New post today, about the rides I had yesterday. I even got some pictures in. http://justanotherdayoutwest.com/trail-riding/ Enjoy!
Posts Tagged ‘Sierra’
I have to know if anyone else has had a less than fantastic day. Is it because it’s the Ides of March? Is it because Mercury is going Retrograde? Is it because I just have to have at least one weird/off day once in a while? Is it because it’s a Thursday, which like Arthur Dent I struggle to get the hang of?
A year ago to the date the bay colt was born. His was a rough delivery and I was very relieved when he stood and four hours later finally nursed. Meanwhile, his momma retained her placenta then developed an infection that took serious veterinary care to get under control. (Read: major drain on pocket book.)
So, today is his official First Birthday. Happy Birthday little bay boy! Actually, he is almost as big as Sierra right now.
This morning I went out to get Sierra and saw a yellow nose peeking out of the fence on the pasture next to hers.
Ok. The filly got through the fence between her pasture and the big girl’s pasture. Without a mark on her. Thankfully. While she seemed just fine with being in there with the big girls, she didn’t argue about getting out of there. When she had gotten in with Ki and Shilo, she seemed to hold her own, this didn’t look any different. I suspect in a year or two she will be the Queen ‘B’ out in the field.
Obviously, there has been an issue with the fence for the pen where the yearlings are supposed to be. Sunday the boys started walking through it. Really, it was just the bay colt. Slick was behaving himself. I no sooner put the bay colt back into his correct pasture than he was back in with the big girls. So, I moved both colts into a smaller pen that I knew was carrying a charge. I left the filly where she was figuring she wouldn’t test the fence. And I was right, for a few days. Now, she is in the small pen with the boys. Tomorrow we get to restring all the wire for their pasture. Hopefully that will fix wherever it is shorting out at.
This morning I took Sierra to see a chiropractor. What I have been doing for her doesn’t seem to be addressing her issue at the lope, so I needed another opinion. He couldn’t find anything really out of place with her. She was tight in her back, again. His suggestion is to have the vets look at her if she gets sore again. That appointment will be the 26th.
When I got back with her, about 10:30, I noticed Dixie was laying down. Dixie is the momma to Slick, Kanak, Ki and Shilo. All the other mares she hangs with were still eating. Not a good thing. I had noticed she was laying down when I pulled the filly out of their pasture and hadn’t thought a whole lot of it. The mares will snooze in the mornings some days. But, ignoring food in favor of laying down is a bad thing.
So I did a really bad job parking the trailer. Went in the house and drew up a dose of Banamine. Walked out and caught her, tapped a vein and got the drugs in. Then I put her in the one and only stall on this place. She was dehydrated at first, she seems to have drank enough water to come through that now. She’s still in the stall tonight. She seems to be comfortable, but has only pooped once since I put her in there. She does have some gut noises. I gave her a little bit of hay. I have no idea why she was dehydrated. The other mares all seem fine. They had plenty of water. It would really help if she could talk and tell me all about her belly ache.
To top off the whole day, the guy said this morning he had an earache. Tonight he asked me to look at it, to see if there was a bite or something. He has one angry red swollen ear. No bite that I can see, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. We both agree that the best course of action is to just cut the thing off. Maybe not…
Also, it’s rainy and windy here.
It must be just about Spring. Our highs have been in the 60s the last couple of days. I’ve been out doing way more, hence a lack of posts here.
Yesterday everyone (all the horses anyhow) got de-wormed. It must have been due, as I could see the dead worms being passed in the manure today. Yucky. Just, yucky.
Also yesterday, Kanak got to go to the arena where the trainer works. He was kind of an idiot with all the newness. There was a bucket full of tractor parts on the ground between where I unloaded him and where the pens are. He made a huge move as he spooked at it. He dropped way down and went to spin away, until he hit the end of the lead rope. I just looked at him, asked him if he was done, and we moved on. Once he got into his pen there, he settled right down. There was hay and a new girlfriend next door.
Today I stopped by to check on him about noon. Not that I was worried about him, but he is one of my kids. It wasn’t a special trip, I just chose to come home that way after a few errands in town. He was sacked out, oblivious to everything. A few of the other horses were crashed out too, they got up as I was pulling in. Not Kanak. He barely lifted his head. He didn’t even get up when I went to his pen. I think the excitement wore him out. My place can be a little busy at times, but there was a roping going on at the arena when I dropped him off yesterday. I have no idea how long it lasted. I’m sure he was watching the goings on intently. Plus he has all these new friends to meet. Did I mention he’s kind of a cool guy?
Today I got the all three of the yearlings brushed up a little and introduced them to the idea of working in the round pen. I had done a little bit with the colts on this a while ago, but hadn’t gotten much done with the filly. In fact, I still need to teach the filly to tie. She should be pretty easy. Her brother (Jr) got it figured out in about five minutes. Both the colts got some time learning patience. That means they got to stand tied for a while. Lets just say that both of them have a ways to go before they have patience mastered. They know better than to set back and pull, that part they figured out some time ago. There was some rearing and much pawing though. Much pawing.
Horses don’t have the sense of time we have. The older horses seem to figure out that there is such a thing as later, and if they get pulled away from their buddies they will get to see them again later. These babies seemed so relieved when I turned them loose together. I swear the boys were saying to each other: “Oh man, I thought I’d never see you again. Are you all right?” After which they both took a couple of cheap shots at each other, went for a quick romp around the pasture then settled down to munch. Normally, they tear around after each other, trying to bite each other’s face and legs and whatever else they can get at. The filly doesn’t put up with that so much, she’ll usually just leave if they start in on her. The colts were so much more polite to each other and the filly after I turned them all back out in the pasture. Amazing what a little bit of education can do for their level of respect.
Monday, I need to call the vet’s office to make appointments for them to be gelded. Is it wrong that I’m excited for this? The thought of only having one intact male horse around here is so relieving. I’ve even been having thoughts of castrating Jr. Except he is starting to look more grown up and has such a nice hip on him. Hmmm, he still gets a chance. Plus, the guy wants to see what he’s going to turn out to be before making that call.
I have managed to get a couple rides in on Sierra. There is a cow horse clinic I signed up for in May. It occurred to me last weekend that I have about two months to get the both of us in shape for it. My goal is to get her worked four to five times each week. That should allow us to be pretty well prepped for the clinic. I am hoping to get her as far as I know how to in that time, so the help I get at the clinic is new information. Not just reviewing how to get a horse to a point that I know how to do already.
Finally, I’m so excited I’ll have an extra hour of day at the end of my day. You will too. It’s not all mine. I’ll share. Daylight Savings Time starts Sunday at 2:00am. Since I almost forgot all about it, just thought I’d remind you.
Here’s a quick run-down of my education so far… High School Graduate. More credits from the Community College than would transfer to the four-year school – I changed focus multiple times from pre-vet to pre-nursing to the shortest road to some degree to math to science to psychology. Bachelor of Science in Equine Science from Colorado State University. Degree or Diploma or something for completing a one year (800 hours) program in massage therapy for people. Certified Equinology Equine Body Worker – that was an 8 day course followed by over 100 hours of externship. I’m not sharing that info to brag or to drum up pity at what my student loans are. What I’m trying to convey is the amount of time and energy I have put into learning about how the equine body works. Some of it has been very intentional and focused just on horses. Some has been focused on how everything works. And still I haven’t scratched the surface.
The most interesting thing (there’s that interesting word again) is when there seems to be specific lessons that it is time for me to learn. Who determines this and how it is decided is beyond me. I have had enough experience with these sorts of lessons that I now sit up and pay attention when I realize they are going on.
Yesterday Sierra got her shoes reset. When the shoer was working on her right front he asked me to “look at this”. That is not usually something I want to hear from him. It is almost never a good thing. Except for the one time my shoer in Fort Collins had me look at how perfect my one mare’s hind feet were shaped. Anyhow, there is an obvious ridge in her right front making a line at about the four months ago mark. He found lots of bruising and funky growth as he was trimming the foot down. Looks like there is more residual from her illness than I was thinking.
As I was round-penning her today she seemed a little freer and relaxed in the movement of her front end. Now, let me back up and confess to some issues we were having with the lope a few weeks ago. Only to the left. It just felt funky. Kind of had a catch in it. Wait did I tell you about that already? I forget. Whatever. Because of how the weather worked and what it did to the arena I wasn’t able to spend a lot of time trying to “fix” it. Thankfully. I had slowed things down with her and taken the thought process that she needed to re-build her strength more.
Some background on Sierra, she can be a bit coy about being caught. It rarely turns into a huge deal anymore, although we did have a few go rounds when she was younger. She just has a habit of being on the far side of her pen when I pull the halter off the gate post. Today she was front and center and nickering. Maybe she thought it was dinner time. She did not leave when she saw the halter though.
She also was my buddy in the round-pen, where it usually takes her a while to warm back up to me when we get to work. Overall she seems more comfortable.
Here’s what I’m thinking. She was a tiny bit sore in her feet. Mostly the right front now, because she had been bearing more weight on it through her illness. I don’t want to go so far as calling it a stress founder, but it is a similar line of thought. Where I though she needed a month or so of recovery time, she probably needed about three. Maybe more still. I did do a full body work session on her a couple of weeks ago. There were a few things that shifted around. I think I will keep going with one full session with her per week as I work to get her fit again.
Today I did notice that she is just an ever-so-teensy-tiny-bit quick to leave the ground with her right front at the trot. Thinking back, her rhythm hadn’t been completely solid. Today it was better, which almost made the slight deviation stick out more. I had written the inconsistent rhythm off as being out of shape on her part. Now I know that was not the case.
Apparently this is my year to learn about more of the ways that tiny issues in the hoof translate to larger issues in the horse. First Ki, now Sierra. Oh goody! I would just like to have one of them to the point I can get to work and maybe, possibly go to a show sometime this summer. Please.
Today I worked with Sierra again. As I was going through doing my thing with her I was making mental notes of where we are at, where I would like for us to be and what might be getting in our way. So that others might learn from what I have learned I figured I’d share. Get comfy though, this is a lengthy one.
First a bit more background on what has happened with her. Last summer she came down with Pigeon Fever. No it’s not from Pigeons, the name comes from the typical ‘Pigeon Breast’ look that develops as an abscess forms on their chest. Google it, there are some really yummy pictures out there! It is caused by a common bacteria in the soil, Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis. Typically they get a ugly lumpy puss filled spot, it breaks open, drains then heals up. Aside from the overall nastiness of draining pints of puss out of a horse, it’s not a big deal. Sierra got weird in her training, then went mildly lame, then her whole belly swelled up with edema, then she got a spot that broke open (on her left side, just behind where the cinch goes), then another and another right next to the original. Then she got some other abscesses that opened up back by her right udder, and another and another. The usual treatment consists of keeping the horse comfortable and letting the infection run it’s course. After a few months (yes months!) of dealing with this and thinking it wasn’t right, that it wasn’t just a normal case of Pigeon Fever, one of the vets I use suggested a course of antibiotics. It’s not a simple five to seven day run of penicillin or Uniprim. This was thirty days of Rifampin and Sulfa drugs twice a day. Cost was roughly $700 and they cut us a great deal. Yes, that was a deal. (BTW – Love these guys!) Sierra was an angel with her treatment. To get the right dosage of each drug she wound up getting three syringe fulls of medicine at each treatment. In other words I was cramming crap down her throat six times a day, for a month. Pretty sure none of it was cherry or peppermint flavored. Personally I would probably have been biting or kicking at the end of the first week. She took it all, very well. Other than not really wanting to be caught, she never argued about getting her meds.
The end of the drug therapy was early in November. She had lost a lot of muscle tone overall. She was particularly atrophied in her left shoulder region. In her lameness she would not extend her left front leg at all, she would bring it to neutral (straight up and down) but not place it out in front of her body. This persisted for so long she apparently lost all tone in her triceps. At one point I wondered if there had been permanent damage to the muscle. Timeline wise, she was off by mid-July, first abscesses broke mid-August, meds ran October into November. Five months of sick horsey. Poor mare. Luckily it didn’t appear to go internal, although that is a complication that can happen, similar to a case of bastard strangles. It was definitely a systemic infection. My guess is the main hangout for it was her axillary lymphocenter, just my guess though. In my brain, it would best explain the persistent lameness. There was also some residual swelling on her left side in her chest and down her pectorals. No heat, and not really edema-ish, more squishy making me think there might be a lymph drainage issue.
The theory is that the drugs and her immune system beat the infection. Although, in typing this all out I just got the weirdest deja vu feeling that I had shared this story and she got sick again. Some altered form of Murphy’s Law, that once you think you are in the clear everything goes wonky again. For now, I’m operating on the idea that the bacteria no longer poses a threat to Sierra’s health.
Figuring that even if the whole infection had been kicked that her body needed lots of recovery and recuperation time she had all of November off. I really didn’t do anything with her until mid-December. Six months off by that time. With her body pretty well beaten up by the infection.
I started her back with light round-penning and some time on the hot-walker. Then started saddling her and continuing the light work. Currently I ride her lightly. Working on going forward willingly, staying soft through her face and sides, and light lateral work. About every other ride I push for a little more, taking her up to the edge of “do I have to”. Hoping to find the balance between progressing and getting soured. Today all we did was walk and trot with a bit of extra attention on soft willing upward transitions. Although I didn’t time the ride, I might have been on her back for all of ten minutes. Including a minute or two of just standing there petting on her after I stepped up on her. She likes to have the backs of her ears scratched.
The goal with her is to earn points and/or money in competition with her and ultimately breed her, maybe someday if the horse market comes back. I would like to get her to the show pen sooner, rather than later to start proving her. Of course I would be much happier and closer to that goal had we not lost six months training and conditioning time. With that in mind, I’m gearing her more to reining than the cow horse events. There’s less to learn. She does have to be fit to show in reining, but not quite the ultra fit that is required in the cow horse. Even in my eagerness to go do something with her we won’t go show until she is ready both in training and conditioning.
Where does the body work come in to it? While she was sick, I didn’t do any massage. Systemic infections + massage = bigger mess. I did try some light touch (CranioSacral Therapy) and energy (Reiki) work with her. The CranioSacral work just didn’t feel right while the infection was still cruising through her body. Even though what I was doing wouldn’t stir up the tissues so much, I got kind of busy signal from her body. Like it was overwhelmed with what it had to deal with and couldn’t process anything else. Ok. Her body seemed to welcome the Reiki work. If nothing else it is usually comforting.
Now, I check her body every day that I work her. I also pay attention to little things. For instance, she acted flinchy if the back cinch was at all loose. Typically I have the back cinch to where there isn’t a big gap between the belly and cinch, but not snug against the belly. She seemed more comfortable if it’s really snug on her belly. Odd. I don’t remember her being that way before. When I got done working her I checked and she had some tight spots in between her ribs. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. I checked her CranioSacral Rhythm, it’s solid. She is tender in her muscles, body sore from getting back in shape. To me it’s a good sign that her belly and ribs are where she is sore and not so much in her back. It says we are working the right muscles. If maybe telling me to back off a tad. I am mindful that after a systemic illness of that nature it may be a year until she is fully back to herself. Doubtless there are many instances of scar tissue to work through along with the effects of a long term course of antibiotics. There is probably another three months of conditioning I have to do before she is mostly back to where she was.
Now I find myself using massage techniques and CranioSacral Therapy on her after every ride. To a degree, I’m not even consciously looking for things to work on. I just find myself spending time with my hands at certain places on her body, checking if any changes need to occur.
I’m toying with whether I should set aside one day a week as body work day, or keep going with work after every ride. I’m sure riders and trainers who are not body workers make due with getting their horses help maybe once a week, maybe every other week, once a month… Depending on what they can afford and what schedules allow for. I like the idea of catching things that are not quite right before they become a larger problem for her. For me. Then again, the idea of devoting one of our working days to just making sure her body is feeling good strikes me as a more thorough way to help her. Thinking it out like this, now I’m leaning towards doing both. That should cover all the bases. All I know is I would hate to be bringing her back into shape without my knowledge of body work.