Thursday, June 21, 2018

Seeing improvment?

On Sunday I gave Gwyn her first dose of Adequan and then it was just so bloody hot (and my Mom was here) that I didn't do much with Gwyn, but I felt better by telling myself that I was giving Gwyn some time off after her chiro adjustment and letting the adequan start its work.

Last night I went out to lunge. I've got the creeping crud but the weather has been SO NICE that I made myself go. It'll be hot again soon. As per usual, despite feeling like I could fall over and sleep once I was actually out and grooming and lunging I perked up quite a bit. I just grabbed my surcingle (need a new one) and my side reins (also falling apart) and switched out the sidepull for a baucher on my biothane bridle. 

Is that a more balanced canter I spy?!

Almost immediately I noticed a difference. Gwyn was offering the canter very willingly and was much steadier and more balanced than she's been. There was clear separation and push in her hind feet placement and no bunny hopping until she sassed me and got too rushed and off balance. I was so paranoid watching the quality of her gaits.

I also had two trot poles but I need to finesse the distance. They were set up and then my 5 year old decided that rearranging my arena was totally an activity she should do while I was otherwise occupied. Oh kids.

I didn't want to overwork her on the 20m circle so we did a little bit and then I took off the surcingle and side reins, reattached the regular reins and hopped on bareback to walk her and cool her out. I worked more on the lateral work, side pass, haunches in, shoulder in and she was great. I'm really loving how I can swing her body around right now. That dressage lesson was just wall breaking with whatever obstacle was in my head in how to achieve it.

"I smell your boot"

Good mare
 After riding I hosed her off and fly sprayed her just in time for Eric to come out with Hazel. He wanted to finish moving the hay out of the trailer so that's what we did (because the weather was super conducive to moving bales of hay)
"Okay tiny human, this is how to walk into the trailer"

So hard to see because the bushes and fence are in the way, but we caught sight of a Doe and two fawns! 

 Once all the hay was gone, Saffron slowly made her way into the trailer to snatch up the leftovers. The last time she was on this trailer was when I brought her home and I just sat and watched her. I really want her to be able to load calmly and have good associations with the trailer so this was excellent! The one thing I read that I feel is really important about donkeys is that they remember. They've got an iron trap of a mind and if you've got a repeat bad association you're pretty much screwed with them ever thinking otherwise about a situation.

I also didn't want to leave them alone with the fence open like this. They are escape artists, these two!

Have a silly video of Saffron hanging out with me and Saffron. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

A DIY Pessoa system?

It was highly recommended that I use a Pessoa system to help Gwyn start to figure out how to engage her hind end (and protect that SI!) but there's no way I'm spending mucho money on a name brand thing.

I'm all for the DIY. Will report back how well it works.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A visit to the equine hospital

Napping poneh

So today was the lameness evaluation at Blue Water Equine Hospital. It's about a half hour away and has some nice facilities (though they need to replace their border fence....)  We started with some basic trot outs, then I lunged her so the vet could see the canter. Then she went through and did some flexion tests with more trot outs after each. After the last flexion though, the vet tech went to lunge Gwyn at a trot and the Goober reared her ugly head, ducked and yanked the lunge line and took off.  Her tail was flagged, and she basically said "Fuck all y'all, I am done being vetted in, it's time for the endurance ride"

The hospital staff took off after her in their vehicles while I felt helpless and a half mile away she finally deigned to be caught and then they walked back.

Zoomed out, the vet is walking her back.

Walking through the fallow field.
 Apparently they had perimeter fencing but it got blown down in one of our windstorms.
Pretending to be sweet.
 The vet saw mild lameness and it wasn't consistent with the right hind like trainer Alison had seen. Vet also saw some soreness up front but nothing that couldn't be explained by doing trot outs on gravel. She also said that her hooves were nice and solid (despite the chipping stuff).
Her feet are terrible. The farrier wanted to leave them longer this time and I don't think it was a good idea.
We moved on to x rays. They did her left front, left hock and right hock.

Are you ready for the results?




Are you sure?

The damn mare has textbook perfect joints. No remodeling, no signs of arthritis. Her bones look beautiful, her joints have lovely spaces in them for synovial fluid. Nothing, nada. Zilch. Vet was laughing and said these are the best joints she's seen lately.

Vet recommended I give her some Adequan more as a preventative than a full on treatment. Then we did do a chiropractic session. Her SI joint was ALL out of sorts, which would also cause some of the issues we've been having. She's got a muscular butt but it seems her back and core need more work. Vet wants us to come back in 6 weeks for another chiro session but basically gave the go ahead to have me tell the trainer we can be pushed and that it's more behavioral and lack of proper muscling. I have been reading up on Sacroiliac Disease and I'm concerned that's more what we're looking at. Bonus, I don't need to buy any new BOT stuff because I have a rump rug I can use to target her SI already.

She also recommended front shoes as Gwyn's soles were not as thick as she'd like to see (based on xray). And was mildly intrigued/concerned that Gwyn has a yellowish tinge to her skin/mucous membranes. Now that she points it out I can see it but I think it's her normal.  There's a spot on her belly she wants me to keep an eye on, one that I've been slathering in swat but it might be a sarcoid and need to be removed.

So now I need to up my ground poles game and find a good place for walking hills. This might be a good excuse to go back to Ortonville Rec Area for some ambling trail rides! LOL. It's what the doctor ordered...

So anyway, that was a hit to the pocket book to find not much, but I'm glad I have baseline images so we can see if any changes do occur.

Also, let it be known that I tried to spoil my critters and let them eat down the ditch grass in our backyard which is hard to mow because it's a seasonal stream and instead they snubbed me and escaped and went for MORE gallivanting up to the neighbor's house and that was adrenaline pumping as I raced to get the ATV to retrieve them. They came back on their own. I have no idea where they escaped as my cobbled together fence was intact.

I suspect they went under. Damned animals. I wish I could completely fence off the property.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Lesson Recap: The Positives and Places for Improvment

I messaged Alison yesterday to see when she could fit me into her schedule and she happened to have a morning spot open today! I snatched it up because why the heck not?

In rare form, Gwyn decided she didn't want to be caught, but once she was, she loaded straight into the trailer. It was about 15 minutes to the farm and I brought in the stuff I needed to tack her up. She was  really good about being in a new place.

The first thing she noticed was that Gwyn was weak in her right hind and it seems it might be an arthritic hock? It could explain why she wants to escape to the right, to avoid really stepping under herself  when tracking left at the canter. It also explains why she sort of hops her hind legs together in the canter even when lunging. It's why she runs into the canter and why we have a better canter to the right.

As a result, even though we finished out the lesson, we stuck to walk/trot and she recommended I sink money into a vet for now, rather than lessons, to get this sorted. And if I make her comfortable, she'll be so much better.

So that's the bad news first. The good news is that she really liked Gwyn's walk and trot. And it's a testament to her try-try-try absolute devotion to me that she does canter and work through it. Like damn. Break my heart with even more evidence how much this horse works for me.

So things we worked on unrelated to that but keeping that weak right hind in mind.

First off, it's either a dominance thing or possibly a pain avoidance, but she tries to grab the bit out of my hands, give her an automatic squeeze to bring her head back up. Half halt if she tries to go faster from the squeeze. If I'm consistent with the correction, she'll quit within a month. The goal is to have her ask nicely to work into contact, not try and drop and snatch the reins out of my hands. Even after about ten minutes she was not being rude about that as frequently as when we started.

She was working really well for me today and we did a lot of lateral work. Shoulder in, haunches in, side pass, turn on the forehand.

For all of this we treated Gwyn like a baby horse who was just being introduced to those movements.

So I started down the long side, asking for a leg yield into the quarter line and then used outside leg and outside rein to swing her hind end around and turn back and come the other way.

With shoulder in and haunches in, she emphasized that the movement was subtle and if you over emphasize it it becomes a side pass, which is not correct. Gwyn did REALLY well with this. And with this, my goal is to keep her head centered between her shoulders and ask for either and kind of let her drift. The drift is okay and it ends up working mentally for me in how I ask for the movement. We had the benefit of mirrors (which we haven't had for a long time!) and Gwyn was fascinated, lol. It definitely helped me make sure that our legs were lined up correctly for the movements.

We did serpentine work, really focusing on inside leg to outside rein and by god for the first time I really felt her engage and take up contact and bend. It was so lovely. Like I finally understand the feeling that inside leg to outside rein is supposed to evoke. I need to continue helping her balance, and work on being balanced with her.

By the end her weakness had shifted to the left side, which would be expected if she were trying to compensate. She was tired too, though not that sweaty because our hot, humid weather finally broke and it was high 50s, low 60s to ride today. Absolutely perfect.

So now my next step is calling the vet out to do a lameness eval and see what our options are. And this only makes me more determined to continue my weight loss, to reduce the strain on her.

What have you done for stuff like this? I'm treading in unfamiliar water so I'll be reading up and making sure the vet verifies the same thing. We'll stick to mostly walk/trot I think and save cantering for the trail when it's not going to be on a turn and putting strain on her legs.

I'm open to anything, so supplements, boots, therapy for after rides, you name it. Throw it at me. I would give this mare the world if I could.

Making faces while yawning, lol

Getting a good roll in once we were home