Friday, February 3, 2017

It's Hard Sometimes

It's hard sometimes to remember all of the good times you had with your past horse. Spyder was so very special, and the time hops and memories that post up in photos from "this date last year" are hard to stomach sometimes. We did so much together and it's hard to think that it came to an end so quickly. I expected to have him until we were much older, well into his 20's, and hoped to hit 30's. I got invited to the hunter pace we would usually do (I've done it with Denali once since), and Spyder's photo is the cover photo for the event. Man, I do miss that big goof.

This morning, (Feb 5), I read this article which made me feel like it's OK and that it's completely  normal

Monday, January 30, 2017

August 4th Until Now - the 6th Month Mark

And so, it's been a while. I haven't been able to find the time to get on here and get to writing. Things have been hectic, but grad school is over for good! To sum life up, I was traveling a lot for work. We got a new kitchen which took up a lot of time, and we hit Canada to ski this winter. Things are busy, but good.

Mr. Miserable  wet from the rain
On the Denali front, things are good! He's calm, he's collected, and he's getting better! He's more relaxed and comfortable in my ability knowing I am not going to hurt him. We haven't had many UP episodes, but we've been taking things easy and slow so I have not pushed too hard. Dom was extremely helpful in getting us there and letting me know what I can do to get him desensitized to the small stuff he was fretting! We've been working on getting comfortable with things moving quickly around his face especially and being able to rub his body with things that were once causing him to flinch. The last flinch was with my helmet bag. He didn't like the sound so we worked until he was OK with it and he let me touch his body with it. We'll get there with most things. I just need to be patient.
Hunter pace

Shortly after getting him, we trailered to a local show and schooled in the ring with another horse. He threw his temper tantrum near the gate and was a slick, wet, sweaty mess from being worked up, but we were still getting to know each other. We did a hunter pace and he was pretty good, but he was FORWARD. He just wanted to go, but we were pretty comfortable and even cantered a bit on an open road. It was comfortable, and he wasn't taking off. He was tossing his head a bunch, but he calmed down with work. I was still unsure of what to think of him or what the future might bring. He's wasn't always fun.

We also went on a trail ride where I took him on the trailer solo with a group of random people that I met on a local trail riding group. He was so calm and collected! We mostly walked, but the trot was good! He did get a little fussy and started to fling his head, but it wasn't like the hunter pace. We all took turns being in the front and the back of the group, and he was good with being anywhere. He wasn't as forward as he was at the hunter pace (at the same park and some of the same trails), and he even went in water a little bit following the other horses! It was a great day for a ride, and it got my spirits up about him.

Solo trail ride - Thanksgiving morning
We rode over to the barn next door with a group of boarders, and he drifted towards the gate a bit, but he listened. He is understanding his leads a bit better, and he is a lot less upset when I don't give him the right signals. He did so well that we continued to ride with the group over at the barn where he's boarded, but when he had enough, he started to have some fits again (yes, going UP!). It wasn't' too bad, and we rode until he was through it. After that, I decided maybe it was ring work. Before going out to the ring on other rides,we just hit the trails. After his rides, we've gone on trails, too. He's good by himself and he seems more excited to be in the woods. Again, I feel like we're getting there! :)

Group trail ride
All in all, he's proving that he can calm down and act up a lot less. He's not very spooky, and he tolerates my mixed signals at times. He's getting better with me in the round pen and more confident when I go see him. I'm making an effort to get to the barn when I don't even ride, but I'll just go out and brush him and bring him treats in the field or bring him in for treats and brushing and put him back out. He's more worked up when I first bring him in, but after a ride or some work in the round pen, he relaxes and enjoyed being brushed. He is letting me brush his face more and brings his head down so that I can bridle him and massage his temples (which he loves). For just 6 months time, he's come a long way and I know we have an exciting and fun adventure in store for us with more persistence.
His still sign - birthday gift from sisters

Riding in the open field

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Buyer's Remorse

OK, OK, don't kill me for the buyer's remorse part. That phase is over, but it was seriously a problem for a while. While I know that no horse will ever be the same as Spyder, I was expecting a lot. I just wanted Denali to like me, and he wanted the same back. We both tried so hard in the beginning to impress each other, and it was weird, awkward, and somewhat sad. I am not sure if I wrote in the whole story of how getting him and then not getting him and then getting him again went down, but I can post back that story. Dom alludes to it here.

Tacking this horse up, he'd shake. Quivering, I would assure him that I wasn't going to hurt him. He was head shy, and I could hardly touch his ears. Like Dom mentioned (and posted lots of photos), he needed some help. He saw the vet, then a combo vet/dentist/chiro/acupuncturist and that seemed to help him out. He LOVED the chiro work, and the dental work corrected his sharp edges (and HUGE mouth ulcer from it rubbing). Poor guy, he was feeling better once he woke up from the sedation. That is when I got to pluck his hair for the DNA test!

He's just thrilled.
He stands well to get on, and he is such a treat hog. We had a lot of issues from the start, though. He would be weird around the barn, he'd rear out int he big ring, he'd rear and pull to the barn, and even jig back to the barn. When back at the barn, he'd shoulder out to his paddock. JERK. These were the reasons for the buyer's remorse comments. Something had to change or I wasn't sure this was the right choice.

I had a lesson with the BO and she got us going FORWARD instead of UP. UP turned into BACK before it was FORWARD, but now we're FORWARD and on! It took a few lessons to get it right, but the last 5 or so rides have been forward and no up. After the BO got us going forward, I decided to take a lesson with Danny. "The Danny Lesson" as I like to call it is always interesting. He's a level III ICP certified instructor, and boy are his lessons intimidating. I figured, what could be worse than what I've been dealing with and so it happened. I was not with it at all. I was just fearing he'd go up again and that would be the end of the lesson. He had his moments of up, but leg on and not letting go was the answer.

Nothing was right, though. I wasn't sitting right, my hip wasn't right, my leg wasn't right, and so we had to sort through that before I could start. Next step was his steering, moving him off my leg, and keeping him moving. That was all turn into the fence and push off and go. Turn into the fence, go. I always feel like a cowgirl when I take a lesson with him. I'm glad he decided to put me in the round pen, and we certainly were not even good enough to come out of it for the duration. Once we got going, it got OK, but leg, leg, and more leg was tiring! Next, to fix his head tossing and my awful hands. I rode with a crop horizontal to the ground to keep my thumbs up. I had to pull back until the horse would give. I thought I was going to get punched off the horse with his head, but I stuck with it for over 10 minutes until he gave. UGH, finally. I'm sure if it were anyone else, it would have been 2 minutes, but I finally got it together and got to push with leg and could soften when he'd give. It got nice, and we moved to trot. Lesson learned, I am out of shape, suck at riding, and I need help.

Good news is, Danny didn't hate him. I'm sure he didn't love him, but he would tell you if he hated him... so I think that means he likes him? He's just OK in his eyes, I assume. He's got potential? Either way, I'm not trying to be a competitive rider (we're no where near being ready for anything other than trailering to get out and see things). I'm just trying to get somewhere (forward and not up and maybe slower), and if the competition arises from his ability (because we know it's certainly not mine), then we'll take it from there.

Hopefully I can get back to this blog thing so that I can keep updates coming. He's gotten so much better a lot quicker than I thought. I'm glad things turned around. :) I was waiting to post this to upload videos of my struggles, but I will save that for another post.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A New Journey

And so a new journey begins. Finding a horse to fill the shoes of Spyder has been difficult. It's been a lot of riding, a lot of phone calls, and a lot of annoying "horse people." People that want to lie, people that just want to unload, people that expect you to bring cash and the trailer to decide right then and there, and some, but very few people that care about where their horses end up. Horse people are just plain weird, aren't they? Summer is an awful time to look for a horse, and I knew if I could be patient, more would pop up in the fall. Chris was on board for me getting a new horse and expressed that before I could even bring it up.

I went on vacation shortly after Spyder passed (Glacier, Teton, Yellowstone, and Rocky Mountain National Parks), and mustangs were on my mind! I rode one before I left, but he sold while I was gone. I was upset about it, but I knew I couldn't be so excited about the first horse I rode. We went to a mustang museum/refuge type place and saw a ton of awesome horse hair items. I took some pictures and got the name so that I could eventually get Spyder's tail turned into something awesome. I was thinking a dream catcher since I always wanted one, and they had a nice example of one there. If anyone knows of any good people to turn horse hair into art, let me know! The mustang place was super cool and followed the lineage of a herd that has been there for over 200 years. I asked her all about the BLM and adoptions, but I wish they weren't so far. I got a cool shirt and a magnet to give them some money for annoying them with all of my questions. Click here to check it out - it's in "the middle of nowhere" which was most places in Wyoming.

I went back to SRF where Spyder came from and tried a few after I got back. Of course, it was just as hot as the 95 degree day that I went to meet Spyder on. This time was different, and I was wishing Dom was there still to help me pick one out. She did a great job at matching me when she was there before. I believe I rode 3, maybe 4. The first was the 3 year old I had been eyeing up, I liked him, he was never ridden under saddle, and I hopped on. He was obviously not sure what to do, but he was so very good. I rode another after him, a mare, and she had a bit of an attitude. After that, I rode another gelding that had a prior injury, and he was too uppity for me. I liked the 3 year old, but I sat on it.

I went home, and I thought, and I knew I needed to ride some more. I rode another mare that I liked, but I knew she'd be a lot of work to bring along. I scheduled a ride out to PA to check out another that I thought would be a great fit, and wen tot visit him. He was what I was looking for, but again, I knew I had to think about it. He had trail experience, but no ring work, so I wasn't sure I was up for that, either. I rode another from the barn that would be for sale come the end of a summer lease, and she was nice, too (rode her when one fell through to feel better that day). I just kept going back to thinking gelding, though. I did find a gelding that I went to see with the BO, but I passed on him so she could scoop him up because I thought he'd be better as a lesson horse. Thinking back, I think I rode others? I know I was over 10, but it feels like an eternity ago because I was trying so hard and talking to anyone and everyone that had something for sale. I had to look beyond a few because of dealers or bad connections. There is nothing in south jersey!

Anyways, the one that fell through came back around, and I had to tell myself that if it was meant to be, it would happen. It happened, and it's getting easier to stomach the idea of it all. I think that we're both trying so hard to please each other because we're both into getting the other to like us. He needs to settle, and I need to accept that it's not going to be the same. He's super cute, super friendly, and super willing to please. Your guess is as good as mine on what he is, and he's around 6 years old. I'll tell you his background in another post, but...

Meet Denali! :)

August 4th - his first day at the barn

Riding around the barn

His first bath at the barn

Saturday, June 11, 2016


If anyone read my last post, you would know that Spyder had a case of cellulitis that was easily resolved using SMZ's and bute to kick it in the butt. Memorial Day (Monday, June 30th) is when he was a bit off and had a little bit of a temperature (but it was HOT and humid). I went to take a lesson, and he was a little stocked up. It was hot and he was in the shed, so I thought nothing of it. He was sound to walk so I got on, but he was a bit lame when trying to trot for me. It wasn't bad, but I was worried about him so we got in touch with the vet. I hopped off and I took a lesson on another horse after giving him some meds so he could feel better. I went on a work trip, so the trainer/barn owner helped me with his medication. He was a worse the next day, even worse the next when I saw him (much like a fire hose - no definition in the joints). I hosed him top to bottom, and he was enjoying the hose to cool off and relieve some of the inflammation.

The vet had come out and giving him an injection of stronger antibiotics to kick it, as well. His legs were great by the weekend. I wasn't sure how long to continue his meds so I contacted the vet, and 5 days was perfect for him. He was free from needing any more and looking great by Saturday, but he was quite the baby with them. After the meds, he wouldn't eat anything. I know bute is bitter, but come on, Spyder, you love food! After I gave him them, I would graze him and it would take him a while to eat again. He always makes it totally obvious that he doesn't want to be bothered with medicine. It was a fun few days of catching him by bringing him carrots that he was only interested in when other horses would eat them first. He'd hear them munching and I could grab his halter. I brought either a grain bucket or a carrot, and I got him each day - getting him to take any medication by day 2 is always an adventure because he was smart. He knew what you were doing, and he wanted no part of it.

Bday meds face - thrilled.
When I gave him the last dose of meds on Saturday (his 9th birthday - HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SPYDER). I took the picture below with him, and he put his face in the corner of the stall because he didn't want anything to do with medicine. He wouldn't even eat a carrot, and I felt guilty that it seemed he hated his birthday when I wanted to make it special for him. He seemed to be really hot, though. Earlier in the day, I was at a bridal shower, and it was so insanely humid that you would sweat just sitting there so I don't blame him. I believe I found him in the run in shed before I got him in the stall, and I could see he still had some of his winter coat. He didn't shed out like I was used to seeing, so I got the hose on him to cool him off. I was glad that he was in the shed, and even happier to know that since the "lead" of the herd left, he was able to take back over and have his way with what he wanted in the paddock. He was playing with the hose and making me put it on his face like he loves. He always tries to drink from it and splashed everyone around. He really enjoyed that bath to cool off and I got a lot of additional hair off of him in preparation for more heat to come.

The days are quite the blur with everything I've had going on (3 weeks left of grad school), but I think it was Sunday (now June 5th) that I got a call he wasn't eating his grain. There are a mother and daughter that feed, and the daughter noticed he was breathing heavy (pony clubber and 4-h'er in the club I help lead). I got a call when I was out food shopping from the barn owner, but she advised me that her daughter was out there mowing and to call her because she wasn't home. Again, Spyder, eat your food. The meds are over! I knew it was hot, but there was a lot of rain coming so I was glad it would cool him off. I barn owner let me know that she was out there mowing around 5 or so and he was looking fine in the field. I was relieved to hear that, and with the rain on the way was glad he could cool off in the shed.

His bday cold shoulder.
Monday, I went to check on him after work because I was worried about him not eating. I wanted to make sure there was no grain in his bucket, but I did see a few crumbs left over which wasn't like him. I wasn't told that he didn't eat, and when the feeder was asked, he said that he did eat which made me happy. I pulled him out of the field where he was hiding in the shed. He didn't run so I knew he was glad the medicine was over. He came in, and he wouldn't really do much. He didn't want to eat carrots, he didn't really want grain, and so I hosed him. He was his playful self in the water, and he was so thrilled that I bathed him. I grabbed his temp to make sure he was good, and I updated the vet with some information. His temp was good, so I was worried he was colicing. I took it again, and someone else helped me (which it turns out I didn't need, but he just stood in the round pen where I put him). Unlike the 3 people it usually takes to get the temp, he was compliant, so I knew something was off. He was picking at the grass around the round pen, though. That made me happy.

I brought him water, and he drank the bucket I lifted to his face. The same mother and daughter came to feed, and I already had him out trying to graze him a bit. He was next to the bathing area hanging out with his paddock mate while he got a bath, he was jealous about the hose on him so I grabbed the hose from her in the middle of the bath and put some water on Spyder to cool him down. He was eating grass (being picky, but he was), and he was dragging me around like he usually does. They came with his grain to feed when I had him out, and he was eating his grain slowly from the bucket. The mother that fed was worried because he wasn't devouring it like he usually did, and she said that he would keep eating, even with colic, which is true. At this point, I was a bit worried. Spyder didn't want to really walk any where quickly, but he was happy to go back in the field with his buddies. I put him back out because he seemed upset that it was feeding time, and he didn't get to go snip out the buckets from the other horses like he was used to. I stayed to watch him walk past the other horses and right into the run in. I was upset that he didn't drink any water, but I was happy that had a lot of grass. I stayed until 9pm or so and didn't eat dinner because I was so worried about him, he looked like he was walking a bit stiff which worried me that the cellulitis wasn't completely done.

I woke up early on Tuesday to get there. I opened my eyes at 5am, and I popper right out of bed to get to the farm to check on him. I could hear him breathing heavy like he has been before I got there. I pet him, and he didn't want to walk. I tried to pull him out of there, but he didn't move all but a couple steps. At this point, I grabbed him some water (because I don't know if he would have walked to get some) and a thermometer to get his temp. He was already shoving himself back in the corner, he didn't move so I could get his temp which was good. Still, no temp. I didn't believe it, so I took it again. He was still showing no temp. I tried to get him to walk again, but he didn't want to, and he didn't want water. Now, I was REALLY worried. I had already texted the vet with no answer, and so I called the emergency line. By now, the person that feeds most morning was there, and he always comes to him. None of the horses would come to him because they were all in the run in. He banged on the gate, and the 2 that were out came, but Spyder was behind. The vet didn't answer, so I texted the barn owner who got ahold of her. She said it'd be about an hour before she could get there, but she called me to say sorry and that I was next, and she was hurrying. I had to leave for work because I had a demonstration so I was upset I couldn't be there, but happy she was on her way. I didn't let the vet know that, though.

I brought him in with the help of the feeder, and it was awful. He couldn't really move, he was so stiff. He didn't want to move. He tried his best, while the feeder led him, and I pushed his sides. Clicking and saying "walk, walk, cluck cluck, walk" the whole way. Spyder was still breathing heavy, but he made it. He went to his stall. I got him water, and I actually filled two buckets so they wouldn't have to change it for me. He just stayed in the corner like he did on his birthday, but I went in and gave him carrots. He ate them, but he was chewing slow. He wouldn't touch his grain. I was so upset, but I knew the vet was on her way. The barn owner was coming with a fan and he would get banamine soon. I wasn't sure what the stiffness was, but I was thinking laminitis. Is this what the cellulitis turned in to? Was he colicing? I was panicked. He has some nasal discharge and was sneezing, so maybe he was getting something else?

The vet called me from the barn asking where I was. She was worried and let me know that she was thinking it was in his chest. If he had a tumor or something, it would have released protein which would have made his legs swell from the change. It would have also given him the pain that he was experiencing to walk. She told me that he needed to get to a vet hospital and that she wanted to see an ultrasound of his chest. I let her know that that was fine, and she told me that the barn owner was already getting the trailer to get him up there (so I didn't drive 30 minutes home and 30 mins back after hooking up the trailer). I was so thankful that she could arrange for that for me to get him up to Mid-Atlantic which is a two-hour drive. They had the facilities to get the ultrasound done and find out what it was. I spoke with the owner when she was on her way and thanked her because I didn't want to let my job down. I wanted to be there, but I had a presentation. I couldn't focus. I let the sales rep know that I had an emergency, and he sped through the demo for me. I was closing up what I had to get done (Tuesday, June 7th at this point). I knew I had to travel for work later in the week so I wanted to work as much as I could in case I needed to get out of traveling. I powered through it all, and I called the hospital a few times for updates. First, they said that the Doctor would call, he didn't. The barn owner wanted an update since she was waiting for him. They wouldn't tell her anything. I called again, they said he was with him and that he'd call. He didn't. I called AGAIN and they said he would call in just 1 minute because she just saw him, and he said he would, and he didn't. He got there around 12:30-1 so I wasn't sure what was going on by 2.

At this point, I got in my car and drove. I told work I had to go because I needed answers. I went home, I contacted the barn owner and told her that she didn't have to stay because they didn't tell me anything. I was going to grab my trailer and try to keep calling them on my way. I didn't know what to do, I couldn't think. I texted Dom, and I asked her if she lived near the hospital, because I thought she did. She let me know she was 10 minutes away and that she could meet me there after work. She was out at 4, and that was earlier than I could get there, so I appreciated that. She raced there after work, and by then, the doctor told me a little. I wasn't even home to change or grab the trailer, I was almost there, but I made a wrong turn. I ended up in a parking lot at a store near our house, and it was this point that I knew I was losing it. I couldn't even drive to my own house - what was wrong with me? I hung up from the barn owner to take the vet call and he gave me a play by play of what happened. I told Dom I'd call her when I knew more. I spoke to him in the parking lot and he gave me a play by play, so very calmly that it calmed me down.

He gave me the chain of events. Spyder  got there in the trailer, and he didn't look so great. They said he wasn't able to walk off so they blocked his legs. He walked himself into the exam room at this point, but he collapsed and they couldn't get him up. They let me know he was really bad and they were trying right now to get him up so they could get him into a stall. The did some tests, but they only knew it was pain, possibly kidneys, and a calcium issue. I was heartbroken. I called the barn owner to update her as I drove home to get changed. I told her the update, and she said, "Jess, he was really bad. He was trembling, and they couldn't even get him to walk off the trailer without shots in all of his legs." I was happy that she didn't upset me at work because she knew I had a presentation, and I can't thank her enough for saving me from worrying hours sooner. I called Dom to rely that to her, and let her know I was 2 hours out, letting the dog out to pee, and changing. I got home, put the dog out, and went to change. I took off my dress pants and I stood in the closet crying. I was staring at all of my pants/bottoms. Jeans, sweatpants, yoga pants, running pants, leggins. I was literally staring at them - why couldn't I put them on? I was a wreck. I gave Dom play by play updates where I was. She called me when she was on her way. She was getting there 30 minutes of so before me.

On the highway, she called me. I had to give them permission to tell her anything and let them know she could see him. She told me she was going to see him, and she texted me photos of him standing in a stall. I was so relieved that he was up. I was also upset that the Doctor didn't update me. I was even more happy to know that Dom knew the doctor that was working on him. She knew him since she was 12 or so and was hoping to see him before I got there. She thinks that they probably just got him up and in a stall when she got there, and she let me know he was looking for food. This was a huge relief considering they told me it was so bad that I shouldn't even go there because he was on the floor and not getting up. Dom came to the front when i pulled up and showed me where the office was when I got him. They wouldn't let me past them until I confirmed by address (which they did on the phone when I called the first time prior to telling me anything) and made me fill out a credit card slip. I didn't even read the form I signed and had no idea about costs or what they would keep doing or not doing because I didn't consent to anything that I knew of. I realized when I left that night that I didn't even sign the form.

I went back to the stall, I looked at him, and I was heartbroken. He was on fluids to flush his kidneys and calcium because his levels were so low. He has icepacks on all 4 of his legs, so I new it was laminitis. The doctor mentioned that when I was on the phone with him, but I didn't even really listen other than hearing he was on the ground. Dom even asked me the Doctor's name prior to going and I said that I have no idea. I listened past that to get the update. It was hard to see him, he was showing a lot of weight loss. He was still breathing pretty heavy, but he was also heavily sedated. He did perk his ears when he saw me, and he was showing an interest in water. Since he was on the fluids, he was peeing a lot, and it seemed to be coming out well. It was clear, and I was happy to see him pee. It seemed like he was trying to pee on Monday and Tuesday when he was at the farm because he was dropped. I did tell the local vet that he was not holding himself up which was unusual for him - which is why I was SO very happy to see him pee. Everyone there seemed happy because it was clear, too. Dom knew two of the people that worked there, and Mike was coming to bring her some clothes since she came from the clinic. I didn't care that Dom thought she smelled (she didn't), she gave me a big hug, knew the doctor, and knew employees. She kept me calm and even showed the people there a photo of what he looked like before looking like this. It was sad to see him, but he still wanted to eat and was munching on some hay.

He was shifting his weight a lot, but he could move to get the hay. He could have comfort on the bedding they had for him, and I had comfort knowing he was at least somewhat comfortable. It was just hard to see him sedated and losing weight. The doctor spoke to me and said that he had some real concerns. He was unsure how his calcium levels were so low if his kidneys were so bad. He mentioned kidney disease and said that the ultrasound showed some abnormalities on them. He didn't seem to say much about a prognosis, but he was doing his best with the information he had to figure it out. They ran another blood test on him and said they would get me the results before I left. We went up front and hung out, but we never heard anything. We went back into the barn and saw Spyder again, he got some new ice on his feet, and we talked with a few of the other horse owners we saw while checking out the other horses. I was so happy that he was here, Dom was close, and that she knew those that could keep me updated. I went back to Dom's, we ordered dinner, and we fed her two boys, checked out Mike's awesome woodshop, and relaxed. It was so nice of them to have me over, and I was so happy I got to meet Mike, see the puppies, and try to forget about the stress. Their place will do that to you... it's beautiful.

I left knowing that I had real support here, they both felt for me and offered their support and caring. Dom was already reading up on kidney issues so that she could understand what may have caused this. I drove home, and I was hopeful that I would get better news the next day. I was able to sleep knowing that he seemed comfortable and was eating (but I spent so much tears the way there and back still). I went to work on Tuesday, and I let them know I was waiting on the vet to call with an update because they ran the blood work. The vet from the hospital called and said that his kidney levels were better, but he was still in so much pain. He didn't say a whole lot, but he did ask if I was visiting. It wasn't until I hung up that I realized maybe he wanted to tell me something in person. He mentioned severe kidney issues, and I straight up asked what the prognosis would be. He said best case, a comfortable pasture pet, but he didn't know if was fit to be comfortable with both the kidney disease and laminitis. He said kidney issues are not good for horses. In not wanting to hear that, I asked if he could be ridden again - yes, I sounded like a crazy person, but I needed to hear it in some other term. He said that he could not see him being ridden or used as he was before, could only hope to ease his pain (and said again that he was on a lot of it and had a bad night), and it would be a long road to recovery, if he would even recover and that he could not see him getting in a trailer any time soon. At this point, I didn't know what to think. I got off the phone, and I knew what it meant. It just wasn't processing.

At this point, I let Dom know that I was headed back up there. I let the standardbred facility where I adopted him from know what was going on, and the founder said to call her. I spoke to her, and she let me know that it wouldn't be easy, and I gave her the whole story of how this was simple cellulitis on the Monday before, and now Wednesday, a week and a half later, it's this. She was comforting in letting me know that I did everything I could have done and confirmed what I already knew, but didn't yet admit. I spoke with work, and I was on my way out. I called the local vet and left a message for her to call me back. I didn't hear back so I texted her. I again went home to change, and I let the dog out. I was sobbing. Literally sobbing. The dog was so upset and scared that he curled his tail under and ran away from me. I let him out back, and he was afraid to come back in. He was just as upset as I was that life was like this for me. I headed out and realized I was forgetting carrots so I stopped at a store on the way up to buy a bag. I knew it would be Spyder's last bag. He loved them so I went in to the grocery store and took a deep breath. I thought I was OK, but I cried in line, during checkout, and the whole way to the hospital.

I was patiently waiting for the local vet to call when I saw I got a voicemail from her. I was upset my phone didn't ring, but she instructed me to call her right back. She was also so helpful in this process and left me a very long message the night before letting me know that she was there for me and Spyder was lucky to have me to get him to the hospital as soon as he did. Others would not have given him a shot, and she comforted me knowing that I was giving him just that. I pulled over before I called her back because I knew what she would say. I let her know that whatever she said, I knew what I had to do. She was so very happy that I was willing to listen, and let me know that she spoke with the vet at the hospital. He was very concerned and she let me know that the medication he was on was serious stuff. He wasn't going to be much of a horse without prolonged medication, and he couldn't be on many drugs because of the kidney issue. She explained it to me using smaller animals as the example. You could take a dog or cat to the vet to get fluids in them to keep them going, but a horse wasn't so easy. The vet explained his levels to her, and they were both surprised he made it to the hospital alive. She explained to me that he was an incredible animal. He taught her so much and she thanked me for giving her the opportunity to work with him. She let me know that he wasn't easy and he always had her researching things because he was so different than other cases for anything he had going on. She let me know that he was so very strong and he hid what he had all along. She mentioned that the other doctor asked her what he should do - as far as continuing to try to help him or to take the pain away. She let him know that he knew the answer to that and he thanked her.

I cried like a baby to the vet. Hearing that made it more real. I knew what would be in his best interest leaving work, but I knew that I needed to hear it from her to come to terms with everything. I got back on the road and got to the hospital. On the way, I let Dom know what was going to happen, and she met me there. I got there before her, and the office was closed. No one in the office knew what was going on, but I let them know that I was there to be with Spyder when he was freed from his pain. Since they didn't know what was going on, they made some phone calls, did some paging, and told me to visit Spyder. I went back to his stall and advised Dom to meet me there because they said she could go right back. I walked to his stall, and I saw him on so many more bags of various things than before. He was visibly skinnier, having a hard time breathing, and shifting his weight. He didn't perk up too much to see me, but I think the drugs made him unable to do much. He was tied to the window so he didn't drop his head, and he was not eating his hay which was at his face. I didn't even open the stall. I stared at him. He stared at me, sad, depressed, hurting, and unknowing to the challenges we were both facing. I walked past his stall without going in and saw Dom at the end of the barn with Mike. I instantly walked towards her and she greeting me with a hug. I was crying, it was awful. This was it.

We both walked to the stall, and Dom's strength helped me get in there with the carrots I got him on the way. He was happier to be pet by both of us, and we both knew that he was worse than the night before. He was on DMSO and a few other things, and he was totally out of it. He grabbed the carrots I gave him, but he could hardly chew them. It was heartbreaking. It was not the Spyder I remember and it's not the Spyder I wanted to see. I wanted to see him better. I wanted to do everything I could to make it right. I wanted to do something, and there was nothing I could do. I was hopeless. I needed to ease his pain. I went back to the office to try to take my mind off of the horrible condition I saw my best friend in. I asked the girl at the desk when the doctor was going to call me, because she said that he would when he got somewhere (he was out). She advised him that I needed to speak to someone because I pressed the situation. The doctor finally called. I answered, and he asked me if I spoke with the local vet. I told him that I did, and I knew what I had to do. He let me know that Spyder had a bad night and that the medicine he was on was very serious. It was only keeping him comfortable, but he was feeling the pain. I knew, I could see it. He advised me that he was out and asked what my plans were. I told him I had a flight to catch for work, and that I didn't want to see him like this. He advised me that I spend time with him while he sorted it out, but I told him that I needed someone to be there sooner rather than later because it was hard to spend time with a horse that I no longer knew. He was raising his head up due to pain and his muscles were flinching. He was hunching his back and dribbling urine on himself. This wasn't Spyder. Spyder was healthy, happy, young, full of life. happy to see me, and always eating. He told me that he would find someone and make the calls. I cried talking to the vet, and Dom was so nice to hug me and keep strong for me. I felt so weak.

They came up to tell me that they were getting everything ready and advised me that it would be better if I wasn't there for it. They explained that it's not really safe to be there, and the doctor arranged for everything to happen in the stall. It had to be there, as Spyder couldn't walk out of it. I went back out there with Dom and Mike to say goodbye. I brought the carrots with me, and he looked better than he did from the last trip to the stall. His ears went up, he looked better, and he looked more comfortable. He ate a few more carrots that we fed both fed him, and he was so happy that we were there, petting him, rubbing his neck, I pet his face and I rubbed under his head like he loved. He usually put his head down when I did that, but he couldn't since he was tied. I was happy knowing that he was happy and that this is what he'd remember. He'd remember the people that cared for him, the people that taught him things, the people that gave him a good home and loved him. He wouldn't remember this pain in a short while. They switched his medicine over to a sedative and I didn't look back on my way out, I couldn't. I was asked if I would like his tail, and I smiled and said that it was something I couldn't go without. His tail was perfect, he was perfect. Everyone said how great his tail was, and I knew how great he was. I headed back up to the office until they came to get me.

I went back to his stall when they got me. I could see that he was at peace. He looked like the Spyder that I knew, resting and sunbathing on a nice day in the field. He looked happy. He looked calm. He looked like he was no longer in pain, and I wish I could feel the same way. I looked to Dom and I even said, "He looks better here and now, just like this. This is a much better way to see him than how he was." I could never imagine in a million years that I would have to say goodbye so soon. The person that Dom knew that worked there let me know that I did the right thing as she cried right next to me. She let me know that she heard he had a bad night and told me about another horse with a similar situation that was in pain for a while and was put down. She let me know that she was so sorry and that there was nothing I could have done to change it. She was so hurt, and she handed me his beautifully braided tail along with his halter. She and the other person that were there let me know that he went down easy. He was no longer fighting this disease that he hid so well. I am so glad that we got to enjoy every moment together until the very end. I pet him to let him know I was still there. I didn't want to leave him. I wish I could have been there for him more, and I wish it were different. I wish there were something else I could have done.

He was such a great horse. He was always there for me, through homes, a wedding, grad school, hunter paces, shows, jumps in the ring, cantering on the track, breaking my finger because deer are scary, spooking at stumps, rearing in the field, ribbons, smiles, blood, tears, happiness, sadness, hard work, fun, frustration, defeat, lessons, and so much more. He was a once in a life time horse that taught me so much about life. He taught me love, dedication, and persistence. He taught me that being strong on the outside didn't mean that you were always OK on the inside. You should always be appreciate and accepting of others, even with their issues and attitude because you never know what internal battle they are fighting. You never know how long you will get with anyone or anything in your life and you should appreciate every minute you have because you will never know when it will be taken away from you. Life isn't fair, but it happens. It happens to change you and to make you realize that you are stronger than you think. You can do more than what you could ever imagine and you can care for a living creature so much that you would rather anything else in the world to take that pain away.
Day of our last full ride, May 25th, 2016.

I will always remember the memories I had with Spyder. He gave me his all. He was so strong and never showed any signs of weakness. He was a warrior, and I hope that this experience makes me 1/100 of the warrior he was. I could not thank Dom enough for taking time out of her days to be there for me and to keep me from crying. She is the person that brought Spyder to me, and I am so glad that she was there for me until the end. It was an honor and relief to have her there with me - thank you for being so strong. I cannot thank my husband enough for sticking through all of this with me and comforting me even though it seemed impossible. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't have even given Spyder the chance. I would have given up way before I should have. He was always a challenging animal and Dom showed me his full potential. Chris convinced me that his check ligament injury was only a small setback from our huge pool of potential and told me that the hard would would pay off in the end. He was always supportive in my lessons, my events, my trailer, tack purchases, etc. Having Spyder was truly the greatest joy of so many days that I spent at the barn. I have to thank the barn owners for trailering him up there, always helping when the vet would call, and helping me out along the way.

Both the local vet and Mid-Atlantic were so comforting and did everything they could to keep Spyder comfortable. The farrier even reached out to see what he could do and wondered if he could find out the rotation of the bone to potentially work on his feet and make him better. SRF's founder was comforting and even followed up today to let me know that she spoke with the vet at the hospital (her husband is a vet and knows the vet that worked with Spyder). She comforted me in letting me know that it wasn't something poisonous. It was something that  he hid from us and let me know that I did the right thing for him. The vet showed her where he got off the trailer and where he had to walk and let her know that he couldn't do it. It wasn't in him, he was so strong and he did everything he could to please me until the very end.

I am not sure that's everything as I wrote this in a few different sessions. I probably forgot a lot, but I wanted to get it all out so that I could share my story. As much as I don't want to remember it, I know that I will look back and see what it taught me, just as my hard times trying to figure him out did. Don't ever feel like you have failed because that pain is the worst of all. I know that I did all that I could, but I feel like I still failed. I feel like I am so weak. I feel like I could have done more, and I wish I could have him back. He was my world, and he will never be forgotten.

I am sorry (if you could get this far) if I have made you cry. I just thought it would be easiest to share what I am so that I can find some closure and ease the emotions. As I sit here with a wet keyboard, I'm not sure that's what I did for myself, but I can at least recall my emotions and remember his story. I started it from the beginning, and I will end it with his memory. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. I realize the support system that I have is so great, and the team Spyder had behind him was incredible.

To my Spyder, "the devil", I love you. Rest easy, you are free. 6.7.16.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


With grad school coming to an end, I've been excited to get back to riding. Little by little, we've been doing more jumping and more cantering. Spyder's attitude has been so much better so we've been using that to get more accomplished. He's finally shedding and looking a lot better. His prior front right injury has been wonderful. There has been no heat or swelling even with all of the cantering we've been able to do. FINALLY, we've been able to canter all around the big field. He's quiet and more willing than even before which has been nice...

After a ride, pondering his torture. :)
...AND THEN... Cellulitis. I went to take a lesson, and I assumed he was stocked up from standing in the shed due to rain overnight. He was sound in the field, picked up his feet nicely, and walked out to the ring just fine. Once we warmed up, the trot was awful. It was more a running walk than anything, so we went back to the barn. He had a fever so my trainer suggested he get bute and SMZ's. He got both and went in a stall per the vet to make sure the infection didn't spread, if that was in fact the issue. The vet came out to check on him (yesterday) after I saw he got a bit more swollen the night before. Two doses of bute and SMZ's and an injected boost of other antibiotics, he appeared more sound at the trot. I hosed his legs and felt some heat, but we're all confused as to why it was both legs. Usually, it's just one, but he didn't want to put his right rear leg down the night before so it was possibly causing the other to swell. His left rear had the heat the next day, though. Strange. The vet even made a joke about his legs because I mentioned it's always something. It's "ring around the rosie" with injuries on the legs as she put it. She'll be back to do more injections today and tomorrow and will be getting me steroids to bring the legs back to normal (hopefully). He'll be back in the field today (and I'm sure he'll be much happier as he made noise and called to each person that came in the barn to remind them that he needed to go back out.. haha), but I'm in Georgia for work so I am having the barn owner check on him. Let's hope it's not a recurring issue because we've got to keep moving forward... it's been so nice. :) Can't wait to see how it looks tomorrow morning.

Let's hope he heals up soon so I can get off the farm and get back to riding. Three weeks of grad school left (2 papers, 2 exams, 3 discussion posts), and I'm free for good. Spyder will be happy he'll get more time off in June than I would like because we're going to Yellowstone and Glacier National Park for 11 days. I can't wait to get some dates on the schedule for clinics and trailering to whatever events to get some more experience under his belt. I need to make some sort of goal or set up an event so that I work towards it. Not having one, riding can be pretty boring. I hope that we can hit a few cross country jumps by the end of the summer, too. His jump is coming along nicely, but for now, we just need sound and clean legs. I do need to upload pics and videos that I have so that all of the progress can be seen. It's been great.

Until next time...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

2016 "Show"

I had a lesson Saturday. It was flat work and lots and lots of circles to get Spyder moving off of my leg. Since we skipped jumping (he behaved),it was just 30 minutes. I worked on his canter to trot transitions in a circle in hopes of working on some dressage tests sooner rather than later. I couldn't decide if I wanted to do the open 4-h show the next day until the next day, but he was so good, I was really considering it.

Sunday, I woke up late, but I still got my butt and trailer to the barn to get Spyder out for a bit. I thought about doing some of the walk/trot classes, but instead, we just schooled. He was quite himself in the beginning, squirming and having his way with where he wanted to go, so I hopped off and got the crop. With a crop in hand, he threw one cow kick out but continued on as he was told. We even worked on some cantering at the fairgrounds (because usually he tried to pace when he's nervous). He held his canter and was calm as a clam. Good horse.

When I got home, I usually pull the truck and trailer around for my husband to park it, but this time, I decided it was worth a shot to back up for the first time. I have the basic concept down from years of going out on the boat and figured it was about time. Well, I did better than expected, and I backed the trailer all the way down the driveway without having to pull up and start over. I did all of this without hitting the grass, too! It's pretty straight! I love this little trailer! :)