven't been dealing with this well, and I regret not doing right by him. But did I? I didn't know any better because I didn't have a diagnosis, and he wasn't always inflamed. I feel guilty, I feel sorry for myself (and Spyder, of course), and I feel scared. I did send everything over to another vet to take a look, but I haven't heard back from them. The local vet hasn't told me what to do otherwise, and I haven't heard from her since the questioning (which is 2 weeks today). I'm assuming no phone call was put in, and I'll continue down the path of rest and slowly work up exercise as I've been told.

In the mean time, I need to find saddle time. I have thought of lessons again just to keep moving and keep in the spirit since I'm out at the farm every day as it is. I did have the chance to do a trail ride on an Arabian with endurance experience, and that was a blast! If anyone has ideas/suggestions for staying in shape that doesn't involve riding (since the opportunities seem limited), let me know!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Hospital Visit

I found a hauler that met me at the farm early in the morning. The appointment was set for 10am, and the place in PA was about 2 hours away without traffic... Well, Philly is guaranteed traffic on a week day so we hoped for the best. I loaded Spyder into his HUGE box stall (1/3 of the whole trailer) where he had a chunk of hay and could move freely. He was super spoiled on the way up with all of the space.

I beat the trailer up there and checked in at the office upon arrival. I was told to wait by the trailer while they paged "the crew" because Spyder had arrived. A whole team came out to greet us and unloaded him for me. A resident vet was part of the mix, and she let me know that the vet we would be seeing was on her way. We went through an automatic garage door to the evaluation room. It looked a lot like a science lab, and had 2 stalls in each front corner of the room. The vet student did all of the vitals, his hoof test (in which he has incredible feet), and put Spyder in his holding stall. A volunteer was also there getting hours for vet applications and another employee that led him around all day. All of "the crew" was very, very nice!

They took Spyder out of the stall when the doctor arrived, and I got to tell his story. The doctor couldn't believe how great his feet were - yay standardbred feet! From there, they palpitated his fluid filled area to get an idea of what might be going on. They thought for sure that it was tendon or ligament, and wanted to get him over to the ultrasound department after doing the lameness evaluation. They took him outside, and Spyder saw his first cow! It was super scary and he acted like a fire breathing dragon for that and the huge garage door he was going in and out of all day. Even the 5th time (and sedated), the door was still scary. I didn't have to touch him for any of the evaluations, as they did everything! An employee trotted him up and down the driveway as well as on a circle to see his head bobbing madness. They were all puzzled because there was a lot of weird movement going on. From there, I was asked to get on...

I tacked up and we walked to the riding ring (but not before seeing the cow again). The indoor was BEAUTIFUL. There is all natural lighting and the best footing I have ever seen in a ring. I would trailer my horse to work to ride in there if that's where I worked! I rode, and they were baffled by his movement to the left. We got in some circus moves and funky steps, and they weren't quite sure if the area that was swollen would be causing that. My audience of 5 people made me nervous! They did mention he's not a bad mover when they could see him move without pain which was reassuring (for a standardbred... as everyone likes to add). I untacked and we went to ultrasound. I was so nervous for what they might find.

Spyder was a bit impatient for getting his leg shaved and standing in the standing stall for his ultrasound. He didn't like the gel they were putting on the instrument so sedatives eased his mood. He was right back to falling asleep while standing after some drugs. He behaved quite well for what I thought would be a total embarrassment. The ultrasound took a good hour and a half as they looked at everything! They could see all of the fluid, some thickening of ligaments, and a very, very small tear/area that had something going on. The fluid was a result of this area, and they couldn't believe the spot where the check ligament was injured. I ended up writing an e-mail to the vet to ask about this because I forgot to ask about the severity when I was there. It's a 30% injury to a small area that isn't common. This is where the "this area usually heals, but due to the nature of this injury, recovery is unknown." YIKES!

We went back to the prep area from the beginning of the day in between each move around the property, and this is where they did the block. After the block, they did some more w/t in hand and in the circles from earlier. Again, it was better, but not 100%. I got on, and it was a much better ride than earlier (and now I had a crew of 8 people because other students rotated in), but he still had issues to the left and resisted turning that way (weird side note: earlier he was tripping with the right front, with the block, he tripped on the left front). I had the option to get x-rays, but the doctor felt bad since I had already racked up quite the bill. I figured I was there, do it. I wanted to make sure there wasn't more in the area than the ultrasound could see, and his knee looked good once they got the images. There are no signs of arthritis, but they did see some kind of old injury. Interesting. I am glad that now I have a before on that knee in the event anything ever happens to that leg (for who knows how many times it's been a problem).

The solution? Stall rest and hand walking for controlled exercise for a minimum of 6 months. It usually takes up to a year to heal, but depending on the rest and exercise, it can take even longer. Ha, that'll happen with a horse that has a ton of muscle from training for long distance rides, one that just turned 7, and one that is out 24/7 because he loves to socialize and play. So is this good or bad news? I'm still not really sure. I'm going to schedule the follow-up ultrasound for mid-October to get an idea of the healing and go from there...

... to add another twist, the local vet isn't so sure of the diagnosis and thinks something was missed. Now, I'm lead to believe: 1) Is this what it really is? 2) Is there something else wrong? 3) What other vet can check it out? 4) What care instructions do I follow? Next post, I'll talk about how it's going so far.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Diagnosis

Inferior check ligament injury. Yeah, maybe we can do something next year. I've been sucking at posting because I've been so stressed and had a lot going on, but I promise to update with my experience at New Bolton's amazing facility as soon as I can.