Friday, April 2, 2010

Some Bunny Is Saying Goodbye

Funny how fallin' feels like flyin'...... for a little while.

~Crazy Heart Jeff Bridges/Colin Farrell

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post.

Pony Girl Rides Again is going on an indefinite hiatus.

It takes time and energy for me to blog. I work hard at it. I'm a bit of a perfectionist. Right now, I have new projects and things going on in my life that I need to focus on. Sometimes I feel like this laptop sucks the energy and hours right out of me. I intend to log on for a few minutes and before I know it, an hour or two flies by. I've already slowed down my posts to a couple of times a week. But I am still spending too much time online.

I may be back someday. Or now and then. Maybe. Never say never. I don't want to commit either way. I want to see how I feel after a significant break. I need to find some balance.

I have truly enjoyed this journey with all of you. I appreciate those of you that have taken the time to comment and say hello, share advice on questions I had about my horse, commiserate with me on a particular issue, or sent me emails and shared your stories with me. Many of you have been part of my blogging world since the very beginning- ironically, almost two years ago to the day. I'll never forget that feeling, of hitting "publish post" and sending my thoughts out into the world for the first time. Wondering if someone would ever care to read about what I was doing or had to say.


This is harder than I thought. This blog is my baby and has been a major focus in my life since I started it. I am keeping my photography site and will continue to add photos there.

Pony Girl is riding again.....only this time, it's off into the sunset.

Peace, love, blessings, and happy trails, everyone!!

p.s. Happy Easter! My childhood plush bunny "Bundles" is lovingly featured in this post.

~pony girl

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cats: The Photo-ical

A few weeks ago, the Pioneer Woman had one of her Flickr photography assignments over at her site- on cats. I was excited about this and although I know many, I fell short of finding a cat to photograph that particular week!

However, I had a new cat-sitting gig last weekend for a high-school friend. Her three cats were adorable and very photogenic!

So here is my photo assignment on cats. Better late than never.

The mama cat.

Her son (Morris's body double?)

Her daughter (warning- totally precious kitty eyes ahead!)

Here is the Morganator again. This is one of my favorite shots of Morgan. Or of a cat. Or of any photo I've ever taken, for that matter! I love the expression on her face as she is watching a dog walk across the lawn, the coloring, and the bokeh (background blur.) And the peek of her little curled tail in the background!

A few minutes later, I found her sprawled out like this.

Ah, the life of a feline!

I even climbed onto the log and faced her with my camera, praying she didn't get up and walk towards me (which she often does.) I even told her to "stay." (Not sure why I didn't say whoa?)

I decided to focus on my focus. Depth of field? Really, I am such a rookie! I need to do some reading up on focusing. First, let's see if we can just get those cute little paws, and blur out the rest of her.

Oops. I blurred the paws!

That look on her face? It's like really girl, you're killin' my chillin' time here!

Let's try again.

There they are! Her little white booties!

Goodness- that stay command failed miserably- before long Miss Morgan just had to come over for a visit!

Do you think before too long I may be getting a letter in the mail from Morgan's agent, demanding photo royalties?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

It's Baaacccckkkkkk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I got My Boy out of his pasture on Saturday. As I was leading him through the lawn to the grooming area, he keep shaking his head in irritation. I figured it was bugs since it was a warm, sunny day and they were swarming.

I tied him and started grooming and he started rubbing the right side of his head on the rails like he was really itchy. I walked around to his off-side to see if there was something else bugging him and there it was.

{caution- semi-gory picture ahead!}

In all it's bumpy glory.

The sarcoid is back.

Ugh. Yep, my sentiments exactly, My Boy!

Are you kidding me? I thought for sure we'd fought it and that it was a goner forever. It even left a dry, flaky scar and I hadn't seen any sign of the sarcoid since last summer. In fact, I was just looking at this scar last weekend while brushing his face, it was flaking a little as he is shedding. Maybe I jinxed it.

My Boy's starting setting a new trend- a forhawk (forelock/Mohawk.) Obviously I need to decide if I'm going to clip this missed bit of bridle path or hope it grows out long!

This one is a bit higher than the last one (you can see in the gory picture, the lower part that is kind of gray is where the one from last year was.) He has been rubbing the sarcoid, causing it to bleed a bit. The white stuff on it is actually a little aloe vera cream I rubbed into the outer edges to help it not itch.

I went ahead and treated it with the Xxterra I had from last summer, since it had already changed quite a bit in a week. If it's a faux sarcoid, the Xxterra won't do any harm, it doesn't effect normal skin. I called the vet and left her a message, we need to schedule spring shots so I will talk to her more about it then.

I know, I didn't want it to come back either, Pony Girl!

My Boy's new joint supplement is in a flax seed base, which is what the vet recommended to feed along with the Xxterra treatment (or canola oil.) The omega-fatty acids somehow work with the topical treatment to jump-start the horse's immune system to fight off the sarcoid.

I'm lucky that My Boy is a good trooper about letting me mess with and medicate this sarcoid. I'm going to sweeten him up after each treatment with a lot of treats and carrots, to make the experience as positive as possible because as I remember- the sarcoid gets pretty nasty as it sloughs off!

The only bright spot of happiness of the weekend is that I don't think I am imagining it- he does seem to be moving a bit better! He is still not sound and certainly not the horse he was last summer, but, I can notice a difference from a month ago!

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Mustang Kitty?

My farrier moved up my appointment to 9:30 a.m. last Saturday. I got to the Painted Creek at 8:30. My Boy was just being fed his breakfast, so I groomed him while he ate his hay so he didn't have to stand for trimming on an empty tummy. Do I spoil my horse? Don't answer that.

It was hard to believe the temps would rise to the mid-60's later that day. I was in a scarf and down jacket at that hour of the morning!

As I was grooming, I noticed Morgan, Paint Girl's resident mouser kitty, walking towards My Boy's pasture. She moseyed along the fence towards me for a visit, but quickly realized she wouldn't be able to get to me through the wire.

She turned around and went right through the panel gate! What a good little problem solver. Not wanting to get her princess kitty toes muddy she stayed as close to the fence as she could. Morgan has been particularly friendly this spring, even trotting into the round pen for a visit a few weeks ago while I was longing My Boy! Mercy!

I got out my point and shoot and snapped a few pictures.

She rubbed on my legs and hung out with me for a while. She tried to visit with My Boy, too. Sometimes she crouches and looks at his back, like she's about to make a leap. She never has.....yet.

I know she'd like it up there. It's wide and warm and fuzzy!

Then Morgan did something really wacky- she walked under his belly!

It's not the first time she has done that. But what she did next? Oh goodness, that really pushed the limit. She headed back towards me, choosing the path right behind My Boy's hind legs! I was a little freaked- but also too afraid to make a move in case it startled My Boy, who, by the way, didn't flinch an inch as she did this. Good boy!

That white stuff on the ground that she is walking through is horsey hair not snow- MB is really shedding right now!

Silly kitty! By this time I'd had enough of these death-defying feline shenanigans. I picked her up and set her over the fence. Feeling dissed, she wandered up the fence line, but perked up when she saw the remainder of My Boy's breakfast on the ground. She promptly climbed aboard and settled in for a little nap in the early morning sun.

Morgan spends a lot of time in the hay shed, sleeping on bales in the upper loft. Maybe Morgan was a horse in her former life? She certainly loves hay- and wants to hang with the equines. She reminds me of a little Mustang, actually. Independent, tough, self-sufficient, friendly, and fearless. Yep, if she was a horse in her former life or a horse in cat's clothing- I'd say Morgan would be a Mustang!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Wonky Eye Lash

Do you know how they say that your pet eventually starts looking like you? Or is that you start looking like your pet?

No, I'm not getting hairy or spotty.

Sunday morning I woke up with something in my eye. I dug around and finally got an eyelash out of the corner. Whew! Relief. So I thought. Turned out that wasn't the culprit. Or, I scratched my eye in the process. It continued to bother me all day.

I figured I'd wake up Monday morning and the offender would have "worked it's way out." No such luck. I got to work and the continuous strain of my eye contracting, squinting and being irritated had me fighting an awful headache. Everyone kept telling me that I probably just scratched my cornea, but it wasn't painful like a scratch. It felt like there was still something in there! For the life of me I couldn't find it and get it out of there!

Would you say my eyes are blue or green? Typically people say blue, but I think they are green.

I even tried to cry numerous times through out the day, hoping to wash it out. As you might know, I'm a bit emotional. I can tear up at a Coke commercial. But on cue? You've got to be kidding me. I couldn't shed a tear! I stood in front of the mirror and tried to think of the saddest thing I could. Nothin'.

Then at the end of the day I remembered
this video. It's about a father-son triathlon team. It's inspirational. And guaranteed to make you cry! Where was it when I needed it?

I put it in here in case you need to a good cry to wash out your eyes someday, too!

Alrighty then. Moving on. I found a local eye clinic through a co-worker (I haven't been to one in years) and made an appointment after work to get it looked at.

A wonderful eye doctor peered into my eye with that funky contraption they have at their offices. He immediately found the problem.

Turns out I have a wonky eyelash! (I just love the word wonky.) It was growing in the wrong way and rubbing right on my cornea. No wonder! He numbed my cornea with some goofy yellow liquid that looked like iodine then plucked it out. Voila! Hopefully it won't grow back that way again. I'll know in a few months. He told me that I can get the hair root zapped with a laser to prevent it from growing.

Do you remember My Boy's rogue, wonky eyelash? It grows curly and eventually curls in towards his eye. In the past, it was possibly guilty of irritating his eye, too! In fact, during the spring a few years ago, before I discovered it, I put a fly mask on him. I think the mask pushed the eyelash into his eye, rubbing and possibly causing extreme irritation and head shaking (you can read more here and here.) I can totally relate after dealing with this for a day and a half myself. I was in pain, annoyed, cranky, and agitated!

I now watch that eyelash and keep it trimmed for him. The eye doctor told me that I probably wouldn't have seen or been able to remove mine on my own. I felt kind of silly having this prestigious eye surgeon doing something as simple as plucking a goofy eyelash!

30 hours of eye irritation= annoying!
30 dollars insurance co-pay= necessary!
30 seconds with tweezers= relief!

Friday, March 19, 2010

I've Never Met A Barn Restroom I Liked

What is it with barn restrooms? They seem to be the most under kept part of the barn. It dawned on me last week that quite often, horse's stalls are cleaner restrooms for them than the stable restroom is for us humans. Seriously, I've seen gas station restrooms that put some stable restrooms to shame.

I realize that a barn restroom is not designed to hang out in. I mean, there is not going to be bubble bath soaking happenin' in a claw foot tub there. And it's not like I'm starting off clean when I go into a barn restroom. I've got horse hair in on my sleeves...... dust boogers up my nose..... wet shavings on my boots.....hay bits in my hair. Horses can be a dirty enterprise, without a doubt. And I'm not afraid of a little horsey dirt. Or a lot of it, for that matter.

However, the dirt in barn restrooms is that much worse. It's like they've never been cleaned. Ever. There are cobwebs growing on the dirt. It's like the sink and toilet have had plumbing problems most of their existence and have leaked and the flooring was never fixed from the damage. There never seems to be paper towels to dry your hands on (and using TP to dry them on a cold morning at a barn is horrendous.) Even the soap in the dispenser seems dirty, not just on the hand pump.

It's always funny when barns try to make them look more cozy. Maybe they add a warped, framed picture of the Marlboro Man cowboy on the wall, or a kitschy scarecrow holding a dried flower arrangement which looks like its from 1981. And just covered in more dust.

Maybe fancier stables have fancier restrooms. I mean, they are serving some clients who spend a lot of money at their facilities- I imagine their barn restrooms have to be presentable, right? Maybe my problem is that I haven't been to a lot of upscale stables.

If you have a cleaner than average barn restroom, do a post on it! I dare you! I'm dying to see if there are any out there.

And maybe I just found myself a new career. "Barn restroom designer and remodel extraordinaire!"

I can see it now, my own special episode on Extreme Makeover Home Edition....."Pony Girl is designing and remodeling America's barn leaking sink and cobwebbed flower arrangement at a time!"

I should count my blessings that stables offer restrooms at all. I mean, with all the horse's "restrooms" to muck out every day, who has time to clean the barn restroom? And exactly whose responsibility is it to clean a stable's restroom, anyway? The stable owners? Barn manager? Stall cleaners? Instructors? Do boarders rotate bathroom cleaning duties?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

An Update in Four Chapters

Chapter One: My Boy

My Boy has been on joint supplement for three weeks. I'd have to say he's an eency-weency bit better. It's hard to tell. I am obsessively analyzing every gimpy move he makes. Mostly, he seems to have more willingness to move forward at all gaits. He even cantered in the round pen last weekend!

I know it could take up to another month or more to really notice a difference and I'm not expecting it to be a miracle. Okay, well maybe. Also, I am trying a new joint supplement for him, so that can be a bit of a trial and error. I still worry (it's like a part-time job, my worrying) that something else is going on. If I don't see a marked improvement by the time he gets his spring shots, I may have him x-rayed or a check by a different veterinarian for another opinion.

My Boy must not be feeling too sore, the stinker did do a nice rollback on Saturday as I was free-longing him in the round pen. I typically whoa him, have him face me, and then reverse him. For some reason as he was walking, I stepped out in front of him a bit, hoping he'd turn in towards me and reverse, but he kind of jumped and turned on his haunches towards the panel wall and took off the other direction! I felt kind of bad, it was not my intention to have him use those achy hocks in such a manner!

Chapter Two: Moldy Grain

Have any of you ever opened a new bag of grain and found mold in it? I call it "grain" but it's actually not grain, it's a vitamin supplement, not to be confused with the separate joint supplement I give him. I bought a bag on Saturday, and while pouring it I noticed a chunk of grains stuck together. Upon further inspection, I saw that it was fuzzy with green mold. I was quite upset. I am so glad I noticed it! When I scooped the "bad" grain back out of my grain bin, it didn't appear to all be bad, nor did it smell. However, I exchanged it for a new bag. I wasn't going to take a risk- one clump of 4 grains with mold was enough for me!

I am thinking of emailing the company and letting them know, and, inquiring about how this could happen- is it on their end or the feed store's? I have been purchasing this supplement for over two years, a brand that I believe to be rather reputable, and I have never had this happen (not that I've noticed, anyway.) However, when I returned it, the guy at the feed store said that per pallet they get, once in a while a bag or two will be bad. Huh? Goodness, that doesn't make me feel any better!

Chapter Three: Lesson Frustration

Last Saturday, my lesson horse Zoe was still recovering after a bout with colic and wasn't herself. We had a mellow lesson, mostly just giving her some exercise and me working on my equitation. But this weekend, she was back to her quirky, silly self. Me, on the other hand? Oh Nellie, I felt like a big old mess! My instructor told me it probably felt worse than it looked, and that she thought I actually did good. She said she loves giving me lessons because when she tells me things, I get it and do it.

Well I didn't feel like I was doing anything right. I didn't feel like I was riding her well- I was more of a floundering passenger. My reins were fumbling in my hands (remember, I'm using four reins), I felt like my posting was a millisecond behind the beat and my legs had lost strength. Zoe was being spooky (something she never is) and I had to be on guard for her snorty quick moves as we passed the "scary" end of the arena, where someone was working on a truck on the other side of the wall. We did do some figure eights at the canter with simple lead changes which was a fun challenge.

Hello Pony Girl- it's not going to happen overnight! There are going to be rides that are good, and some that are not so good. And some that will be downright awful! Looking back, I'd had a really long week and was feeling a bit drained physically and emotionally going into Saturday. I'm sure that didn't help.

It would probably be beneficial if I could take two lessons a week so I can better practice my skills and build some muscle memory and strength, but that is not financially possible for me. My instructor is going to be out of town at a show this coming weekend- so no lesson scheduled. But before I left the stable she told me that I could come ride Zoe anyway if I wanted to. Wow! It feels good that she is confident enough in my riding to let me ride her mare without her supervision.
Okay, so maybe that lesson wasn't so bad!

Chapter Four: Spring Has Sprung!

All of the pictures in this post were taken in the latter part of February or beginning of March. I can not believe how many signs of spring are here- yes, that is a bee with pollen on it's legs already! So here is my question of the day- if spring is here so early, does that mean it will be snowing in August?

Monday, March 8, 2010

All That Jazz

I wanted to apologize if my posting is a bit random the rest of this month. My family is trying to turn our love of vintage home and crafts into a small business so I am very busy getting my goods organized, tagged, and packed!

Here are a few things that are going on in my life these days~

.....My lesson horse Zoe colicked last week but is doing okay now.....

.....I might have the opportunity to show Zoe in the coming months.....

.....My Boy has been on joint supplement for two weeks and I'll update you soon on his progress.......

.....I just completed a major project featuring my photography and I was so tickled to receive the kindest compliments and accolades.....

.....A huge thanks to all of you that awarded me the "Beautiful Blogger Award"....due to lack of time I am not going to share 7 facts nor pass it on right now..... I consider all the blogs I read to be beautiful in their own inspire me!

Hope you all had a fantabulous start to your week! I'll be back soon!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Goodbye Abbie

No tears.....Abbie is still around! The "goodbye" is just because tonight is my last night staying with her while her human parents' and sisters are in Vancouver, B.C. to catch some of the Olympic games.

Abbie is 14. That is getting old for a lab. I have been her dog sitter for almost 12 years. Usually I stay with her for anywhere from 2 nights to two weeks, probably 4-5 times a year.

Abbie is a special dog. I mean, everyone thinks their dog is special. Abbie is not my dog but I still think she's pretty special. She's kind of my God-dog, like having a God-child. I'm like her God-mother (you know something funny, I just retyped "God-Mother two times- I kept spelling it "Dog-Mother", isn't that weird? God is dog spelled backwards, too!)

Anyway, back to the special part. She's really smart, she just has a savvy way about her. She loves people, although she's not very fond of other dogs. She's sensitive and emotional. And protective.

When she was younger, I remember tossing her red Kong over and over as she sprinted across the yard to fetch it. My favorite thing was to make her sit and stay, then I'd throw it. She'd wait, posed like a statue, until I gave her the signal to go get it!

We use to take long walks. Now, Abbie limps. She had a cancerous tumor on her leg removed a few years back, but is doing fine now. Her black muzzle is gray with age, her deep brown eyes are now a bit cloudy, she has a shaved spot from recent blood work and tests on her liver (she came back with a clean bill of health.) She still has some assorted squishy non-cancerous lumps.

Actually, Abbie is on some new medication and seems almost a few years younger than the last time I stayed with her! She is moving a little better, has more pep in her step on our short walks- just down the street and around the corner and back. She is eating her breakfast and dinner better. She just seems happier.

Here is a little video I took of Abbie the other night in the kitchen as I was fixin my dinner and she was begging. I was talking to her like I typically talk to dogs, like they understand English. Sorry, I know it's kind of silly!

Abbie from Pony Girl on Vimeo.

I always get sad when my time dog sitting Abbie ends. I give her a hug and a pat before I close and lock the door. What if something happens in the next couple of months before I see her again? What if that is the last time I see her? I dread the day her owners call me with bad news about Abbie.

For now, I enjoy every moment being a pseudo dog owner, enjoying her company and taking great care of her.

She's my God-dog, and I wouldn't do anything less.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Wednesday Card Games

While visiting family recently, I stayed with my grandparents' instead of my parents', as my mom recently turned their guest room into a craft room.

My grandparents' place is within walking distance from my parents', just a few houses down the road. I slept the best I had in weeks in the guest room bed.

My last morning there, after sleeping in a little longer than I should have, I awoke to voices in the kitchen.

My grandfather ("pappy") and his brother ("Uncle Forrie", short for Forrest) were playing cards at the kitchen island.

This is a tradition for them, every Wednesday. They alternate between each others homes. When they play at Forrie's, they go to the Senior Center for lunch. When they eat at Pappy's, Forrie brings lunch from Jack in the Box (you can see the paper bag on the counter in the photo.)

They play two games each of cribbage, pinochle, golf, and a gameI think they call acey-duecy. They cajole each other and laugh and are brotherly competitive.

I ate my cereal then chatted with them while they played. I don't know how we got on the subject but Uncle Forrie told me a story about the time he played in a baseball game and this player named Joe DiMaggio was there and gave him a signed ball. Of course this was back in the late 30's/early 40's, before Joe DiMaggio was you know, Joe DiMaggio. So Uncle Forrie brought the ball home to his little brother, my pappy, and said "now don't play with this ball it's signed and special."

Well now my pappy needed a baseball one day while playing with friends so of course he used it. And what do you think happened? Yep, he lost it. They looked everywhere for that ball and it was never found.
Uncle Forrie said he wasn't mad though. That's a cool big brother if I ever heard of one. My pappy and Uncle Forrie are two of 12 siblings. I imagine they know a lot about getting along with your brothers and sisters.

Uncle Forrie told me he used to play baseball in the minor leagues and he got paid something like $134 dollars a month. He chuckled over the comparison to pro sports players now, making millions a year.

I loved that random, little moment with them that morning. Our family, our relatives....they are fountains of stories like this one. We so often forget to ask, to listen, to the wisdom and insight they have to share.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Zazzle Dazzle

, I have it up and running! It's been a month since I started this project.

View more personalized gifts from Zazzle.

It's my very own Zazzle shop! It's called Pony Girl Photography Designs and you can check it out here (or via the flash panel above.)

Have you heard of If not, check it out via my flash panel below! You can purchase all kinds of items (or design your own.) I first heard of it around two years ago, the Pony Cousins designed personalized tank tops for our first Horse Camping trip.

I loaded many of my favorite photos into Zazzle, and designed some note cards, mouse pads, and buttons. You can purchase these items as I designed them, or, use my photos to create your own items, from T-shirts to posters to calendars to tote!! Add your own text, words- it's really fun to design.

I loaded photos of horses, of My Boy, of nature......and even Paint Girl's Mustang filly, Chance. In fact, any of the items that sell featuring Chance, 100% of those item's profits will go to benefit Mustangs through Tracey's Mustang U program! Woo-hoo!

Please let me know if there is a photo from either of my blogs that you've seen and would like me to load into Zazzle so that you can use it on a product. I'm completely open to special requests! My email address is on my sidebar. I hope to load new photos and items frequently!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Vacation is Over

Thank you to everyone that has offered their advice on treatment for arthritis in horses! I feel that I have some really great information and possible options. I know my horse is just not himself. His bones are snap/crackle/popping, he's resting that left leg more often, he's moving out stiff and slow. I hate to see him that way. Even Paint Girl's OH says he doesn't run and buck and kick at feeding time like he used to. But don't worry- he is eating well! My Boy is a food monger and if he loses his appetite, I'll know something is really wrong!

In addition to the MSM, I put him back on a joint supplement this weekend. It is one he was on before, which is about the best I can get locally. However, it is a 3-in-1 type of supplement (also for coat and hoof) and since My Boy already gets his selenium and other vitamins in his regular supplement (I call it his "grain", but it is not grain-based) I want to put him on a straight joint supplement with a combination of the key ingredients- Glucosamine/Chondroitin/MSM/Hyaluronic Acid. I am considering two reader-recommendations which I will have to order online.

The weekend was busy. I was on vacation last week, so when I got back into town from visiting family, I spent a lot of time with My Boy! He was walked/trotted on the longe line every day. We did a lot of hand-walking to warm up. On Saturday, Paint Girl's OH and I bought out the local feed store of all their grass hay, so we are stocked up for a couple of months. Helping unload nearly 30 bales of hay will help that upper body bone strength the doctor was telling me about at my physical last week. I also need to "make sure I get my calcium and vitamin D." You see, My Boy isn't the only one getting old and having issues!

Also on Saturday, I also had my fourth saddleseat lesson. SmartAlex from the Bringing up Baby blog in my lesson video post questioned the instructor using the snaffle bit. This time, the instructor changed out Zoe's bridle. Zoe wore both the curb and the snaffle bit but the rein came down from the headstall and went through the snaffle ring, but not directly attached to it. Does that make sense?

There was a lot going on in the arena. Someone was riding another horse in a lesson with another trainer. There was also another student in the lesson with me, a 13 year old girl who has been taking lessons for 2 years. She rode the white Arab, the "Steady Eddie." The instructor warned me that the cold snap in the air had her first two lesson horses pretty wired first thing that morning, but Zoe was fine.

The Steady Eddie

My first two laps around the arena were not pretty. My instructor had me ride over to her. She took each set of Zoe's reins in her hands around 8" from the bit, then pulled them toward her, showing me how much pressure to use when I "play" with her mouth to set her up into the bridle. This was really helpful. We had slower, more collected gaits. We trotted a lot. My legs looked good, in fact, my instructor told me they could come forward a bit! I think my stirrups were a hole shorter than last week, this might have helped.

The canter felt good, too. Much slower and in control. I would say that without the rein on the snaffle, Zoe pulled out of the bridle and tried to avoid holding her neck up more. It had a tendency to pull me forward. My instructor joked at one point that I was looking like a hunt seat rider. But I knew that, because I noticed it in my shadow as we rode along the southern wall of the arena. I needed to sit back in that saddle and pull my ribs up! All in all, it was a better lesson.My instructor reiterated it again, it takes a long time to learn to ride this horse. I feel I made progress. I really want to do well, but I am also not frustrated that the learning curve is slow.

The 13 year old and I got to ride the horses up to outdoor arena to cool them out. It was around 11 a.m. and getting warmer. In the outdoor arena, which is in the full sun and on top of a slight hill, there was a great view of a large farm field full of swampy water and a flock of Canada geese. Maybe they were taking a break from the Olympics? As we walked around, I felt like I was going on a country "hack."
We walked for about ten minutes, even stopping to watch a coyote stalk the geese. It was the closest thing I've come to a trail ride since last summer!


Paint Girl will be on her way home soon, hopefully arriving on my birthday. What a treat that will be! Not that I'll get to see her until the weekend. She'll be busy sleeping, unpacking, and taking care of all the critters she's missed.

Lastly, I send the warmest thoughts of sympathy to our dear friend Linda over at the 7msn Ranch blog, who unexpectedly had to have her horse Lyle euthanized this weekend. My heart goes out to her as she and her ranch crew adjust to life without their beloved sorrel friend.

Friday, February 19, 2010

My Boy's Vet Appointment

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that My Boy had been off at the trot the past few weeks. I had a suspicion of what was going on as I could not detect an apparent injury, heat, or swelling. But I am not a vet and I wanted her to check him out and make recommendations for treatment.

After a lameness flex test, she rated My Boy a grade 3/5 on his left hind. A year and a half-ago, I had a chiropractor check him out, which you can read about here. At that time, he was a grade 1/5 on that hind, with stiffness in both hind hocks and in the left fetlock. I opted not to do x-rays at this time. My vet said that typically the x-rays would just confirm what we'd be treating anyway. If the treatments we try are not successful, then I will do x-rays.

The diagnosis is "presumed arthritis," the presumed meaning the best diagnosis based on past exam and current examination. I am going to admit something to you. I am an awful horse mother. I took my horse off his joint supplement this winter, as I was questioning whether it was really effective. It is so confusing, so many different brand names, different price points, different combination of ingredients and amounts....and none of it is regulated. How do you really know what you are putting into your horse? I suppose whether or not you notice an improvement or change in your horse's lameness or movement is one of the best ways to rate a supplement's effectiveness.

Now I am thinking that it had been helping him, since he's noticeably worse off of it. There are other factors too- winter weather affecting the joints, My Boy's poor hock build (very upright), former injuries on the left leg from when he was a yearling, lack of consistent exercise this winter, etc. All of these factors have combined to make a pretty sore horse. So what to do now?

The vet gave me several options. 1) Steroid joint injections. 2) Steroid joint injections plus something else called Hyisc. (I can't remember what this is?) 3) IRAP (click here to read more. It has something to do with removing a blood sample, treating it with a protein, then re-injecting it into the joint, working with the horse's own system. It sounds great, but costs $735 for 1st visit plus $250 for each additional visit. Yikes.) 4) Adequan injections. 5)Surpass (non-systemic) or bute to manage pain.

My Boy enjoying a few minutes of grazing after the very traumatic lameness exam. If you know my horse, you know that being in the presence of anyone with a "DVM" after their name is very, very scary, indeed!

The vet didn't think my horse would be a good candidate for Adequan injections because they need to be done frequently- and he is such a nightmare about shots. And by nightmare I mean, nearly impossible without restraining, and if he even thinks you are restraining him for a needle, he won't let you restrain him. She said that recent studies have shown that a vial of Adequan every 4 days for a total of seven treatments, repeated every 6 months, has been most effective. That would be a nightmare month of needles for me and my horse.

For now, my horse is going back on joint supplement. I am going to try pure MSM. I want to see if that helps. I will also put him on a glucosamine/chondroitin, like he was previously. This spring, I am probably going to have him get steroid injections. The vet said this would probably help him through the spring/summer riding season. She also said that when used properly, I could bute him before long rides. I also have Surpass, a topical pain relief cream that you apply directly to the hock, that she said has good success. I have never tried it because I get nervous applying things to my horse's skin.

Arthritis is a pain. Literally. It is degenerative. At around age 15, horses stop producing synovial fluid, the lubricant inside their joints. When the fluid begins to lose its viscosity, joint friction and inflammation can occur (I just got this from the recent issue of Horse & Rider magazine, in an article on reining horses.)

However, arthritis is also manageable, and I will have to find a course of treatment that works for My Boy. He is a pleasure horse, we mostly trail ride, and I feel that I can manage his pain and help him enjoy out his years until retirement. I think he has many good years left in him, but I don't want him to be sore and hurting. That can cause a whole host of other problems, from compensating on other joints resulting in more soreness, irritability and behavior problems, etc.

On a bit of a positive note, we've been getting some beautiful February sunshine! It's been so warm in the sun....all the horses have been relaxing and soaking it up. Paint Girl's mares have their sunny spot by the cedar stumps, and even the goats wandered out of their barn to chew their cuds.

I tried to get My Boy to prick his ears toward me (I was back at the Mustang filly's pasture and zoomed in to get this shot) but he would have nothing to do with posing for me. Obviously, sun-drunk.

Do you have a horse with arthritis? What has worked for your horse? Any insight or recommendations you've gained, positive or negative, from your experience? As I am still weighing all of my different options, I would appreciate any advice you may have!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Big Itch

The farm next to the stable my mom boards her gelding at has cows and calves in the field. They are shy, and have ran away from me and my camera in the past.

This time, I slowly sneaked up to the fence. I'm sure I looked like a cougar stalking it's prey, it was probably not the best approach. But the young calves didn't bolt and stood transfixed, watching me with focused, cautious interest.

Stare at these faces long enough and these youngsters morph from cute calves into cranky old men, reminiscent of puppets from the Muppet Show.

As I snapped photos, I noticed a common theme on the agenda that day.




Moo-ve in to the right.

Moo-ve in to the left.

Early morning yoga.

Coming soon to a pasture near you!

Oh, and since it was Valentine's Day, there was a little lovin' going on, too!
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